How did you grow your following? Hands down the number one DM in my inbox every day. I grew my Instagram from 0 – 30K in less than 18 months, and want to help you do the same. It’s time to share all of my tips and tricks for Instagram growth so you can also grow an engaged, authentic, Instagram audience.
Before I share all of my deepest Instagram secrets,
follow me on Instagram. I would love to say hi!
Instagram is a whole lot of trial and error and even more hard work. Think of me as your own personal Instagram guinea pig. Have I tried ALL of the tips I have read about on Pinterest, YES, have I seen dramatic growth from any of those generic tips, NOPE!!! You know what tips I am talking about the ones that tell you that all you need for Instagram growth is beautiful pictures, a cohesive feed and consistent posts. Well, those tips don’t work anymore.
Just a few years ago, when Instagram was still in chronological order, those generic Instagram growth tips worked. All you needed to organically grow your Instagram following was some random hashtags and a few pretty pictures. Then BOOM you had 100,000 followers! Well, it’s a whole new world out there. This Instagram growth blog post is all about the tips and tricks that work for Instagram growth in 2020.
Instagram Growth Monster
It’s important that we first discuss one very important factor with Instagram growth, THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM. Oh, what a monster the algorithm is. While no one can crack the Instagram Algorithm, there are things you can proactively do to counteract its effects. Not only will these tips that I am about to share with you help you grow your Instagram account they will also help you beat the Instagram algorithm.
I am not here to reiterate all the things you guys have read while trying to grow your Instagram. Instead, I am going to give you some quick and easy tips and tricks that have proven they work. Okay, now let’s get into the nitty-gritty and talk about the must-haves for Instagram growth.
Instagram Growth Tips
Instagram is a social network, after all, don’t be shy. We have become a culture so obsessed with visiting the Instagram worthy hotels and taking the cutest pictures that we are forgetting a very important detail about social media. The part where we get social!
If you are confused about how to develop relationships on Instagram; here are some quick tips. Follow people in a similar niche as you with similar follower counts, comment on pictures you think are cute, DM someone if you relate to their Instagram story. Use Instagram for its original purpose to network and build personal relationships.
Instagram is paying far more attention to the relationships between accounts and by engaging within your community you’ll nurture those bonds & your engagement will, as a result, also increase. This will then increase your reach and visibility across the platform.
Quick Tip: Every morning wake up and pick a hashtag that has under 1 million uses and comment on the top 10 pictures. It takes under 5 minutes and is a great way to get your account in front of new Instagram users every day.
ALWAYS USE HASHTAGS
I try to use 15-20 hashtags per image that I post! I used to use all 30 hashtags but I find that between 15 – 20 hashtags seem to be the magic number! Hashtags really help to increase your Instagram engagement, gain new followers and helps your images get seen by a larger audience!
QUICK TIP: Don’t copy and paste your hashtags, I know that sounds so weird but for some reason Instagram is more generous to users who physically type out the hashtag in the caption.
Choose The Right Hashtag
Here is where hashtags get a bit tricky. I try to make sure the hashtag I am using has no more than 600k uses, because if it has over a million uses, it means the hashtag is EXTREMELY active, making it almost impossible to be displayed on the “top” or even “recent” section.
For instance: my Instagram posts are mainly about fashion and style so one might think to use the hashtag #styleblogger which has 34M uses (BAD, TOO POPULAR). Instead, I would use a geo-specific hashtag like #californiastyle which only has 345K uses. Using the smaller hashtag gives my Instagram posts the ability to be seen.
On the flip side, if the hashtag has less than 10k uses the hashtag isn’t popular at all and will decrease the chances of your photo being seen. More importantly, you will not grow your audience from that hashtag! As a rule of thumb, I generally like to use hashtags with 100k uses.
MAGIC NUMBER: Use a hashtag with 100K to 600K uses.
Do your hashtag research: Research hashtags using the search bar on Instagram to see which hashtags are popular, without being too popular. This will also show you other related hashtags that you can use! There are tons of tools out there for hashtag suggestions, my personal favorite is tailwind.
Always Have An Instagram Story Up
Make sure there is always an active story on your account, even if it is just one story! Ensure that your Instagram stories are always active. Quick and easy Instagram story ideas: show your view of the day (even if it is your cubicle), or your lunch, or even your cat.
I am all about Instagram stories, it’s a fun way to get a behind the scenes of my everyday life. It’s a great tool to connect with your audience. I get a ton of DM’s from my stories and those messages are a super fun way to get social!
Instagram stories really extends your personality to your followers! The more authentic and relatable you are, the more likely people will connect and follow you. Be sure to tag brands, geotag, and use hashtags to gain more story viewers. One time I did a rant about an idea I had for The Bachelor and I gained an additional 600 viewers from using the #bachelornation hashtag on my story!
Everyone has different opinions when it comes to giveaways. In my opinion, its a great way to introduce yourself and your account to new accounts. Giveaways are not a must but help. I did not participate in my first giveaway until I hit 7K! Today, I participate in about 2 giveaways a month. I do recommend doing giveaways too ofter because it becomes VERY inauthentic.
In the spirit of transparency, the giveaways that I have done have gotten me on average 200 – 300 new followers (that stick around). Fun fact: my most popular picture ever was a giveaway I did for a weekend in Waco to visit Magnolia Market, this image was viewed by 178,000 Instagram users!!!! Thank god for hashtags.
Okay, let’s talk about the one tip that is never talked about. I believe this one thing was the reason I was able to hit 10K in under 8 months!
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE 10K FOLLOWERS, DO NOT MAKE YOUR ACCOUNT A BUSINESS ACCOUNT. If all caps look like I am yelling, I am. Keep your account as a personal account until you hit 10K. This tip is so important and no one EVER talks about it.
I realize there are some benefits of having a business page, like the insights that Instagram provides. But in my opinion, the negatives outweigh the positives. Instagram treats personal accounts very differently than business accounts.
Quick story: the above picture is one of my most liked pictures on Instagram. More than 10% of my followers engaged with this picture. WHOA, I wish I still have that level of engagement! That amazing engagement is 100% thanks to the fact that I had a personal account at the time. And the truth is,
I don’t really like the picture!
When your account is set as a personal account, Instagram is so much nicer, Instagram treats you like a friend. They show your photos to more of your followers, your images show up more often under hashtags, Instagram is more likely to suggest your account to other Instagram users, all in all, Instagram is nicer to personal accounts. When I still had a personal account, I grew my Instagram following from 5300 – 10K in 2 MONTHS! I doubled my following in 2 months, gosh I wish it was still that easy.
You are probably asking yourself, well why does Instagram do that? Well, Instagram is a for-profit business after all. When you have a business account, Instagram wants you to pay for use of their site AKA sponsor posts. Instagram believes that it should be a mutually beneficial relationship for both businesses involved.
Don’t Fall Victim To False Engagement!
STORYTIME: When I hit 10K on Instagram I immediately switched from my sweet personal account to a business account (HEY SWIPE UP FEATURE!!!). When I made that switch something horrible happened, my engagement tanked, like TANKED. UGH, INSTAGRAM IS SO RUDE TO BUSINESS ACCOUNTS. I was putting the same effort into Instagram but my engagement went from 8 – 9 % to 5 – 6%, I was SO bummed. So I did what most bloggers do and I joined an engagement pod. After I joined the engagement pod, did my likes go up? Yes, but Instagram hates this fake engagement and punishes your account for it. They punished me by not allowing my photos to show up under as many hashtags and what did that do? It halted all organic Instagram growth.
I have since left my tailwind engagement pod and let me tell you something, it feels great! The engagement pods didn’t feel great because it was inauthentic. I was in these groups with other bloggers and none of us followed one another, it felt weird. FAKE FAKE FAKE. My goal with Instagram is to be my true authentic self and involving myself in these pods was not staying true to that. Authenticity is KEY in 2020!
Full Transparency: I am still involved in one very small blogger group (under 10 girls) on Instagram. Its a very authentic group of women who talk about all things blogging, Instagram and yes we like / comment on one another’s photos. The best part about this group is I followed all of these ladies before I joined the group, and the relationships feel very authentic.
Fake engagement, Don’t Do It.
Now, let’s talk about something even more frowned upon than engagement pods, fake like bots. Good god almighty, DON’T DO IT. Did you know in 2020 there are still ways that you can purchase likes, WILD!!! At the end of the day, if you are purchasing likes the only person you are at a disservice to is yourself. Fake likes do not help you show up on the explore page or under hashtags so if you are buying your likes you are just hurting yourself.
Telltale signs of fake engagement – If you follow someone who has an insane amount of likes but not one comment, then I have a secret for you, those likes are fake!
Let’s Do This!
In the beginning, growing your account seems daunting. Shoot, it is daunting. When I started Hatonthemap on July 1st, 2018 I had 0 followers, well maybe 1 my husband, but that is it! I started from absolute scratch (queue Drake’s started from the bottom). While the growth at the beginning was at a snail’s pace, I kept at it. My biggest advice when you have under 5K followers is: don’t give up! There were countless times I wanted to give up. I would compare myself to others and get so down about it. After all, comparison is the thief of all joy. Luckily, I was able to look at the bigger picture and I am so pleased that I stuck with it.
If you enjoyed this post there is one thing you can do to help me continue to create content and that one thing is SUPER simple,
follow me on Instagram.
As I recently mentioned, one of my 2020 goals is to hit 75K on Instagram this year, that number might seem like a lofty goal but shoot am I going to try and make it. I am going to continue and implement these very simple tips but you can also help me get there. How you ask? Follow me on Instagram, tell your best friend, tell your boyfriend, tell your mom, tell the lady next to you at the hair salon. I appreciate all of you the most!
I really do hope you have found this post on Instagram growth useful.
Did any of these tips surprise you? COMMENT DOWN BELOW!