Updated: Feb 17
Welcome to my Patreon for Instagrammers!!! I've been wanting to launch this membership for soooo long and I'm just so happy you're here to learn how to grow your platform. This is a blog post that I have re-edited with more details for growing your page. All the words in bold are from my current perspective, whereas this blog post was written in July 31, 2019 (And this blog post is no longer available to the public). I stick to these rules strickly and even since the end of July my page has gained about 23,000 followers, So I promise these rules work and they're still what I use today.
I'm so happy to finally be writing this blog post! I get questions about how to grow an Instagram account all the time, so I am happy to answer this big question about how to grow your brand. First off, don't get all sad because no, what I'm telling you isn't rocket science. I'm not sharing crazy secrets that help you grow an account overnight, but I promise these steps help.
People always wonder how I grew my account so quickly. Well, here's my answer:
During my senior year of college, I was finishing my degree in marketing, had a social media marketing job, was in a social media marketing class, and started @impactforgood. So yes, I have a lot of experience with marketing and that's how I was able to grow so quickly (@impactforgood started October 2018)! So if you want to know some of the main things I did to grow, I'll give you my tips as well as some marketing perspective.
1. Find your groove
Most brands and influencers have a certain feel that they maintain throughout their Instagram. Don't be afraid to play around with this, but finding your certain vibe for your page really helps create a brand for yourself. Start looking at influencers' or brands' grids and you'll start to see the feel they're going for!
From a marketing perspective, this helps followers recognize your "brand" when they see your pictures on their timeline. This helps with brand recognition which is how people will start to resonate with your Instagram.
Again, don't be afraid to mess around with this. My grid was filled with dark colors and tones for the first year, and then I switched my feel entirely!
2. BE AUTHENTIC
Maybe this sounds too simple or annoying, but I can't stress this enough- be yourself. You have something different to offer than other accounts, so use that to your ability. As you can tell from my page, I like dark colors (I now use pink and orange-ish tones). A lot of zero waste accounts have really bright spaces and white backgrounds. First off, I don't have white walls, a nice camera, or natural lighting in my house, so that look is impossible for me. But also, going with a darker look has helped separate my account from others.
When I started my Instagram, I was worried that my account would never catch on because it's completely different than @zero.waste.collective 's page, which gets a lot of attention. I knew from the beginning that I would never get shared on their page because of how different our styles are, but posting pictures that I'm proud of is more important than matching others' accounts.
To this day (now Feb 11th) I have NEVER been reposted on Zero Waste Collective and I have 71,500 followers. Do what feels right, not what feels common!
3. Post CONSISTENTLY
If you can’t post every day, try 3-4 times a week at first until you can learn to post everyday.
I use the Preview App ($7 a month) to plan posts in advance that way I’m not on my phone all the time (there are more perks to the app that I’ll cover later). Social Media is a fast-paced society, and if you don't post very often, your page will have a hard time growing.
I now don't use the preview app for this, but I do try to post every day. I have slowed down a little since I've started my YouTube, but now I at least shoot for 5 times a week. Basically, if you're not posting often, you fall on your followers' timeline. The algorithm shows people what they engage with regularly, and if you aren't posting regularly, people can't engage, so then you'll fall back on people's timeline. Since I have stopped posting so regularly, my engagement rate and following rate have decreased, so I'm working on getting out more content right now!
4. OPTIMIZE PROFILE
Make sure your bio shows what followers can gain by following your account. Are you a travel guru? Do you show fashion inspiration? Zero Waste tips? Let your audience know so they know if your page is for them. Go to accounts that are in your field and find a similar way to display your information.
I show my name (Jessica) so companies know how to address me when sending emails and so followers know who I am. I state "earth advocate" to let my audience know I am into sustainable living. "Outfit repeater" is my way of introducing my ethical fashion & minimalist wardrobe. "Sharing of vision for change" is what I offer for followers. I am showing my community what I am learning about sustainability so we can all do better for our planet. I have "Arkansas Based" for companies for collaboration reasons and my email for collaboration reasons.
From a marketing perspective, algorithms pick up on what words you put in your account. When I worked for Seed Phytonutrients on their marketing team, I had software where I would search "zero waste", "sustainable", "plant-based" and other terms in order to find these words (or SEO's) in bios to find eco influencers. I could even search for emojis to find a certain type of influencer. These specific terms for your field can help followers find your page when they're not even looking.
This is my newer look but it has the same principles. I put Jessica - Sustainability to show my name and what my page is about. "Inspiring Individual Change for the Planet" is what followers will GAIN from following me. When writing out your bio ask yourself "what do followers gain from my account?" I'm saying this again because it's SO important.
5. Find 30 RELEVANT hashtags for your posts.
-Use them for EVERY post.
-Post the hashtags in the comments.
-Use the Preview App to save these hashtags. That way they’re in a good spot to copy and paste in your comments.
-I have 4 different groups of hashtags I use depending on the post. I have one for fast fashion, for sustainability graphics, for my Zero Waste posts, and then I always have a group of 30 hashtags that I’m testing out to see how they perform on my page.
6. Go to a relevant hashtag and like pictures
-To really boost your following, try to like about 100 posts a day.
-Have a goal to comment on 5-10 pictures (meaningful comments)
This isn't something I do anymore, but it's something I did every day when I was a Community Manager for Seed Phytonutrients. This gets your name out there and also helps you connect with other accounts who have similar interests as you. Some partnerships I have started by liking their pictures on a hashtag page!
Now that my page is bigger, I just make sure I engage with the people I follow. I always like a good majority of what is on my timeline and try to comment on a couple of pictures a day.
Another way to get your name out there is to shout out some Instagrammers you like on your stories. Try to shoot for people who have a similar following as you because there's a good chance they'll shout you out back!
7. Follow accounts who are doing the same thing as you
-Build a relationship with them. Learn from them and let them learn from you!
-Before you read the next point, know the people I have engaged with I have genuine relationships with. My relationships do not have ulterior motives, but for the sake of business, this next step helps a lot.
-If followers follow your “competition”, the algorithm will suggest them to follow your page since the algorithm knows your page is similar. For example, if someone follows @stacysullivan_ but doesn't follow me, there's a good chance the algorithm will suggest to follow me because our pages are similar, but we also interact with each other.
These are suggested accounts to follow if you follow my page. I am friends with all four of these people!
This is a great thing to do for your page because you're making friends with people you can potentially work with or learn from. @meghanhughes gave me advice on how to build a Patreon, I now do IG Takeovers with @wastefreeplanet, @taylor.pforwords is helping me learn how to do taxes, and I've done giveaways with accounts that simply reached out and became friends with me. Also, I now have brands often ask me what influencers they should work with next and I always have a list of my friends to give them. Networking on Instagram works people!
This is one of my favorite ways to build a community. I put "competition" in quotations because I truly believe that we all have room to be successful through social media, so there's no need to compete. Two of my close friends are Crystal from @wastefreeplanet and Stacy from @stacysullivan_. Our following count is different and we have similar partnerships with brands, but I have never felt in competition with them because we all have successful social media pages- so aren't we all winning?? Make friends with the people who are doing similar things as you! You'll learn from them, they'll learn from you, and on top of that, you'll make genuine relationships.
8. Comment back on your pictures
I like doing this for several reasons. This helps build a relationship with followers, It helps your engagement rate for brands, and It makes you a nice person!!! TALK TO YOUR FOLLOWERS.
Studies show that if there are several comments on a page, other followers feel less nervous to comment because they'll get "lost in the comment section". So basically, through me commenting back to others, there are more comments on my page which allow others to be less anxious and start to engage with me too. It sounds weird, but it's true.
Because of commenting back, I have made genuine connections with so many of my followers which makes me happy. This one simple step helps not only increase your engagement, but it helps build a strong community through your Instagram.
9. Use the Preview App to figure out the best times to post
Posting at the right time can give your page much more attention. By using Preview analytics you can figure out the best time to post and reach the best engagement possible every time!
This is my grid from my preview app, but the best times are different for everybody. This app takes your Instagram's performance and then comes up with the best times for your pictures to be posted. When I was growing, I strictly posted at my best times which helped with my page's performance immensely.
10. Make goals for your account
At first, I never set goals for my account. But now, I have specific following goals for my account each month. My goal for the end of July is 45,000 followers (and I don't think I'm going to hit it). These goals are important because it teaches you to learn how to measure your following and to keep up with your successes and failures.
Make a measurable goal for yourself. If you have 2,000 followers right now and you want 2,500 within in next 30 days, that's growing your account by 25%. Divide 500 by four (125). So every week you should get 125 new followers. I have been measuring my page like this for a long time and it has helped me learn how to grow a steady following. I started making measurable goals for myself when I had 3,300 followers in January- Now I have 44,800 in July (and now 71,000 in February). I promise making goals will help you push yourself and make you strive for the success that you want!
The most important part of making measurable goals is making a goal that is actually attainable. At one point I was getting 6,000 to 8,000 followers a month, so my goals reflected that number. But since I track my following monthly, it became very obvious when my growth rate was slowing down tremendously. Now I know that a goal of 6,000 followers in one month is unattainable for my growth pattern, so I aim for 4,000 new followers monthly. It will be a little tricky at first to make a good goal, but once you start tracking your progress, you'll start to know the difference between pushing yourself and setting an unreachable goal.
That's all the tips I have for now! I hope this helps and I hope you use your Instagram to share positivity and inspiration to those around you.
Thanks for reading :)
Impact for Good