My Top Instagram Growth Tips
How to grow your Instagram account in light of the new algorithm.
Yep, I’m going to try to go there. How to grow your Instagram account is the number one question that people message me about; what are your Instagram growth tips?
There are lots, and lots, and lots of posts out there with very general information on how to grow your Instagram account. Everyone seems to share the same x amount of “tips” on how to gain a larger audience. I’m not saying any of this information is bad, it’s just usually not going to do much. Most of these articles were written before the latest Instagram algorithm change and to be honest, they just don’t cut it anymore.
Before the big update in the algorithm I found most of these Instagram growth tips to be helpful. Now I roll my eyes every time I come across another blog sharing the same mostly irrelevant tips. I for one, am really sick of the bogus information. It’s always my goal to be as open and honest with you as possible, so I’m laying out all the Instagram growth tips that I actually use.
The Same Old Instagram Growth Tips
“You should engage with your niche!” Ever heard that one before? Yep, I know you have because we all have. And while yes, this is relevant and true, sorry, it’s not going to do much to help you grow unless your account is in the very early stages. While I think it is important to engage within your niche for other reasons, I don’t think it is viable as far as Instagram growth tips go.
How about “Create a consistent feed!” Yep, I said it. (Where is that little monkey covering his eyes emoji when you need him?) Ugh. Double ugh. I can’t even roll my eyes enough at this “tip”. Right, okay, so yes, this is actually important as potential new followers are going to pursue your feed for probably all of 1-3 seconds before they decide to hit follow or not, but, just having a nice flow to your feed is not going to guarantee that you’ll suddenly blow up over night and rake in the followers.
Actually, to be really honest (again), social media mom accounts are a dime a dozen these days. Sorry, but it has to be said. Everyone wants in on this awesome growing market, and I totally understand why! It’s a chance to stay home with your kids while still making a little (or a lot for some people) income and potentially getting free stuff! But the problem with this is that something that was once a rarity is now a commonality. Where you used to come across a curated feed and feast your eyes on the beauty of it, you now shrug thinking; “it’s not as good as so-and-so’s feed”. Come on, don’t even pretend that you haven’t thought it.
So if anything, rather than worrying about a perfectly curated feed, I’d encourage you to be yourself and post photos that are authentic to you! People are looking for something original these days. I also hear a lot of complaints that everyone’s feed looks the same; so don’t be afraid to stand out! I’m finding more and more that people are attracted to accounts that are fun, magical, or entertaining.
The main goal when trying to grow your Instagram account is to get in front of new people; but how!? Well, let’s dive in!
My Top Instagram Growth Tips
One of my new favorite Instagram growth tips to get new eye balls on my feed is through shout outs. Since the algorithm change, sharing Follow Friday shoutouts on your grid has become obsolete. And really it’s sad because this used to be such a fun way to meet new mamas and gain new followers. I know a year ago when I started this journey I would sometimes join 1-3 of these group shoutouts a week! Sounds crazy but I think it really helped me grow my community; I still chat with some of the mamas I featured!
But now, after Instagram rolled out their big algorithm update all that changed. It’s now really hard to post more than once a day, and posts like Follow Friday shoutouts just don’t do well anymore. Everyone cautiously guards the space on their feed and for good reason; it’s now hard to make sure people see your post!
Follow Friday shoutouts have now moved to stories, which is okay, but for the most part I find them fairly ineffective. You can’t guarantee many people will see the stories, and most people will only flip through one or two story shoutouts; so the last mama in the line up just doesn’t get any love 🙁
How to Get a Shout Out
A couple of months ago a lovely mama friend of mine, Vania, asked if I’d like to do a Follow Friday shoutout. I said yes thinking she meant the typical group. The day before when she hadn’t started a group message with other ladies I asked, “is it only us?” “Yes!” she responded. I was a little confused, but more intrigued than anything; how would this go? Well! It went really well!
We both posted a couple of quick videos sharing why we enjoyed each other’s accounts and shared some snap shots of feeds and photos we loved. It was fun, and when I looked through my analytics later I noticed that less people swiped away from my stories. I think because it’s more personal people are interested in what you have to say and when you’re not being blasted by a bunch of different feeds there is strong potential that people will eventually give in to curiosity and click on the suggested name.
The best shout out that I ever participated in I gained over 150 followers in 24 hours! *gasps* I know right!? And while this is an extreme example, I still feel like I regularly gain 20-50 new and engaged followers from these shout outs!
So, how do they work? Simple, be brave and reach out! I typically ask people who also follow me and regularly engage with my posts, then I kind of know they like me too lol. I also look for accounts with similar follower count. At this point I’m not really sure if it’s fair of me to reach out to any account with 400k followers and ask for a shout out; but then again, you never know unless you ask! Ha ha
Be brave mama; you have more fans than you know!
Yes, yes, I know this isn’t really one you can control, but it’s a good goal to shoot for! I recently was featured by the Unite in Motherhood hub and was so thrilled! I actually don’t get features very often, so this was a big one for me! But I definitely know I gained some new followers from that one feature.
A friend of mine, @kimicoopet, had a gorgeous black and white photo go viral through reposts, she said she easily gained at least 400 followers from that one photo. It has been featured over 40 times! And has been liked over 100,00 times combined through all those features! How incredible is that!? On top of that it has become a valuable learning opportunity as obviously people liked that photo (a lot), so posting similar photos may get a good response too. And sure enough, since then she has posted another stunning black and white photo that has gone semi viral’ this girl is on to something!
Although obviously getting featured isn’t something you can make happen, it is still a necessary Instagram growth tip; you never know what photo people may fall in love with! If you do stumble upon a photo that gets a lot of reposts, don’t be afraid to repost it! An excellent example of this premise is @AllThatIsShe; her #allthatisthree series is basically what started her account on the road to success. This simple and darling photo has become a staple pose on her feed; again, you never know what people will love!
So in Short; Tag Hubs!
While getting featured is not necessarily simple, trying to get featured is!
There are many popular mom hubs out there; so find a few and start tagging! Don’t just use their hashtags though, actually tag the hub in your photo! Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in a sea of hashtags, especially for the bigger mom hubs, so don’t be afraid to tag.
Another one of my big Instagram growth tips regarding hubs would be to search for new and upcoming hubs. It can be really hard to get featured on large accounts; so try tagging some smaller ones too! Never get discouraged if you don’t get featured on the “big” ones, sometimes photos from “little” accounts are seen by more of their followers anyway.
(If you’re not sure where to start, check out @motherhoodthroughig, @therealinstamoms, @memoirsofmotherhood, @themotherhoodcorner, and @mom_hub. Or if you’re a letter board fan check out the new hub a few friends and I just started called @motherhoodthroughletterboards.)
Engage When Featured
Another Instagram growth tip that goes along with hubs would be to engage when you do get a feature; no matter how small the hub! If people comment on the photo it’s because they liked it, so they may like you too! Show them that you’re real and respond to their comment if appropriate. If it’s just an emoji I normally just like their comment so they know I saw it, but if they take the time to leave a reply I like to take the time to respond back!
After my recent feature, I actually noticed that I got quite a few more followers after I went and personally responded to that person’s comment. I mean the whole point of Instagram is engagement, so let’s be friendly with one another! And trust me when I say the hub won’t mind; the more comments the better for their photo! So comment away!
Use New and Relevant Hashtags
Ugh. I really debated putting including this in my Instagram growth tips as I feel like everyone has heard this before. So yes, I understand that it’s old news; but let’s look at it with new perspective.
Hashtags are vital to Instagram growth. But here’s the thing most people don’t understand; you need to be using fresh, relevant, and trending hashtags all, the, time. Which means you have to continually be on top of your hashtag game and change them regularly.
I wrote a whole post about my hashtag bank and shared the main hashtags that I rotate often. I keep them in a note on my phone so that I can go through and select whichever hashtags are relevant to my photo. But even this isn’t enough. Hashtags become clogged very quickly, so continually finding new ones is important. You have to continually be researching and adding new hashtags to your list to stay relevant.
The creative community is always coming up with new hashtags that can be fun to participate in. So keep your eyes try diving into to some of these fun and inspirational tags. (Check out #objectsforoutfits, #botanicalbodyhair, and #objectsfororgans which was started by @just.isla.and.i and has very special meaning.)
Instagram has a weekend hashtag challenge where they present a new idea and ask people to post a photo along with their new hashtag. Taking part in smaller hashtags like this can help you connect with a smaller, more focused group of people.
Use Local Hashtags
Although of course we want to gain followers from all over, having a local following can be very helpful too. Also, a lot of state hashtags are smaller than some of the other popular ones. I think finding and using local hashtags can be really helpful because as a #minnesotamom I will potentially find other MN moms interesting and vice versa.
I don’t use local hashtags on every post, but I try to include them a couple of times a week.
Use Geo Tags in Stories
I also like to use geo tags in stories…But are you ready for one of my biggest (and potentially most embarrassing) Instagram growth tips? Geo tag everywhere. *insert embarrassed emoji* Are you laughing? Yeah I know, me too. This one is kind of weird, but I’ve found it to be really helpful! Let me explain.
I have an Instagram business account, so I can see analytics for my posts and stories. Minneapolis brings in between 35-50 viewers on average. But tagging Sioux Falls brings in between 250-300 viewers on average.
I know you’re probably wondering how I came across this information, well I happen to be the social media manager for a small candle business in Sioux Falls. I regularly do stories for them and tag Sioux Falls. When I realized how many extra viewers just using the Sioux Falls geo tag brought in I decided to use it on my own stories as well.
It may seem weird to some people, but the whole point of trying to grow your Instagram account is to get in front of new eyes; this is just another way I found to do it. (There. I just gave away one of my biggest secrets; I hope you appreciate it and don’t abuse it! Ha ha)
I don’t geo tag random locations in all my stories. I normally save those for stories I think may be interesting to a larger audience. In other words I don’t get on and drone about my day to all of Sioux Falls when I don’t live there. I’ll tag a funny story post that I feel may pique interest and cause people to click over to my page. So use this Instagram growth tip wisely people; don’t spam a bunch of cities with your mom gab! lol
Follow New People!
I don’t mean this in the traditional follow/unfollow way; we all know how that goes *insert eyeroll here*. I’ll be the first to openly admit that is not a good way to grow, oh wait, I already have. Anyhow, moving on…
What I mean is to regularly search for new accounts to follow; there are many different reasons for this.
One, I’ve found that Instagram seems to associate you (for a short while) with that account. So there is a better chance you may show up in the “suggested” section when someone follows them. (And anyway, you want to be associated with other accounts in your niche.)
Two, it seems to me (though I don’t know if this is a fact), that when I follow new people, I’ll get a small influx of followers. Now I don’t mean you should go on a following spree, but again, pointedly choose a few new accounts to follow and engage with. I’ve heard rumors that when you follow new people Instagram sees you as a “friendly” account and is more likely to suggest you to others. So it can’t hurt right?
Three, when you’re following accounts because you genuinely like them, you may get a follow back! I’m not suggesting that you follow only looking for a follow (this quickly turns back into the follow/unfollow method). I mean follow accounts you actually like. A lot of times when you hit follow, chances are they’ll check out your account too. So again, don’t follow for the follow back, but still, it may happen!
Lastly, finding new inspiration is always good. I have run into many accounts that have helped me grow my photo skills because they’re kind enough to share their editing tips or they just post smashing good photos that get me thinking!
This Instagram growth tip is really questionable to me. In my opinion, I don’t see it as anymore “authentic” or “organic” than the follow/unfollow method; currently it’s just an acceptable way to gain lots of followers. I felt I needed to include it in my Instagram growth tips because right now it is a very popular, and fairly good way, to gain quite a few new followers fast. Again, this is not one of my favorite Instagram growth tips, but I do know a couple of accounts that have grown by 15-20 thousand followers in just a few short months.
So, how do you get in on them? Well, normally you have to ask to join, be asked to join, or start one yourself. It’s hard because you kind of need to have an “in” to be invited to them and it’s scary to reach out and ask because of course I don’t want to seem pretentious; but sometimes you just have to go for it anyhow!
Some of the Setbacks of Loop Giveaways
Again I don’t necessarily want to push this one as a fantastic way to grow your Instagram account because it can actually be harmful too. A lot of people pay big money to be included in these loops which I really recommend against as there is no guarantee that you will get a lot of followers or that you will keep them. Many people unfollow when they don’t win.
Also, you may not necessarily gain engaged followers. Most giveaways are targeted towards you audience, but there is a lot of spam or “troll” accounts that are specifically made to enter these loop giveaways and will never engage with your photos.
It also can be bad for your engagement if you grow too quickly through followers who aren’t necessarily invested in your account. I know a lot of people whose engagement has suffered because they got a little too big for their britches so to speak and weren’t gaining enough active new followers.
People have also told me that they’ve become fully dependent on loops for any sort of growth. Which again, is not what you want as you’ll end up feeling stuck.
Creating a Loop Giveaway
The main point of a loop is to have an awesome prize package that will incite a lot of people to enter. It’s also hopeful to have a few “sponsor” accounts who have a large and engaged following to help get word out. Trust me when I say there is a lot of work that goes into these.
First you need to reach out to companies to see if they’d be willing to be a prize sponsor. You’ll also need to get a group of bloggers to host. Of course you’ll need to make your own graphic and there is also the general stress of organizing and getting “looped”.
If you want a fairly simple way to host a loop, reach out to a few accounts and see if they’d be willing to invest $25 (or whatever amount you choose) into a gift card for the winner. If you get 10 accounts to put up $25 each it’s a $250 gift card. I’ve found that cash/gift card options actually seem to be more appealing to people too as sometimes the prize package doesn’t fit their style.
But again, in order for this Instagram growth tip to really be successful you’ll want to include a few large accounts (think around the 100k mark) to help reach a lot of people. Organizing your own loop can be challenging, but it’s worth a try!
So Let’s Review My Instagram Growth Tips
Well, hopefully this was helpful to you and somewhere in the mass amount of information above you found a new and helpful strategy to help grow your account.
None of these Instagram growth tips are going to launch you into Instagram fame overnight; well, not unless you get lucky anyhow. But I do feel like each tip is helpful in gaining new followers. It’s always scary to share your secrets with others. You don’t know if you’ll be met with approval or reproof. But as always, my goal in this journey as a social media mom is to help as many mamas as I can a long the way, and yes, that means you!
My inbox is always open if you have questions so let’s connect on Instagram too! Lastly, if this has been helpful to you, could you pretty please push a share button? Pin, repost, tweet; I don’t care, anything would be amazing! We all know how hard it is to grow and reach a new audience, and shares are truly the best way I’ve found!
Quite a few people shared my recent post “Authentic; Finding Yourself through Social Media”, tagging me in their IG stories and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I was/am! As a writer it touches me deeply to see people connect with my writing. And as a blogger there is no greater complement than a social share!
Wishing you luck and rapid growth!
PS) What Instagram growth tips did I miss!? Do you have a great tip that has helped you grow your Instagram account? Please be a dear and share in the comments below!