With over 400 million active users on Instagram worldwide, it is a much loved platform for people to connect with other like-minded individuals, whether you are a celebrity, photographer, business owner, Etsy shop seller, blogger or even a home maker.
Frankly speaking, I only installed Instagram on my phone in Jan 2015 and became active a few months later after taking a while to figure out how to use it properly.
I do have friends asking me how I grow my followers and likes on Instagram, so I thought I’ll write an article on this topic.
Through Instagram, I have even met a stay-at-home mum and built a friendship with her to the point where we even meet in person and chat in WhatsApp.
Instagram is an outlet for my creativity, photography, ideas and blog collaborations as every photo I post tells a unique story.
The tips I am sharing in this post are self-taught from my personal experiences and what I have learned through the mistakes made along the way as I fine-tuned my strategy.
Disclaimer: While I do not claim to be an Instagram or social media expert, I hope to share some tips with other like-minded readers so that we can exchange tips and learn from one another.
1. Strategize & Think of A Theme for your Feed
Before you start, take a moment to visualize how you imagine your Instagram feed to be. Give people a reason to fall in love with your feed! Now, write down a few words on a piece of paper what you want people to associate with when they think of your account.
Do you like your theme to be black and white, pastel, muted, desaturated or saturated? I prefer my account to be colourful, bright and pretty, but lately I have been trying to incorporate more whites in my feed. This leads me to the next point, that is, you need to know what you are good at doing.
Are you a natural in front of the camera or do you prefer to post only food images, beauty products flat lays or travel photographs? I am not good with posing in front of the camera, hence, I do lesser OOTDs.
For my Absolute Slimming article, I actually went out to various locations every Saturday to take OOTD shots for 5 consecutive weeks. I have a full time job, hence the only free day to take photographs in good daylight will be on weekends.
There are now hundreds of No Good shots sitting in my laptop which will probably never see the daylight, ever.
After you have around 10-20 good photos in your feed, you can start following your Facebook friends and people in your niche. Most of time, people will follow back if they like your feed (I know I would).
I recommend looking at the accounts you would like to emulate, so that you can aim to develop in that direction as you build your following.
Instagram accounts that I simply love:
@weylie – I like the generally white and aesthetically pleasing feel of her feed.
@frmheadtotoe – I have been watching her beauty videos, so naturally I also “stalked” her on Instagram.
@ec24m – A stylish feed filled with OOTDs and the life of a socialite.
@theambitionista – This is a stylish feed of a sophisticated, high end fashion blogger.
2. Be Sincere and Genuine
I can’t stress any more on this point. The reason why I put the word “Organic” in my post title is because I strongly do not believe in buying Instagram likes or followers. That’s just me. I believe in doing business ethically and professionally.
I have received comments like “Like it!” on some of my photos from one person and I finally realised it is actually a bot (automated system) and not by the person himself, as every comment is the same “Like it!” and I’ll never get a reply back whenever I made a comment. Be a real person and connect with your followers personally and don’t rely too much on an automated system.
I have also received a request on Instagram from someone overseas asking me to help her do a shout out on my own account. Why should I do that when I don’t even know her personally?
Do not ask people whom you don’t know to follow you – this will also irritate people to no end.
So, be genuine and leave positive comments on other people’s posts to encourage them and explain why you like their photographs.
When you leave such thoughtful comments, the person will usually be happy to return the favour and check out your photos or even potentially follow you if you have a meaningful feed.
Remember to respond to comments on your own photos too as this is an important social etiquette on any social media platform. Your followers are more likely to interact when they see you taking the time to reply.
I also make it a point to personally return likes to every individual who had taken the time to like my photos.
3. Whatever You Focus On Will Increase
I love Instagram. I can be looking at Instagram even in the toilet (don’t judge me), but what I am trying to say here is that you must be willing to invest your time, energy and effort in taking good photographs (and all other things that matters to you as well) if you wish to see results.
You need to be regular and consistent in your postings. However, I do not recommend jamming your feed with many posts all at once and then stay quiet for weeks without posting anything.
People also do not like to be spammed with too many badly taken photos in a day and also try to spread out your postings in a week and do not post more than twice a day.
4. Quality over Quantity
I emphasize using interesting photos to distinguish yourself and grab the attention of people to make them want to stop and admire your feed for a while.
It’s all about a good photo composition and you may be only using your trusty IPhone and that is perfectly fine too. Posting 1-2 high quality photos consistently daily will connect you with your followers.
An interesting and genuine caption can also turn a good photo into an awesome one. Occasionally, look at your entire profile and see how your photos look as a whole. These days, I have been deleting a lot of my old photos and de-cluttering my feed a little.
Black and white photos do get a lot of likes on Instagram, as well as photos with a unique angle that is not perfectly centred.
It is alright to take a break if you really have nothing to post and come back again after you have a strategy.
You can also engage your followers by asking them simple questions or give them tips. You might be surprised that people will actually respond and answer your questions.
5. Useful Photo Editing Apps & Tools for Instagram
Have you install the latest update for Instagram? It now comes with a lot of new filters and controls which I used on my photos just before posting. Other photo editing apps that I love and use a lot are Snapseed, VSCO Cam (I have recently purchased some new filters here), Camera360 and Afterlight.
Besides photo editing, there are many useful tools to help you manage your Instagram and provide you with analytics. Iconosquare is the leading analytics and marketing suite for Instagram which provide you with a snapshot of your Instagram statistics and much more.
This help in market research to find out what your audience really likes. Iconosquare will tell you which photos of yours garnered the most likes and comments so that you can try to incorporate more photos like that into your feed and rethink the way you take photographs.
Schedugram is a third part app that helps you manage your Instagram accounts and schedules the uploading of your images and videos for later, and also supports multiple accounts.
6. Geotags & Hastags
Posting a photo of a cool cafe you just visited or your recent holiday abroad? Geotag that photo so that other people who used the same geotags can see them too and potentially follow you as you both now have something in common, such as visiting the same place just 1 week apart!
Hashtags are important too. Use popular ones that are currently trending within your own niche to connect with the community.
7. Attend InstaMeet & Interact with other Instagrammers
You can follow @InstaSg to find out when they are having their next Instameet event or photography walks so that you’ll get to meet other like-minded Instagrammers in your city!
8. Things You Should Not Do On Instagram
- Be original. Do not take other people’ photographs and hard work and claim it as your own or suffer the dire consequences of being shamed and blocked when the person and his/her loyal followers found out.
- Limit “selfies” whenever possible. You don’t want too many selfies to dominate your Instagram feed as it can come across as being narcissistic.
- Do not post at ungodly hours. If you want people to see your pretty photos, you need to post them at a time when your followers are most likely to see them – such as during the mornings or evenings.
- Do not post unappealing photos of food or slimy insects. I find a sudden photo of a caterpillar or insect among a feed of food photos an absolute turn off. I have seriously seen accounts like this.
- Do not use every photo to promote your blog or do too many reposts of giveaways and contests in your feed so as not to irritate your followers.
9. INSTAGRAM TAKEOVER
I have seen a popular blogger taking over the Instagram account of a 5-star hotel for a couple of days and another popular blogger taking over the Instagram account of Silk Air for a few days as the latter had sponsored him for an overseas trip.
By doing a mutual Instagram takeover with someone who has more followers or with roughly the same following as you, you are exposed to the other person’s followers who might eventually follow you too if you share good content.
10. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER INSTAGRAMMERS
Think of fun and creative ways to collaborate with other instagrammers you know to do shout outs for one another. You can even run a loop giveaway or contest for your followers together. Just think out-of-the-box and be creative!
Instagram can truly be very exciting and rewarding if you will just invest the time, heart, effort and strategy into it.
If you have any questions for me and have more tips to share, do feel free to leave me a comment below.