Sunday, 19 March 2017

How To... Grow Your INSTAGRAM in TEN

Now, I'm not going to pretend to be a pure expert on Instagram growth. The new algorithm has screwed us all right over. But over the last few weeks, I've learnt that there are a few ways you can [at least attempt to] FIGHT THE POWER and ensure organic, healthy Insta growth. If you're after a few pointers, make sure you keep reading.

Lovelaughslipstick Blog - How to organically grow your Instagram Following

1. Use #Hashtags. Relevant Ones
Do your research and use as many relevant hashtags as you can to promote your content. And by relevant, I mean you should totes monitor which hashtags work best for you, ask other blogger friends what works for them and make best use of the analytics available to you. 

There are several analytical tools you can use to help you with stuff like this [some free, some paid for - such as Union Metrics, Simply Measured, InstaFollow and Squarelovin'] - or you can use Instagram Insights.

2. Spend a little time liking photos 
Scroll through your feed, explore hashtags, check out the 'Explore' page - find content you enjoy and engage with it. Leave comments on other people's posts, and if you're lucky enough to be left comments - make sure you reply to them. This is something I definitely need to improve on!

2a. Leave comments
When leaving comments for other bloggers, try and make them a bit meaningful. I think we've all wanted to launch our phones out of the window at one point / facepalmed heavily at the sight of some of the comments people think it's acceptable to leave.

For me, this uncontrollable rage and FML feeling is triggered when I've been spammed by bots commenting 'great feed' 'best one yet' 'want followers?' 'check my page' or 'dope.' They're annoying as hell and not at all sincere - or even genuine.

Although descriptive chains of emojis are great, if you wanna support other creatives; comment from the heart - compliments, questions, observations and generally, statements longer than 4 words long. Let's beat the algorithm, y'all.

2b. Give your photo a good caption
When choosing a title, make it interesting - maybe funny, heartfelt, personal or factual. Use this opportunity to ask your followers questions - encourage engagement and make your feed personal. I've been trying to do this more - and it does help.

Lovelaughslipstick Blog - How to organically grow your Instagram Following

3. Post consistently, at least once a day
I've realised that for me, posting about 3 times a day works best. You can use the software I mentioned above to help you find out the best times for you to post; so that your images get maximum exposure. 

I totally need to explore this avenue myself; I tend to post mid morning, afternoon and evening at the moment, and don't take too much notice of the time.

4. Tag brands 
If you've taken a beautiful image of a product, tag the brand in it. You never know, you could end up being regrammed by them - which can lead to ludicrous amounts of exposure in a very short amount of time. 

Whatever you do though, don't tag randoms, non-related accounts or PRs just for the sake of being seen - this can get very annoying and doesn't come across as very professional.

5. Join an Instagram Pod
Comment pods can be hard work - there's often sh*t loads of new content posted to the pod all day, err day and it can be a little difficult to keep up-to-date.

On the flipside though, they can also be super rewarding; introducing you to new friends, helping you to beat the algorithm and giving you shoutout / sfs opportunities on other, similar 'Grammers' feeds. I love my Pod Squad girlies; we share tips and support each other daily. As well as have a proper giggle on Whatsapp!

Lovelaughslipstick Blog - How to organically grow your Instagram Following

6. Know your theme
Now, this point is a slightly controversial one - themes on Insta are a bit like Marmite - you either love them or hate them. 

Bloggers with very aesthetic themes are adored, yet slated equally for 'all being the same.' And those with no theme at all are either adored for their individuality / uniqueness, or slated for their lack of consistency and image flow. 

I personally believe that, in order to grow, you need to have some kind of theme or thought process go into what you publish. Be this a colour theme, a pattern theme [such as selfie, landscape, makeup, quote: repeat] or a theme where all images are edited in your own distinctive way. Some bloggers lower their saturation levels, others post just in black and white. Some of us blur our images, some of us edit them with colour filters and some of us post with a fish eye lense.

Whatever you choose to do, as long as your feed looks nice and has some kind of flow / consistency; you're golden.

7. Follow other creators you're interested in
And for the love of God, don't play the sh*tting follow / unfollow game. Ever. Even if it seems to work and your following does increase slightly, your integrity and reputation within the community decreases. You'll be noticed - but for all the wrong reasons.

My following / followers ratio at the moment isn't ideal - I follow slightly more accounts than I have accounts following me back - but I'm fine with that. I'm not going to unfollow the accounts I've enjoyed for the past 3 years just to look good in terms of the numbers game.

I love photography - I even did a degree in it, so I follow other people for enjoyment, not just for looking good. And if they follow me back - it's just a nice bonus.

8. Link it up
Link to your Insta in your blog posts, other social media channels [such as Twitter or Pinterest], in every bio you have and share your posts across your platforms. If someone enjoys your blog because of your photos, it makes sense that they'll want to follow your 'Gram too. But they can't unless you tell them it exists!

Lovelaughslipstick Blog - How to organically grow your Instagram Following

9.  Take good photos
I mean, this one's pretty obvious. Instagram is like an online portfolio of your work - it's something to be proud of and showcase your fave photos.

You don't have to have the latest camera or macro lense to get those perfect shots - most of my photos have just been snapped on my phone, tbh. You don't have to spend a small fortune on equipment or take an extensive photography course in the precious minutes you're  not blogging. Just make sure you have good lighting, a clean and inviting background, a fair understanding of how to optimise your images [editing - I'm not talking full on specialist knowledge, just how to tweak your photos on Insta to get them looking hawt] and a decent composition - and you'll smash it.

10. Have fun!
Finally, explore & have fun, make friends and don't take it all too seriously! 

Yes there's those tactical follow / unfollow knobheads out there, those people who'll always have better stuff than you, the bloggers all about the numbers and those who'll spam you with f4f / s4s / all these other abbrevs that I don't understand. But Insta is a beautiful, visual platform full of inspiration, opportunities & creatives - and ultimately, the best way to grow is to simply enjoy that fact and immerse yourself in this amazing community as best you can.

How do you grow your 'Gram? Are you struggling post-algorithm? Do you have any tips on how to organically grow your following?

Leave your Insta links in the comments below, so I can have a good stalk of your feed.

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