The feeling when you see your Instagram followers double! Oh, what a feeling it must be.
But what do we have to do to grow our online audience? Why would you even want to bother? Is it important, really?
Why I Want To Grow My Instagram
For me, this is what I do. I am trying to grow my blog and my Instagram audience. I am a content creator, a blogger and a photographer and I love doing all of these things. It’s not (just) about the likes. I create because I love creating however, I treat my blog like a business. This is why I have ads, even though they are small and will never generate any money. In other words, they are there as a statement of intent.
This blog is here to make money
To do this, it needs an audience. To gain an audience I need to reach people. This means growing my social reach.
In my opinion, my photography is good. I’ve seen other Instagram accounts with photography that is not as good getting great engagement! Good for them. (If you want to improve your photography, and who doesn’t, you should read How To Take Good Pictures)
So why do this? Well, it’s time to start taking this seriously and put the work in. On one hand, I’ve been posting twice per day and putting thought into my captions. I’ve engaged with a handful of people on a regular basis and it has got me this far. I’ve grown from 20 followers to approx 250 in the past year. A good start. On the other hand, it’s not enough. However, now I want to supercharge my efforts and see what happens.
Will putting in the extra work yield any results?
How To Grow Your Instagram
I’ve researched hashtags within Outdoor and lifestyle photography. I’ve chosen those with good engagement, good activity but not too popular as to be inaccessible. These are my targets:
#exploremore #keepitwild #getoutside #ukpotd #britains_talent #icu_britain #photosofbritain #capturingbritain #explore_britain #welivetoexplore
I’ve chosen 10 as a starting point. I will still add extra hashtags to my posts. However, these are the ones that I will be actively going after (see below)
Only 5 At A Time!
The latest update to the Instagram algorithm means that posting more than 5 hashtags per post is considered spammy and you could be shadowbanned for it. Instagram wants real people, acting in a real way and engaging in a natural, constructive way. I’ll also have to keep changing up my hashtags. Repeating the same set over and over is considered robotic and we don’t want that. This also means commenting in a certain way.
When commenting on other people’s posts, you need to avoid looking spammy or robotic. This means posting relevant comments that are longer than 5 words. Avoid the standard “This is great (EMOJI)” This won’t cut it anymore. I see this a lot on “How To Grow Your Instagram” articles. These articles seem to think that having an automated system will work out for you. But, today, you can’t grow if you’re not showing up and putting the hours in.
My Daily To-Do Strategy For Instagram Growth
I will continue to post twice per day. My captions will be meaningful and insightful and tell a story. If you want to know how to take better Instagram photos, check out this article on The One Mistake Holding You Back!
Anyone will tell you when you ask how to grow your Instagram, that hashtags are important. This is how I will use them. Each post will have a maximum of 5 hashtags, featuring 3 from my target 10 list above. I will keep changing up this group for each post. The same hashtags will come back around, but it won’t be the same for every post as Instagram considers this spammy behaviour.
Engage with others
I will follow and comment on a follower of a follower’s posts. However, I am not going to follow-unfollow. Don’t you just hate it when this happens? Me too, so I’m not going to do it. If I follow someone, I need to like their content and it needs to be relevant to me. When I follow them, I will also add a meaningful comment or send them a DM reaching out to connect. The idea is to make a connection. Like business networking.
Imagine a face to face networking event. Who will connect with more people; someone who takes the time to learn about the other people, ask questions and exchange contact info; or the person who hands out a business card, says “wow, you’re awesome (emoji face)” takes your business card AND takes theirs back then moves on and repeats 1000 times?
Yeah. That’s what I thought too.
So I’m going to try and connect with followers of followers because they are likely interested in the same type of content that I am publishing.
I will repeat this for 10 people each day for the next 7 days. As I said, may “how To Grow Your Instagram” articles focus on bots, buying followers, copy-pasting generic comments. This won’t work, and people can tell. We’re on to you!
Expand beyond 2nd-degree connections
For each of those 10 target hashtags, there is a TOP-9 posts list on Instagram. I will comment and interact with the first three of them each day. This means commenting on 30 posts each day. But I still need to comment in a meaningful way. My comments need to be meaningful, insightful, relevant and they need to contribute. No copy pasting is allowed! (they also need to be longer than 5 words – see above).
This is my measure of success. Not follower count! If I have 100 followers (just to make the percentage calculation easy) and I only get 2 likes and 1 comment per post, my engagement is 3, which is 3% of my following being engaged. This is too low.
If each post gets 40 likes and 10 comments, that’s 50% follower engagement. This is the part that others miss out on. Especially if they follow other “How To Grow Your Instagram” articles that focus on automation and bots. I want engaged followers so we can all chat and share content. So does Instagram! This is why I might need to unfollow certain accounts.
Ethical following and unfollowing
Only follow accounts that interest me or I know them personally. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I will have to unfollow people at some point, it will probably happen at the end of the week, and this is why I would do it. Unfollow inactive/ghost/spam/bot accounts AND Follow-Unfollowers.
Inactive or bot accounts hurt your account because it crushes your engagement percentage.
If, after engaging and connecting with someone we follow one another. I followed because they interested me and I wanted to continue interacting with them. BUT, if they unfollow me after following, then I will unfollow them. This isn’t spiteful! This is because they have made it clear they are not interested in engaging with me.
This is a serious business and there is no room for deadweight follows.
Produce other content
I will need to keep my Instagram Story topped up and throw in a live session too. Just to keep the full range of Instagram content at full.
As of writing this post, these are my Instagram Stats. This is where I am today:
- FOLLOWERS 250
- FOLLOWING 229
- AVERAGE ENGAGEMENT PER POST (likes plus comments for the week/number of posts) 39.1
- ENGAGEMENT PERCENTAGE (Average engagement per post / Total followers X 100) 15.6%
- TIME SPENT ON INSTAGRAM PER DAY 20 minutes (estimate)
These are the rules:
Post twice per day.
Write great captions.
Comments need to be relevant, meaningful, insightful and must contribute.
Comments should be longer than 5 words.
Follow and comment on 10 followers of followers each day
Comments on top 3 posts of target 10 hashtags each day (30 comments total)
Reply to comments
Reply to DMs
At the end of the 7 days, clean up – unfollow inactive/ghost/bot/spam/follow-unfollowers.
Now that I’ve written it all down, it seems like a lot of work! But I think this is reassuring. This shows that I’m taking it seriously and I would hope that the hard work will pay off. I’m excited to see how this goes. I would expect there to be some change, but I’m curious to see how much. If I can boost my engagement percentage above 10% that would be great!
As Instagram only shows your posts, initially, to 6% of your followers as a test. If you break through the 6% barrier of your followers then Instagram releases your post further. I want to consistently reach above 10%.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you found something useful. If you want to see how this has gone (if you are reading far into the future) come and join in the conversation on Instagram or Twitter.
How do you approach Instagram? Do you follow-unfollow? Do you hate it as much as I do? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks again, have a great day, watch less, create more,