Blogging Series: How to Grow Your Instagram Following

Hi friends! Thanks for all coming back to Part 2 of my blogging series!! Today I will be diving into one of my most requested blog posts EVER, How To Grow Your Instagram Following! And rightfully so! I mean, who doesn't want to grow their Instagram following?? If you are new to my blog or missed Part 1 of this series, definitely check it out to learn How To Start A Blog!

Alright, so let's dive into this! (Maybe grab a cup of coffee and a snack because this one is a long one!)

Instagram is an ever changing beast that, I'm assuming, most of y'all are in the most love/hate, rollercoaster filled, emotionally draining relationship ever with. AND I GET IT. Trust me, I feel the pains too, along with the majority of Instagram's users! But, that doesn't mean we chuck our phones out the window when there's yet ANOTHER algorithm update (cringe), it just means that we have to roll with the punches and accept that this is what comes with the immense amounts of benefits and advantages of using the platform! 

I also want to preface this by saying that Instagram is NOT where you should be investing the majority of your time. Yes, Instagram is incredibly important and a platform that I personally give so much credit to for growing my own page views, BUT, we as bloggers and influencers need to understand that Instagram is not guaranteed to be around forever. I like to put it this way - if Instagram disappeared tomorrow, what would you do? Would your audience/followers still know where to find you? Do you even have a blog? Do you have an email list? The number one thing to keep in mind is to never put all your eggs in one basket. While yes, Instagram numbers are extremely important and very helpful for landing brand collaborations, it is not a guarantee. Facebook and Pinterest are two other incredible social platforms that are great for increasing your audience size and should definitely not be over looked. I would recommend creating a schedule for yourself that lays out how much time per week you are dedicating to your blog or website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Just my two cents! Now let's get into Instagram a little more... 

CONTENT. Producing content you are proud of is so important. Now, this does not mean you have to post an extremely curated, creative photo every time. But, you should be proud of what you are posting and confident in the message it is relaying. An extremely pixelated, blurry, poorly lit photo is just not going to cut it these days. Never post just to post. 
 

FREQUENCY. I aim to post 7 days a week, so less than 6 days. Think of it this way - the more content you have floating around out there, the more likely people are going to see your content, head to your profile, and click follow. When I began posting 7 days per week, my follower count began growing at a significantly faster rate. I suggest figuring out what posting frequency works for you and resonates with your audience the best. But remember, never post just to post. If you don't have a photo you're proud of that day, skip posting and maybe just hop onto your stories!

BE ACTIVE ON INSTASTORIES. This is crucial you guys!! Instagram has evolved so much over the years and, in my opinion, the audience has started to appreciate the raw, organic, and unfiltered side of bloggers/influencers. They want to know YOU. InstaStories are such a powerful tool for getting to know and connecting with your audience. Many users rarely scroll these days and simply just watch InstaStories. I would recommend being active on your stories every single day and truly try to get to know your audience. The "Poll" feature is great for this! 

HASHTAGS. There has been a lot of debate about hashtag use, but in my personal opinion I think when used intentionally, they are great tool for growing an audience. Make sure your hashtags are relevant for the specific photo you are posting and switch them up! Don't just copy and paste the same block of hashtags onto every photo. As for whether it should go in the caption or comments, try both out and see what works best for you! I would also keep it around 11-13 targeted hashtags with a range of uses. So, some that have 1 million uses, some with a little over 500,000 uses, a few with less than 500,000, and some with less than 100,000. This will expose you to a good variety of users.

CAPTIONS. When your audience is reading your captions for your photos, they should feel like you are directly talking to them. You never want to come across as a sales person!! I would say that's one of the quickest ways to result in an unfollow. Your caption should be engaging and show your personality. Tip: Try to always ask a question or get your audience involved within your caption! This will spark conversation in the comments section. 

COMMENTS. Try to always respond to your comments, DM's, emails (especially emails!), etc. If one of your readers/followers is taking the time out of their day to connect with you, you need to do the same and engage with them. 

BUILD A COMMUNITY. The whole underlying purpose of Instagram is to build social connections and community, right? So, you should always been actively engaging with and building your community. It doesn't matter if you have 1,000 follows, 10,000 followers, or 1 million. Each and every one of your followers are valued and important. 

GEOTAG. You should be geotagging all of your photos! If you're unsure of what that means, it's when you set a location for your photo when you post it. This is super similar to hashtags and allows your photo to be discovered by those checking out your surrounding location! For privacy issues, I suggest geotagging your nearest major city or something like that. 

TAG YOUR PHOTOS. I always tag my photos with bigger accounts that often repost other peoples photos! For example, I always tag my photos with @prettylittleiiinspo , @blondesandcookies, @americanstyle , and more plus the brands that are associated with the photo! This is yet another way to be seen on the app. 

ENGAGMENT OVER FOLLOWER COUNT. Y'all, things are changing when it comes to landing brand deals on Instagram! And for good reason. With so many accounts buying followers these days (a huge no no), a follower account isn't necessarily as important as it used to be! Brands are becoming more and more interested in engagement rate, rather than follows. The industry standard for engagement is above 2%. Also, by focusing on your engagement with your audience, it will result in a stronger, tighter knit community and I promise that the followers will come with that eventually. One last thing - you should also be engaging with other accounts and your current audience!! Try to comment on other photos of people you follow, comment and like photos of your followers (it'll make their day too!!), and interact with new accounts! 

Just a couple other things I want to touch on:

  • Get to know your audience and what types of content they like! Do they like super curated, creative photos? Or do they like your mirror pics and car selfies more? Knowing what types of content get your best engagement will help you understand what types of content to produce more of. 
  • Be that go-to account for your audience. Whether it is for affordable fashion, hair inspo, beauty and makeup tips/ideas, or whatever, be that account that your audience knows they can look to for advice and your expertise. 
  • Be a friend to your audience! Get to know them by name, engage with them, and maybe reward your most engaged followers by gifting them something once in a while! 
  • Keep your blinders on and focus on yourself. There will always be someone out there that is growing at a faster rate than you, that landed a bigger campaign than you, or that looks like they have the "perfect life". But who cares. What's important is you and only you. Focus on yourself and your brand and that is when you will see success. 

Okay! So that was a lot. I know this post is super wordy, but I really wanted to lay it all out there for you all! The key takeaways to growing your Instagram following are:

  • Engage with your audience!!
  • Aim to post every day!
  • Be a real, relatable person and be open with your audience!
  • Get your audience involved! (Ask questions, feature them on your blog, share their photos on your stories if they did something inspired by you!)
  • Use hashtags on your photos, tag other accounts, and geotag your photos!
  • Focus on always bettering/improving your brand and yourself!
  • Stay persistent! Success doesn't happen over night and most of the really successful influencers/bloggers have been at this for YEARS.

I hope all of this helps you all out!! Below are a few Q&A's that I have been asked recently! Stay tuned for part three of this series, Best Apps & Resources for Bloggers !! Thanks so much for reading today and have a wonderful rest of your weekend! XO Heather 

Q&A
 

Q: How long did it take for you to get your blog up and running? Did it grow steady or pretty fast?

A: I began fashion blogging around January of 2017. I had started my blog a few months prior to that, but was actually talking about things entirely different and not posting on Instagram frequently. In August-September of 2017, I began posting almost every single day, using hashtags and also posting better quality photos. This in turn resulted in my account growing faster. From December to now, my account has been growing pretty quickly, but it did take a while to gain momentum in the beginning!

Q: How long after you started blogging did you decide to get a photographer?

A: I worked with a photographer around the early summer months of 2017. So, once I knew I was serious about pursuing this, I started working with a photographer right away. 

Q: How much time do you need to devote to blogging on a weekly basis? 
How many posts, blog write-ups do you do on a weekly basis?

A: I blog full time now, so I pretty much work on some aspect of my blog for 5-10 hours a day. This including photoshoots, creating content, writing out blog posts, editing photos, thinking about future posts and content, engaging on Instagram and other social platforms, plus more. With blogging, there isn't much of an off time because I try to post 7 days per week. So, while I don't spend as much time on weekends working on my blog, I still do spend a few hours. For blog posts on a weekly basis, I am aiming to post 3 per week now. I am still trying to work on getting a better schedule for this!  

Q:  I see you use Like To Know It... WHICH I LOVE! How did you get started with them? I would also (in my dream world) LOVE to join that team, as I feel like the majority of my blog posts would be outfit related. Whenever I am out and about or when I do post a picture of me on Instagram I always get asked "where are your outfits from?" etc. so i feel like that would be a good platform for me to use.

A: To start working with LikeToKnow.it , you just need to apply! To get approved, I would suggest already having consistent content posted on your Instagram and blog for the prior 3 months. In the mean time, I would suggest signing up with ShopStyle, which automatically approves it's affiliates and is pay-per-click (PPC) commission based, rather than per sales based. 

Photos x Erika Bentley