This is part 1 of a 3-part series. If you have already read part 1, I suggest you skip to part 2 here: How I got to 2.000 followers on Instagram (part 2)
Disclaimer: In the mean time I’ve grown my personal account to almost 8.000 followers in about 8 months time using these 9 growth hacks, every time over and over again! So I can assure you they work 😉
As a total noob, I embarked on my Instagram journey. I had an old account – had to check it out in the early days, but I wasn’t even using it personally anymore. When we had decided to leave on a 1 year world trip, I quickly decided to buy me a drone to document this trip from the air. And thus I figured I needed Instagram to promote my portfolio and lots of followers to be able to be taken seriously.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter why you want to gain followers, you are reading this because you’ve decided to grow your Instagram account as well ?
I’ll show you how I grew my account from 0 to 2.000 followers in only 2 months’ time without using any Instagram sponsored posts. So no money involved, this method is completely for FREE! This is by no means a pretense to be the best nor fastest route, but it’s the route I took and I’ll share my findings and best-practices with you.
So, buckle up and even if you’re not an Instagram noob, you’ll hopefully still learn a few things along the way. First, we need to cover some basics and then we’ll dive right into the juicy growth hacks!
1. Optimize your account page – Sexify!
First of all, you need to optimize your account page. This is your online business card. If people land on your page, you need to draw them in and not scare them away.
So, make sure your account name (your official handle, starts with @), your display name (just below, you can write anything you want) and your BIO are all appealing and informative, but also short and sexy! Basically, when people see your page, it should be clear what you are about and thus why they would follow you. Also add a profile picture people can recognize, with enough color contrast to draw their attention on a crowded homepage feed, even as a small thumbnail.
If you have a business account, you can also add a category. In my case, I put ‘Photographer’ as a category and this shows up right below my account handle. This helps people to see right away what kind of page they are looking at, even before scrolling down to your actual posts.
On that note, you don’t really need a business account. Though you do get some additional information on your followers (country, age, sex etc …) and some insights per post (how many people you have reached, how many have followed you from this post, how many have saved etc …). As far as I know (and I’ve read a lot on the subject) and from what I experienced before/after, the switch to a business account does not hurt your reach (as you might read sometimes). So go ahead and discover all those beautiful insights ?
Now, once your account page is all set, you’re ready to start posting:
2. Post regularly and on time – More discovery
This might seem obvious when you read it like this, but it’s a very important rule on Instagram. So, hear me out.
Regularly means you should post 1x per day. If you want to grow faster, go twice a day if you can! If not, my advice would be: at least every 2nd day then.
“Instagram isn’t about quality, but about quantity” – Johan Drone Adventures
BAM, jaw dropped … what is he talking about?
Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t post garbage. People won’t follow you if your pictures are crap. So have some pride and work out a minimum standard before you post. However, your pictures don’t need to be top notch in order to grow. Some really big accounts actually post tons of crappy to mediocre pictures and some small fish have amazing styles, but no followers. World isn’t fair on Instagram, get that in your thick skull, haha ?
The reason why is very straight forward, posts are your first tool to gain new followers. You’ll be discovered through the hashtags you use, by people who are interested in that hashtag and if they see your picture, they might follow you. So, the more you post, the more chances you have of being discovered. Very simple right ? So people who only post that 1 perfect picture, will only have 1 chance of being discovered and therefor grow slower than you.
When you do post, try posting at a fixed time. For example, at 9am when people have just arrived at work and scroll through their Instagram homepage while taking a coffee. Or at 5pm when people are finished with work and start using social media again. With a business account you can also see when your followers are most active during the day. So, this can also help you determine when to post.
Whatever time slot you choose, stick to it. Your followers are people. People are creatures of habit. They will expect your post at 9am if you always post at 9am, while they drink their morning coffee.
And never forget, it’s not only about getting new followers. You also need to keep the followers you have happy. Otherwise you just keep running in circles over and over again.
“A new post a day, keeps the unfollow button away” – Johan Drone Adventures
PS: if you can’t always be online at the fixed time, there are some free services that can help you schedule a post. This way you never miss your time slot. I personally use ‘Later’ and ‘Buffer’.
3. Create a consistent look on your feed – your theme!
You need to work out a theme for your page, determine your niche. What do you want to be known for? Are you a drone photographer like me? Or do you only shoot landscapes or portraits? Or do you only post funny pictures? Doesn’t matter, but stick to your theme.
If you post outside your niche/theme, you’ll also see that your pictures get a lot less likes/comments and stands out immediately when scrolling your feed.
The more consistent your feed looks, they more appealing it will be for potential followers. And it will also attract the right kind of followers, who are genuinely interested in what you post. This is important! Because they will engage (like/comment) more with you and keep on following you. You don’t want to attract zombies, who follow you, but never engage with your content. Or one-day-flies who follow you and unfollow you the next day because you post something that doesn’t interest them.
Stick to your theme! ?
Here are 3 good examples: (click to picture to visit their profile)
Do you want to learn how to edit like these guys? Go check out my new blog post with 10 easy Lightroom steps.
On a side note: Instagram gives you the option to archive posts. This means they stay in the archives (meaning you can still go check them), but they are no longer visible on your feed. Use this to clean up your feed from time to time. Keep only the winners = the posts with the most like and the posts who really fit your theme. Especially if you post regularly, like I told you in step 2, you need some housekeeping from time to time!
So now you’ve done everything in order to prepare for those loads of followers to come in, but hey, nobody is following you yet … don’t worry! We’re getting to that stage now …
Read step 4 to 6 in my follow-up blog post on How I got to 2.000 followers on Instagram (part 2)