These days with more users than ever and the new daunting algorithm, Instagram can seem like a scary – and sometimes hopeless place to be if you are wanting to gain a healthy and engaged following. But don’t give up yet! Instagram is all about consistent growth however you have to make sure you are doing things the ‘right way’. So it is all about patience, being consistent and having the right attitude. Lucky for you, I have pulled together all my thoughts and secrets.
1. BE AUTHENTIC
The number one thing to remember is to always be yourself. If you are putting out a fake personality or a false reality, people won’t connect with you. Even worse, you will be attracting the wrong type of followers. It’s only natural to second guess yourself, or feel like you aren’t living an “Instagram worthy” life – which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Remember Instagram is a highlight reel of people’s lives, but followers do crave a dose of reality and authentic people. Show your personality and true parts of your life (even if it’s just a cup of coffee in the morning) and the right followers will come, and most importantly engage with you.
2. HAVE An EPIC BIO
The very first thing someone will read when visiting a new profile is their bio – and if you don’t catch their attention in the first two seconds they’ve already lost interest. Share what you do but also something unique and that makes you, you.
Are you wine lover? Do you like running every morning? Whatever it is that makes you unique and is memorable include it in your bio. It gives people another reason to connect with you.
Check out my bio if you want an idea – it gives a super quick snap shot of exactly what I do @thewhitethistle
3. HAVE A HEADSHOT not a logo
Another thing someone will immediately look at is your profile photo. It is important your photo is firstly, of you! Secondly, it needs to be a professional looking, welcoming and personality-oozing photo. Now that’s a lot of pressure on one photograph, but remember first impressions are important. Avoiding a bathroom mirror selfie is a great start!
4. Improve your photography
Now, this may seem obvious, but the photos you post do matter. More clearly, the quality of your photos matter. People are much more likely to respond to sharp, bright and professional looking photographs that are not too heavily filtered. Always shoot with natural light, avoid flash and make sure you have mastered the basics of composition. An eye for styling is also very helpful.
5. DEVELOP a strong BRAND
When someone visits your profile it should be immediately apparent what your brand is. Even if you are not a business, as a person you can still be branded. Try to have a consistent feed in colours, content and writing style.
6. become a storyteller
Since the beginning of time, people have loved a great story. And no, I don’t mean the Instagram stories people flip through (although those are a helpful tool!). I mean sharing stories in your posts that engage people and asks questions. Tell your followers about your day, and ask them about theirs. Share that funny story that happened to you on the bus. Tell them the story about how you met your other half. Whatever it is people love to read the stories of others that they can relate with. Pretend you are having a conversation with a friend!
Want an amazing example check out one of my absolute favourite accounts: @thecraftyfox.uk
7. POST Regularly
If you aren’t ready to commit at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes of Instagramming a day, it is going to be a whole lot more difficult for you to gain a loyal following. Posting once day makes sure to not only be put in people’s feeds more often but you will also have more opportunities to make an impression and stay at the front of their minds.
8. find the right time to post
It’s important you know your audience and when they are most likely to be online. I have always recommended that for most people the best times to post are between 7pm- 9pm, however, that doesn’t mean that will necessarily work for the people you want to connect with. The best way to know is to think about yourself – when do you use your phone most often or scroll through your Instagram feed? That’s a good indication that like-minded people will be doing the same.
9. SELL LESS – like a lot less
If you are a business it can be very tempting to be formal and to be constantly selling to your followers. Instagram can be a fantastic way to market yourself, but it’s important you find a balance between being fun, relatable and professional. People will grow tired of being sold to and eventually annoyed and not only unfollow, but never buy from you either. If you are posting product photos, include them in a scene or flatlay. White backdrop photos aren’t very engaging, and frankly boring. (Hey, there’s no shame, I too have been guilty of this!)
10. ALWAYS BE KIND AND POSITIVE
Naturally, people want to be around others that are happy, kind and have a positive outlook. Sharing negative opinions, whining or complaining on your feed can be a huge turnoff and leave people feeling confused. We all have down times and bad days, but that doesn’t mean you should take your frustration out on a global platform. Asking for support from your followers is one thing, being downright negative is another.
11. BE HELPFUL
The best way to win hearts is to be helpful! Solve a problem for someone, provide information, share an idea or even just give a useful opinion. Your followers will appreciate you and will want to return the favour. Remember, it’s a community, not a competition.
12. ENGAGE TO BE ENGAGED
Say what? What I mean is, if you want followers that engage with you by leaving comments and consistently liking it’s important that you do the same. Just like a real-life friendship you get out of it what you put into it. It’s easy to become selfish on Instagram, but you can’t expect people to be interested in you if you don’t feel the same about them. Spend time every day interacting with your followers and liking photos on your feed.
13. DON’T SPAM
With the above being said, it’s also crucial that you don’t spam your followers. Leave genuine comments that are original and feel real. We all hate when we receive a comment that is just an emoji or that simply just says “great pic” which has obviously come from someone who is a spammer or just wanting you to notice them. Don’t leave the same comment on multiple people’s photos, ever. You need to really think about what you are saying and put thought into it.
Overall, it’s essential that you care about your followers. Ask questions, be uplifting and always be encouraging.
14. BECOME A HASHTAGGING PRO
Hashtags play a vital role on Instagram. Not only should you be hashtagging your own photos with relevant tags, you can use up to 30 hashtags and I would recommend using all of them, but you should also be clicking on hashtags and interacting with people to gain new followers. This is a great way to find your target market and like-minded users. For example, if you’re a family photographer, following tags such as #childhoodunplugged #lifestylephotography and #londonfamilyphotographer is a great start. Pay attention to what tags your ideal client uses and then you can also jump on those.
15. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Remember that quality will always be better than quantity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to get as many followers as humanly possible, but if those followers aren’t interactive or genuine it won’t make a difference. The point here should be to create an engaging and positive community – not a larger number on your profile.