Growing an Instagram following has never been an easy task. However, since Instagram has made recent changes to their algorithm, it has become even harder. Since my livelihood is based on building my own IG following as well as those of my clients, I have worked hard to develop strategies to attract new fans despite the increasing challenge to get seen. Here are 5 strategies I use to ensure popular, quickly-growing, and well-engaged Instagram accounts for me and my clients.
Post Only High Quality Content
This concept is not exactly groundbreaking, but I cannot stress enough how immensely important this is. As Instagram becomes more and more saturated with users posting beautiful content, your images become more likely to be skimmed over. Competition is fierce and consumers are more stingy with likes and follows. People want to follow accounts that are visually set apart from others in a particular way. Let’s be honest…There are thousands and thousands of beauty accounts that post endless images of piles of makeup products, or fashion accounts posting pretty outfits. What can you offer that is truly different and special? People want something that is both intellectually and aesthetically engaging. It is ideal to post every day, but since this isn’t always possible, aim for AT LEAST 4-5 times per week. However, if you do not have something high quality to post, it is better to skip a couple days than post something subpar.
Use 30-60 Hashtags
Once you have an amazing photo ready to post, it is vital to use hashtags in order to get that image seen. The more hashtags, the better. Each hashtag is a potential door to an entire group of viewers who like to browse that tag. You should use at least 30 tags per post, and are allowed to use up to 60. In order to use 60, you must break them into 2 groups of 30. Post the first 30 in a comment following your image, then go back and edit your caption to add the second group. It is best to use hashtags that have a minimum of 100,000 previous uses on Instagram and a maximum of a few million. Any hashtag with less than 100k does not get used/searched very often. Any more than a few million and your post will quickly get lost. I like to use a mix of hashtags within this range and save them in lists in the notes app of my phone so that I can easily copy and paste.
Engage With Other Accounts
Spend time engaging with others accounts every day. Reply to comments and DMs (excluding spam and creepers) to build a trusting relationship with your fans; seek out similar accounts to your own and interact with them; search hashtags that you frequently use and like/comment on those photos; browse the newest additions to the follower lists of your competitors and engage with them. Doing all of this will keep current fans interested as well as gain the interest on new ones.
Do Not Buy Fake Followers
It is so incredibly important to not purchase fake followers, and yet it seems like around half of bloggers do it anyway. It may seem like a quick and easy way to get ahead, but here are many reasons why it is a terrible idea. First of all, follower count is a major factor that companies consider when offering an influencer a paid collaboration. By having fake fans, you are lying to these companies about the amount of exposure that they will be paying for. It would be similar to lying about your credentials and schooling when applying for a job. Secondly, it is a slap in the face to the influencers who work their asses off to gain organic followers. They steal collaborations and opportunities from these hardworking influencers. Thankfully, there are now ways for anyone to check whether followers are real or fake. For example, you can enter any Instagram username at www.followercheck.co and their software will analyze whether or not their followers are genuine. When I am doing blogger outreach for a client, I enter any suspicious-looking influencers into FollowerCheck. If I find they have fake followers, my clients will not work with them and I lose respect for them on a personal level as well.
Consider Investing in Bots and Loop Giveaways
Loops and bots are a controversial subject among influencers. Not everyone likes them, but it is worthwhile to learn about them and make your own educated decision. Loop giveaways involve a group of 20-60 (typically 50-60) Instagrammers who each chip in to purchase a large prize to give away. Instagrammer A tags Instagrammer B in the giveaway caption, Instagrammer B tags C, C tags D, and so on until the last one tags Instagrammer A, which then forms a loop. Entrants are required to follow the entire loop. Generally the buy-in for a loop ranges from $30-$60 and a good loop will yield around 800-1,000 new followers. Typically around 30-40% of them unfollow you afterwards, but several hundred will stick around. Some people frown on these giveaways because they consider it buying followers. I don’t agree. I don’t see it as any different than paying for exposure through an advertisement–People who are interested in what I post will stick around, and if they aren’t then they’ll leave.
Bots are another touchy subject. There are quite a few websites where you can pay a small fee for the site’s robot (or “bot”) to like, comment, and follow Instagram accounts based on specifications you provide. You need to be very careful if you choose to experiment with one of them. First of all, I strongly discourage the follow/unfollow feature that many of them push. You are essentially tricking people into following you because they think you are a new fan, but really your account will unfollow their’s soon after. Aside from the moral issue of that, the bots will often make mistakes. They often follow/unfollow the same accounts over and over. I’ve seen some bloggers do it to me 7 or 8 times and even though I know it’s really just a bot, it gets so annoying that I actually block them. They will also sometimes unfollow your real friends which is pretty embarrassing and awkward! Though I currently do not use bots for any of my clients, I do think using one to like images based on hashtags you provide is very helpful. It is mindless and monotonous work that you would (or should) be doing to boost engagement anyway!
Do you use any of these strategies? Do you find them helpful?
Milk Blur Stick (primer)