Follow these 6 general Instagram tips and grow your account
You are excited about your passion or business and would like to share it with the world. You would like to grow your Instagram account but you’re not sure how. You can’t figure out why your account isn’t growing as fast as you’d like and would some extra insights.
Let me provide you with some basic general Instagram tips and tricks that have helped me starting out and will help you grow your account and increase your engagement rate.
Chose the Optimal Instagram Account Type
Instagram allows you to have different accounts both personal and business, public and private. The first obvious step is to ensure your gorgeous pictures are there for the world to see and to set your account to public. What you perhaps hadn’t considered yet is to convert your account to a business account, or a ‘creator’ account. A business account is, as the name would suggest, for companies, however it was until a year ago or so the best tool available to influencers. If you do not sell any products, perhaps a better choice for you is the ‘creator’ account, which has a range of tools useful for a large-scale active Instagram user.
Growth insights such as data around follows and unfollows
Direct messaging tools that allow users to filter notes from relevant people
Flexible labels that allow users to designate their preferred method of contact
The growth insights give you detailed data about changes to your account. These include statistics relating to daily and weekly changes in your follower numbers. This works across all parts of Instagram – your traditional feed, stories and reels. This makes it easier to spot any spikes or troughs in your following, and perhaps help understand the reason for any changes.
Analysing your account, and keeping taps on what works and doesn’t, is always a good idea. There are free (and paid) tools available to analyse your (and other) accounts. You’ll find a few of them on my influencer tools page on my website. Just type in your username and the sites will provide you with a raft of useful information.
To switch your personal account or Business profile to a Creator Account go to your Instagram account settings, choose ‘account’ and follow the prompts to switch account type. You can choose to connect a Facebook page but (unlike for a business account) this is not mandatory.
My personal experience switching from a ‘business’ account to a ‘creator’ account is that my reach per post increased significantly, in particular the exposure to non-followers. Perhaps Instagram limits exposure of company accounts in order to increase revenue from paid advertisements with guaranteed exposure, but this is speculation from my side.
Tip #1: SWITCH TO A CREATOR ACCOUNT AND START ANALYSING YOUR DATA
Instagram Username: only searchable criteria of your profile!
You may have chosen your account name when you were a teenager and into unicorn sparkle rave parties. Or when you were sharing pictures of the puppies of your mum’s dog. Or when you were totally into fitness and posted every run. Or you may simply not have given it much thought if it is a match with your intended strategy and audience.
The reality is… your name and username are two of the most important components of your Instagram profile because they are the only two searchable criteria of your profile. When users type a keyword or name in the search field on Instagram, the app looks at only the username and name fields of accounts to determine if an account is relevant to that search query.
Choose a username that represents your brand, is recognisable, and, if possible, distinguishes what you do. Your username might be simply your (business) name or an adapted version. Or you might also include a word or two that describes you, your industry or niche to further define who you are.
Keep in mind that when people want to tag you, they are not presented with a list to choose from. They will have to remember your name, and start typing the first letters, before the first options appear. I have seen so many interior accounts named housenumber12345 or something along those lines that I just cannot remember which one belongs to who. They are simply not identifying. Try and avoid too many special characters, simple words are much easier to find and remember.
Choose something that stands out, something that grabs attention and makes people want to click through to your bio to see what your feed is all about. A house number will not do that. But for example, a made-up name of @cornershopwiththeweirdfrontdoor might. Instagram hands out names on a first come first serve basis. Many good names are taken. Avoid the temptation to add a special character to an already existing username to create your own, it only leads to confusion. No one likes to be tagged in feeds / stories unrelated to them, or vice versa. Consider your target audience and choose your language accordingly – can everyone understand and/or pronounce your name?
Tip #2: CHOOSE YOUR USERNAME WISELY AS IT IMPACTS YOUR VISIBILITY!
Pay attention to your Instagram Bio & Profile Picture
Pay attention to your bio! It is often one of the first things prospective followers will see. If it grabs attention, you’ve just bought yourself another glance at your feed. Explain who you are and what you do, target your audience with a few niche words, share your personality with a (funny) light hearted personal detail about you, provide a way for followers to get in touch and make use of the website.
The latter is important, because this is the only place you can add a clickable website link on your own page. Make the most of it! If you have a website, add it here. If you’re working with other companies, place a link here. If you are featured on somebody else’s site, mention it here. There is only room for one website so use it wisely. A handy tip is, if you do not have your own website, is to use www.linktree.com or any other landing page builder site. These (often) free websites allows you to create a landing page on which you can add as many links as you wish, which means you do not need to replace old links if you want to add a new one.
Even if your feed isn't directly about you, and perhaps you don’t love being in the spotlight yourself, do consider a profile picture with your face in it. Just as you should add your (first) name or an alias. Followers like knowing they’re dealing with a real person, and address you by your first name (and so should you, when you leave comments elsewhere). It is all part of creating engagement and relationships, which is what you are after when you are growing your account.
Tip #3: OPTIMISE YOUR BIO – IT IS YOUR INSTAGRAM BUSINESS CARD
Optimise Feed Appearance & Strategy for Instagram Growth
Have you considered a strategy for your feed? What would you like to show your users? What do you look at when you’re checking out other accounts? Consistency is key; it should be obvious what your account is about. Is your thing plants, ensure a plant in every picture. Are you obsessed with the colour pink? Make that obvious in your feed. Do you schedule your posts? Do you have a specific order topics / items that you’re showing? If not, perhaps it is time to think about that. Is the lighting the same in every picture? Do you use a consistent filter? I operate in the interiors space of Instagram. Sad but true, detailed pictures and close ups notoriously do not do well in interior account feeds. Likewise, (too) personal pictures or pictures taken without natural light tend to perform badly in interiors. What's the situation in your niche?
For a while there was a trend to add some quotes, blank spaces, or other ‘filler’ pictures in your feed. Granted, they add value to the overall look and feel, however generally don’t go very far in reach (sometimes hash tags are not even used). If this is a strategic decision for aesthetic reasons then by all means, go for it. However, do keep in mind that engagement rate (what companies are looking at in selecting collaborators) is calculated on a series of your lasts posts. So they all count.
In summary, take a good and objective look at all the squares on your feed and ask yourself if something stands out (a winner or a sore thumb) – and then take it from there. Are you communicating what you stand for?
Tip #4: TAKE AN OBJECTIVE LOOK AT YOUR FEED AND CONSIDER THE OVERALL AESTHETICS
Instagram Captions & Commentary to grow engagement
Instagram isn’t just about pretty pictures or reels. An engaging caption is just as important. Outsiders often wonder why it is so exciting to follow people that keep on posting pictures of (in my case) the same room in the house, with perhaps a minor change, or a different angle. Well, you’ll know as well as I do, that the people behind the accounts make that happen! You get a virtual relationship with loyal followers who like to hear from you, and what your next story is. I have followed users with fantastic homes, drawn in by the beauty, but the captions bored or annoyed me. So after taking inspiration from their homes once, I quickly unfollowed. Be personal in your captions but be careful with oversharing.
In the end, most of your followers are not your real friends. They are phone friends, and generally prefer to hear something uplifting, light hearted or recognisable. Adding a call to action in your captions is always good, it gives followers something to answer, which increases your engagement rate.
Don’t be too transparent. I personally am not a fan of the generic ‘so, what are your plans today?’ as an attempt to add a call to action to a caption. I highly doubt these people are genuinely interested in me going to the supermarket, having a work meeting and having to pick up my kids after school. Instead ask something about your picture for example. Or create a caption so engaging, it simply calls for commentary.
Also consider your language and your target audience. People are often inclined not to read a caption they do not understand (or press translate).
So, if your own language is not a common one, consider adding a translation in English to widen your target audience. The use of hash tags is probably the most important part of your caption (or to add to your first comment, whatever you prefer) and only with the proper use of hash tags will you widen your reach. Research hash tags of similar accounts and change it up. But don’t be afraid to copy a list from a previous post if that one turned out to be a winner!
ALWAYS RESPOND TO COMMENTS, and then preferably using the name of the person you are addressing. And while you are on their feed checking their name, leave a comment on their latest post. You want to increase engagement and the only way to do this is to start a conversation, and actually talk to people. Don’t be afraid to share a post you really like in your stories, or send people you admire a message complimenting them on their feed. The only way to get people to follow you is to grab their attention and make them look! As a general rule, and it sounds so obviously but it so often gets forgotten… be kind.
Tip #5: IN AN ONLINE WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND
Time your Instagram Posts
In your instagram insights you can see what days of the weeks and what times your users are most active. Theoretically this would be when your posts could be most successful. Personally, I take this with a grain of salt. I like responding to my followers as soon as I can. For that reason, I post in the morning. Then I can follow up during the day and be social with my family in the evening (and not drive hubby mad and to a divorce). Do whatever works for you as long as you’re consistent. I post daily, but not often on Saturdays. I have noticed that when I have better things to do than being on instagram, generally my followers do too.
Tip #6: CHOOSE A TIMING THAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
I don’t profess to have all the answers. Nor do I have access to Instagram’s trade secrets (I wish!). I am sharing my tips, tricks and insights for you to take advantage of. And even when you do everything right, things don’t always pan out as you wish. And then when you think you’ve nailed it; Instagram changes its rules or algorithm again and puts you in the naughty corner.
It is not always fair. We all need a bit of luck sometimes, or a nice share from a bigger account for an instant boost in follower numbers (just grab their attention, you might just be surprised what comes from it!). You’ll have purple patches, and low points. Focus on the things within your control and be prepared to put in the hard yards.
Being an influencer on instagram means being in it for the long haul; it takes a lot of time, rejection and can sometimes be ungrateful. It can however also open up a whole new world not privy to before, forge great relationships and provide opportunities you may not have thought of prior. The most important thing is, have fun!