Friday, January 20, 2017

The Complete Guide to Blogging - Part 4


(for all part of this series click here)

Hello hello! I know this is long overdue, but part 4 of my blogging series is finally here!!! Yeah!!!! The reason why it took me so long to get this up was because between getting all my Halloween shoots done and getting ready for the holiday season I wanted to make sure I took my time with this post since it's so important. 

Today we are going to be talking about something that I get asked on the daily, "How do I grow my Instagram?" When Instagram recently changed from showing posts in chronological order to featuring what they think is relevant was definitely a game changer. I'm not gonna lie I was a part of the few that had an "Insta-Freakout" once I found out the changes that were going to be implemented.  It's no secret that the recent algorithm change has made it more difficult for bloggers, instagrammers, boutiques, and other businesses to grow their following organically. 

Those of you who are starting to build your following might feel a little discouraged, but just like anything else in life we can learn to adapt when change is implemented. And remember, "You got this!" If you want to know the tips and tricks that I've used to grow my following, then keep on reading. 

Side Note: This is a longggg post so if you don't have time now, pin the first picture onto Pinterest, and return when you are ready to dig in deep :)

Hashtags



Hashtags are such an amazing way to grow your following through instagram. They categorize your posts so they are grouped together. If you are a fashion blogger, someone can easily find your account by using the hashtags #fashionblogger #fblogger. If you choose the "right" hashtags, then it will make yourself discoverable to new followers. If you don't use hashtags then the only people who can see your content will be those who already follow you. Currently you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, and I highly recommend that you use every single one that pertains to your brand.

Relevant Hashtags

You want the biggest "bang for your buck" each time you post content. As previously stated, hashtags are a way for users to find imagery or accounts that pertain to their interests. By using hashtags that are relevant to your brand, you reduce the chance of someone glancing over your image because the hashtag didn't pertain to the image. Take me for example. Clearly I am not a mother so the hashtag #mommyblogger wouldn't do me any good. People who are looking for mommy bloggers are interested in lifestyle and family, which clearly isn't my brand. Since I am a fashion and fitness blogger, my relevant hashtags would be #fblogger, #fashionblogger, #liketkit, #blogger, #ontheblog, #azblogger, #fitspo, #fitnessblogger, #fashionista, #fitchick, #ootd, #whatiwore, etc. 

Get into the Top 9 

"What is the top 9?" you may ask yourself. Every hashtag has the "Top 9" boxes, whenever you search a specific hashtag. Getting into one of the top 9 boxes is amazing exposure for you account, and leads to more organic growth. Okay well how do I get into the top 9? Glad you asked.....
Once you decided your instagram account niche research the relevant hashtags that you can use for your posts. From there you want to A/B test your hashtags, and figure out which # per post can get you in the top 9 spot. For those of you who are just starting to build your following include hashtags that are used, but not overly used. Lets use an example to make sense out of this. 
In my hashtags I use a spectrum of used # including some that aren't overly used. One I use consisently is #azblogger which has 32k posts compared to using #blogger which has 28 million posts. See how I am apart of the top 9 for #azblogger? Getting into the top 9 spot is based not only on the number of likes per post, but also takes into account your audience's engagement. This is the perfect note to end our hashtag lecture, and dive into another subject audience engagement.

Engagement



Engagement is so key when it comes to growing your audience. Your followers keep following you because they feel connected to you, and a good way to stay connected is by actively engaging.

Captions

Aside from pretty imagery showcasing your life the captions are going to get the engagement started. While the image sets the stage for engagement, the caption creates the mood for the post. The caption allows your followers to build a better connection with you that is just outside of pretty pictures. By having captions that open up to authentic conversations between you and your follower increases your followings connection with you and your brand. 

Responding to Comments

Responding to your followers is something that nurtures your relationship you have between you and your following. We all have our insta favs, and get so giddy when they respond to our questions. Don't you want to be able to do that to your following? I'm all about making people feel special, and try my hardest to answer to all my readers comments. When it comes to my blog I can respond to each and every comment, but sometimes I find it hard to do the same thing on Instagram. I think if you always make a constructed effort to respond to your following that they will see that, and appreciate that it's actually you taking the time to respond vs someone you pay to manage your social media. 

Cheat the System - Comment Pods 

Comment what-the-heck? Let me introduce you. A comment pod is the newest rage amongst active instagrammers who are trying to grow their following. A pod is a group of instagrammers that are apart of a dm group that like and comment on each others posts. Whenever someone has a new post they send it to the group dm where others go to engage on that post. 
What's the purpose of all this work? Glad you asked...
Since Instagram changed from chronological order to showcasing posts that are more popular this is a way to bypass the new algorithm. By being apart of a pod it shows higher engagement on your profile , which then makes Instagram think that your material is popular enough to share, thus increasing the visibility of your material through the feed. I personally have tried this technique, and it honestly works! I started working in two groups back in November-Janurary, and saw an increase in growth. When the new year hit I decided to drop myself out of the groups simply because I couldn't keep up. Being apart of a pod you need to be actively engaged, and I felt like I was constantly on my phone. Ultimately I decided that I needed to be more present at home, dropped out of the groups, and not always be on my phone. 


Pictures



What separates Instagram from any other social media is that it's all based upon pictures. Since I am a photographer I live by imagery, thus making Instagram my favorite social media tool. There are three types of images that I use on my instagram account: images from a blogpost to promote the daily post, selfies, and flatlays. Each successful instgram account is unique to it's own, and has it's own style. My style for my account is colorful, and bright with natural light. Before I decide to post any image on my account I make sure it's edited, and matches the esthetic of my account. I hate using filters on my images, and edit with these apps: VSCO, Afterlight, and Facetune

Tagging / Regram



One of the ways I have really grown my following is my tagging companies or people in my images. By tagging companies it does 2 things for you. A) It allows people who are interested in the company to look onto their posts they were tagged in, and allow you to be discovered by a new readership. B) Companies love seeing their products being used, and will often regram the images. Whenever my stuff gets regrammed I always see a wave of new followers to my account. 

I hope you all liked part 4 of this series, and am hoping to get part 5 up for you in two weeks. For my next part of the series I was thinking about going over DSLR basics, and how to improve your blog photos like a professional. If there is a different topic that you think you would like to see before that let me know :)

14 comments:

  1. What about follow/unfollow and loop giveaways/brand collab giveaways? How much of your growth do you think came from those? I'm also curious if you use an automator of any kind?

    It's interesting that you've seen good results from regramming. I've been regrammed by brands/accounts with big followings and I can count on one hand the number of follows I've gotten from it. :( Clearly my imagery is good (otherwise they wouldn't regram!) so it's odd to me why it works for some people (you) and not others (me). The only exception is one time a brand included a CTA in their caption about what I'm an expert on / why they should follow me, and I got like 200 follows from that! But just plain regrams do jack for me. :(

    Anyway thanks for the summary! :)

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    1. Hello. So if you look on part 3 I actually talk about loop giveaways. With the follow unfollow then chances are you are going to be getting accounts to follow you that won't add to
      Your engagement. Lots of those who do the follow / unfollow will get more numbers but with the way Instagram is set up now with its algorithm you want to aim for followers that will engage with you to increase your visibility on people's feed. Also from a company's perspective who's looking into collaborating they won't only look at your following count but also look at your comments to see if your audience is actually engaged with you. Hope that makes sense if not tell me to clarify more :)

      The only time I don't get tons of followers from a regram is when a company regrams me and my face isn't shown. Example baublebar just regrammed me yesterday and showed a picture of my neck with a choker on it. I didn't get any followers from it even though they have 410k following because it just looked like a product photo. Recently sweet carolines style regrammed a pic of me from a styled shoot I did and because my face was showing I got tons of followers from that. Whenever a company asks if they can regram you ask if you can give them an image that also contains the product but also shows your face so their audience doesn't think it's just a stock photo. Ps I'm writing this on my phone in bed so if there are grammatical errors I apologize

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    2. Also for regram I do ask the company that they do mention my handle in the comments and tag me as well. Having your handle in the comments immediately grabs the companies following vs them having to click on the tags

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    3. Oh you're right I forgot that you had already mentioned loops! Nevermind. :) Those are good thoughts about the brand regrams. I've had some regrams that fit those criteria, but it might help to try to emphasize them more. Thanks for the examples!

      Insta is so frustrating for me. >_< I feel like my biggest struggle right now is that it's a very community-focused platform, at least in my niche, and while I can refine my pics forever, I feel like if people don't feel connected with me, they won't follow. And I frankly suck at that! I'm good at sharing information and teaching people things, but I'm horrible at human connection. And since I'm not exceptionally pretty/photogenic and I don't show a lot of skin (and I think everyone knows those two go a loooong way for Insta!) that means I kind of have to be likable, lol.

      P.S. An automator is a bot, like Instagress where it automatically likes photos with certain hashtags, or follows people, or leaves comments, or all 3. I've tried one that likes photos from certain hashtags but I only get modest results.

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    4. One thing I've learned from insta is that people
      Follow you because of you. So many people are so scared to show themselves so publically which is totally understandable. I think that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable and showing that to your audience is part of being human.

      Every person is unique in their own way, and we all have our insecurities. I don't think that you need to be what is deemed to be "pretty" or "photogenic" because that's a standard we all hold in our head that we need to look like Adriana lima. We as women are beautiful in our own individual way, and having your face behind your brand will seriously take you miles. You got this 👊🏻

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  2. awesome insta tips! I definitely agree with you on many of these! The only thing I couldn't get into were comment pods - the groups I was in didn't comment genuinely so it was a big waste of my time, sadly!

    stop by and chat :) http://storybookapothecary.com

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    1. I completely agree all
      Comment pods are created equal. You need to find that killer group of girls that are willing to commit

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  3. I love your insta! Thanks for all the tips and suggestions in this post. I read it all :)

    http://www.mylittlenest.org

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  4. Love this information! So helpful!!

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    1. Thank you Kelsey! Let me know if any of the tips help your insta grow

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  5. I love how comprehensive the guide is! Everyone is wanting to learn about how to figure out Instagram. But while some of these tips are already common knowledge, I like how you've expounded on them and incorporated practical tips!

    Abby of Life in the Fash Lane

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