If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently celebrated reaching 10k followers on that platform (woot woot!). It had been a goal of mine for 2013, and I started the year off with under 2000 followers. I love Instagram, and I’d love it even if I only had five followers–so it’s not all about the followers–but if you have a brand, blog or business to promote it’s undoubtedly a very good platform to have a following on.
Many people have asked how I did it–how I was able to organically grow my audience relatively quickly (without being a recommended user from Instagram–which is obviously the fastest way to grow your audience). So I thought I’d share my top six tips on how I reached my goal. I’m going to leave off the super obvious ones, like take awesome photos, post regularly without flooding your feed and engage with other IG users. I’m also gonna leave out the ‘feel-good’ ones like ‘just be yourself’–but you should do that, too. Lots of people take really cool pictures. Lots of people have a great eye, so why is it that some people have huge audiences and other people who are equally talented don’t? Well, in my experience it doesn’t have much to do with luck–it’s about knowing how to reach people. Here is how I did it:
1.) Create image series. Think about your series as stories. People like stories, and enjoy following along a thread and seeing how the stories progress. Add personal hashtags to your series to make them searchable, findable and readable from start to finish. Some of my series this year have been #JustinaInCopenhagen #ThriftingWithJustina and my most recent (and most popular series yet) #StillLifeWithJustina.
2.) Share your best Instagram images on other social platforms, like Pinterest. You can pin your Instagram images to Pinterest by finding your profile on sites like followgram. Be sure to put your IG handle in the pin description — for example, the description might read something like “Beautiful Ranunculus / @JustinaBlakeney on Instagram)
3.) Instagram Takeovers. Find brands or blogs that match your aesthetic with substantial followings and offer/pitch to take over their Instagram account for a day (or trade Instagram accounts for a day with a friend!). If you take great photos and offer up this service for free–you’d be surprised how many brands are interested in having a fresh pair of eyes take over their Instagram feed for a day.
4.) Listen to your audience. Study your feed and find a common thread of the types of images that get the most attention. In my case, my audience can’t get enough of flowers and interiors. That doesn’t mean that I don’t post other things–but it does help to get a sense of what really resonates.
5.) Give people permission to share select images. I created this “Joy & Peace” image for Instagram and gave my followers permission to use and share the image how ever they desired–to ‘spread the joy.’ The result was that dozens of people shared the image on their accounts and tagged me in it, and many new people discovered me and started following along that way. :D
6.) Shout-outs. This is a pretty obvious one–but shout-outs from friends on IG can really help to boost your following. If you are hanging with friends, tagging them and getting tagged in return can be a fast and easy way for their followers to discover you. Be careful not to overdo it, and as with everything–be authentic and transparent, but a shout out now and then never hurt nobody.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions or any other tips for how you grow your audience!