How to grow a following on Instagram

How to grow your Instagram following in 2018Ever have one of those days where you can’t POSSIBLY squeeze another thing in, then you remember that blog post you have to write?

Today is one of those days for me.

But I’ve been dropping the ball on blogging lately and it’s time to pick it back up, so I’m hustling to get it done.

The good news is, I repurposed this post from a video, so it practically wrote itself!

If you’ve been wondering how to turn videos into blog posts, it’s actually very easy. I recorded a video, uploaded to YouTube, transcribed it at Rev.com, edited it, and hit publish. (The original video is below so you can compare.)

But I digress, because this post is about Instagram!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to grow an Instagram following, so I thought it would be fun to share some tips to help you get more Instagram followers.

Ready for them? Let’s dig in.

#1) Make sure your Instagram looks gorgeous.

Okay, so this one’s a no-brainer, but worth mentioning because Instagrammers are all about eye-candy. 🙂

Make sure your Instagram account is beautiful and reflects your brand the same way that your website does.

Your colors, fonts, and images should communicate a cohesive look, feel, and personality. Think about ways you can use your posts to tell a cohesive and consistent brand story that draws people in.

Whether you’re framing your account around a niche, an interest, or a personality, all of your images should support each other and work together harmoniously to tell that same story.

The same thing goes for your profile:

Make it descriptive and tell people what they can expect when they follow you. Bonus if you include a call to action!

The reason this step is important is that people will visit your account. And they’ll be more likely to follow you if you can wow them with stunning visuals, colors, and images that tell a rock-solid story.

#2) Next up: follow, comment, and like.

One way to pull people into your account is to follow the followers of brands related to your niche.

Now, please don’t go crazy and follow 200 people a day or anything like that. Keep it low key. Follow people, here and there, who might want to follow you back.

#INSTATIP  You can also comment on posts, but don’t drop lame comments like “nice” or “great post.” Bleck. Comment like you mean it. Write something thoughtful that will inspire people to visit your account.

You can also look for hashtags related to your niche. Now, I’m not talking about hashtags to use in your posts (I’ll get to that, step #5 below).

Right now, I’m talking about finding posts that use hashtags related to your niche, and commenting/liking their posts.

#3) Create stories and highlights.

Have you noticed that Instagram’s organic reach has taken a nosedive (the same way that Facebook organic reach is down)?

Stories are a way to get some of that reach back. Have you created one yet?

I’ve noticed a bump in traffic when I post a new story. Plus, they’re fun to make!

And if you change the settings to “Save to Archive” on your phone, you can save stories to your profile. That means they’ll won’t disappear after 24 hours and people will see them when they visit your account.

Just one more way to engage people and increase your visibility, friends.

Here’s another:

Use hashtags and location tags.

Hashtags and location tags help people (beyond your followers) find your stories.

There’s even a way to show up on Instagram’s Explorer page (if you’re strategic with hashtags – step #5 below).

Let’s say you’re at an event and create a story using the event’s location tag. You’ll likely appear for searches that include that location.

You can even create a cool “About You” story. Maybe it’s the first story people see when they view your account so they can find out more about you.

Here’s the idea with all of these tips:

While you’re working to increase your visibility on Instagram, you do anything you can to make people want to stick around, see what else you have to post, and get to know you.

So these are working hand in hand…

#4) Post consistently + frequently

Next up, post consistently, and try to increase the frequency if you can.

Now, if all you can manage is once a day, that’s perfectly okay. But if you can post a bit more frequently, you’ll likely see a boost in all things Insta! I see a noticeable increase in both followers and engagement when I post three times a day vs just one.

Before you share your post, spend some time writing a description that will start a conversation.

Maybe you write something really thought-provoking and end it with a question. If you can toss the ball back to your audience for their thoughts, it will work in your favor, with me?

The reason is that Instagram is watching your account. ???? And it’s giving you a score based on your number of followers and level of engagement.

Higher scores = Higher hashtag rankings = Get more Instagram followers organically

Curious about what that means? Read on to step #5, friend.

#5) Create a hashtag strategy

When you think of hashtags, think of SEO and keywords. That’s the way hashtags work on Instagram.

And they have A LOT to do with your Instagram score.

For example:

Let’s say you’re a big account with a huge number of followers and crazy engagement on your posts. Instagram gives you a high score for all your hard work, and you easily rank for highly-competitive hashtags.

(Highly-competitive hashtags are ones used by 200K+ posts.)

Buut, if you’re a smaller account, you’re out of luck because you can’t compete. You have about ZERO chance of ranking for those same keywords.

So what should you do?

Great question! You still need to use hashtags so that people can find your posts.

You just can’t use any ol’ hashtag. It’s time to get strategic, which I’m going to show you how to do right now!

First off, make a list of your hashtags.

The first step with hashtags is to collect data about your account. You want to find your current level of competition, so you know where you stand today, make sense?

You want to find out what hashtags you actually have the potential to rank for on Instagram, so you can focus on those.

Start by writing down hashtags related to your niche and interests (I recommend using Google Sheets). If it helps you to brainstorm, think of hashtags you commonly use in your posts.

Next, look for related hashtags that have a range of competition levels. For example, if a common hashtag for you is “plannerprintables”, look for related hashtags with:

  • 1,000 posts
  • 5,000 posts
  • 10,000 posts
  • 20,000 posts
  • And so on

Can you see what we’re aiming for here? You want to create a list of hashtags with different levels of competition.

Then start testing them. Use them in your posts for a day. Then later that same day, search for those same hashtags.

Find your current hashtag level.

Let’s say you have a new account. You do the hashtag test above and appear for hashtags with 5,000 posts.

Can you see the magic here? High five! You’ve just found your hashtag level!

Which means that 5,000 is your current Instagram score.

Knowing this, you can look for other hashtags at 5,000 and start using them in your posts (make sure the hashtags are related to your niche and interests).

Next, test your hashtags again.

I recommend using your 5,000 hashtags for a month, and then rinse and repeat.

Only this time, search for and test hashtags with 10,000 posts.

Use your newly-found 10,000 hashtags and wait a bit. Later in the day, search for them and see if your overall Instagram score is higher.

THIS is how you can get more visibility on Instagram, friends!

Last thing, give your posts a chance to be found!

Now, you may be thinking I’m a new account, so I’m only going to look for hashtags with 500-1000 posts.

I know it’s tempting to aim for hashtags with very little competition when you’re starting out, but please don’t limit it to just that!

The reason is that hashtag competition = hashtag popularity.

More competitive hashtags mean that more people are searching for them. AND less competitive hashtags mean fewer people are searching for them.

So if you lowball your hashtags all the time, you will likely only be seen by a handful of people. This will have the same effect as using only highly-competitive hashtags:

You won’t get the results you need.

But if you test your hashtags incrementally following the steps here, more and more people will start finding your posts.

That’s a wrap! If you create a 100% on-brand experience, engage with your audience, share stories, and get hyper-focused with your hashtag strategy, you’ll have no problem getting more Instagram followers organically in 2018.

Have more IG questions? Let me know in the comments!

by

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8 replies
  1. Avatar
    Jean Neuhart says:

    OMG – Tip #5 is the best. So many times we’re told to make a list of our hashtags. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone explain about using the right hashtags and testing them. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Chris says:

    I’m trying to find inspiration to get back to enjoying Instagram and being decently successful at it. I’m just no good at it. There are some really good tips here that I’m sure will help and I should try.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Seomakers says:

    If we look at the statistics, we find that thought the number post that are shared on the instagram are low as compared to those of the facebook, but if we compare the ratio of posts to the ratio of shares and reaction received per post basis, we find that instagram is clearly the winner among the two. And, if instagram works on hashtag, having a real working strategy is the key to achieve the leverage – and that is technically well explained in point number 5. I would also like to add that, collaborating with influencers in related domain is also one of the ways to boost our reach. Thanks for these tips.

    Reply

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