For the past year and a half, I’ve been patiently and consistently growing my Instagram following on @otherworld.ly, which is where some of you might know me from. Hello, you! As of early October 2016, it spans 22k followers. In the grand scheme of social media influence, it’s not the biggest. By far. However, my audience is super engaged: They know me, my story, and what I stand for. If you’re trying to actively grow an Instagram following, know this:
Engagement always trumps follower count.
That’s what many have not realized yet. One million or hundreds of thousands of followers on any social media platform looks impressive, but it means nothing unless they’re active, engaged real people.
Here’s how to grow an audience that is not only sizable, but engaged as well. It applies to all niches across the board.
1. Post high quality content
Super obvious, but super overlooked. If content is king, then content quality is his queen. It doesn’t matter what you post, but it has to be well thought out and well executed.
Plan ahead. Create and prep all the content you’ll be posting for two weeks or a month at a time. Leave space for spontaneity and time-sensitive material, but creating everything at once will make Instagram easier to manage.
If content is king, then content quality is his queen.
2. Be consistent
Also a bit of a “duh” point. Instagram’s algorithm rewards consistency, meaning if you post every single day, your posts will get more visibility to your following as well as make the Explore tab more frequently, increasing your exposure to non-followers.
Consistently posting high-quality content is the key to growing exponentially.
A rough guide for frequency:
- 0-1000 followers: 2-3 per day
- 1k-10k followers: 1-2 per day
- 10k-20k followers: 1 per day
- 20k-90k followers: 2 per week
- 100k+ followers: 1 per week
3. F4F, L4L, C4C
Quick terminology breakdown:
- F4F = Follow for follow
- L4L = Like for like
- C4C = Comment for comment
Following accounts for a follow back is controversial and many people are surprisingly very openly against this method. It’s been labelled as irritating, and some go as far as even calling it a foul practice.
While this is understandable and I can see how it could be frustrating, we also have to take a bird’s eye view on Instagram’s evolution over the years. Its identity as a social platform has gone from a personal documentation of our meals, captured through low-res filters, to the biggest influencer platform in the game. If we want to utilize it in such a way, we have to adapt to the commercialization that has inarguably happened.
Don’t think of your unfollowing as a personal, targeted rejection of what your account stands for. Instead, think of following as a way of saying “Hey, look at me! I exist. Why don’t you check me out?”
It can be annoying to be on the receiving end of a constant cycle of following, just to be unfollowed a day later, especially when you’re just starting out. However, if you want to grow quickly, this method is killer when used in combination with constant high-quality posting. Think of F4F and the like as a “boost”, to be used in parallel with authentic, real engagement from your end.
4. Using automations like Instagress
Manually following, liking and commenting in a targeted way is powerful. If you’re doing this by hand, or utilizing a virtual assistant to do so, you can scope out big influencers in your niche and direct effort solely at them. However, you might just not have the time for this.
This is where automated services like Instagress come in to save the day. No, I am not affiliated with them by any means. I’ve just been using them for over a year now and they have helped me grow @otherworld.ly a LOT. You pay for a chunk of time: Something like 10 days for $9.99, plug in the hashtags that you want to automate engagement with, and simply leave it to do the work for you.
When I optimize Instagress, I grow at least 100 followers per day. That’s HUGE. If you’re able to rack in 100/day, you’ll gain 1000 in just 10 days, meaning you can hit milestones like 10k and 20k in a matter of months. Do check out Instagress. I cannot rave about it enough.
Side note: Crowdfire used to do the same thing until Instagram took out third parties’ ability to unfollow those who weren’t following you. IMO, Instagress is now the best tool out there with the death of Crowdfire.