(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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 :)