[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have received several emails and direct messages asking me for tips on how to increase your Instagram following. Initially, I put together a list of what I’ve learned since using Instagram to share with you but realized the answer is simple. To grow your Instagram you must first establish a loyal Instagram following.
In this article I will share the lessons I learned through my experiences with Instagram. If you are new to Instagram and want to turn your pictures into a profitable business this article is for you. It is a beginner’s guide to all the fundamentals of How to Grow a Loyal Instagram Following by establishing your brand through valuable content. Every Influencer, micro or macro, has their own experience and individual insightful tips, but these are the things that I have personally found to be useful.
Find your niche and stick to it. When I started posting on Instagram it was only for fun. I posted mostly fashion and model pictures with random photos of me with friends in between. Then, I started traveling a lot so I incorporated travel into my posts. After that I noticed my followers and engagement were all over the place (like my Instagram feed). I wasn’t gaining followers. In fact, I was losing them quickly. I noticed fashion related photos were performing better than any other photos so I focused on fashion and occasionally added other photos sparingly. The key is to maintain consistency. If you are promoting yourself as a fashion blogger your posts should contain 70% fashion and 30% everything else and so on with your niche: Fashion, Food, Fitness, Travel, etc. Let’s put it into prospective: If you were shopping for a pair of high heels you wouldn’t go to a sporting goods store to buy high heels but you would go to a store for high heels that might also sell sporting goods. You may even buy high heels and tennis shoes even though you weren’t looking for both when you walked in. The same is true about Instagram. People scrolling through your feed to “shop” or look are looking for specific things so the percentage of your content should reflect a consistent niche. A consistent niche will help you attract the right “buyer.” Take Blair Eadie from the blog Atlantic-Pacific below for example. Blair has capitalized on her personal style blog through a series of stunning outfit inspirations. If you search her beautiful Instagram feed (or blog) you immediately know what she is selling as the majority of her posts are all geared toward clothing.
There is no guaranteed method for achieving overnight Instagram success. Building a loyal following of people and friends who support your content and continuously check your feed requires HARD WORK. Consistency of posts, themes, editing filters, personality and style really helped me. People don’t like constant change. This doesn’t mean you can’t play with different techniques, however, keep it cohesive. The better your overall aesthetic the more likely your followers will be to keep returning back to your feed. With the new Instagram algorithm in order to gain followers, likes and comments you really need to build a loyal Instagram following and GREAT content. Take blogger @elizabethelegance for example. Lauren Elizabeth joined Instagram this year (2018) and already has 648 loyal followers. Lauren’s overall aesthetic is gorgeous and inspirational. Though there are macro-Influencers with over 100k+ followers I could find inspiration from, I follow Lauren because she keeps me wanting more and her content tells a story. Which brings me to my next point: Storytelling.
Instagram is your own personal creative portfolio that you are sharing with the world. Consider it your resume. When you post a photo to your feed ask yourself, “Is this a perfect representation of my brand?” If it’s not you should considering tweaking it, editing it, rephotographing it or whatever you need to do in order to make it an authentic representation of your brand before posting it. Just like your resume, you want your business to be 100% before you shop it around. How do you do that? I’ll tell you. Storytelling! Since I am a fashion blogger I will use a fashion example. Have you ever looked at a photo of a fashion blogger enjoying a picnic but she/he is actually advertising clothing in the photograph? Everything about the photo is picturesque and magical and it almost looks fairytale like? That is because She/he is captivating you by telling a story through images. Once you read the caption below everything ties together like a perfectly wrapped package. Now it all makes sense. That’s Instagram marketing aka storytelling. Take a look below at @Tezzamb. What I love about Tezza’s feed is her ability to capture fashion worthy photos through storybook images, humanizing the photos by personalizing her captions. Now do you see why standing in alleyway’s to capture a photograph and advertise clothing pales in comparison? Tezzamb perfectly embodies idyllic inspirational photos through storytelling with her immaculate art direction. We feel like we are there with her enjoying a stylish picnic in San Fran. She has convinced us we need that hat, that outfit, those shoes and a vacation to San Fran! She has sold us with just a photograph.
I cannot stress the importance of authenticity enough. If you are using Instagram as a business tool this is the most important tip I can share with you. Authenticity is what attracts the followers you want to grow and help you establish a loyal following. It is also the thing that attracts brands to partner with you and help you build your business. When I found my niche I began posting photos on Instagram of me wearing clothing brands I like all the time. I thought posting as many photos of me in different outfits was the trick. WRONG! There was nothing unique about my posts: Me posing in another alleyway or against a brick wall in the same shirt every other girl was wearing. I didn’t like the photos I was sharing but I kept posting them hoping the next outfit would give me better results. That’s when I realized I wasn’t being authentic. Everything I loved about other bloggers, photographers and brands was their creativity. That’s when I got serious about Instagram. I began curating my posts in advance and that’s where the HARD WORK comes in. Sharing real clothing I actually wear everyday and creating stories around each outfit I posted. As you grow brands will reach out to partner with you so it is best to be authentic from the beginning so you attract the right brands for you longterm. Think of your Instagram as your brand. How do you want people to preceive your brand? Do they know what you are selling? What takeaway are you leaving them with? All of those questions need to be answered in the form of a perfect, inspirational photo. But don’t forget how important your caption is. It is crucial to selling your package. The caption should 100% reflect the photo or message your are selling/promoting while maintaining authenticity. People want humanized branding because it is relatable. Be true to yourself and your brand and the right people will gravitate to the product you are selling/promoting which is YOU! My favorite and authentic #GirlBoss is @Songdani featured below who’s caption on this photo reads, “When people treat you like they don’t care, believe them. #HUFHUFpass#HUFworldwide 🌈.” proves how powerful authenticity is. Her message is clear. She is a no bullshit woman who does not want to play games. Straight to the point. She is putting herself out there. Whatever your message and personality is always BE true to YOU! You are unique and people want to know the real you so put yourself out there.
I hope my tips help inspire you and get you started. It’s a lot to digest all at once but once you start treating your Instagram portfolio like a business it will become a business. I have a list of valuable resources to help grow your business through collaborations, marketing tools, campaigns and other social media platforms that I will share in another post. For now, focus on these 4 tips and start creating your brand. Please share your comments below in the comments section. I find it helpful when we learn and grow together. We rise by lifting one another! #SpreadTheLove