SMALL BUSINESS LIFE
How to grow your instagram account
Instagram is a hugely popular phone app where we basically share visuals (still and now video format) with each other. I’ve been using the app for a while now. (Prior to the Facebook takeover and when instagram filters and borders were the thing to do!)
Although I do miss the old days on IG, when it was just about sharing images from your weekend or what you had for breakfast that day and photos came in chronological order…. it has evolved into a very powerful story telling tool for many creatives and small brands.
When I was studying Interior Design, I started using instagram as a means to show my portfolio of work alongside my baby blog at the time, Eclectic Medicine (did any of you ever read that?…. it’s where it ALL began, I really shouldn’t have deleted it, come to think of it.) This was the reason I started an instagram account. What is yours? Ask yourself!
So you want to grow your following? Let me tell you a little secret, you need to forget about the numbers.
My Instagram account has never been about the numbers… or the “followers”. And I really recommend you don’t focus on them either. I see so many new accounts popping up these days (and sadly and embarrassingly purchasing followers) I didn’t even know that was possible… Or spamming accounts, following them, and then unfollowing them, using spambots to post stupid, pointless “great post” or ” like this!” comments….. the list goes on. So silly! And thinking that huge numbers is what its all about, like somehow you’re more popular if you have a larger following.
Those numbers mean zip if those people aren’t interacting with you, converting to your website traffic (if that’s your purpose) or becoming clients and customers of yours (if you’re selling a product or service).
Whats the point of buying followers (lame!) or attracting spammy type followers when they aren’t loving your brand or chatting with you? Honestly, what’s the point?
If you want a successful instagram you need to focus on attracting and keeping your people. The people that you interact with and join your team! They get you, they get what you do and invest their time checking out your gallery, having a chat and creating a community feel. Funny to think that some of my favourite people, and now real life friends were all found on an app called instagram via my account @jess_eclecticcreative.
I get asked this question a lot, how do I grow my following on instagram? Keeping the above in mind, I thought i’d share a few of the things I’ve done to grow my authentic community, slowly and steadily on instagram and fill it with fantastic design loving people from across the globe.
“My Instagram account has never been about the numbers… or the “followers“. And I really recommend you don’t focus on them either.”
1. Tell your story
I really believe that there is a market for absolutely anything and anyone. The key is you need to find your people. And you find your people by simply just being yourself. Sound too fluffy for you? Well let me explain.
I have always treated instagram as a visual diary and a story-telling tool that has documented my own work and a means of engaging with other likeminded individuals. Post after post I began to strike up the courage to start showing who I was as a person, as a Designer and as a small business owner. I wanted to create an account that was me …..and my brand, and something that wasn’t a replica of everything else I was seeing. (No offence to you pastel or Australian-Scandi style lovers out there.)
Instagram is a powerful platform for reflecting your style, establishing your unique identity and showing off your creative flair. Everyone has a story that needs to be shared as we all have something to offer and can all learn something from it, so make sure you tell your own story through your visuals. And I can’t stress enough… tell your own story.
Unfortunately I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had my images stolen, written copy and style ripped off…. and witnessed many of my trail-blazing buddies have the same done to them. Not cool…. and certainly not instagram etiquette!
Long before anyone was really using hashtags to create specifically house and home loving communities I started up a humble little hashtag called #pocketofmyhome where people from around the world could share their homes. (…there was FMS Photo a Day challenge, which I’m yet to try, and of course Interiors Addict #7Vignettes… but nothing about real homes or house proud related communities back then)
How many of us see the perfectly styled magazine worthy homes every single day on instagram? Yep, that’s why the #pocketofmyhome movement spread like wildfire. It was the first place instagram users could come together and share the love of their homes, real homes with personality! wanted a place where people could go and celebrate their own homes, not just the ones found in glossy magazines.
And the beautiful thing this community caught on without much promotion at all or having to annoy people with too many competition spam, #pocketofmyhome now boasts close to 125K images from users all over the world. I also love hearing that people have connected and become friends through the tag – what a fabulous community!
So point taken, try to begin a community of your own through instagram. I get that instagram is a little flooded now with hashtags….almost to # exhaustion but be a little creative and tactical – people love belonging to a community where we share likeminded values.
2. Be consistent
Consistency is the magical, glittery goodness that in my opinion binds everything together and creates a visually stimulating and effective instagram. Consistency can come from using a similar theme of images, filter or colour way through your imagery, or only sharing images from a particular genre (such as travel, interiors, food etc) or working out a mixture of everything but delivered in a consistent way, maybe posting time or your written style. You really need to answer your WHY. Why are you using instagram?
Consistency gives your followers a feeling of familiarity, building trust for your brand (if your account is business related) and reassures them the style of imagery they will see when they scroll down to your feed. My imagery is all mine, created by myself and our contributors and includes behind the scenes shots, images of my own home and even features my little rescue cat, Peg… as I want to tell my story and part of that is I love cats! (Remember to add you into your account)
“Post after post I began to strike up the courage to start showing who I was as a person, as a Designer and as a small business owner. I wanted to create an account that was me …..and my brand, and something that wasn’t a replica of everything else I was seeing.”
Photograph by Sophie Timothy Photography
3.Quality + Etiquette
Instagram is visual so make sure your images are of excellent quality so people actually want to see them and like them. This means no pixelation or blurred images, no selfies in the bathroom or toilet. Practice does make progress when it comes to taking photos for your account. You’ll start to train your eye and get a feel for composition and light. I use a combination of DSLR and iphone images on my account.
Another tip if you are using apps to edit or reframe your images, pay the extra couple of bucks to have their ads or text removed.
I also prefer to share my own work so my followers can get an authentic sense of the work I produce. In the rare occasion I regram an image, I make sure I credit where credit is due. Make sure you mention the account, not just tag them in (as so many people don’t see the tags) and ensure the credit and mention is in the first line of your message.
4. Engage with your community
Lastly, engage with your community talk to them, and get to know them, let them get to know you. You’d be surprised who you can meet on instagram and connect with, thus growing your network. I have an amazing amount of support and have spoken with so many gorgeous people all just doing their own thing.
As it is the internet, always put your safety first and your boundaries up. Be careful who you let into your circle, I have unfortunately met a few doozies, but they are far and few between and I have let them go. The positives outweigh the negatives thats for sure. So, stop wishing you had thousands more people in your tribe, and start small by engaging with like minded people. Remember it isn’t about the numbers, it’s quality over quantity.
Find your meaning, find your purpose for using the app and the people will come.
Photograph by Sophie Timothy Photography
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