Journey of growing an Instagram account

August 03, 2018
My friend, Elaine, and I have been co-managing an Instagram profile for her mini-dachshund, Kola (@blessupkola). Originally, when we started managing Kola’s profile, we were doing it just to practice photography and the basics of social media marketing. However, we decided that we wanted to try to push the profile to see what we could do. It has been almost two months since we made that decision and here are the results: when we started, Kola’s profile had 400 followers and as of today, we have over 2500 followers. It has been exciting and a very informative journey. There are a few tips that I have picked up and I felt some might be interested in knowing.

Kola

Define your niche.

What type of account is the account you are growing? Fashion, photography, travel, pet, food. There are so many different niches on Instagram. You should not try to cram everything into one account. If someone followed your profile because it had nice food photos, they are usually not going to want to see car photos from the same profile.

Consistency is key.

If you look at any big Instagram account, you will see them post every day and sometimes even multiple times in one day. Your Instagram cannot grow if you get no exposure. Most people follow more than 500 other profiles and if you do not post consistently, your content will not be seen and have no engagement. With that being said, you also should not spam your followers with too many posts per day. For us, we tried to post every other day because it gave us time to produce quality content.

Quality over quantity.

Time and time again, this holds true. Instagram is a place where many creatives come to show off their work and where many users live vicariously through others’ images, videos, and stories. Please put in effort when creating your content through composition, editing, and being selective on what to upload. As a creator, I feel like you should be creating an experience for your followers. If you provide a beautiful experience, people will recognize your talent, and your account will naturally grow.

#hashtags

Hashtags are very important when curating your posts. You want to try to use popular and relative hashtags to your niche or post. Hashtags allow for people to discover your content. Instagram even allows their users to follow hashtags now. I found a pretty good website (www.all-hashtag.com) to generate hashtags when I can’t think of anything. Use a maximum of 30!

Engage. Engage. Engage.

Instagram is a social media platform. Comment, like, follow, and direct message. These actions allow you to make connections and in turn give you exposure. Engagement on social media is the same thing as backlinks are for websites. Think of these actions as breadcrumbs that lead back to your account. Every action that you take, people will receive a notification that says you engaged with their account. If you are actively trying to grow, you cannot just sit idly by and hope people will stumble upon your profile. Life does not work that way.

Statistics and analytics are necessary.

There are so many FREE ways to track stats for Instagram, even after Instagram’s API changes. These are some things that I have used to track Instagram profiles.
  • Instagram Analytics – If you have not already, turn your profile to a business profile. Instagram provides basic analytics on your posts and demographics on your followers and people who engage on your posts.
  • Squarelovin – This website covers some statistics and analytics that Instagram Analytics misses like optimized days and times to post or top tags on Instagram.
  • Google Sheets – Believe it or not, Google Sheets is the biggest tool I use to track Instagram profiles. There is just so much you can do with Google Sheets.
@blessupkola Follower Chart

Say no to engagement pods!

Engagement pods are a way that some use to try to game the system. Engagement pods are basically private groups where members just trade engagement actions for their posts. You will get engagement on your posts, but these engagements will not be beneficial in the long run. Once you stop engaging in the group, your engagement ratio for your new posts will be a lot lower than your old posts because you will not be getting engagement from the pod anymore. Engagement pods will not help you grow organically and will most likely make your profile look suspicious. Put in the work, don’t cheat.

Say no to growth hacks!

Most of these growth hacks use bots or scripts that break Instagram’s terms of service agreement and can get your account banned. In addition, a lot of them even have fake accounts engage on your account. People can tell if you have fake followers or fake likes; people can look at who follows you and who liked your post. Instagram also periodically deletes fake accounts and sometimes even bans accounts that bought fake followers or fake engagements. Again, put in the work, don’t cheat.

TL;DR

Define your niche. Have good, consistent content. Engage with other accounts. Track your Instagram. Don't cheat! :)

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