Essential Instagram Tips to Grow Your Followers & Build Your Brand

Instagram is the social butterfly of the socialsphere — It's charming, it's addictive, and everyone seems to love it. 

It's the popular girl you both loved AND hated in high school because you couldn't quite figure her out. She was nice and inviting and cool, but damn it if you couldn't get close enough to be her BFF. 

But guess what: Instagram is TOTALLY figure-outable. 
You can master the platform, but you first have to — wait for it — know who your ideal reader is and what he/she loves. 

I know, I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record, but I honestly, truly, 100% believe that not knowing who your ideal reader is is the main source of growth problems (not to mention frustration) for all bloggers. 

For all businesses, in fact. 

Before you can draw people in (to your blog or your Instagram feed), you gotta know what lights them up. 

What problem they need solved. 

What mindset they are in on a daily basis.

Sure, throwing out cool quotes over inspirational images is so hot right now, but does your ideal reader love them, too?

If you're an artist with fashion illustrations, it's not likely that your ideal reader will like photos of mountains over some kind of business-y "keep hustling" quote from Gary Vaynerchuck. 

They may, however, want some fashionable illustrated quotes from DVF or Anna Wintour or YSL. 

It all depends on who you're targeting. 


So let's look at how we can get you there and totally own your Instagram game. 


Research

gojaneinstagram


The most important thing to owning your Instagram game is knowing your ideal audience, then doing the research required to find them.

Your goal is to create content that your ideal reader loves, and in order to do that, you'll want to research, research, research! Look at other Instagram accounts that your "ideal reader" follows, then look at the hashtags they're using to attract followers to their feeds.

Take note by clicking on profiles and taking some notes. It's that simple. 


Consistency


Consistency is key when you're trying to grow an audience. Keep people interested (and looking forward to your posts) by publishing on a schedule. This is true for both your blog and Instagram accounts. Check out Nike for inspiration — they publish two posts a week like clockwork, and plan ahead for events like Serena Williams' big grand slam win at Wimbledon.  Keep an editorial calendar for your blog posts? Do the same for your Instagram account if it's an important part of your growth strategy. 

 

A Clear Vision and Point of View


What do successful Instagrammers have in common? A clear style that comes through in their images. And I'm not talking strictly about fashion bloggers. Create a style guide for yourself in order to elevate your images and make them double tap-worthy. Some example style guideline do's and don'ts could be: 

  • Don't post dark or grainy images. 
  • Don't post "atmospheric" shots, but do create a vignette or a moment for your followers that looks at the detail of something instead of showing them the whole picture. It's more interesting to look at, anyway. Check out Shopstyle's feed above for inspiration. 
  • Don't use filters, but do use the included tools to make your images brighter. 
  • If you will be using text over images (like quotes), do decide on a template to use going forward. A single app, a single font, and a single layout to make them "on brand" and uniform, or a collection of fonts and layouts, but keep them consistent. There's that "c" word again! I personally use Over ($3.99) for my text and font needs. 
  • Don't regram other people's images that don't match your style guidelines. 

 

Engagement


These simple, but effective (and better yet — proven) methods for engagement will skyrocket your followers up faster than you'd ever imagine. Check out Mompreneur Society; She grew her Instagram from 0 to nearly 1,000 followers in less than a month, and this is before her actual site even launched. Now that's amazing. 

  • Use hashtags in the right place — your first comment. The key to getting found on Instagram is using abundant hashtags. Use every hashtag you can think of that's related to your post, but rather than including it in your main Instagram caption, use them in your first comment. Once you get more than four comments, your first few are truncated so new viewers won't see them, but they'll still be in full effect and indexing on Instagram's search pages. This keeps things clean. 
  • Spend some time liking other people's photos, commenting on photos, and make sure your ideal reader sees you, even on Instagram. 
  • Follow influencers and people who's feeds you admire. Instagram is a community, so get in that mindset when you sign up. The goal is to talk to, follow, and relate to as many people as possible. Plus, they're great inspiration for your feed. 
  • Ask followers to take action. There's so much coming at social media users — from awesome images to fast-moving feeds — so you gotta be pretty clear in order to get your followers to do something. Be explicit in your calls to action. Ask them to "double tap" to like or agree, tag their friends in the comments, or list their favorite Instagrammers for a "Follow Friday" love fest, anything — just ask them to perform the action you want them to take in order to grow your community. 


Today's Action

 
Go back to Day 1 of the Challenge and revisit your Ideal Reader Worksheet. Now look at it through the lens of Instagram. What does your ideal reader identify with? What does he or she want to see show up in their feeds? 

Make a plan to produce that. 

There are no bonus worksheets today, because, like yesterday, I want you to really dig in and get a clear picture of WHICH social platforms you should be on, why, and what your strategy is for being there. 

If you can't figure out why you need to be on Instagram and your ideal reader isn't really there, then prioritize a different platform. 

Remember: you don't have to be on every social platform

We're in the home stretch of the 30-Day Blog to Business Challenge and while this week is all about social and promotion of your blog, next week is where we really dig in and learn how to work with brands and make money from sponsored posts. 

So sign up now to get all the content delivered to your inbox along with lots of bonus worksheets to round out the lessons. Click the button below to sign up!