I spent over a YEAR researching what works for growing your audience on IG. While I only have 3000+ Instagram followers, I get on average as many likes & comments as a few people in the same field as me with tens of thousands of followers – because I carefully cultivated an engaged audience. I did a case study comparing five Instagram accounts in my niche (handmade products for children) with 13,000 to 40,000 followers. Their average media likes were between 120-200. I have currently 3040 followers & my average media likes is 117. Very close average likes per post, with less than one third of the audience. I’m not saying I’m a pro, just that I have found what works for me & may work for you to help you better utilize Instagram.
1. This is the most important: only post amazing, high resolution, well lit, clutter free styled images. Seriously. If possible never take the image with your phone but instead take it with your point and shoot, edit it to enhance it, email it to yourself and post it that way. Explore popular Instagram accounts and you will see one thing they all have in common: amazing high resolution pictures that are beautifully styled and well lit. You want people to pause when they come across your photos, to be compelled by them and excited by them and to want to see more of them. So make ’em look good!
2. Use only the most relevant hashtag, in a separate comment below your photo caption so that as other people comment the hashtags are hidden. Like, I make toys. I don’t often use the #crafter or #craft tag but #momlife #toys #kids #baby #nursery #kidsroom #igkids #instakids #moms #mums #parenting and so forth – things that people wanting to use my products would actually use/search for. Like if you make jewelry, don’t post #wirewrapped #silvernecklace – post #fashion #women #hot #style #ootd #beautiful #me #lovely #pretty #mystyle and so forth. Make sense?
3. Use the search feature on Instagram each day to search all the relevant hashtags you use (IE, I search kids or babies) once or twice a day. Spend about 5-10 minutes a day just leaving *meaningful* comments on people’s photos – if you comment on 3-5 photos in a person’s feed this shows you are interested in their content & knowing more about them. They are more likely to click over to your profile and learn more about you, too. I do this twice a day (a total of less than 20 minutes of work) and on average get 5-20 new followers a day from it.
4. When new people like or comment on your photos, visit their profile and leave a few comments & likes – this helps cultivate an engaged community that feels appreciated & they will be more likely to interact with your posts. And it literally only takes a few seconds!
5. If you want comments, make sure your content is something that there is a reason to comment about. A picture of a mug? Nothing to talk about really. A picture of your mug & the question “I’m in need of new creamer suggestions. What’s your favorite?” invites comments/conversations.
6. REPLY to people. If they comment on your post reply to them and make sure you tag them in your reply, even if it’s just to say “thanks”.
7. This may seem like a no brainer, but promote your IG on Twitter & Facebook, your blog, etc. Make sure your existing fans know about it & can find it. Also make sure your Twitter handle matches your Instagram name, so people can easily find you.
And I have a ton more tips, but I figure that’s enough to start with. I’ll work on a more detailed post with best practices & Insta-etiquette next week!