Welcome to my new blog series about how to grow your Instagram. If you’d like to follow along with this series, it will be important to first follow me on Instagram! Every Sunday I will post a question box in my Instagram stories where you can drop your questions for me, and then every Monday I will share my answers to your questions right here on the blog. Be sure to also subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on a thing! 😉
Ok, let’s do it!
There is truth in posting at predictable times, yes. Your followers will want to know when to expect a post from you. If you usually post at 9am every day, continue to do that. Don’t post at 6pm one day, 2pm the next, 3am the next, etc. I have also played around a lot with how OFTEN to post, and for me there is absolutely no doubt that posting once per day (at the same time of day) maximizes growth (not necessarily post engagement, that is another topic). Want to grow as quickly as possible? Post every day of the week at the same time of day (AND NO MORE). More frequently than that, and you will begin to lose followers.
Yes, it’s true. Stay in your lane. I hear a lot of chatter about it being “inauthentic” to only share what you know will perform well. What I would say to that is, ask yourself why you are on Instagram. Is it to grow a business, to become a paid content creator, or is it because it’s just a great creative outlet for you? There are so many answers to that question, but if your purpose is a professional one, I am certain it has never been a crime to focus on promoting your business. And why would you not create a feed that will perform best for your business? There should be no shame in that, but of course this question of authenticity is a valid one, I just think the term is grossly overused. Instagram has truly made it clear that the world will always love their Amazons and Walmarts, but will always have a stick up their asses about small business.
Well, be sure to subscribe to this blog series then! 😉
If your purpose is to be an interiors account, don’t show personal photos…pretty much ever on your feed. That said, it is OK to have your dog, your kid, or yourself, etc. placed IN the interior you are showing off, but that’s about the only exception to this rule. People will generally follow an account for a single purpose. Find out what the purpose is, and only share that 99% of the time. However, Instagram stories are a GREAT place to show that personal stuff on your interiors account.
In general, no. I have been lucky that a lot of larger accounts have reached out to me to do group shares, giveaways, story swaps, etc., but until this past week, I had never reached out to an account larger than me for help of any kind. And even when I did do this very recently, the two accounts I asked to collaborate have been genuine friends for the past two years. That said, I think I’ve probably done a disservice to myself. But I think this is a line to tread lightly. If you have fostered a TRUE relationship with the larger account, I think it is perfectly fine, even advisable, to ask a larger account to join forces (ONLY if your styles are similar and you think you ALSO have something to offer the larger account). If you have little to no relationship with the larger account and/or you don’t think you have something valuable to offer in return, I think it’s probably a bad idea. Instagram is ALL about building genuine relationships, so take the time to build them before asking. And just put yourself in the larger account’s shoes. They’ve busted major butt to get where they are, so only ask if you think it will be a mutually beneficial collaboration.
Well, this depends on how quickly you’d like to grow. The more time you spend on the app, the more the algorithm likes you, the more relationships you are building, the more you are exposing your name or your brand to the IG world. Personally, I spend probably 2-3 active hours/day on the app. But I spend another 2-3 responding to brand collaboration emails, creating content, taking photos, editing photos, etc. I’ve taken my account pretty seriously for about the past year, and have been putting that kind of time in, and in the past year I have been able to grow my audience by nearly 30k followers. If I doubled my time, I don’t doubt that I could have grown double the amount. The number of hours you put in (as long as you’re being smart about how you use them) is DIRECTLY related to how quickly you will grow.
Yes! But be careful about how you do so. Ideally, I would recommend getting off Etsy entirely and joining shopify or WooCommerce, so that you can use Instagram to tag items in your feed. That way people can directly click on items in your feed and purchase them. I follow A LOT of Etsy shops, vintage shops, etc. and I think the major mistake many of them make is posting vignettes of their products that are much like the photos they would use on Etsy to sell their products. IG is a different game. If you truly want to grow your business on Instagram to make more sales, STYLE the items in your home decor and take shots that encompass much more of the space than you would take for product images.
There are SO many ways! Stay tuned to this series to find out! 😉
- CONTENT IS KING. Take great photos that are well lit, well edited, and pertain to your audience. Spend HALF of your time dedicated to IG creating the photo (styling, lighting, editing, etc.) and writing a good caption.
- POST EVERY DAY. I see a lot of larger accounts post only 2-3 times/week. I’ve grown by studying what larger accounts do, but this is the one area that has just 100% NOT been true for me. On days that I post, I get about 100 new followers/day. On days I DON’T post, I get about 5 new followers. It’s simple math. THAT SAID, posting more than once per day just annoys your audience and you’ll end up losing more followers than you gain, and doing REALLY bad things for your engagement.
- BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Every time you get a comment, like it and respond to it! And if they are also on IG for business purposes, GO TO THEIR FEED AND COMMENT ON THEIR LAST POST. I CANNOT overemphasize how important that is. It shows respect for them, it shows gratitude, it will help build a genuine relationship with them, AND IT WILL MAKE THEM WANT TO COME ENGAGE WITH YOUR POSTS MORE. I don’t know why I put this as number 3 because it may literally be the most important key to growing your IG.
In the short term, yes. In the long term, 100% NO. You want people to follow you because they WANT to follow you. That’s how you’ll get them to stick around. If they follow you because you asked them to, or because they had to in order to get something, they’re not going to stick around for long. This is one reason I don’t LOVE doing giveaways, though I think in general people LOVE giveaways, so if they follow you for the giveaway, chances are much higher that they’ll stick around for future giveaways. Follow chains don’t really offer anyone anything other than short term satisfaction.
I’m really unsure. I do think it’s important to story as often as possible for algorithm purposes, so in that sense, yes I think it has helped. I still think as far as growth though, your feed is your main squeeze.
Giveaways are a great way to gain more followers. They are better for the business than they are for the “host” of the giveaway. This is because the business is tapping into the following of the giveaway host. For example, when I host a successful giveaway I see only a slight uptick in the number of followers I would gain from just a normal post, but the business I am doing the giveaway for usually sees a SUBSTANTIAL uptick in their numbers. If you’re doing the giveaway primarily to grow your numbers, find an influencer with great engagement to host your giveaway, that way you are tapping into THEIR following.
When I first started out, I did 2 or 3 of them and realized that people would follow me for the short term, and then just unfollow me. Personally, I think they come across as too gimmicky, and I don’t like to feel like a big gimmick. I don’t think your followers like to see you as a gimmick either, and I just don’t think they’re very effective.
I’ve never really paid too much attention to this as far as a numbers game, but I would say to only follow two types of accounts:
- People you want to follow. It’s your feed, after all, and Instagram is a great way to get inspired.
- Other influencers who are great with engagement. This is a business you’re trying to build after all, right? So if you see someone out there who is always going to comment back on your feed, FOLLOW THEM. You’ll want to see their posts in your feed so you’ll know to engage with their posts, because you’ll know they’ll engage back. It matters LITTLE if they have 5 or 500,000 followers (though the comments of large accounts do boost your post in the algorithm more).
And that’s a wrap!! In an effort to keep these posts a “readable” length, I will be taking just the first 10-15 questions that come in each week – so be sure to keep your eye on my IG stories on Sundays.
Thanks so much for all of the great questions, and I hope you were able to gain some important insights!
06 comments on “How To Grow Your Instagram: Part I”
Thank you, Kate! This blog post was so valuable, I’m sure many people (me included) appreciate your insight and advice.
Thanks so much for always being such a supportive friend, Carol! And for giving it a read. <3
What great tips for us starting out on IG! Thanks for sharing your advice Kate!!
Well done Kate! I really liked the point about building relationships. So important. Thank you for sharing your insight.
I love what you wrote! It made me realize I need to be better about my timing in posting and posting daily. I struggle to do that, but I definitely want to keep growing. Thank you for taking the time to share what you put in so much time to learn!
Very straight forward advice. No gimmicks. Love this. I paid a good bit to learn how to grow with an account that has 200k followers. She said I had to post 5 to 7 times a DAY by reposting others photos along with posting my own. She insisted that’s how you grow. I couldn’t do it. Like you, I knew I would annoy people and I would lose followers instead of gaining. I don’t know how that works for her. It seems obnoxious. Thanks for sharing your tips.