Last week I shared a post about Getting Started on Instagram inspired by a talk that Katie and I gave at Blog On MSI in September. Today sees the next post in my Instagram series and I’m talking about Building A Following on Instagram.
In the two years that I’ve been using Instagram my growth has been fairly steady. I posted pictures as and when I felt like it and I followed people that I was interested in. At the start of this year I had around 3000 followers and based on the fact that had taken me around 18 months, I figured that a target of 6000 followers by the end of 2016 was a fairly achievable aim.
I met that 6000 follower target in the middle of May and I have gained around 1000 followers a month every month since.
Of course Instagram is about far more than just how many people are following you, but if you are using Instagram for business (and I include blogging in that) then the number of people following you is going to be significant. It plays a part in your Tots ranking, brands want to see that people are interested in you, other people want to know that people are interested in you. Like it or not, your Instagram following is a measure of your influence on that social platform.
So, here’s my top tips for building your instagram following . . .
Don’t buy followers
Just don’t do it. It’s painfully obvious and nobody will respect you for it. I know that buying a load of followers for a few quid seems like a nice easy way of kick starting your account and making you look popular but it will be so obvious when your interaction levels are way lower than your follower number would suggest. It only takes a second to click onto someone’s list of followers and identify that most of them are fake anyway. In the end it does you no favours as the Instagram algorithm will recognise that your interaction levels are low and people aren’t interested in your photos . . . so it won’t show them to anyone and your following won’t grow. So just in case you’re in any doubt, buying followers is a big fat no.
Post regularly (but not too often, nobody likes a spammer)
This isn’t facebook, you don’t need to post every photo of your day out all at once. (In fact I tend to unfollow people who flood my timeline with loads of photos at once, especially if they are all of the same thing). Instagram is more about a snapshot, about one image that sums a moment, your day or your evening up. One picture which tells a story. That’s not to say you can’t post lots of gorgeous photos from the same day out, just spread them out over the course of the day (or even better over a few days).
Join in with communities
Instagram is a super social platform. If you post a picture and just leave it there you might get a few likes, but if you spend some time interacting with other people who are posting similar photos – the chances are they will pop back and see what you’re posting too. Hashtags are a great way of finding communities to join – some will have themed prompts to inspire you, others will just suit a certain type of image. Make friends, talk to people. Don’t just write meaningless comments or leave emojis on people’s images, this is where you need to invest some time in being genuinely interested in what people are posting!
Follow other people (but be polite about it)
I’m always on the look out for new people to follow – new feeds to inspire me. I tend to find the best way of searching out new accounts is either by scrolling through a particular hashtag or looking to see who someone else I like follows. (This means I’m more likely to find people within the niche I’m interested in be it food, fashion or kids). Sometimes I will follow a big chunk of people all at once (eg running down a hashtag and following everyone who is using it). Over time I will go back through and weed out the accounts I’m not so interested in or the ones who aren’t following me back. I think it’s important to remember that Instagram is a social media platform – the key word there being social. I have no desire to follow loads of people who aren’t interested in me and don’t follow back, though there will always be exceptions for super beautiful feeds or the odd celebrity. Some people will just follow you so that you follow them and then unfollow you again right back. Personally I think that’s just rude but you can’t get stressed about it or take it personally, it’s simply their chosen strategy.
This is so important, as I said before – there is no pointing just posting a photo and leaving it there. Treat Instagram like a community and it will respond. Spend some time commenting on and liking people’s photos. As soon as I post an image I will spend as long as I can afford whizzing through my timeline / a hashtag / someone’s feed, liking and commenting on pictures which catch my eye. I do this on and off all day, whenever I’ve got a few minutes – waiting for the kids outside school, sat in the dentist waiting room, in bed. The more active you are the more payback you will see.
Interaction on your posts is often as valuable as a big follower number
Now I know I said at the start of this that your follower number is significant but it’s also really important to be getting interaction on your images. If someone has 15k followers but is only picking up 20 likes on an image then I’m going to be suspicious that their following isn’t genuine. It also suggests that the followers who are genuine are just not interested in the pictures being posted. At the start of this year I was getting between 80 and 125 likes on a post. I now get around 250 to 300 per post – my most popular photo of all time has been one of my playroom which reached over 500 likes. It’s worth noting which pictures do well – I’ve noticed that pictures of our playroom are always popular and that pictures of Amy always seem to be more likes than those of Ben! Clearly cute wins in this instance.
Watch our for my Instagram Tips post on Hastags next Thursday.