I set a bunch of goals for the latter half of 2018. One of them was to double my measly instagram following without paying for a spammy company to do it for me. As you know, the algorithm is biting us all in the you-know-where, and it can be hard to beat! But...I'm happy to say I've done it!
Do you want to do the same? Read on for 10 steps YOU can take to grow your following organically!
1. Post only your BEST content. And post DAILY.
I know it's tempting to post for the sake of posting, but trust me on this one...that's a fast way to lose followers. Your best best is to post once, max twice, per day, and you want to post things that are hitting your followers.
If you post too often, you'll lose people. They don't want to be spammed with content! If you don't post regularly, you'll also lose people. Missing a day is not the end of the world, but shoot for daily if you can.
2. Keep your personal life separate from your work.
I know, your cat is friggin' adorable. And your houseplants are gorgous. I get it. But remember, people are following you FOR A REASON, and if you don't deliver content that relates to that topic, folks will unfollow faster than you can say "CRAP". The rare selfie or cat photo can help people connect to you on a personal level, but it should by no means be the bulk of your content! Keep a private account for personal stuff if you feel the need to share your life with family and friends. You can also opt for sharing for personal insights in your instagram stories. People DO want to get to know you and see behind the scenes, but try to make sure it's relevant to your larger goals. It's a fine line, friends.
That brings me to my next point...
3. Utilize stories.
Instagram has a nifty feature called stories that allows you to post text, photos, and videos to a stream that is only available for 24 hours. This gives you a great opportunity for behind the scenes footage, announcements, and short videos that might otherwise clog up your feed. Reality check: a LOT of people ONLY view stories when they get on instagram. If you don't use them, you are missing out on a huge segment of your audience! I like to use stories to post live painting videos, polls, and announcements about sales or special offers. You can also post your face if you want to get personal. People tend to like that.
4. Get personal.
I just mentioned it, but let me elaborate. People like to follow someone that they feel like they KNOW. By allowing them into your world a little bit, you're slowly getting them to trust the person behind the feed. And bonus: people like to BUY from folks they know and trust...or FEEL like they know and trust.
You don't have to share every personal detail about your life. In fact, please don't. Really. But if you do share some of your daily insights, concerns, weaknesses, and successes, others will connect with you in a deeper way than if they were just seeing your photos.
5. Join a pod.
Pods are AMAZING. But what are they?
Pods are simply a few people banding together to beat the algorithm with good ol' fashioned teamwork! Most pods have between 5-10 people. Each person within the pod alerts the other members when they have posted, and subsequently, every other person in the pod will like and comment on that post. Instagram takes notice of when you get a bunch of comments and rewards you by sharing your content with even more people! Also, this is an excellent way to build community with others on instagram. I grew my following by hundreds simply by being in a pod with other artists.
6. Write captions that captivate.
One word captions are NOT going to cut it unless you're in the big leagues...sorry! Believe it or not, many people actually DO read those words underneath your photo, and you want to make sure that they are drawing peolple in.
I like to use my captions for a few things: blog-style posts (always very popular), giving advice (again, super popular), and asking questions. Dude, people LOVE to talk about themselves when given the chance, so why not ask them questions that allow them to give their imput? Simply asking people what they think of your art, or asking them which colors they like best, can get the comments rolling in!
7. Engage, engage, engage!
Put a ring on it!
What I mean is, look...it's not all about you, ok? Everyone else is out there hustling too, and if you take the time to acknowledge others' work with likes and thoughtful comments, your chances of them reciprocating aren't too shabby. Every comment will mean the world to them! If you can ask them a question, even better. Get a dialougue going whenever possible!
8. Do a takeover.
I've done a couple feed takeovers, and every time has led to an awesome influx of followers! What this means is simply that you log into someone else's account (with their full blessing!) and post your own content for a set amount of time, usually a day or so. This gives you access to a whole new group of potential followers! Look for art accounts that host regular takeovers and request to be a part of it.
9. Use the damn hashtags.
ALL OF THEM. I have heard so much conflicting advice on this one. Some people say you should use all 30 tags and some claim that you should only use 15-20. I fall into the all 30 camp. Why? That's when I've gotten the best results!
Make sure that you are using hashtags that will reach your target audience, so please don't choose them willy-nilly. I like to stalk other artists to see what hashtags they are using and then adopt a few of them for myself.
10. Be generous.
This encompasses many of the points I've already made, but it bears reinforcing. Be generous with your content, and people will like and trust you.
What does it mean to be a generous content creator? Here are a few ideas:
-share your heart
-share other people
-comment on and like others' posts
-post content that delights, uplifts, or solves a problem
I hope that this gives you a few ideas of ways that you can grow your following! Of course it's not all about the numbers, but for me those numbers represent real people and real potential customers. Let me know if you implement these and tell me what results you get!