The last three years have been a wonderful journey on Instagram. Today I am sharing some of my tips on how to help you grow your Instagram.
I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. Most days I love Instagram. I love that it provides me with a place to share what I love to do. I love that it provides a platform where I can earn a great living, I also love that it has introduced me to so many amazing people. Instagram has given me so many new opportunities and enabled me to have the best job in the world.
On the flip side, however, there are days where Instagram is downright mean. That Instagram algorithm makes no sense to any of us. Especially since we have no control over it. The algorithm is what decides who gets to see our posts. One day everything is working great on Instagram and you have lots of engagement. And then the next day it’s not so good. (More about this later.)
Instagram is Hard Work
So what does this mean? It means that to grow your account on Instagram you need to work at it. And I am serious about this. It’s really important you don’t fall into the habit of using the “algorithm” as a crutch. If you are bringing new content and posting things that people want to know, followers will find you. When that happens, it’s likely an algorithm change or update won’t affect you as much.
This is the most important Instagram Tip I am going to share with you today. We can’t control the Instagram algorithm. But we can control the content on our feeds. This means you need to share the best content you can.
There are over a billion people on Instagram and yet there is only one you. If you try to be someone you aren’t on a platform like Instagram, it will be really hard. And why would you want to do that anyway?
Focus on sharing what you love, what makes you excited, and what you think others will want to learn about. I have a saying that “Instagram is about sharing, not showing”. You need to share and teach and offer fun and exciting things that people want to know about. If you just show photos, then you are not engaging with your audience. But if you share, you are being a teacher and sharing how you do the things you love to do. Sharing gives people a reason to come back for more.
Be Consistent (but not complacent)
Consistency on Instagram is also important. Why? Because if you are consistent, your followers will know when to find you on Instagram. This works to your advantage because the more engagement you have with followers, the more Instagram will share your feed with others.
If you want to grow your account, I think you need to post at least once a day. And that means every day at roughly the same time. If you don’t know when you should post, you can go to your Instagram insights and see what time the largest percentage of your followers are on Instagram. Then post at that time. Be careful that you don’t fall into the habit of sharing every day for two weeks and then hardly sharing at all for the next week. Your followers may or may not notice your absence. But they will move on.
As I mentioned, Instagram uses an algorithm to determine what posts a user sees on their feed. There are a gazillion super-secret measurements within the algorithm that decide “who sees what” on Instagram. And it changes all of the time. When it changes, things you have always done might not work so well anymore. (For example, I used to use the same hashtags on every post which netted often 100k views from my hashtags. A few months ago they dropped to 1K views. Ugh!) A lot of people get frustrated with the Instagram algorithm changes, which I understand. It’s awful! But this is an opportunity to be smart. This is the time when you need to change things up. If suddenly your hashtags aren’t working then you need to try something different. If your follower count is going down, it might be time to get in a share group. Don’t sit back and be complacent. Use these challenges as a catalyst to try something new. Trust me, this works. I know from personal experience. (My hashtags are doing much better!)
Set a Schedule (and stick to it)
I have posted twice a day for a few years now and it’s been stressful. I often find myself asking these types of questions. What do I post? What photo can I share? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if I can’t post when I am supposed to? Will anyone even care or notice? I could go on and on. The key is you can’t wake up every day in a panic because you don’t know what to post on Instagram. It will take the joy out of your Instagram experience.
It took me a long time to figure out how to manage the stress of posting two times a day, seven days a week. Then it all changed when I started planning out my blog and Instagram posts almost a month in advance. This is so easy to do.
First, you need to sit down with your calendar and think about what you want to share. Write down five categories of things to share that fit within your “brand”. These could be things like “DIY crafts, recipes, decorating ideas, etc. Once you have these five categories assign each of them a day of the week. Your schedule could look like:
Monday – Decorating ideas
Tuesday – DIY crafts
Wednesday – Recipes
Thursday – Shopping
Friday – Eating healthy
Saturday – Travel
Sunday – Tips
These categories are for you, not your followers. You should use them to plan out your Instagram posts. Every Monday (for the next month), you will share decorating ideas. Every Tuesday, you will share a DIY craft. Every Wednesday is a recipe. And so on. Of course, the schedule has to be flexible but do you see how this will make it so much easier to come up with thirty days of Instagram post ideas?
At this point, you are ready to create thirty posts for the next thirty days and enter them in a calendar. As soon as that’s done, you can start photographing and gathering photos for your posts. Write the posts and save them on your phone. Ideally, you always want to be at least one week ahead.
Technically you have just created what is called an Editorial Calendar. (Wikipedia defines it as “An editorial calendar, or publishing schedule, is used by bloggers, publishers, businesses, and groups to control publication of content across different media, for example, newspaper, magazine, blog, email newsletters, and social media outlets.”) This one change will dramatically improve the quality of your posts and reduce the stress of posting every day.
So how is planning in advance going to get you more followers?
Your posts will be well thought out ideas instead of a random photo you happened to have on your phone. (Trust me, I have been there.) With an Editorial Calendar, you can also talk (aka promote) about things that are coming up on your Instagram and get your followers excited to come back and check your feed.
A well thought out Instagram will have better content and the followers will seek you out. It takes a bit of planning but it is so worth it! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
*This post on Instagram Tips is part of a series, The Biz of Blogging. To read more posts about this, click here.