Instagram can be such a huge game changer for bloggers if it’s utilized in the right way. And that’s what I wanted to do, use Instagram to help me grow my blog readership. Unfortunately, I’d plateaued at 3500 followers and could not figure out how to get it much higher.
I tried desperately to grow my following, and was implementing every strategy I could find on Instagram. I used hashtags, I would post regularly at times when my ideal audience was on, I commented and liked, I tried to reach out and make connections with the other Instagrammers in my niche or target audience. I joined pods and Facebook groups. I was always on Pinterest reading about how others had grown their following. But none of it was working the way I wanted.
After a few weeks of little growth, I decided it was time to try something else. And after only one month (from April to May), I gained nearly 1500 followers organically. At this point (December 2017) I have 11k followers! But while this growth happened pretty quickly, it wasn’t instantaneous. So here’s a little look at how I did it!
I started by taking a good, long look at my feed. Was it something I’d want to come back to? Did it appeal to me? Was it providing unique content that others would want to check out and follow?
It was a reality check, and kind of disheartening, but when I looked through my audience’s lens instead of my own I saw a messy feed and content that wasn’t very exciting. I tried, but it wasn’t quite good enough to be up at the level of the bloggers I wanted to emulate.
So, step one was to find a way to make my feed unique and interesting so that it would appeal to others.
I had to find my Instagram aesthetic and commit to putting in more time and effort with my pictures. I started taking my camera out with me, started editing in Lightroom, and committed to only posting photos that my audience would want to look at, not that I wanted to post.
When I started doing this I saw a good amount of organic growth in my following, but I still had work to do.
The next step to organically growing my Instagram following was to find new connect with other bloggers and influencers in my niche.
This was important to me because I knew I couldn’t build an audience entirely on my own. I needed the support of other people who love sharing the same things I do. By creating ties with other mama’s who shared similar things with a following I knew I would be able to create a community instead of working on my own.
I had tried to do this before, but because I was just trying to get followers and up my numbers it didn’t work in my favor. This time I decided to get to know other bloggers and Instagrammers. I put in time and effort when commenting so it was all genuine. I commented regularly on photos of the people I was a fan of. I started chatting with people who commented on my pictures (not all the time, but when people asked questions or shared pieces of themselves with me). I made it a priority to ask questions on my photos. I answered other people’s questions on theirs. It was a little more time consuming, but I started to make real connections.
Once I began forming connections with people I started getting invited to join various different “#momcrushmonday“ and “#followfriday” posts.
Note: #momcrushmonday and #followfriday posts are typically where a group of 5 influencers get together and share a grid of photos displaying an image from each of the other blogger/IG-er’s accounts. This helps to connect with followers of all five accounts. It’s a great way to share content with new people!
These posts and connecting with others through genuine commenting and forming a community increased my likes, comments, and follows but I also started making connections with a lot of super awesome like-minded women! It’s also a super great way to collaborate with others when you have no idea where to start with collaborations –blogger tip 😉
Another crucial thing for growing my account over this past month was using hashtags that were relevant to my content. I had formerly been using the same cluster of popular hashtags. It worked, but it wasn’t getting me genuine engagement.
When I decided to start searching for hashtags that would help me connect what I was posting with the people who actually wanted to see it, it made all the difference!
Using specific hashtags gives people the chance to find others with their same interests, or who share things that they would like to see. This increases the likelihood that users will find your posts and (if they like them) will like, follow, and comment. It can also help you get your content shared by different accounts if you’re posting something that matches up with their feed.
The final piece of the puzzle that is gaining a following and creating a community on Instagram was following people.
This is part of that connecting with like-minded people thing I talked about earlier. When you follow people, you let them know that you’re interested in what they are sharing and if you’re following people with interest in your niche then they are more likely to follow you back.
I was a bit skeptical about following too many people at first. It seems like there’s an unwritten rule on social media that you can’t follow more people than are following you. And I didn’t want to play the follow-unfollow game because it felt a little sleazy to me.
What worked was finding a number of people I felt comfortable following, and then while genuinely trying to connect with people on Instagram I would follow the people who I was interested in following and would then try to interact with them in one way or another whether it was by commenting or just liking their photos.
I can’t express to you the difference that putting real time and effort into trying to grow my Instagram. It’s made such a big impact on my account and has really transformed my way of thinking about all of my social platforms. Plus, it allows me to actually talk to people and share ideas rather than simply liking a photo or leaving an emoji so they see I was there.
I may not be an Instagram expert, but I’m telling you that these things worked for me when growing my following and increasing my reach.
I hope they help you too!