How I Doubled My Instagram Followers in 6 Weeks
Instagram seems to have taken over the social media world. I've been on Instagram since 2011 and it's been interesting to see how it's grown over the years to become what it is today. One of the reasons why it's so popular is that it's great for so many different uses. Of course, you can use it to share personal photos among friends and family, but one of its main uses now is for businesses to create an audience for themselves and to promote their brand, products, or services they offer. Whether it's a blogger, musician, make up artist, clothing company, etc., Instagram greatly benefits them all - so long as you know how to use it to your advantage.
With so many users it can be easy to get lost in the mix, but there are some things you can do to get noticed and increase your number of followers (and no, it's not with one of those silly "Follow 4 Follow" apps). Between the end of January and the beginning of March, my Instagram following more than doubled itself, and that was no coincidence. I changed up my Instagram techniques and it has greatly benefitted me! Here are five simple steps I took to grow my Instagram following.
1. ENGAGE WITH OTHERS THROUGH LIKING AND COMMENTING
One of the most effective ways you can gain Instagram followers is to engage with other people on the app. I like to browse through different hashtags I'm interested in (#bbloggers, #graphicdesign, #catsofinstagram - whatever tickles your fancy) and start liking and commenting on photos. If I really like a photo, sometimes I'll go to the person's profile as well and like and comment on a few more of their photos that I enjoy and maybe follow them too!
Everyone loves getting likes and comments on their photos, so why not be that person? I know that if I notice a person liking or commenting on a bunch of my photos, I'll often click on their profile and maybe end up following them, so it can be very effective! Don't go too overboard with liking one person's photos though because then it can be a bit spammy and annoying. Try and keep the likes to 1-10 (at most) per profile at a time!
2. #HASHTAG EVERYTHING
I used to be one of those people who laughed at the Instagram profiles with a million hashtags under their photos - that is, until I realized it's a really effective way to gain new likes and followers! Hashtags are probably the most effective way of searching for images on Instagram, and it's a great way to get your photos noticed. I'll add anywhere from 10-20 hashtags to each photo usually. I prefer to leave the hashtags in a separate comment under the description so that way the photo doesn't have a really long caption and it won't clog up peoples' feeds.
If you're not sure which hashtags to add to your photo, here are a few questions to consider. What brands' products are in the photo? What type of items are in the photo? Is there a specific location the photo was taken at or has items from? What is the overall theme of the photo? Who would you like to see your photo?
You can also try browsing photos in one specific hashtag and see what tags are commonly used by others posting about similar items. For example, I've noticed that many beauty bloggers tag their photos with #bbloggers and haul photos are often tagged with #instahaul. You can also go the easy route too and just tag exactly what's in the photo!
One of my major pet peeves when it comes to hashtags is when people tag multiple photos with a particular hashtag when it has nothing to do with the images they're sharing. Once when I was browsing the #bbloggers tag, there was someone posting dozens of fishing and boating photos in it - if it has nothing to do with your image, don't use the hashtag! Simple as that.
3. tag who is in the photo
Along with hashtags, tagging brands or people in your photos can be really beneficial too. Not only will it allow other people looking at tagged photos of a specific profile to see your photos, but it'll also allow the person or brand you're tagging to see the photo, which could lead to them liking or even reposting your photo! Recently, Bath & Body Works liked one of my photos that I had tagged them in and it lead to being one of my most liked Instagram photos and I got quite a few followers as well. Another example is back in January when I posted an illustration I did of Essie Button and tagged her in it, she saw it and reposted it to her page (with 450k+ followers) which led to lots of new followers and even some new design clients for me!
Tagging brands and people in your photos is such an easy and useful way to get your photos noticed. And it's also beneficial to your followers because you can tag what stores or companies you bought certain items from so they don't even have to ask, all they have to do is tap on your photo!
4. CREATE A THEME
First impressions are everything. One way to get me to immediately follow an Instagram account is if I go to the profile and all of the images have a cohesive look or theme. As a graphic designer, I'm a very visual person, and seeing a grid of beautiful, cohesive photos pleases me like no other. Some of my favourite themed Instagram accounts I follow are wideeyedlegless, Melissa Araujo, and acupofchic.
A themed Instagram account can be executed in a number of ways. A good place to start is to streamline the photo shape and filters you use. If you're going to use square photos, then stick to square photos. If you're going to use frames, make them consistent (a good example is Tamira Jarrel's feed). I also usually stick to 1-2 filters that I use on my photos. I like using VSCOcam and Afterlight to edit my photos, and occasionally make finishing touches to brightness, contrast, and framing directly in the Instagram app.
Another step to a themed Instagram is to try and stick to a consistent colour scheme. This is one I'm not quite as strong with in my personal feed but it really does make an impact when looking at a feed as a whole. Many themed accounts have quite monochromatic photos with a strong focus on white and maybe a couple of hints of colour throughout. However, some others I follow (such as wishwishwish and abeautifulmessofficial) have more lively and colourful photos which are equally as beautiful! Whatever style pleases you is what you should attempt to capture. Don't feel the need to try and copy someone else's style if that's not what you're after. Just try and keep it consistent and it will be more pleasing to the eye and in turn get you more followers!
5. HOST A GIVEAWAY
I just recently ran my first ever Instagram giveaway and it was a pretty big success! Hosting a giveaway is a great way to attract new followers because who doesn't like free stuff? If you're a business you can give away gift cards or the products you sell; if you're a designer or freelancer you can give away a specific service; or if you have a personal Instagram account looking to gain followers you could always give away a couple of goodies such as makeup, a grab bag of items, or a gift card. Try and give away something that's relevant to the content that you post, that way when people follow you for your giveaway they won't want to unfollow you once the giveaway ends!
A good way to run an Instagram giveaway is to have people enter by following you, reposting an image, tagging your account, and using a specific hashtag for the giveaway. This will inform all of their followers about your giveaway and account and it'll be a chain reaction from there! You can also easily keep track of all of the entries through the hashtag you create. Be sure to promote the giveaway every few days on your Instagram and other social media accounts to make sure if people missed the initial giveaway post, they might catch it another time or place that you post it!
A giveaway can also bring in business for you as well. If some of your newly gained followers become interested in your brand and are disappointed they didn't win the giveaway, they very well might go ahead and purchase something from you!
These are just a few of the things I recently changed on my Instagram account that helped my following to rapidly grow. Instagram is a fantastic platform for online content creators and should be taken full advantage of in my opinion. It's not only a way to connect to people with similar interests, but a way to promote your business without the need to pay for advertising. I hope some of these tips were helpful to those of you hoping to see your Instagram grow!
Have you taken any steps to gain Instagram followers? What has worked best for you?