It’s no secret that your Instagram following can be a superpower! You’ve heard of influencers making thousands of dollars per post and actors getting cast based on their follower size. It’s become the “social currency” of millennials and Gen Z and it’s no longer about exchanging phone numbers or emails anymore, instead, it’s “What’s your Instagram?” So whether you work in the industry, or if you want to market your own brand or business, or if you want to use it as a networking platform, here are 10 expert tips to grow your Instagram following.
Tip #1 – Learn how to take great photos
No, you don’t have to be a professional photographer. Yes, you do have to know when the lighting is bad or when the picture comes out blurry. Because what can you tell from those accounts with a lot of followers? Aside from meme accounts, it’s because they take visually appealing photos and we LOVE them so much that we always want to double tap that and maybe even leave some emoji comments. Use natural light whenever possible and when taking a photo, tap on the screen where you want to focus. Voila!
Tip #2 – Tell your story in your posts
Don’t just post a bunch of quotes and call it a day. Take the time to think of your story as a personal brand or as a company and think of the emotions that you want your audience on Instagram to feel when they see your photos. Look at brands that you love to follow and engage with, check out their posts and ask yourself what emotions you are feeling when you see their posts. Look at them for inspiration and see how you can create an emotional connection with your audience, who will want to become your follower once they “feel” like it.
Tip #3 – Decide on your aesthetic and stick to it
By looking at your grid, you should know what your “aesthetic” is. This is you sticking to a certain look and feel – whether it’s neutrals, bold colors, rainbow everything or whatever it is, it makes your feed look polished, consistent and professional. You can usually tell by a post on which of your favorite influencers or brands posted it without even seeing their profile photo and name – that’s because they have an aesthetic and they stick to it.
Tip #4 – Make a good first impression
Everyone is checking you out, so make sure what they see is presentable, informative and welcoming. Think of it like the shorter version of your LinkedIN profile but with a lot more personality. Choose a profile photo where they can see your face, add your name if your username is your brand name and here’s your chance to
Tip #5 Post great content consistently
Post every day if you’re really trying to grow your account, if you want to grow faster – you might want to do 2 posts per day. This gives your audience more of an opportunity to engage with you and engagement is super important nowadays. Now that lots of people have lots of followers, the next thing people are looking at is engagement.
Engagement is measured by interaction with your account. This includes likes and comments and on a deeper level, clicks from the link in your bio and even further than that – leads and/or sales.
Tip #6 Don’t just post great content, post engaging content
So how do you get your audience to engage with you? They need to like, comment, or click. So what makes you like a post? It’s pretty, funny, cool, awesome, you get the gist. It’s not just the way it looks, it because they relate to it or feel connected to it somehow (see Tip#2 again). Now what makes you want to comment? It’s REALLY pretty, funny, cool, awesome… or because they asked you a question or told you to commend below with something.
In marketing terms, they call that a CTA. That’s short for “call-to-action.” It’s a way for them to get you to do something. It looks something like this, “Comment below with your next travel destination” or “What other colors should I get this purse in?” By adding CTAs in your caption, you spark engagement in your posts.
Tip #7 Use your hashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags in your post, USE THEM ALL. Don’t feel bad or lame for using a ton of hashtags, because they’re the “SEO of Instagram.” SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s how the search engine comes up with the best, most relevant results. It’s the same thing for Instagram. If you use the hashtag #foodie, Instagram knows that you’re posting food content. It’s how the algorithm classifies your content and how you can attract your target audience.
Now make sure that you are only using relevant hashtags, because using ones that don’t relate to your content will not be beneficial. Some people might even unfollow you or block your posts because they were looking for specific content and yours didn’t deliver.
Tip #8 Know your target audience
As a marketer, I spend a lot of time getting know my target audience because the more you know about them the better connection you can make with them. So ask yourself, what’s their “A/S/L?” Same question from the good ole chat days – age, sex, and location. Also figure out what their interests are, what they do for a living, their relationship status (if that relates to your product or service).
Knowing your audience helps you target them whether you want to do it organically or with paid advertising. Organically, think of you audience and what hashtags they use. Using the search function in the app, you can find them through the hashtag and proactively target them by engaging with them – like, comment or follow.
I only follow when I truly like their feed and not just to unfollow later, because #1 that’s shady and #2 it pisses people off and there really won’t be a connection. I know some people teach this and it works really well on Twitter, so I prefer to like and comment generously and follow authentically.
You should also get to know what brands/accounts your target audience follows on Instagram, you can find them that way and start to target and engage with them that way too.
Tip #9 Engage, Engage, Engage
Many of my students complain to me that they’re posting great content, using all 30 hashtags – and still no growth! And I continuously have to tell them that it’s because posting is only 40% of the equation. The other 60% is targeting and engaging.
You may be posting the most awesome stuff in the world, but what if no one sees it? So I recommend spending at least an hour on Instagram daily for proactive targeting and engagement. Don’t have time for it? Have an assistant or someone do it for you. Can’t pay someone to do it? Well, it’s either time or money that you have to invest if you really want your account to grow because it’s not going to do that on it’s own.
It’s also a social media platform, meaning you should be social. Follow other accounts in your niche and like and comment away, you’ll find that you can build a group of people who will engage with your posts on a daily basis. You can even form a boost group or comment pod where everyone in the group commits to engaging with everyone’s posts on a daily basis.
Tip #10 Keep learning
When I try to master something, I try to learn as much as I can. I’ve been learning about Instagram since it first started out and have worked on numerous brand campaigns on the platform.
There are updates all the time and if you’re serious about wanting to grow your Instagram following, you’ll want to get as much information and learning as you can about the platform.
Know the features so you can optimize them. Learn all the Instagram Stories hacks. And know that there’s no such thing as the shadowban.
Instagram reported a bug that was fixed earlier this year and that’s it. One more time – there is no shadowban. So all those blog posts and advice on how to beat it is #fakenews.
So let’s talk about the algorithm. What is it? It’s a formula that decides what shows up on your Instagram feed. Posts used to show up chronologically based on the time it was posted. But because of so many users and saturation on the platform, Instagram decided to do what it does to the Facebook feed – use an algorithm to determine what shows up.
The algorithm is based on your own personal, individual preference. So what will show up on your feed will be different from what shows up on someone else’s feed. It’s based on three things: timing, engagement and previous interactions.
What this means is that posting consistently matters because newer content is more favorable. The more people are engaging with your content (liking and commenting), the more it will show up. And previous interactions is based on a user’s engagement on your previous posts.
So go ahead and take a look at your feed. You’ll probably see newer posts from people who you’ve liked and commented on before. And that my friends, is the algorithm.
The bottom line is to focus on your content and what value you’re offering to your target audience!