As a blogger, growing my social media presence is a very important aspect of my work and for the past month now I've been trying to grow my Instagram organically, and thankfully I've had some success with this, gaining 2,000 new followers in the past month and passing the 7,000 follower mark. My Instagram is @fiandtylerlee for anyone reading this who's curious about my account.
However, when it comes to Instagram, the number of followers you have isn't everything. I've come across accounts with 10,000+ followers but with very low engagement, getting 100 or less likes on pictures and very little comments, and for me, Instagram is all about engagement and community. So, as well as growing my followers I also wanted to grow my engagement, and thankfully that's gone very well for me too, with my pictures going from an average of 150+ likes and a few comments to 300+ likes and 50+ comments on pictures, doubling my engagement if you will.
So, I thought I would share how I've grown my Instagram organically, for anyone else who's trying to grow theirs too. There aren't any special secrets, just tips and tricks that have really paid off for me. I hope they'll be useful to others too.
My Instagram feed - bright, light and full of what I love in life
Keep it consistent. My Instagram is very personal. I share pictures of my boys, my photography and lots of things I love on there. I don't use it for promotional purposes, unless something will fit in well on my gallery without sticking out like a sore thumb.
For example, I'm happy to share pictures of my boys wearing clothes that were sent to us for a collaboration, but a household item we may be sent for review on the blog, such as a vacuum cleaner, wouldn't look natural on my feed so I don't share things like that on my Insta. Basically, I keep everything on topic and don't post anything that would look far-fetched and out of sorts on my feed.
Have a theme. The most successful Instagram accounts all seem to have a theme, and although mine never really did, for the past month I've been trying to establish one by focusing on my boys, my photography and bright, beautiful flowers.
I try to post just three times a day and my first post of the day is always a nature/flower picture with a 'good morning' greeting and then my other two posts are usually photography, my boys or anything I love and want to share. I think my theme is very 'me' and identifiable to my personality and my blog theme too and I think it's good to have everything tie in together and be representative of me and what I love.
My picture of Beau's 4 month update as a top post in three of the tags I used in my picture description
The brightness tool on Instagram itself is great for making pictures lighter, but my favourite app for sprucing up pictures that I want to post is Snapseed, which is free. The brush tool for increasing exposure works really well and helps to make pictures light and bright.
Engage with your followers and those you follow. It's 2016, everyone's busy, I get it, but, if you don't engage with people and show an interest in their pictures or in what they say to you, then they're going to give up engaging with you altogether and may eventually unfollow you too. Sometimes when I have a free moment I go through my most recent likes, click onto those people's profiles and give them a few likes and comments too.
I also make sure to go through my live feed throughout the day and like some pictures there too. For the past month I've also begun replying to each comment I receive on my pictures too as I think it's nice to show people you appreciate their compliments on your pictures.
Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags. This is the most important element to getting your images seen on Instagram and something which I had been slacking on before. The more hashtags you use, the more your picture will be seen by different people. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per picture, so I always put three or four in my picture description and the rest as the first comment.
However, it's important to know your niche and not spam hashtags that have no relevance to your pictures. I have three sets of hashtags I use for each of my photo themes - nature/flowers, photography and my sons and for the past month my pictures are getting into the 'top posts' section of these hashtags, meaning they may be seen first by everyone who clicks onto that hashtag.
A recent picture of my boys got into the top posts for the hashtag #brotherlylove, a hashtag with over 1,350,000 pictures. I was amazed. My image is the one on the bottom left and I've noticed that my pictures are appearing as 'top posts' for a lot of the hashtags I use now.
I try to use a mixture of very popular, medium use and niche, lesser used hashtags so that my pictures are seen by a lot of different audiences and this method has been working well for me.
Join a comment pod. I recently joined the Instagram Posse Facebook group and was able to fill out a form to request to join their group for setting up and joining in with comment pods. Comment pods are a group of 14 people maximum, who converse via DM on Instagram and share the pictures they'd like some love on from the group. I've found some lovely new Instagram accounts to follow from my pods and the support we all give each other is lovely.
Plus, the Instagram algorithm gives more weight to comments rather than likes, so basically, the more comments your pictures get, the better chance it has of being seen - when you use hashtags of course.
Follow people within your niche. Deciding your blogging/Instagram niche is a must when it comes to choosing the people you want to follow. The people I follow on Instagram are mostly bloggers, parents/grandparents, photographers and nature lovers. I find that when I follow these people and they see that my gallery features something they're also interested in, that they're more inclined to follow back.
I follow back a lot of the people who follow me but not all, I'm selective as I only want to see pictures that interest me on my Insta feed (personally I can't stand accounts that just post memes, quotes or dark, blurry pictures). You'll find that a lot of people who follow you that you don't follow back may then unfollow you and while that's annoying I say good riddance as I only want people to follow me if they're genuinely interested in my pictures, not just for a follow.
I find that these people are doing the follow/unfollow method to grow their followers - where they'll follow you and then when you follow back they'll unfollow in a day or two. I now just ignore these accounts, which can be spotted as they have a very high following number compared to the number they're actually following.
So there you have it, the things I've been doing which have helped me to grow my Instagram followers and double my engagement. Hopefully these tips and tricks will be useful to others and if anyone has any questions please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.