The first thing I want to tell you is something you probably already know: More followers is not necessarily going to move the needle for your on Instagram. Today on le blog, we’re talking about 20 Instagram growth tips that will, yes, increase your follower count, but more importantly – they will help teach your audience that you’re an authoritative expert in your niche and that you can help them get the results they’re looking for.
It’s easy to get caught up in numbers. We all do at some point! I just want you to know that it’s the QUALITY, the RELEVANCY, and the CONSISTENCY of your content that matters over everything else. When you focus on those things, you’ll end up with the following and community that you’re craving.
1.) Don’t do anything shady
Girl, I know the struggle. But don’t buy followers or likes. And don’t do follow/unfollow. You won’t build an engaged audience by doing any of those things, anyway! Don’t try to cheat the system, because Instagram is cracking down on this. It’s deffff a waste of time and money.
2.) Edit your images consistently to keep it on-brand
Boring tip, but I gotta say it! Use an image editing app to apply the same or similar filters to all of your images. By sticking to a cohesive theme, you’re creating a branded feed and making yourself more recognizable within the app.
3.) Only post when you have time to engage
Posting and ghosting does not work You have to HAVE TO engage with other people if you want followers or engagement on your own profile. Think about it: Social media is SOCIAL. Instagram growth is about making connections.
So every time you post to the ‘gram, show up for your people, cheer them on, and comment genuinely with more than 4 words on their posts. (No comments that say “Great post!” or “nice image!” or “Love this!” – they’ll know you’re not being genuine.)
4.) Show up (Like, actually your face)
Your people want to see you. Believe me. Make sure that in your tip 9 images (What people see when they come to your profile) that you have a picture of YOU in it.
5.) Get on stories (IMPORTANT)
Ever since the chronological feed rolled out, it’s superrrrr important to get creative to get back in front of your audience. Posting on your stories gets you back at the top of your followers’ feed, which we all want.
Most IG experts recommend posting on stories at least one time per day (with at least a few slides) but even better would be posting 3x per day: Once in the AM, once midday, and once in the evening. You’ll get more of a chance of having your followers actually tap on your story and watch it.
Speaking of IG experts, check out Elisa Darma’s YouTube channel for tons of helpful tips, especially tips about how to use Instagram stories for your business.
6.) Do your hashtag research
One of the best ways to do hashtag research is to make sure that your ideal clients are using and following the hashtags you plan to use. Find a few of your ideal clients on IG and check out what hashtags they use on their posts. Chances are, they follow some of those hashtags as well. Take a look at each of those hashtags and see if you can find more of your ideal clients posting in them. If so, you’ve probably got a winner.
When you’re making a list of hashtags to use for your business, make sure you’ve got a good mix of smaller hashtags and bigger ones. You don’t want to focus on hashtags that all have 1M+ posts in them – your posts will probably never see the light of day beyond your current followers. Grab some hashtags with under 50k posts in them, some with 50-250k posts in them, and then add some that have tons of posts in them. Mix it up + you’ll get more visibility.
Here’s some hashtag research tools I love:
Your Instagram scheduling tool might also have hashtag research and suggestion capabilities, so if you use one of those guys (my favorite one is Later) dig into what they can do for you in the area of hashtags,
7.) Use all 30 hashtags
There are a few different opinions on this, but Instagram lets you use 30 hashtags per post. Each hashtag is an opportunity to appear in front of a different (but hopefully related) audience. So use ’em all! But you shouldn’t just copy and paste the same 30 hashtags on every post. More on that in the next tip.
8.) Use hashtag groups
A way to minimize the work that goes into your hashtag research AND avoid getting dinged by Instagram for using irrelevant hashtags is to use hashtag groups. You should have a few different “content buckets” that you post about on your profile. Have one group of 30 hashtags for each content bucket. There might be a bit of hashtag overlap going on and that’s okay. Just make an attempt to have at least half of your hashtags from each group specific to that group.
Here’s an example of what 2 different hashtag groups might look like.
- Hashtag group 1: Creative business owner | #communityovercompetition #calledtobecreative #designalifeyoulove #smallbizowner #smallbusinessowner #creativityfound #dreamersanddoers #ridingtidesociety #creativecommunity #byoboss
- Hashtag group 2: Mom life | #wahmlife #wahm #workfromhomemom #momsofig #momblogger #mytinymoments #mompreneur #momswithcameras #motherhoodinspired #sahmlife #candidchildhood #letthembelittle #stopdropandmom #magicofchildhood
You’ll want 30 hashtags per group, but these are two of my own hashtag groups because I’m a web designer and two of my content buckets are work from home mom life + life as a creative business owner.
9.) Include a CTA
It’s sooooo important to tell people what to do after they’ve read your post. You can’t really drop links in an Instagram post effectively, so ask them to do something easier, like watch your stories, comment on the post, or to DM you. Every time you don’t use a CTA you’re losing out on an opportunity to grow your account’s engagement rate/make sales/connect with your followers.
10.) Tag feature accounts in your images (Only where relevant)
I want to preface this tip by saying don’t tag account personal/business accounts in posts unless they or their products are services are being featured or talked about. You probably already know this, but I want to cover my butt here.
If you’re posting about how Flodesk is the best email marketing platform ever and giving some tips on how to use it, tag Flodesk. If you’re posting about some handmade products that you love from a small business of some sort, tag them.
Feature accounts or theme pages are usually run by someone (usually not a brand) who posts images related to a specific niche – like women in business, corgis, web design, or home office organization. If something you’re posting looks like something that they would feature on their account, you can tag them in the post. If they like the post, they might reach out and ask if they can report it.
Usually, this is good news for you (if they credit you, that is – if they don’t, just DM the account and ask for a credit) because you’ll get followers from that feature account coming over to check out your own posts and stories. Win-win situation right there!
11.) Create a few “content buckets” and stick to them
This is more of a guideline than a rule, to be honest with you. *Cue Caption Barbossa smile here*
But it really does helps with your consistency and audience growth to decide what you’ll be posting about on your account and stick to those topics. 4-6 content “buckets” is a good number to stick to (generally speaking) but you may have less than that depending on what you’re going for with your account.
My content buckets are these:
- Work from home mom life
- WordPress web design
- Website maintenance + security
- Email marketing w/ Flodesk
- Lead magnet ideas/tips
12.) Make use of weird holidays to fill in gaps
Social media/mini-holidays can help you fill in gaps when you don’t have lots to say or you’re taking it slower on social media/Instagram.
And a lot of people find these fun even if you’re super active on the ‘gram. Days like “Clean Off Your Desk Day” or “National Napping Day” are a thing – so find some of those holidays that you think would be relevant to your audience and create + schedule some posts for yourself.
Here’s a few resources for this:
13.) Be consistent
Goes without saying, but the only way for people to become familiar with who you are and what you do is if you’re consistently showing up in their feeds. Most IG experts recommend something like 3-4 posts per week along with showing up on stories daily.
I’ve seen pretty great results from that schedule myself – the thought of almost daily stories freaked me out a bit at first, but you really only need a little bit each day. And schedule out your posts in advance so that you don’t have to sit down and plan a post + write a new caption 3-4 times per week.
14.) Post at the right times
If you have a business profile, you have access to your IG analytics from the last week inside of the app. Including when most of your followers are using Instagram! Use this info (it’ll be different for everyone) to decide when to schedule your posts for.
15.) Reply to all comments (For as long as possible)
When you’re starting out, reply to alllllll your comments. Especially if someone took the time to leave a thoughtful comment on your post, comment back for sure. Connecting with your followers is the BEST way to build a loyal following. Keeping your current followers engaged is a lot less work than winning new followers is.
16.) Collab with other IGers
This is an interesting way to get in front of someone else’s audience and to allow them in front of your audience in return. You could do a “stories takeover” swap with another account or you could go live with another account. Choice is yours! Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Either way, this ends up benefitting both sides as long as your audiences are a similar size with similar interests.
- Here’s how to do an Instagram story takeover
- And here’s how to go live on Instagram with another account
17.) Use Instagram live
I know, the idea of going live is overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. But believe me, it gets so much easier once you do it. Going live on Instagram gives your audience an opportunity to interact with you in real-time without DMing you, which can feel a bit more personal than some people might feel comfortable with if they don’t know you very well.
When you’re live, your followers can react to your video and ask you questions that you can answer for them then and there. It’s so valuable in terms of connecting with your followers, so try it out! Lots of small business owners will do a weekly or monthly Instagram live so that their followers know when to expect them to show up.
If you’re worried about going live for the first time, try going live on Facebook in a private group that only you or you and a friend have access to. Once you have experience going live a few times, I’m willing to bet that you’ll be a lot more comfortable with the idea of going live in front of a group.
18.) Interact with top and recent posts in all of the hashtags you use
Interaction + engagement is important on Instagram. Whether or not you follow Gary Vaynerchuck’s 1.80 formula or not (lots of people do and lots of people don’t) interacting with the top posts in the hashtags you regular post to is a great idea.
By leaving thoughtful and relevant comments on those top posts (or recent ones, if you’ve already commented on the top posts) you’ll grow your audience.
19.) Use IGTV (You get links even if you don’t have 10k followers)
Adding informative + thorough videos to your IGTV profile will help get new eyes on your content. There’s a smaller audience on IGTV than there is on Youtube, for example – but you have the ability to get in front of your ideal audience a little easier over here.
Using follower growth tactics that surround finding the exact type of person you want to help COMBINED with posting helpful IGTV episodes (and story content, of course) is such a killer strategy. As soon as they land on your profile, they make a decision about whether or not to check out what you’ve got going on. And if you’ve got some awesome IGTV content available for them to binge watch, chances are that they will if they have the time, which is great news for you.
20.) Send people from other platforms to your Instagram
If IG isn’t your strongest platform, invite your followers to join you on the other platforms you’re on (especially your best platform, obviously)
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