This may not be what you were hoping it would be…
Mostly because I can’t give you an abc 123 guide or how-to on growing your Instagram. I was lucky. I entered into this blogging world at a good time. Sure, I wish I had been a couple of years ahead of the game, but I am so glad I didn’t come in any later.
Growing your Instagram is HARD WORK. Especially right now. With Instagram’s algorithm forever changing there is just no way to get a handle on it. I think these days I am actually losing more followers than I am gaining.
When we first started out, loop giveaways were all the thang. Then they went away for awhile (HOORAY), but unfortunately they are now back and stronger than ever. Weirdly, people will over 200,000 followers are doing these ‘international’ loop giveaways a few times every month and are growing 20,000-40,000 followers each time.
While that can seem like the way to go for you, I wouldn’t advise it. Why? When you gain new followers from loop giveaways, you don’t gain the engagement that goes with them. You might during that week because they are liking your stuff and hoping that it helps them win the prize, but then once it is over your engagement goes back to what it used to be even though you have gained allll of these new followers. You would literally have to do these giveaways weekly to keep up that engagement.
You should be striving for anywhere between 1-2% engagement. If you have under 100,000 followers you should definitely be getting around 2% engagement. As you grow, that number gets less and less. That is why you see people like @songofstyle, an Instagram phenomenon, who has around .8% engagement.
So on to the most asked question ever… How to grow your Instagram:
*make sure to pin this image above to save for later use!
Focus on Engagement, Not Followers
Both brands and Instagram itself have caught on to all of the loop giveaways, the bought followers, the autobots that are liking and commenting. They aren’t fooling anyone anymore. You have sites like socialblade.com and many others that brands can check out to see exactly how many ‘real’ followers you have an how many are actually actively engaged. I was recently visiting Fossil headquarters and they told me they look this stuff up every time before working with an influencer.
Did you know that out of the top 5 bloggers on rewardStyle, 3 or 4 of them probably have under 100,000 followers on Instagram? It isn’t about the number of followers you have. It is about the amount of INFLUENCE you have.
If a brand wants to work with you and doesn’t want to pay you based on your Instagram engagement, give them some other hard stats they can go by. I get so mad when they think the amount of influence I have is determined by the amount of likes or comments I get on Instagram. That is not my main channel.
Stop focusing on followers for a month and focus strictly on engagement. Try to get it where you think it should be. Find ways to engage your followers by hosting your OWN giveaway, or by asking them questions in your captions. Create surveys that ask your readers what they want to see, or what they are currently shopping for. Engage with them and they will engage with you.
Micro-Influencers, or influencers with under 100,000 followers, are being targeted by brands right now. Some brands are ONLY wanting to work with micro-influencers. Why? Because they have the most engagement on their posts. You see someone with 50,000 followers getting over 2,000 likes on their posts. It is a small community that is very trusting and engaged.
What does this mean to you? That you don’t need to have tons and tons of followers! Stay under 100,000, focus on engagement, and you will come out on top! DO NOT buy followers or try to cheat the system. Try to keep your loop giveaways to a minimum. Do it the right way and you will be rewarded in the end.
How to Grow Your Instagram
For those of you who are doing it right and want to start seeing some growth (even if it is slow), here are some tips:
-Engage with your readers with your captions. Comment back when you can or if anyone ever asks you a question.
-Show them behind the scenes using Instagram Stories. Let them get to know you.
-Put your latest post on Instagram Stories and tell them to check it out. Sometimes they will see your stories and NOT see your actual Instagram post!
-Use relevant hashtags, but don’t use the same list over and over. Mix it up! Use different hashtags each time if you can.
-Everyone loves selfies. Try to throw in some looks in front of your mirror or in front of your garage door if you can. Let them see you in a natural setting.
-Go to popular events in the area or country and use those hashtags. I grow so much during Fashion Week and other events!
-Focus on your feed. Make it flow. I use the Planoly app and plug in all of my photos and move them around until I like the way they look on my feed. When people are scrolling through Instagram to find new people to follow, they will look at your last 9-12 photos. Treat it like your portfolio.
-Comment on your follower’s photos. It will hopefully open more conversation and they will start commenting on yours too. That, and their friends will also see your comment and click through to your page!
Instagram Sucks Right Now
Is your engagement hurting right now? I am right there with ya. Likes and comments are wayyyy down across the board. You are NOT alone! The amount of reach you have with each post is also wayyyy down.
All we can do is ride out this latest Instagram wave with dignity. Keep doing you and pushing through. It will go back up! Focus more on your blog and other social media sits (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) during this time. There are so many different other sites you can have influence on other than Instagram.
In the end, Instagram won’t be there forever. Do you have something set up for when this happens or are allllll of your eggs in that basket? Put some focus into what YOU OWN- YOUR BLOG! Grow that and you will feel save no matter what kind of mood Instagram is in!
Hope this helps you guys grow your Instagram! Leave a comment below with any insight you have on this or with a question I can hopefully answer for ya!
Catch my latest Tuesday Talks post here, The Importance of Photography.