A picture may be worth a thousand words, but is an Instagram account worth a thousand blog posts? Social media used to provide a way to share moments or snippets of news – but as we become increasingly obsessed with scrolling through a feed rather than concentrating on digesting information, the uses of our favourite platforms have evolved. Digital influencers no longer necessarily have to have a blog or a YouTube channel, as their Instagram or Snapchat following reaches a significant proportion of the population in one hit. More and more bloggers are focusing on growing their social media following rather than creating blog content, while brands are seeking to collaborate in increasingly more visual ways. My main blog regret has always been not jumping on the Instagram bandwagon earlier, paying the price years down the line when it’s increasingly difficult to establish yourself and grow a significant following. This visual medium is a quick, fun and easy way to get across a message or provide insight into your life, so it’s no surprise it’s overtaking all other platforms in terms of popularity. Having really focused on improving my presence over the last six months, recently I hit a 25,000 follower milestone – so I thought I would take the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and let you in on my top tips for securing a great Instagram following, without having to dedicate hours every day to doing so.
TO THEME OR NOT TO THEME
One of the main debates within the Instagram community is whether or not you should stick to a ‘theme’. A set style, look, colour scheme or filter allows you to develop a cohesive feed that followers can instantly identify as you – but it’s incredibly difficult to stick to. It’s no surprise that bloggers are now spending as much time photographing their Insta-pics as they do their blog ones! Personally I find a ‘theme’ in the traditional sense too hard to not divert from, so as an alternative I keep my images bright, clear and shot in a similar style. I like to look at my ‘grid’ as a whole, rather than images individually (as this is what someone sees when they first click on your account and decide whether or not to press follow,) and ensure it provides an accurate representation of my interests. The key is to upload an edit of only your best images, rather than shoving up anything and everything, so every new picture garners a fabulous reaction.
ALL THE HASHAGS
Undoubtedly the easiest way to aid discovery is through the use of hashtags. With millions to choose from, it’s important to pick the ones that will work for you and generate a following that’s genuinely interested in the type of content you’ll be posting. Write down a list of the main things you feature on your feed and search for hashtags that exist to describe them; don’t forget to translate into different languages too (for example makeup into maquillage and kosmetica) as social media is global. Although adding huge paragraphs of hashtags is annoying for followers, adding ten to twenty under each post as an additional comment will keep it clean and allow new accounts to discover you. I honestly can accredit my growth to starting to use hashtags and introducing them religiously across practically every post.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
I have to admit that I used to chuck anything up on my Instagram page in order to ensure there was always something new to look at. However, unlike Twitter (which moves so fast that there’s no harm in posting multiple tweets within an hour) Instagram holds onto images for a much longer period of time. I often get likes on pictures that are days, weeks and sometimes even months old, as people scroll back and spend time discovering content they may have missed. Since I’ve stopped putting up images just for the sake of keeping my account full, I’ve definitely noticed and uplift in engagement; focus on the quality of your pictures rather than the amount you put up over the course of a week.
TAG THAT BRAND UP
Uploading pictures of your favourite makeup brand, or visiting your favourite restaurant? Tag them in, add your location and use their name in the description. Not only does it let them know that you’ve written a blog post or featured them on your channels, but they may even regram your image. Over the last year I’ve been regrammed by everyone from Kardashian Beauty and Barry M, to Cheryl Cole-Versini-I’m-Just-Chezza-Now and Elizabeth Arden simply by tagging them into posts. Brands love sharing their fans content (not only because it means they don’t have to create as much themselves!) so make sure you’re increasing your chances of discovery. Even better – why not ask if you can host a channel takeover for the weekend and create content for your favourite brand? It’s a great way of generating new followers and cementing relationships with brands you love.
Social media is fundamentally about having a conversation, but so many brands and bloggers forget that. Engagement is built only when followers feel like they have a relationship with you, so responding to comments and reciprocating likes is just good manners. One of my main tips across all platforms, not just Instagram, is to check back regularly to answer any questions and say thank you to people who have left you a positive comment. Checking out the accounts of followers and liking some of their photos also ensures they know you appreciate their support. It’s also important to search relevant hashtags (i.e. #30plusblogs or #bbloggers) and like content that you think is fab; it helps other users discover you, but also makes you feel like you’re part of a community.
What are your top tips for growing an Instagram following? DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW ME HERE: @LBQblog
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