If you’ve followed me for a while on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that my account has grown a lot since March.
As lockdown occurred, I thought I’d spend time and put more effort into my blog and formulate a social strategy. In March I had 2,300 followers, at the end of April I reached 4,000 followers, this week I’ve reached 14,000.
From the outside, it might seem as though this has just happened… but I can assure you that isn’t the case. Lots of people have asked for Instagram advice…
So I thought I’d demystify the minx that is Instagram, with its pesky algorithm, and share how I’ve managed to reach new, wonderful like minded people.
Sometimes it has been absolutely mad. I’ve gained 1,000 followers in a week before, I’ve also gained 1,500 followers in a day. If you hit the explore page, your stats just explode and then 300,000 people see you in a bikini. Pretty terrifying really.
Personally, I set out to grow my socials and start a mailing list to bring you here, hello! I wanted more people to read my blog and to reach a wider audience to eventually transition into a full-time writer… but I won’t reveal anything more about my future plans yet!
How I gained 10,000 followers in 12 weeks
Engage with other people’s accounts & share them
Instagram is a social platform, the clue is in the social part – you have to engage with other accounts and create relationships with people online.
A like here and there doesn’t cut it, in fact you’ll probably only get suspended on the app for a few hours as a result. You need to comment, share and really engage with your favourite posts, creators and followers.
Sharing other people’s accounts is a great way to grow your own and cement relationships. I gained about 2-3,000 followers by being shared on a much bigger account. As she shared the post on her story and so many people liked it, it then reached the explore page and exploded.
It’s about building a community of people with similar interests to you, that will really help more people discover your account as a result and you’ll forge genuine connections. Win win.
I’ve met so many likeminded people the past few months, connected with other young women who have also lost their Dad or a parent. I’ve had chats with people on everything, from our fave TV shows to mental health to body rolls. It’s been bloody lovely.
Educate yourself about digital and social marketing
I joined Grow & Glow in March to learn more about SEO and growing my social platforms and it has been amazing! 90% of what I’m sharing here I’ve learnt through Grow & Glow.
Using Vix’s advice I’ve been able to grow my traffic on all of my platforms. G&G’s expertise really helps anyone trying to grow a personal brand or business.
I’d also recommend Consistency’s Rise & Grind ebook as it has really useful advice for growing your Instagram too.
When you use Hashtags right, it’s a game changer.
If you have a niche (e.g. your whole account and blog focuses on your budget home renovation) then your hashtag strategy will be even easier to nail.
Hashtags essentially tell Instagram what your photo is. But the key is to use the full 30 hashtags all of which need to have under 300k uses.
Research your hashtags to make sure your photo lines up with the type of photos under that tag. Then create a bank of them so you have them at the ready to copy and paste into your post or as a comment on your post.
You also have to remember to also change these hashtags every 2-3 posts or Instagram may think that you’re spam.
It’s also worth looking back and seeing if you landed on the top of that page for that hashtag or appear on the recent tab. If you don’t, then the tag might not have related to the photo, so it didn’t appear. Then you know in future not to use that tag for that kind of photo.
You pretty much have to use social media everyday to grow your account. Engage with other accounts, post stories, sometimes post to the feed everyday (though I found every other day worked better), to make sure you’re active on the app.
It’s really important to be consistent with your social and blog if you’re trying to grow them and create some kind of schedule/content plan/idea. I’ve written more about how I manage my time and create a schedule here.
Figure out the kind of content you want to create AND then figure out what content your followers find interesting/useful
The best way to figure out why your audience follows you is to change up your style.
I have several content pillars on my blog (though I often stray outside of this and struggle to keep a niche!) so I have several things I usually talk about such as overcoming struggles with your body, life and mental health, positivity, books and life after university.
But then how do I convey that in photographs?
Well I try out different things to see what works. Indoor, outdoor, different rooms, doing different things. It’s actually quite hard to convey certain things in an engaging photo sometimes especially if you don’t use photoshop to add any whimsical aspects in to make it more interesting.
A considerable amount of people that follow me on Instagram don’t read my blog as I don’t post fashion content. I get a lot of requests to write about fashion… but I don’t have anything to say (yet) about it.
I might think of how it relates to my general tone and style of writing eventually, but I’m not going to do it for the sake of it as it’s not the purpose of my blog. But I do post photos in my clothes – don’t wanna be naked after all – so to an extent, people that want to see my fashion (if a dress a day is fashion) do on Instagram.
Assess how your post performed
It might sound dry, but go back and look at how your last 6-9 posts have performed. It will help you figure out the best time to post (your insights will show you that to) and the type of content that your audience follows you for and what they find useful.
Then you can ask yourself, is what your audience finds useful, what you want to post? To then decide what to create next.
In the same way as checking if your hashtags work for your image, do your photos align with the messages you’re trying to get across? Does it provide any value? Is there a conversation starter in the caption?
For full transparency I did promote a few posts on IG. Nothing crazy, £10 here or there, to reach a wider audience. The thing with social platforms is that they want you to use every section of it e.g. IG posts, stories, IGTV, Ads.
BUT, it did nothing in comparison to hitting the explore page. I’ve gained most of my followers from creating content people engage with organically which then hits the explore page.
Doing ads did help when I went for my current role as Marketing Executive as I had experience of using ads on social media and had assessed how they performed etc. I now do that at work too.
I haven’t done an IGTV yet as it turns out I hate watching myself back on camera! But maybe one day eh?
Other things I’ve gained from focusing on growing my socials and blog other than the overhyped 10k swipe up:
- I’ve got to connect with tons of brilliant creative women
- I’ve learnt more about social and email marketing, which helps me in my job role
- I’ve developed more experience for my CV with social, influencer and email marketing
- I have a better understanding of how social platforms work and which to use to drive traffic to my site
- I’ve been able to work with some amazing brands
- I’ve grown a passion for communicating through social media and email marketing
- I’ve started a mailing list & a monthly newsletter – thanks to the lovely humans that read it!
- I’ve been able to grow my personal brand
- My monthly blog views have grown exponentially – I have 5 times as many views per month as I did in March.
- I’ve connected with like minded young women who have lost their Dad’s at a young age – we’ve discussed bereavement and our grief. It’s been so lovely.
- Funny stories with my family and little adventures to new places.
- Tons of awful photos of myself most of which I’ve kept as I find the faces I pull accidentally hilarious.
What are your top tips for using Instagram?