Achieving Instagram growth, increasing engagement, and boosting your online presence can sometimes feel like the hardest thing. You have to put in the time, be consistent and offer value. It’s your job to make sure your ideal reader can find you. More importantly, you need to find them which means actively putting yourself out there and authentically engaging with them on a regular basis.
Even so, how do we stand out and achieve Instagram growth when the blogging arena seems saturated? Ditto for Instagram, especially now the emphasis is on engagement rather than follows and likes (no bad thing, in my view)?
Things move so quickly on social media, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. It’s quite clear though that in order for Instagram growth to happen and to increase your traffic, you’ve got to get with it and plan how you can move things forward organically.
What can you do?
Find Your People
How do you find your ideal audience or reader on Instagram?
First of all, think about who your ideal reader is and where you’re likely to find them. Hashtags are useful for this, make sure you use the right ones for your posts. Find niche hashtags that relate to your photo, caption and audience. If in doubt, pop a hashtag into the instagram search. When the hashtag feed comes up, you’ll see a list of other related hashtags at the top of the screen. These are the ones you need to pay attention to.
Another way is to look at people you follow. What hashtags do they use? Check how popular the hashtags are though. Using generic hashtags, like #family if you post family life or #outfit if you’re a fashion blogger and instagrammer, won’t help you as they’re too popular. If you’re using lots of hashtags with 1 million+ photos, yours will only be seen for about 5 seconds. Choose wisely and use hashtags that vary in their popularity.
Instagram is rather helpful. It offers suggestions on who you could follow based on a number of factors (who you’re following and engaging with, for example). Check these out. I’ve found some fab Instagram accounts this way and have made some amazing connections.
Engage with Your Audience
Authentic and intentional online engagement has never been more important. Engaging authentically and meaningfully takes time but it has to be manageable. I engage most on Instagram when compared to other social media platforms, and in terms of growth, I’ve found it really works. The key is to find accounts that have commonalities with your own and seek out your ideal reader. From there, build relationships and communities with intention and thought.
The Instagram algorithm dictates that engagement wins the day over likes and follows. I like this as it means the emphasis is on conversation and relationships, rather than the simple exchange of likes. Engaging with meaning and sincerity is important. When I first started on Instagram I never left any comments (too shy and if I’m honest, I didn’t really understand that was the done thing). It was only when I started to make the time to comment on the posts of people I follow, my followers, and posts that have used the same hashtags as me, that I started to see steady growth.
Value and Purpose
When it comes to blogging and instagram growth, really think about what you offer to those who come to your website or other social platforms.
What purpose are you serving?
What problem are you solving?
To answer these questions you really need to know who your audience are and what questions they’re likely to have. When you know who you’re trying to attract, you’ll find the ideas will flow out of you. You’ll instinctively know what problems you need to solve for your ideal reader.
By offering value and answers people will look to you more and more for further advice and guidance. You’ll become an expert in your field. In fact, I would start with the assumption that you are an expert – write with confidence, consistency and clarity. Your readership will blossom.
More and more people are looking towards video for their content and Instagram offers 2 options for this – Instagram Stories and IGTV. A recent poll on my Instagram stories revealed that the majority of people who responded don’t watch IGTV. It seems we continue to enjoy the delights of Instagram Stories but for how long?
The joy of Instagram Stories is that it offers short snippets of no more than 15 seconds. This means we’re able to pass on quick bits of information. It’s immediate and up to date, and only stays on your feed for 24 hours. It’s pretty easy to do as well. There’s no editing involved and can be done in the moment.
If you really want to grow your Instagram in 2019 start with Stories and try and keep them ticking over. Talk to the camera and show your face. Don’t worry, most of us aren’t comfortable with it (me included) but go with it. The more you do it, the less daunting it feels. Just be yourself and pretend you’re talking to a friend. As for content, there’s loads you can do. People like a glimpse of behind the scenes of whatever you’re doing. You can ask for help for blogposts too, run polls, and offer insight into other areas of your life. If you’re feeling brave, plan a live video, again offering something of value. This could be a Q & A, an instructional video, or guide to something.
I would argue that if you want to be one step ahead, start planning and using IGTV now. While it seems those I asked don’t favour IGTV yet, it’s being seen by the majority as becoming more popular in 2019. It’s the way to go if you aiming for organic Instagram growth in 2019.
For IGTV, think about your content and what your audience would like to see. You could do some short videos that reflect your blog content. It’s a great way of offering something more visual to your audience and promoting your expertise. There’s the added bonus of being able to offer longer videos (up to 60 minutes) and being able to use the Swipe Up option that’s only available on Stories if you have thousands of followers.
One of the best ways to increase your audience is to promote email sign ups for your blog or website. People aren’t just going to sign up because you ask them to though, even if there’s an opt in on your page. Again, it comes down to value, purpose and problem solving. Think about what you can offer your readers in exchange for their email address. I’m talking about a cheatsheet or an ebook, for example. Think about what your audience need. I’ve read a lot about email lists for my own growth, and it’s deemed to be the main way to increase your readership and following. Think about what makes you different and what you have to offer. There’ll be people who want it and will thank you for it.
You can find a really good post from Steph Taylor on how to build emails lists here.
How do you see engagement and growth developing over the next 12 months? Have you already tried some useful strategies? If so, how did they go?