Been creating content for a while now and can't seem to get your sh*t seen by anyone? No idea how to grow followers on instagram? Sick of trying to figure out the algorithm? Getting resentful of those around you who seem to be getting something you don't and growing by the thousands? Stuck in an insta rut and about to give up on the platform completely?
Yup, we've all been there, me especially! And I've just written a post over on my blog that I wanted to re-post here for you guys, my fellow WeBloggers.
Whether you're a blogger or small business, an influencer or service - there's no getting away from the fact that instagram can be a fantastic and largely free marketing and branding tool for us all. But it's not much use if we don't have an audience to market too. It's no good to use if we don't have any followers. But how the heck do we grow followers on instagram anyway?
If you know WeBlog, you know that we're not about follower count - which may seem strange considering the title of the blog post. Nope, we're all about championing engaged followings, whether you have 150,000 or 150 followers, your content is a powerful tool and as long as your audience are into what you're saying, you can both be influential and earn money from a platform like instagram and/or drive a helluva lot of traffic to your business/brand.
This post has come about from my recent reignited love of instagram and reaching a personal milestone of 5000 followers. BUT, it will be useful to anyone, big or small, newbie or pro. So go on, grab a cuppa and have a read...
How to grow followers on instagram
Blog, taken from a post originally posted, by me, on HollyGoesLightly.
Disclaimer: this is not a "quick-fix' option. This is not about being disingenuous. This is a post that may help you fellow content-creators out there, who are stuck in a rut and suffering the effects of the algorithm. This post is aimed at those who are genuinely working hard to get their sh*t seen and want to reach a larger audience to share their content. These are also tips based on my experience of the industry, my personal growth and knowledge of instagram.
As I said above, there is no quick fix that'll make you have 5,000 followers on instagram overnight (sorry)! Quite the contrary, it takes a lot of work and time. That's why you've got to love instagram and why your reasons have got to be genuine.
Of course, you could get lucky and go viral and/or have an epic shout-out from a big account, but those events happen few and far between and you still want to ensure that the audience you do have, are genuine and actually interested in your content - otherwise, what's the point?
Based on my experience of using the platform for a few years now and approximately 18 months of using it for my business, here's a few tips that'll help with your instagram growth too:
Grow followers on instagram...
Create good content
Sounds obvious right? Wrong! With over a billion monthly active users on instagram, there are a lot of people, looking at a lot of content. Therefore if yours doesn't stand out in some way, who's going to bother liking it or following you? So you either have to have fantastic images that speak for themselves, or be seriously good with your captions. But there's no getting away from the fact that the image is what hooks people first. So:
- Create beautiful imagery - use your camera, your phone or an image creator like Canva
- Be thoughtful / interesting / helpful in your captions
- Be entertaining - people are looking to laugh, cry or be stopped in their tracks by content these days
Don't be so literal
For ages I knew what I wanted to say on insta, but didn't know how to portray that in image. I thought my grid had to perfectly reflect the content I was sharing and my captions. How wrong I was! One of the key ways I got 5000 followers on instagram was by not worrying about my images being so literal to what I was saying! Instead, I'd bank some nice photos and use them as a vehicle to say what I wanted to say in the captions. Sometimes these are portraits, sometimes they're a picture of a nice view or a piece of furniture - go on, try it!
Post regularly and consistently & find the right time for your audience
This is two tips in one really. With the algorithm set against us (or at least it feels like it sometimes) and so much content for users to sift through, one of the ways to grow followers on instagram, is to post regularly and consistently. It's up to you what this means. For me, it means once a day 5-6 times a week at the same times, either 7.30am or 7.30pm. Why these times? Because after a lot of research, using my insights and trial and error, I discovered that the majority of my audience were using the platform at these times and engaging with my content.
If you're a business, you may find that posting 2-3 times a day is what's needed to get you attention and for some, once or twice a week might be enough. However much you decide, make it regular and consistent so your audience knows when to find you!
Your short bio speaks volumes
My instagram bio is another thing that remained untouched for months. I underestimated how powerful those few characters were to grow followers on instagram. In fact, I think one of the key ways I got to 5000, was because my bio was clear and succinct. It meant that if anyone was discovering my page, they new straight away if it was likely to interest them. I still tweak mine every now and then, but largely, I think I've found my groove for now...
An extra little tip here, is to know that you can use hashtags in your bio too and you'll be found under those search terms as well. Also, play around with the visuals - you may want to break up the text with line spaces, emojis or even different fonts (use an instagram font generator like this one).
Grow followers on instagram without hashtags? Not gonna happen! There literally is no way your content will get found on insta if you don't use hashtags in your posts. Include them in the caption, or just below in the first comment...it doesn't really matter. Here are a few hashtag specific tips to help you:
- You can use up to 30, so don't be afraid to. Mix it up. I've found that 11-15 specific hashtags work well for me, but if I can think of 30 that work, I'll use them!
- Experiment with new ones - don't be afraid to try new hashtags, in fact instagram prefers it and has been known to penalise (or "shadow-ban") due to using the same hashtags continually (basically, because it looks spammy).
- Let instagram suggest ones for you - use the search bar and type your subject and insta will throw up a whole load of other ones in a similar field. Or if you click through to that hashtag specifically, you'll see a whole load of suggestions underneath...fall down the rabbit hole!
- Choose hashtags that have more than 10,000 posts and less than 1 million. In general, this will give you the best chance of being seen. Any hashtags under this amount may not be used/searched very often (though some will be and will grow quickly, so keep this in mind) and anything over a million, you're just a drop in the ocean and will be on the discover page for a matter of nano-seconds. Again, best thing is to mix it up.
Be social! Engagement is key!
Basically, for instagram growth, you need to remember why you're using the platform in the first place. It's a social platform that's designed to connect people. Yes, it's use now by businesses and for brands to advertise, but the main connector is connection! So you can't expect people to like or engage with your content, if you're not doing the same too.
- Only post when you've got at least 15-20 mins to engage with your audience and other posts afterwards (this really does seem to help the algorithm and makes instagram take notice that your post must be worthwhile serving to other people)
- If someone likes your image, check out their content too and give them a like back.
- If someone takes the time to comment on your content, be polite and take the time to reply and maybe even start a conversation.
- Be helpful - if you see someone has asked a question or perhaps you've seen on someone else's post something that you could help with. Even if there's no direct gain to you, be helpful. People will remember that and at the end of the day, it pays to be nice!
- Share the love - there's no denying that a lot of instagram growth these days comes from shout-outs. Content creators or brands, sharing their favourite accounts. It's a great way to introduce new accounts to their readers and spread-the-love. So have a go yourself. Share some accounts you love and you might just get some love back.
Which leads me on nicely to my final tip on how to get 5000 followers on instagram...
Use the explore page
Now you're using the platform properly again, it's time to fall in love with insta again too. If you're not enjoying instagram as a user, you probably won't enjoy it as a creator or business. Fed up? Obsessed with your follower count going up and down daily? Wondering why your amazing image only has 30 likes and 1 auto-bot comment? Starting to resent other accounts that are seemingly doing well and growing by the 1000s? Hey, we've all been there! Get exploring...
When I was in a serious insta-rut, I decided I had to fall in love with the platform again and start to use it positively. I began to use the explore page (that little search icon on the bottom left of the app) and would choose 10-15 new accounts daily, that I wasn't already following - I'd look at their content, like, engage, comment and enjoy what they had to offer. Consequently I'd find new inspiration and instagram would serve be a whole new raft of content that I also loved. I was enjoying it again! And guess what, I was getting discovered too!
So there you have it. If like me, you're frustrated and stagnant with your instagram growth and would like to grow your following, then try the above for a few weeks and you'll see just what a difference it makes.
Like this post? You might also find our post on how to get more backlinks and 3 small changes that'll transform your content, useful too. Enjoy!