Cracking down the Instagram algorithm is not an easy job. I have been on Instagram for about 5 years. However, my profile boomed only this year. At the beginning of 2017 I had around 15 k followers and now the follower count has increased to 54 k which means an increase of almost 40 k followers in 7 months.
Do you want to know how I managed to gain so many Instagram followers? I will drive you through all the steps you need to make in order to take your profile to the next level.
1. Find your niche
I know you might think this is a cliche but this is the first and most important rule of attracting new followers. Think about what interests you. Think about something you are good at or something you wish to explore more in the long run. It could be: travel, food, photography, style or any other area. Choose your niche and start sharing content about it with your followers. This will attract new followers which are interested in the same area as you.
2. Use niche related hashtags
Think about hashtags as your best tool to reach your potential new followers. The most important thing to remember about them is to always match them with your content and niche.
There are many pages which re-post photos from certain hashtags. Before posting your pictures, do some research and use their hashtags. If your content is good, a bigger account can re-post your shot and bring you additional exposure and followers. Some of the accounts who re-post travel pictures are: @girlslovetravel, @girlsborntotravel, @femmetravel, @sidewalkerdaily or @passionpassport.
Pro tip 1: always keep a list in your phone and when you discover a new account which re-posts content, add it to the list together with its hashtag.
Pro tip 2: Don’t be afraid to use as many hashtags as you can (the limit is 30).
Pro tip 3: In order to keep you caption clean, insert you hashtags in a comment
3. Master your bio
When you follow somebody, when you like or comment, your profile picture is what makes people click your username and view your profile.
Pro tip 1: Make sure you use a high quality shot as your profile picture.
Pro tip 2: Make sure your profile picture matches your niche. For example, my profile picture has a ‘dose’ of travel and nature in it.
Use your bio to ‘sell’ your profile
Your bio is what makes people hit the follow button. Think of it as the main trigger to attract new followers.
The first row (in my case: ‘Travel diary – Aurelia Teslaru’) is certainly the most important. When people search for ‘travel’ for example, I have a higher chance to appear in the results because I have included the term in my bio name. I also included my full name in case people want to search me by name.
The next part of the bio is also important. In bio info you have the chance to tell your potential followers why they should follow you. I chose highlight what a potential follower would have to gain if he or she follows me: ‘Your daily dose of travel’. Since my profile is travel related, I always update my next travel destinations in my bio since I like to keep my followers informed about my future plans.
Pro tip 1: Include your niche and full name in your bio name
Pro tip 2: Include a call to action or a reason for a potential follower to follow you in your bio info.
4. Improve your photo editing skills
Your first 9 photos are the ones that will determine if somebody will follow you or not. Personally, I like to use bright colors but you can choose any theme you want. If you look at any Instagrammer with a big audience, they all have similar photos in terms of colors and they are all inspiring.
Finding your theme is a part of building your brand and community. People with similar taste will follow you and will join your journey.
Pro tip 1: Make sure that your photos fit your niche.
Pro tip 2: Make sure that your photos look uniform and professional. The tool I use for editing my photos is Lightroom.
Pro tip 3: If you are aiming for a larger audience, make sure you don’t post photos which are too personal or too targeted. For example, a photo with my family or with me on the bus on my way to work won’t fit my profile.
5. Use call to action captions
Call to action captions are the key to a higher engagement. A caption which includes a question, will trigger your followers to answer and thus, will increase engagement (see the example above).
6. Engage with accounts in the same niche
Engaging with similar accounts increases your chance to ‘steal’ some of their followers. The most effective technique is to like and comment photos on hashtags related to your niche. On one hand, the person who posted to photo might follow you. On the other hand, when one of their followers will comment next, they will see your comment and if you have an attractive profile picture he might get to your profile and follow you.
Pro tip 1: When commenting, make it personal. Add your personal touch and the chance to gain a new follower gets higher.
What you should remember is that your personality is what attracts followers and your personality is reflecting in your niche, in your photography style, in your editing style, in your captions. There is and will never be somebody exactly like you. Therefore, you have the potential to explore your personality and once you let your imagination free, people will start to appreciate you.