How to grow on Instagram.
It’s the million-dollar question, right?
We allll see those massive accounts with hundreds or thousands, even millions of followers….
Meanwhile, the rest of us normal people are over here like, how do I break 1k plz? 😂
And of COURSE you inevitably start thinking, “Wow if I had that many followers, I’d probably be making millions.”
Yeah, I see you over there. Because I’ve done it, too.
But here’s the deal…
Having a lot of followers does NOT mean you will be able to monetize.
I’ve literally coached an influencer with HALF A MILLION Instagram followers….who was not monetizing her influence.
So before we dive into the growth hacks, I want you to really ask yourself what your purpose is.
WHY do you want to gain more followers?
WHO specifically are you trying to reach?
WHAT will it help you accomplish?
HOW are you going to serve your audience and provide them with value?
If your heart isn’t in the right place…
If you don’t know WHO you’re talking to….
If you don’t know how you are helping others….
You’re not going to grow.
(And in case I’m hitting a nerve here, definitely check out this post on the top mistakes I see that PREVENT growth!)
Once you know what might be preventing you from growing, let’s get into the strategies you need to be using if you want to grow your account.
You’ve probably heard this keyword before, but…
What does engagement mean on Instagram?
You are “engaging” with other accounts when you leave them likes, comments, and reply to their stories. It’s when you’re being SOCIAL on SOCIAL MEDIA.
Novel idea, I know.
I have SO MANY PEOPLE reach out saying their posts are performing poorly, or their account isn’t reaching new people and it’s not growing….and when I ask, “Well how much engagement are you doing?” 9.5 times out of 10 I get a blank stare back.
So here’s the reality, my friend.
If you want to grow your account, you’re going to need to put in some WORK.
I personally recommend doing DAILY engagement, for at least 30 minutes. And the faster and bigger you want to grow, then the more time you need to be investing here.
But before you hop on over to your explore page and go off to the races….
Don’t forget your CURRENT audience, as well!
Yes, you obviously need to engage with NEW accounts if you want to grow, but you also need to give some love to the people who have ALREADY raised their hand and said heck yes, I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down!
Because the key here is BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. None of this droppin’ a thumbs up emoji in a comment and calling it a day.
Be interested in people’s lives, be genuine, CARE. Ask questions! Get to know them.
Basically just be a decent human, ya know?
2. USE HASHTAGS
I could probably do an entire course on hashtags alone, but here’s the need-to-know.
Instagram lets you use 30 hashtags per post. USE ALL 30. You’ve probably seen articles out there saying something like only use 7 or 11 or some other nonsense, but here’s the real real: Every single hashtag you use is giving you the opportunity to reach your exact target audience...so why would you want to limit that, ya know?
Use hashtags that are relevant to what your image and/or caption is about. This is going to give the Instagram algorithm a fighting chance at deciphering what the heck your post is about so it can show it to people who might be interested. This is a good thing. Let’s work WITH the algorithm, not against it.
ROTATE your hashtag sets! If you only have one set of hashtags and you just copy/paste it onto every picture, first of all, it’s probably not going to be directly relevant for every single post. Second, Instagram will see you repeating the same thing and eventually categorize your posts as spam. When this happens, the algorithm will STOP showing your post within the hashtags you’ve used, aka you will not be getting any new views on your post. This is what is happening when you see people up in arms that they’ve been shadowbanned.
Use more specific hashtags vs general hashtags. If I use #music, which has 285 MILLION posts, my post is going to be lost INSTANTLY. But if I use something like #flute which has 1.4 million posts, we’re getting warmer. That’s still a lot of posts though, so tbh I only use like 1-3 hashtags with posts in the millions per hashtag set. And thennnn we have something like #fluteplayer with 145k posts - now we’re talking! This will bring you views, and is not SO big that your post will be instantly lost.
3. GET CLEAR ON YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
If you don’t know what you’re posting about and what your ultimate goals are for your account, your followers will be confused, too. And spoiler alert: If people are confused they’ll unfollow, or not follow you in the first place.
After toying with enough accounts between myself and my clients, I’ve found the most effective strategy is to create content buckets for your posts. Basically what this means is come up with a handful of content categories that you will stick to and rotate between, and these categories should support your ultimate account goals. I give you the full scoop on how to do this here!
4. BE CONSISTENT!
If you want to reach new accounts then you need to get content in front of them, yes? The lifespan of an Instagram post is incredibly short - 24 hours or less in most cases. So if you want to GROW your account, then you need to be reaching new accounts as consistently as possible. Which means you need to be CREATING this new content as consistently as possible.
And listen, I get it. It’s time-consuming and a pain in the ass. Literally as I sit here typing this I am half-ready for a photoshoot I need to leave for in an hour, so I can get new shots to use as content for my account. Do I want to get up and spend an hour dealing with my hair and makeup? No. My current motivation is ZERO. But guess what...I have goals to reach, and this is a part of that process. If you only put in work on the days you feel like it, you will never be successful. So here I am, doing the damn thing anyway, even though I would 100% rather be still in my PJ’s, laying in bed, watching Netflix, and cuddling Blitz. Gotta do what ya gotta do, my friend.
On that note -
One big thing I’ve learned is to work WITH your body. Take a good hard look at how you function best, and plan your schedule accordingly! A great example of this is how I batch my content. I prefer to go hard and get a TON done within like 1-2 weeks, and then I know my brain and body are like “Nope I’m done” for like a week or so following. So I front-load my schedule. I spend 1-2 weeks batching everything out for the entire MONTH (or more), and then I give myself a week or so following to take it easy!
Be honest with yourself, analyze your tendencies, and work WITH them instead of trying to force yourself to get shit done when you’re not really functioning at your best.
5. STOP MAKING EXCUSES.
Tough love, but here it is. Go back and read #1-4 again. But especially #1 and that this needs to be done DAILY.
I see you over there with your thoughts of, “Nicole I already have a full-time job / kids / no extra time to even practice / insert other excuse here….there’s no way I can do engagement every day.”
You obviously clicked on this article for a reason.
You want to grow your Instagram account.
You KNOW that having a larger audience will help increase your income by bringing you more students, or helping you sell more products, or helping you book more gigs, or whatever it is you’re trying to do.
So really what it comes down to is HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THAT.
If it’s a priority to you, you’ll find a way, otherwise, you’ll find an excuse. It’s really that simple.
(Can you tell I’m feeling sassy today? Like seriously though, I love you but you know I’m right. Spoiler alert though, I usually am. 😘😂)
Now get out there and do the damn thing!
If you want to learn more, make sure you check out my Instagram Playbook! It comes with tips on how to build real relationships with your followers, caption party starters, a hashtag strategy that will help you get in front of new clients, and so much more! Get immediate access to my IG Playbook here!