Instagram is one of the best social media platforms out there. It is perfect for building brand awareness, seeing entertaining content, finding inspiration, meeting likeminded people and provides many other benefits. For those wanting to build a good Instagram following with excellent engagement it can be a slow process. But by following a few simple techniques you can make your account grow a lot quicker.
Here are some of the techniques I use to grow my personal account (@mikecleggphoto). You may also like my post 5 Reasons Instagram is Great for Travel Photographers.
1 | Stick to a theme
From the start you should choose a theme, such as Travel, Fashion, Food, Lifestyle etc, and then you should stick to it. If you have a travel account and then start posting pictures of portraits then your followers may get confused and unfollow.
2 | Stick to a photography style
Try and stick to a photo and filter style. If you use different filters all the time, then when someone looks at your profile they will think it looks messy and are less likely to follow.
3 | Post in square or vertical crop
Posting pictures that are square are popular and get good engagement. But I’ve found posting shots that are vertical crop get the best engagement. This is probably because the viewer can see a bigger image on their screen. Posting a landscape crop image often gets less engagement because the viewer will probably see a smaller image, especially on devices (mobiles) with smaller screens.
4 | Engage with similar accounts and your followers
Instagram is a community and you shouldn’t expect people to follow you if you don’t give back to the community. I recommend following and interacting with accounts with a similar interest and leaving comments on photos when appropriate. You should also follow hubs/feature accounts that interest you, and leave comments, praise the account that got featured. This all helps to build awareness. My two hubs include @travelanddestinations and @bestcitybreaks.
5 | Interact and reply to your followers
You don’t have to reply to every comment, but when someone asks you a question you should try and reply. If you notice somebody regularly leaving nice comments on your pictures, then it’s polite to say “thank you” now and then.
6 | Use 30 tags based on your theme
You can use 30 hashtags in a post and tags help people find your content. You should always post relevant tags, such as if you have a travel account and are posting city pictures of Italy, then there is no point in tagging #selfie or #canada. It’s also worth tagging hubs that are likely to repost your shots. I run a hub called @bestcitybreaks with the hashtag #bestcitybreaks – I then check this hashtag for appropriate content to post.
7 | Get featured by large accounts
A great way to grow your following is to get reposted by feature accounts. These are mini-communities within Instagram and post other peoples content with permission. When your pictures get reposted or featured it will give you exposure to a large audience and may bring you new followers.
A few things not to do…
1 | Don’t buy followers
This often backfires and you are likely to get a lot of ghost followers, ie followers who will never check or engage with your feed. I know someone who purchased 10,000 followers from eBay and have noticed on some days he loosed 1000’s in followers in one go. This is most likely Instagram is getting rid of fake accounts. Another downside to buying followers is that it’s unlikely to increase engagement so you may end up having thousands of followers but getting a disproportionate number of likes. This will make you less appealing to brands who you may want to work with.
2 | Don’t follow and then unfollow.
This is a tacky technique and is not good for the community. I would avoid this and grow an honest feed and be a good member of the Instagram community.
If you are into travel, photography, lifestyle, or just want some picture based inspiration and entertainment, then you should definitely be using Instagram. I hope by using the suggestions above you will be able to grow a large and successful account, and also enjoy being part of the community.