This post has been on my mind for a while. Somehow I just never got around to sharing my thoughts and tips if you will on Instagram, and growing your account. I think IG has taken everyone by storm, and after personally using it for the past 3 years, I can’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. There are always rumors “if it eventually fade out blogging?” or blogs all together for that matter. While I can see the argument I don’t think that will ever happen. Before I continue though, let’s go into a brief description of what Instagram is, because believe me there are those out there who are not on this extremely popular app, and lets face it, some just don’t get it. Instagram in it’s formal definition is defined as : “the name of an online photo sharing social Web service that lets you share your life with friends through a series of pictures captured with a mobile device”. But I kinda like the Urban Dictionary‘s approach : “Every hipster’s favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really they are still using their phones. Yeah, you might look really cute/old school/vintage/retro, but it’s still a cell phone picture.” LOL, however you will find out as you read on, that I recommend not just using your cell phone pictures, and you’ll see why in just a minute.
Let my preface the rest of what I’m going to share with this. I don’t proclaim to be an Instagram professional. This is in no way shape or form a get “big numbers” quick post, nor do I want anything to do with that. I don’t claim to have a perfect formula, hashtag or gimic to grow your numbers fast. These are just my tips from my experience with Instagram and what I’ve learned so far. I hate those stinking scammers out there who create fake accounts and lure people in with gimics like “Get over 100k new followers instantly” – BOGUS!! And I didn’t pay for my followers either! Some bloggers do that, and honestly it just disgusts me. What I want to share with you is how to organically grow your Instagram account, and not sell your soul all at the same time! So with that said – Who’s with me?!
1st things first! If you are a blogger, or a business owner, and you want to grow your account than this is a must. Make sure you have a professional looking profile photo or your blog/business logo as your profile photo so you are easily recognized. Keep your business with your business and your personal life with your personal stuff! I know as bloggers there is a fine line. But let me explain. Unless you are a mommy/lifestyle blogger, your account should not be full of candid shots of your kids. Ouch! Right?! But this is why. You want your account to reflect your blog or business. Your instagram account should be an extension of your website. If you are a foodie blogger than when I find you on Instagram I expect your feed to lure me in by your tasty treats, and yummy food shots you all capture so dang well, it makes me want to lick my screen! If you are a crafter or a diy’er – this can be tricky*- but I want your feed to be full of projects and tutorials that are going to inspire me to create something just like it! You don’t want your feed to be : kid shot – candid photo – messy room – kid shot – pretty room shot. Make sense? So I recommend having a feed just for your blog/business, and having a separate feed for your family/personal stuff. You treat your website like a business, with a professional mindset, your Instagram account should be the same way.
2nd – Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. Is key. Those pretty photos I was telling you about. You want someone to be able to scroll through your feed and be drawn in, not confused as to whose feed they are looking at. So take a minute, pull up your IG account, and scroll through just a little bit. Does a photo jump out at you that doesn’t belong? I know it’s hard, but you want to grow right? You want to attract people, after all that’s why we all shoot for the perfect photo to share right? If you don’t have a personal account it can be hard to delete some of those cherished moments with your loved ones. I totally get it, believe me do I get it. But that’s why I recommend having a personal account. At the same time, remember that fine line I mentioned above? As bloggers, we are human. We don’t want to live behind smoke screens and fake persona’s, well maybe some do? But I sure as heck don’t. We want our followers to know “Hey! We are real people too”. So you make the call, does that personal photo stay? Or do you have too many, and can afford to remove some? I try to make a habit of not over-sharing on my family. For one – my husband can’t stand it. He’s a personal moment, stays personal, kinda guy. But every once in awhile a family photo will pop in my feed, because they’re my family, and I love them, and of course I want to brag on them a bit, who doesn’t. Just try to keep that business mind set I mentioned before. You want your Instagram account to be an extension of your website. This is your brand, make sure it’s reflecting you correctly.
3rd – Pretty Pictures : That feed we keep talking about. You want to make sure you are filling your feed with good content. When Instagram first started it was more of an on-the-go share your life type of a thing. But now as people are building their brands, it’s the attractive, well shot photos that get the most attention. Yes I know you can get amazing photos with your iPhone, I will every now and then too, but for the most part I share my edited photos straight from my blog. When I’m on my phone, I simply pull up my blog on the internet, scroll through to find the photo I want to share, screen shot it, and now it’s saved to my phone photo library, and I can pull it up from there when I’m on IG. No more fuzzy, or poorly lit photos. I have a whole website of fully edited photos I can pick from. But wait isn’t IG supposed to be photos you capture with your phone? It started out that way, but back to the business mindset – I view my IG account as my brand. It’s my professional look-book if you will. If I want a company to approach me, when they view my feed, Are they going to view it as one that fits their look? One a side note – my IG feed started to really get noticed once I started sharing more of my edited photos from my blog. It’s not that my other photos weren’t good, or not consistent, I just get more consistency of a higher quality photo, when I share that way vs. the original way IG intended it to be.
#4. Socialize : If you want to grow your numbers, get out there and start connecting. If you simply go on to share your photo and only like one or two others, your missing a great opportunity to network with other bloggers/business’s. Get out there, be involved, follow like-minded or similar feeds. If you want to get somebody’s attention leave a comment, or a few. At this point in the game I don’t always see everyone who likes my photo, because poo poo on IG, they haven’t tweaked their notification system yet to allow you to scroll back far enough. So I’m at the point where I may or may not see that you liked my photo. But I will definitely see it if you commented 🙂 So if you have a smaller feed, and you want to network – strike up a conversation. Numbers don’t make a difference to me if I’m going to follow an account or not. It’s quality/consistency of photos and personality. Don’t be a stick in the mud either. I miss a lot, but I try to comment and engage as much as I can with people who leave me comments. It sure was a lot easier when my numbers were lower, but I would have to have a full time person on IG all the time if I wanted to respond to everyone. I do try my hardest though to be present and stay connected. Before I would have said that #followfridays were a good way to grow your numbers and network. They still are to some degree. But I think the 4-grid photo collage has lost interest, and people don’t engage as much. You can join #ff groups that are organized, I would recommend sharing one photo at a time, and it doesn’t always have to be on Fridays 🙂 Giveaway’s are another popular way to entice people to grow their numbers. However nice they are, I’m not always a fan of the really large ones. I’ve tried a few. Not necessarily to grow my numbers, but more of a means to network. But I find the best way to network and grow is the day to day connection with others. At least that’s how I want to do it. If you gain followers in large bulk chances are they aren’t going to stick around for long. And I would rather followers who actually want to follow me, not because they joined a group and I was on the list. Make sense?
#5. Be true to yourself : Don’t just post images because everybody else is posting them and they seem to be popular. You have your own flavor to add. Know your niche, know your style, and what you want to represent. Remember this is your brand, how do you want it to reflect you? Post consistently. Don’t be random posting a picture every once in a blue moon. You want people to remember who you are, remember why they are following your feed in the first place. Post original content. While it’s fun to share others photos and pictures from Pinterest that inspire us, make sure that’s not the only thing filling your feed. You want others to know and recognize your work. For every 1 photo I share of someone else, I try to have at least 3-4 images of my own before I share another one. That way for any new followers that come along, will still get a good idea of who I am and what I’m about.
A few other little tidbits : Once your feed is established – look back, take inventory on what is working and what is not as your feed has grown. Maybe like me #followfriday used to work great for you, and now not so much. Scroll through it from time to time to make sure your feed is consistent. That your look is easily defined. Remove photos that maybe had low likes or stick out as not the best quality. Take note of post that get a good response, and the photos that get minimal likes. Are there similarities in those photos, or are they different?
Keep in mind that Instagram is always growing, tweaking, evolving – Are you? Don’t be afraid to try new things. Pay attention to what engages your audience, and most importably be yourself! There is only one you, and Instagram is a great way to show who you are!
I hope this helps, or if anything maybe take some of the myth’s out behind Instagram. Again these are just simple tips that I have used along the way. I am about cultivating real relationships and being my true authentic self! I hope to see you on there!
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