If you are here to learn and want to grow your Instagram account organically (whether it is for personal use or for business), you are at the right place.
Anything can be bought these days including Instagram engagement, so why bother putting in the work? I mean if you think about your social media presence is a way that you can market yourself (personal branding) and your product/service that you sell, then do you want to be known as someone who has bought or cheated your way to fame/success? My tips will not help you with fast growth nor do they are anything spectacular that you have never heard of before. In fact, I have learned these tips from other people and tried and tested on my own, and they really work!
So if you’re interested, here are my 10 top tips that will help you gain more engagement (likes and comments) and help you grow your Instagram account organically.
*Please note that I have never paid money for followers and engagement (likes/comments) and loop giveaways nor do I participate in any Instagram/Facebook pods. I do not recommend them anyways!
I cannot stress enough the importance of utilizing your Instagram analytics/Insights feature to learn more about your audience.
If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about it until you’ve got some good content up and going.
The Insights feature is located on the very right corner of your profile, just tap on the 3 parallel lines icon and tap ‘Insights.’ From there you can be able to see all about your most recent Activity, Content, and Audience. Take notes as to who your top audience is, Top Locations, and Age Range.
Here is a peek at my Instagram Insights:
Taking my Audience as an example, you can tell that the majority of my audience is from Seattle, and that makes sense because I’ve optimized my Instagram account to An Trieu – Seattle Blogger for the past year and a half of living in Seattle.
From here, I know that whatever I have done in the past from utilizing hashtags (#SeattleBlogger, #SeattleFashionBlogger, #PNWBlogger, etc.), tagging locations, postings about Seattle-related content have worked out for me! My second top audience is from Minneapolis and St. Paul, so that’s awesome since I did live in the Twin Cities prior to moving to Seattle. My top audience’s age range is around my age which is amazing since I know that they do relate to me and what I put out there (fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle stuff).
This is a non-negotiable topic.
If you are wondering about how to get good quality content? My best advice is just to start learning and doing it now! Create something meaningful with the topics that you care and are passionate about. Use your iPhone, any cameras or recording devices you have. Do it by yourself first to see how far you can take your content to, and you will be surprised by how much work you can be able to achieve all by yourself. My other best advice is to ask family and friends to tag along in their free time to help you with the process if needed to. Reach out to local creatives or anyone who is just starting out, such as photography or film students.
If you are a business owner or planning to make social media marketing a part of your business, I highly suggest working with a professional on a consistent basis.
To my experience, I have worked with brands who are willing to pay extra to own the photos, and I have been able to connect my photographer to many brands for their own brand projects as well. Make sure you credit and tag them in any piece of creative work you put out there!
Sure that will be costly and take a while until you get good at something, but it is better to start SMALL and start NOW. YOU WILL GET BETTER! Work and learn every day (either by yourself or from and with other people) to fine-tune your craft. Think long term as I assure you that it will pay off later on! (Tip 3 and 4 will explain more of what I mean by Good Quality Content.)
If you’re just starting out, start creating and putting out valuable content (more in tip 4). Yes, quality is a term that is very subjective, and everyone views it differently. More content does not mean better. Ask yourself questions such as, ‘is it relevant?’ ‘is it what you love and care about?’ ‘what are the takeaway lessons?’ Think about what makes you YOU and what makes you UNIQUE.
From the same Instagram Insights feature, tap on Content. Tap See All to view all of your Feed Posts. Instagram has already sorted all of your posts in the past 1 year, sorted by Engagement. Take a moment to learn what types of posts are your top performing ones. My top performing posts are those ‘nature’ ones taken at flower fields or while I’m out hiking and those taken at cool architectural locations.
The more I blog about fashion, the more I learn that people want to learn more about me besides fashion. They want me to share my makeup and skincare routine, what I eat, and where I go. Remember topics such as makeup, music, and pets are universal topics that everyone can relate to. And so is food and travel. So as much as I love sharing about my outfits and fashion diary, I share a lot of other things in many ways possible to get my content different and interesting every time. And Insta-stories is a great way to experiment with what type of content works best for you since whatever you share will disappear after 24 hours.
My tip is to share more of what else you have going on in your life or specifically ‘Share what you have an abundance of!‘, said Kevin from Flawlesskevin who is a friend of mine who has racked up a huge following here Instagram and Youtube.
I am a fashion and lifestyle blogger, so photos are really important to me. Many factors that make a good photo includes good lighting, the composition, the editing, the colors, the angle, the model – hair, makeup, outfit, pose, facial expression, etc. The most important element of a good photo is its ability to communicate with the viewer. Does it tell a story?
As of 2019, Instagram has really become a multi-media platform that expands way beyond just a photo posting and sharing app. Know that Facebook owns Instagram, and they do want you to spend more time ‘consuming’ content on their platforms/apps. It is true that video content gets the most engagement on Instagram, so utilize Instagram Stories and IGTV or even start posting videos on to your main feed (if you haven’t already! and yes, I am planning to incorporate videos on my feed!).
Text-form content is known to not perform as well, however, there are certain types of topics I’d like to share more in-depth and keep them in the text form. For example, I am a blogger and very much like to be known as a blogger, so I still write blog posts and upload at least one blog post a week on every Wednesday.
I don’t know why it has taken me this long to start treating my Instagram post as a micro-blog post since many people have already done it. I write blog posts weekly yet have never thought of the power of a long caption under each Instagram image can do so much. Yes, people still read books, blogs, and Instagram captions.
For years, I used to just write a quick caption summarizing my outfit or using a quote according to how I feel like at the time and just post. Even though it is better than using just an emoji or a few short words, I still did not get much engagement regardless of how hard I work to improve on other things such as my outfits or photo editing. Ever since I have started taking extra time to think of a good caption, I really see the difference in how much more interactions I get per post.
Write longer captions that make people want to save and share them. Write vulnerable and deep emotional captions. Share your struggles, obstacles, life journeys, travel guides, best tips, etc. The possibilities are endless. Treat each post as a micro-blog post!
Staying consistent on Instagram is more important than ever. People will NOT be following you when they see that your last post was weeks or months ago. If you are committed and really want to make your Instagram a business, definitely look into the most efficient ways that you can get enough content to post REGULARLY. You do not have to post everyday. Find some time during the week to plan and create the content ahead, and make yourself a posting schedule. There are apps out there that let you schedule out and post automatically for you in cases you know you will be busy.
For me, I do not go out and shoot outfits every day. I spend about couple of hours on the weekends, either on Saturday or Sunday or both, to shoot all of my outfits. Depending on the week, but I usually style about 3 to 5 outfits. Driving around to find locations that complement my outfits is the most time-consuming part. And to maximize the time, I do have to change my clothes in the car. I post every day because I can, but you don’t have to! Do what works best for you, your lifestyle, and how much content you can and want to put out there.
This leads me to the next tip, timing!
Avoid posting at whatever time you feel like posting, it will not work!
I have been there and done that, and that has resulted in such little improvement in terms of engagement over the years. Fashion blogging is my passion, and I do have good quality content. However, there are many cases when people tell me to my face wondering why I have such little engagement and numbers of followers. And posting time was my main problem. I used to post whenever I wanted and left the post without staying engaged, and giving likes and comments to other accounts used to feel so forceful!
I have been using the app UMUN to plan my feed for a long time now, but I’ve just started on following the Best Times feature on the app. UNUM breaks down the Best Times to post by the hour. I am not quite sure what difference it will make if you post a few minutes earlier or later than the recommended time, but I’m sure you can test it out yourself. Again, I try to post closer to the recommended time, but it is okay if reality doesn’t permit.
And if you’ve noticed, I have been posting in the pm only. Mainly because I am busy doing other in-real-life stuff, and I most likely will have a few minutes in between to think about a long caption for my post later that day. From my Instagram Insights analytic shared in Tip 1, I know that majority of my audience is around my age or younger (who has school and work!), so I only post around the time when they are done with school and work and have more time to check social media. In addition, I have also learned that my audience is the most active during the weekdays and not so much on the weekends which makes so much sense.
Manually remove bots and inactive accounts in your follower list. I know this tip might sound insane to some of you, but this is what I have been doing a lot to keep my followers closed and tight and that also helps drive my engagement rate up. I know lots of who my audience is. Even though I do not follow a lot, I do make sure I give them likes and comment on their posts as well (of course, if their accounts aren’t set as private!).
So please know that even though I don’t follow you back, I do stalk your feed and love to have you as friends here online. Keeping this following number low is my way to really focus on what I create, and that keeps me out of the stress of seeing too many posts on my feed on the daily. I only follow people who genuinely inspire and those that are active on Instagram and whom I know or have met in real life.
I have learnt that the first 30 minutes after posting are the most crucial time that will dictate how successful your post will be, so make sure you reply to all of the comments and give back likes to others who have liked your photos.
My previous tips have sort of include ways that you can use your content and how you post and write captions to get your audience engaged. Use stickers on your Insta-stories, polls, and ask questions to get them checking out your stuff. Talk to them in the DMs. Encourage genuine conversation and make sure you check out others within your niche and industry as well! In addition, you can find new audience within your niche and industry by checking out who has commented on your Instagrammers/content creators that you admire. You will be surprised by how close your audience will be compared to your desire niche/industry over time. It is true when they said likes attract likes.
Many people call this community engagement or social networking. And yes, this takes a lot of time and cannot be done in a short amount of time.
Besides engaging daily by liking and commenting on other people’s posts on Instagram in tip 8, I also stay active in the Inbox. This helps to cultivate real genuine meetups and friendships, and you will be surprised how powerful this social media app will and can do to someone’s life.
I know there are people whose jobs are to engage for bloggers/Instagrammers who are busy. Lots of them have a really big following and can be able to outsource that. I know that is insane to hear, but nothing is impossible this day and age.
So DM people. Meet up and go have coffee to share what you’re doing. By this way, I’ve learnt valuable lessons and have a much better understanding of people’s story and journey. Not everyone starts out the same, and everyone’s journey and goal are so different regardless of the fact that we are in this social media-driven day and age together.
Make sure you stay current with SEO (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization), and the 10 tips shared above are basically some of what have been shared on the internet (tried and tested by me) that are all SEO-related.
Follow bloggers, Instagrammers, Youtubers, podcasters, or any content creators that inspire and motivate you. Take what they have done and turn it into yours or make it even better! Engage (like and comment) and support what they do and let them know that they inspire you.
Fohr‘s Instagram: @fohr. They post about influencer marketing topics and share snippets of influential people’s bios.
Neil Patel‘s Youtube channel where he talks and shares all things marketing, here.
Sunny Lenarduzzi‘s Youtube channel is also another great resource. I like her how to Build Your Personal Brand in 2019 video and many Youtube tips from her.
To leverage your Instagram bio and learn best practices to grow your Instagram in 2019, I recommend watching Vanessa Lau‘s Instagram video series and her how to gain Instagram followers organically video, here. I’ve found her social media coaching methods are also very relatable.
If you have more tips or any questions regarding any of the tips I’ve shared above, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
Good luck and…