As a brand consultant, one of the questions my clients always ask is how to grow on Instagram. Trust me, I’ve been there and just wanted to get that little “K” next to my name. But in focusing so much on the number, I lost sight of the quality of my content.
The never-ending Instagram rat race can be so exhausting. From the algorithm changes to the many articles out there on how to grow your Instagram, the conversation on this topic is hot and important to understand especially for brands.
In this post, I want to share some insider tips with you on how to gain followers the right way AND the wrong way. It’s important to share both because it will give you some insight on identifying authentic accounts.
How to gROW YOUR Instagram: 5 TIPS
Create connection. Your followers want to be able to say “me too” when they read your caption. They want to understand you and know more about you other than the work you do. Show them behind the scenes every once and a while.
Engage authentically. Are you one to comment “cute outfit” or “nice shot” on photos? Guess what, that’s not authentic. That’s you searching for a comment in return. Authentic engagement means responding to other’s stories, commenting at least four words or more, liking multiple photos, shout out accounts you love because you love them. Whatever you do, do it because you actually mean it.
Share your story. People want to know about you because you’re the heart behind your brand. You are what sets your business apart from your competitors. It’s important to share your story consistently because you’ll always be gaining new followers that haven’t heard it yet.
Stop worrying about your number. The second you start worrying about your number, you’ll fall into the comparison trap and that’s a dangerous rabbit hole. Focus on the quality of your content and then share it. The number under your name does not equal more money if your followers aren’t engaging with you.
Be consistent. Show up everyday in some capacity. Even if you aren’t posting an image every single day, show up on your stories. I suggest posting quality content at least 5 days a week, but showing up in some way on your stories everyday is a quick, easy way to check in with your tribe.
TRENDY TIP: Stop blaming the algorithm. Too often I see brands and influencers blame the algorithm for their lack of engagement, lack of growth, etc. There are factors that can affect these things, but when it comes down to it, blaming the algorithm is an easy way for you to make an excuse for the lack of time you spent on creating your content or researching your audience.
So now that you’ve learned how to grow your Instagram and gain loyal followers, I want to walk you through what I’d call “sketchy” tactics brands and influencers are using to gain followers. Excuse me, I mean empty numbers because these tactics don’t gain real people.
The dirty secrets of gaining numbers, not followers:
Buying followers. I honestly can’t believe that this still happens, but it does, and I urge you to just say no. If an account reaches out to you about helping you gain thousands of “real” followers a week, do yourself a favor and report it as spam.
Secret giveaways. I’ve always had mixed emotions about giveaways because in a sense you are paying for followers, but generally they are real and you’re giving something away so people like free stuff. BUT, secret giveaways are another story. This means you pay to be in a giveaway, but don’t have to post about it on your page. So you’re on a list that you’ve paid potentially hundreds of dollars to be in and all of the sudden you gain 5,000 followers that are not even your demographic. Sketchy right? Just say no.
Leveraging someone else’s following for your benefit. How many of you have received a DM from someone asking you to participate in a Follow Friday? On the flip side, how many of you have reached out to people just to be in their stories? Utilizing someone’s following because they have a larger number than you doesn’t always work. I won't share accounts that don’t align with my brand mission. While this tactic might gain you real people, it’s obvious when it doesn’t happen organically.
TRENDY TIP: Your engagement rate should be about 2-3% of your following. If you have 10,000 followers, you should be getting at least 200 likes on every photo. I generally look for an engagement rate of 3-4% for my brand clients when I’m connecting them to influencers.
Instagram is one of those amazing platforms where we can share our stories visually. If we use it effectively, it can be so powerful. Just remember not to get so caught up in this one platform that you have virtually no control over. I’d suggest spending more time on your website and creating quality content.
Cheers to connecting authentically with your tribe,