How to grow your Instagram following – part one: content

how to grow your instagram following, content strategy

Feature photo credit: Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

 

How to grow your Instagram following, that’s the question. In the past couple of months, I’ve more than tripled my Instagram following, and while I still have a long way to go getting to the 10K, I do have some tips to share. But, before I start, let me tell you upfront, there is no quick fix magic trick. If you’re looking for one of those, you can try your luck with one of the many social media snake oil peddling companies that promise your instant results with no work. (Spoiler alert, they won’t bring you any lasting results)

 

This is the first one in the series of blog posts detailing my takeaways for a good Instagram growth strategy. As Instagram is a photo sharing platform, it makes sense to first take a look at content. What does content have to do with how to grow your Instagram following? It’s all about giving people a reason to follow you.

 

Content – what are you on about?

 

The first step in any great content strategy, to briefly switch to marketing terms, is to figure out who you are. Are you a beauty blogger? Are you a travel account? Do you post pictures of your cute pet? Are you a life coach trying to inspire people and build more business?

 

When you have figured out your niche, it’s time to start thinking about what you post, and how it relates to your brand. What do you want to tell with your post?

 

I’m using Instagram to build my personal brand, so my content is very much related to what I do, what I think and who I am. I’m a Finnish girl in the Netherlands who loves traveling, exploring new places, good food and drinks, pretty things, my cats and social media. That means I am posting about all those things.

 

But maybe you are a beauty blogger who loves working out and dogs? Then that’s what you should post about.

 

Strategy – or how do you balance what you love with what works

 

Other people will tell you that a great Instagram content strategy is all about picking a visual style and a filter or a pre-set. Or they will tell you to take one thing and stick to that. I agree and disagree with both.

 

Tell a story

 

You are telling a story with your content, and as any good story, it should be both coherent but also full of surprises and twists to keep people interested. Expected and unexpected. You don’t want your followers thinking that they’ve seen everything you have to offer, but you also want them to be able to recognise your posts from the sea of other similar posts in your niche.

 

Sticking to one style or one topic may seem like the way to make your posts recognisable, but it will also make things very expected, and in the long run, boring.

 

That’s why I edit my photos the same way, and pay attention to the aesthetic, while mixing up what I’m posting about. This also helps with mixing up my hashtags, which we will get to in the future.

 

As for the fitness loving beauty blogger with the cute dog? Sharing those other passions will help to set them apart from other people in their niche.

 

Giving people what they what

 

That said, you should optimise your content for your target audience, the people you want to reach. Giving people what they want generally works, as uninventive as it may feel.

 

Check out accounts that are similar to yours and see what they are doing. Those accounts are reaching the people you want to reach so check which content works well on their account. There’s a reason that some things just work great, and you should try to find it. Once you do, absolutely take note of that and then do it in your own way.

 

For me, that’s pictures of me with perfect hair and makeup and food. But for the beauty blogger it might be the pretty flat lay of her favourite make up products.

 

But no copying, you still want your followers to recognise you!

 

Does that sound difficult? Do your own thing but also do what others are doing. It’s good to remember that you are not tied to one post only, and in the end it’s about the long-term strategy and how the individual posts fit into that. So, even the posts you don’t absolutely love, or the posts you do love but others don’t, will help to create a larger image.

 

Words matter

 

Beyond the photo, you should also pay attention to your captions. This is especially important for engagement (a topic for another post) because this is where you can really find your voice. Not every caption needs to be a novel, but give your photo some context.

 

Also, again don’t copy from others. For example, inspiring quotes. As nice as they are, if they’ve been shared by a thousand other people in your niche, it’s not going to interest your followers at this point. You’re not adding anything new.

 

Quality over quantity

 

Before I give you the recap of my tips, a few general words on content.

 

Regardless of your aesthetic, you should post photos that are good quality. It’s 2018 so your phone should have a decent camera, so find out how you can use it in the best way. Google is your friend here. Also, photo editing apps are your best friend… a bit of fixing white balance and adding sharpness goes a long way.

 

As the header says, I also believe in quality over quantity. It’s good to be active on Instagram, and post regularly, but not at the cost of quality. If you can produce enough great content for several posts a day, then go for it! But, if you have enough great content for only one post a day, or a post three times a week, then that’s fine.

 

Instagram Stories

 

Also, Instagram Stories are a great way to engage with your followers, which is why I will go more into detail about Stories in the future. But, for content strategy purposes, Stories are a great way to share more unexpected, personal content that doesn’t quite fit your feed. Either because of the topic or the visual style, or because it’s just a little random for the full story. That said, it’s still important to make sure it doesn’t feel too unexpected.

 

My tips for a good Instagram content strategy

 

So, to recap, my tips for a good Instagram content strategy:

  • Know who you are and set your focus.
  • Don’t copy others, be yourself.
  • Quality over quantity.
  • Mix it up.
  • Give people what they want.
  • Find your voice in the captions.
  • Remember that you’re telling a story and each post adds to that.
  • Instagram Stories are great for content that doesn’t fit your feed.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to grow your Instagram following

I hope this post will help you get started with improving your Instagram. In the next post I will discuss engagement, and how you can benefit from it.

If you want to know more about how to grow your Instagram following, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help you!

Find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Senja |Het Finse Meisje|

I am a twenty-something Finnish girl living in the Netherlands. I blog about my life and my current obsessions. When I grow up I will be a crazy cat lady (or a marketing professional). I enjoy photography, interior decor, travelling, good food and learning about new cultures.

3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks

    September 12, 2018

    Thanks for sharing these tips here! I find it really difficult to grow and maintain my Instagram audience although I’m quite happy about my content. I guess there are just so many great accounts out there nowadays and as you say, it’s so easy to take great snaps on phones today! I don’t like those heavily edited photos you often see on popular travel blogs and often think this ‘numbers game’ is rather superficial and I just want to quit Insta, but now and again I get to ‘meet’ great people, like yourself, on there which makes it worthwhile to me 🙂

    • Reply

      Senja |Het Finse Meisje|

      September 14, 2018

      Thank you for your comment! It’s a hard balance on Instagram, doing what you love and on the other hand, trying to please others. I personally think that for the long game it’s very important to keep doing what you love, because otherwise it will be impossible to keep up with it. The numbers game can be very frustrating, which is why in the upcoming blog posts I will also discuss the importance of real interaction. 🙂

  2. Reply

    Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks

    September 14, 2018

    Great, looking forward to these future blog posts! ‘Fijn weekend’ for now 🙂

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