Social media algorithms are challenging and great content can get buried if you aren’t strategic. I’m not an Instagram influencer (I consider the threshold to be 10,000 for that coveted status), but I did increase my reach from 0 to over 3,000 in less than a year.
I didn’t do it through follow for follow, which is not an effective way to find fans. So how did I manage it? Today I’m sharing my best tips to increase your Instagram following so you can start finding success today.
Instagram has one billion users worldwide and if you tell me that your ideal customers aren’t using it, I wouldn’t believe you. There are two schools of thought: be everywhere or focus on one platform and do it well. Whatever you decide, if Instagram is part of your strategy, this article is for you.
Before we get started, don’t forget to check out my tips on building an author platform and balancing your self-promotion to cover all your bases. Here are some other helpful resources if you want to dig a little deeper:
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization: Learn Search Engine Optimization: A Complete Guideby Kenneth Lewis
- Social Media Marketing: Step by Step Instructions For Advertising Your Business by Noah Gray and Michael Fox
- Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy
- Freakishly Effective Social Media for Network Marketing: How to Stop Wasting Your Time on Things That Don’t Work and Start Doing What Does! by Ray and Jessica Higdon
- Social Media: Social Media Marketing – How To Build And Execute Your Own Internet Marketing Strategy by M.J. Brown
- Social Media Marketing Toolbook for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram & Beyond by Jason McDonald, Ph.D.
Tips to increase your Instagram following
Define a theme
The biggest accounts on the ‘gram almost always have something that ties their posts together. Remember, Instagram is a visual platform so your colour palette, filter choice, and image selection play a huge role in your popularity.
People can consume your posts one at a time in their feeds or on a hashtag, or they can click on your profile and get a scrollable snapshot of what you have to offer. If your photos don’t appeal to them, they won’t click follow, so be sure to up your game.
Take quality photos
Stock images are okay in a pinch and I’m guilty of using them lately because we’re so busy (getting Twist of Fate ready for publication is time consuming but so worth it). However, using a decent camera to snap your photos and then editing them takes you from amateur to professional. No one wants to see blurry, poorly composed photos in their feeds.
Leverage your insights
If you don’t have a business account, sign up for one to get access to metrics that show you when your followers are most active. The algorithm won’t always show your posts to new people, so at least get them seen by those who have clicked follow (though that doesn’t always happen either *eye roll*). We can just do our best within an imperfect system.
Post regularly, but don’t spam
Unless you’re a famous celebrity, no one wants to see multiple posts a day from you in their feed. Once a day is the maximum, though I usually opt for a few times per week. This is mostly due to my capacity – writing and living take up a lot of time!
Another thing to keep in mind is to balance your self-promotion, which can be considered spam. If the only thing you use social media for is selling your product or services, you won’t get many followers. People want valuable content, not constant sales pitches.
Use your stories
Unless someone has muted you, then your stories will appear at the top of your followers’ Instagram feeds. They can be a great tool to build engagement with genuine content on the fly. It took some getting used to for me, but I always get a ton of views.
Write engaging captions
I mentioned the ‘gram is a visual platform and that’s true. However, captions are getting longer and the best ones have questions to engage your audience (even if you’re just asking them to drop an emoji, it builds a habit to interact with your content).
If you have other social media accounts or a website, make sure you’re promoting your Instagram feed. The ‘gram happens to be my most popular platform (after my blog), so I use it to promote my Facebook group.
Participate in challenges
There are always monthly challenges on Instagram. My friend is currently hosting one for writers and the ask is to post every day using a different pre-defined prompt. It’s helpful if you have trouble deciding what to post and also lets you connect with like-minded individuals. It’s okay to jump in and out – I’ve only done one for April so far, which is an exclusive excerpt from The List!
You’re allowed to use 30 hashtags per post to connect with new followers. There is so much conflicting information out there, but I recommend using all 30 and double checking *each and every time* whether any of the hashtags are banned.
You don’t have to be using #dick to become a victim to a banned hashtag. Many innocuous tags like #adulting and #happythanksgiving are banned. Using a banned hashtag will get your post buried and your engagement will tank as a result.
Interact with customers and prospects
If people are commenting on your posts, reply to them. If you have a million followers, at least reply to the first 10 so people checking out your account see that you’re a real, (somewhat) accessible person. The whole point is to make connections and hopefully sell something, right? So get connecting!
What are your best Instagram tips?
To see bonus pictures of our boxer, Buster, and get a sneak peek into my life with James, head over to Instagram. Don’t forget to follow our hashtag #authoropwrites, turn our post notifications on, and show us some love with a like or follow! You can also join my street team through a private Facebook group with direct access to me (and exclusive content)! This is where my readers become my friends.
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