Grow Your Instagram Following

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about growing your Instagram following. As I prepare to launch my ecourse next month on making money from home as a social media manager, I want to make sure everyone gets up to speed with their own social profiles, and that you know the basics so you can dive right into my course when it’s ready. Don’t forget to snag the freebie at the bottom of the page. It will also allow you to get updates about my course release!

instagram following

Instagram happens to be my current favorite social media platform. I love it because there are two separate things I can do on the account.

-One, I can post visually appealing photos to grow my following and tell my brand’s story, and

-I can also use Instagram stories to get a little more personal and behind the scenes.

It’s a great way to still post photos without cluttering up your feed with things that just don’t fit. I talk more about Instagram stories in my freebie so be sure to check it out.

Your Feed:

Ok let’s talk about your main feed and things you can do to get more followers. First of all, you want to make sure no one of your photos are blurry, and that they make sense in your feed. If you have a very narrow market, like only posting photos of coffee mugs, don’t randomly throw in a photo of a dog. It just confuses your readers who have come to expect a certain thing. Now if you are a lifestyle blogger like me, you have a little more creative freedom, but that doesn’t mean I just post whatever I feel like.

When people come to your page to decide if they want to follow you or not, they are going to take a peek at your feed as a whole, and if it confuses them or has photos that just don’t make sense, you may get passed over. Think of it this way:

If you went into a shoe store and every time you visited they had lots of shoes, that would make sense right? Then what if one day you went into the store and they were selling school supplies instead of shoes. Wait a minute, but every other time I came in there were shoes? If I had known it was going to be something different than what I was expecting, I wouldn’t have come, right? Think of your feed the same way. If your audience is used to you only posting pictures of your kids, or only posting workout photos, or only posting food photos, and if you all of the sudden start throwing in pictures of cats or rainbows, they may not understand what is going on.

Editing Photos:

I edit every single photo before it goes on Instagram in some way shape or form. Some it’s as simple as cropping in the app, and some get edited on my computer in Picmonkey. Still others get touched up in apps like Snapseed, which is free in the app store. You want your lighting, cropping, and exposure to look the best it can. If I know I’m taking pics for Instagram only, I will set my iPhone camera to “square” so I don’t have to worry about cropping so much or having a photo that doesn’t fit correctly. I also use an app called Isntasize to size down things for me to fit in Instagram. (Snapseed is shown below)

Comment Pods:

Another great way to get better engagement on Instagram is to join comment or like pods. They have gotten very popular since Instagram introduced the new algorithm. Basically, you join a group of people (usually between 10-20), and every time one of you posts a photo, you direct message it to the group in a group chat within Instagram or on an app like Telegraph, then everyone knows to go and like and or comment on the photo to help boost the posts engagement rate. Think of it as a I’ll scratch my back if you scratch yours. It really only works if everyone actually posts and shares and comments, and the best ones have people engage within the first few hours a photo is posted. I am a part of a couple of pods, some have worked and some haven’t. A lot of people don’t realize the amount of work they are on the front end and decide they don’t want to do it, but that’s because they don’t see the value in it or don’t take their business seriously enough. I encourage you to find one or two pods to join!

Links:

A great free tool I use to drive traffic to my blog is called Linktree. It’s a website where you can actually add buttons that link to different posts within your blog. So when you click on the link in my profile, you then can choose which of my posts you want to visit. I can update these at any time, whenever I have a new post or what to highlight an old post. Super easy and effective.

Instagram following

 

Hashtags:

hashtags are great for allowing people to find your content, but they can also be a great tool if used in reverse, for you to find people to follow that could potentially become YOUR followers. Search some common hashtags that have to do with your niche, and find some accounts that you like.

When it comes to you using hashtags on your own photos, hashtags with more photos associated with them are not always the way to go. Try to find some hashtags with less than 100k photos and use those. Your photos have a better chance at staying at the tops of those feeds than using hashtags that have been used several million times.

Another tip if you are a social media manager for a brand especially, is to create a branded hashtag that you use when posting, and that you can encourage others to use when posting about your product or service.

Also be sure to use the location/geotagging so that you appear in local searches for photos!

Be nice:

A tried and true way to gain followers on Instagram is to follow other people, and genuinely like and comment on other photos. Don’t be one of those people who thinks they are better than everyone and is only following 11 people. Use hashtags and find people with great content that you like, and go like and comment on some of their photos. To get their attention, I suggest liking about 5 photos so they will see them in their notifications easier and see that it’s all from one person. What I DON’T like is when people do this just to get a like, then they don’t follow you back, or they do but then unfollow you the next day. There will always be people that play games like that, so just try to ignore it and not let it bother you.

I try to set aside time a couple times a day to like my friends photos, and then search for new friends and people to follow. Just be a real person and it will go a long way I promise!

Thanks for following along! If you want to get tons of great info just like this, but ALL about Instagram stories, be sure to download my free printable cheat sheet here!

HEADS UP: I will be doing a post every week for the next month discussing growth hacks for four different social media platforms, all leading up to the pre-launch and launch of my new social media management E-course. If you are interested in news on my course but don’t care for the freebie, I encourage you to follow the link and subscribe anyway (you don’t have to download the cheat sheet), so you will be first to hear news on my pre-sale (which will be when the course is offered at it’s LOWEST PRICE!)

 

The Instagram Life

Let’s face it. We all do it…Taking 25 photos to get the perfect shot for Instagram. We change the lighting, telling our kids to smile or they aren’t getting dessert, and frantically try to get the perfect shot before someone has a meltdown (I may or may not be talking about myself with the meltdowns.)

Social media is a beautiful thing that has bridged a gap so that we can be friends with people easily from around the world. However, with it has become a trap that you may not even be aware you have fallen into.

Instagram life

There are actually two sides the to this trap, the side of the photo taker and the side of the photo viewer. I have been on both sides and I fear unintentionally made someone to feel that my life is all butterflies and rainbows and perfectly posed photos that I get right on the first try. As a viewer, it’s so easy to get caught in the comparison trap “oh looks, she is taking her kids to the park AGAIN. I haven’t taken mine in weeks, I’m a bad mom.” Or, “she’s at the gym again, she takes the perfect mirror selfie and looks awesome after a sweat session!” Or, “her baby is perfect. She is always smiling or laughing in photos. I bet she takes long naps every day and never cries!”

I can assure you, what you see in my Instagram feed is NOT my reality. But let’s face it, we all want to look nice and no one wants to see pictures of a crying baby, so we do our best to show our “best” side, while at the same time potentially making people assume untrue things about our lives. Let me give you some examples I randomly pulled from my instagram:

This picture was taken just about 5 minutes before I got a phone call from my mom that my dad was taken to the ER for a terrible allergic reaction after he passed out. It was a few days before Christmas and I was FREAKING OUT. It wasn’t quite the cute little “daddy playing with baby” scene after that.

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The following photo was labeled our “first walk as a family.” I had built up this moment in my head, with visions of Bobby and I walking hand in hand while the baby cooed, and the dogs healed happily at our sides and it was the perfect temperature outside. Heh. Bobby and I actually ended up getting into a fight on our first walk! I was upset because it wasn’t going as “planned”. The baby was crying, it was REALLY windy and the blanket wasn’t staying on the carset to cover the baby, further annoying her (and me). All I asked Bobby to do was KEEP THE DOGS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE STROLLER WHEELS so I didn’t run them over, and well, let’s just say he needs some work on how to handle dog leashes. I just wanted to go back to the house and forget it ever happened. Sigh.

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Oh look at the cute first photo of the new family of three in the hospital. It looks like baby is happily eating and mom and dad are thrilled with their little bundle of joy. Oh boy. Emma Kate was jaundiced because she wasn’t getting enough to eat because I was producing zero milk. I was in an excruciating about of pain with a huge ice pack shoved into my giant mesh panties. I was so tired I just wanted to cry, and people kept coming in at all hours to take my blood, give me medicine, have me feed the baby and what not, so I was quite delirious. I honestly don’t even remember this picture being taken.

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Ah, this one is a gem. Worst. Disney. Trip. Ever. and it was totally and 100% my fault. This was during the 2014 Princess half marathon, at the height of my morning sickness and exhaustion during pregnancy. I have never KNOWN such exhaustion. I used to think staying up late to study in college and surviving on a 30 minute nap was exhausting. I was running the 5k, 10k, and half marathon and no one knew I was pregnant except my family and a couple friends. My parents went with us, and we had a big beautiful club level room at the Boardwalk with a great view. I stayed in bed about 80% of the trip, ate no yummy food, and was mean to everyone. I knew I was doing it I just couldn’t help it. Crazy pregnancy hormones for the win. I would literally get out of bed, eat breakfast, then be so exhausted I had to go sleep for 3 hours. Poor Bobby just hung out in the room with me and my parents went off to the parks. I am still not sure how I ran all three races without dying or killing someone. I have cried about this trip because I knew it would be our last chance to travel before baby, and I was “ruining” it. So “yay” for the fun balcony pic with all my bling and weeeee I’m in Disney World! Excuse me while I go vomit over the railing. blog5

Then there is poor sweet Emma Kate. Judging by my feed you would think the child is always laughing. You should see the out takes. I take anywhere from 10-30 pictures of her and the chalkboard every month, and get maybe 2-3 “keepers”. Homegirl can make some faces.

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Don’t forget about the beautiful “I’m just chillin in Los Angeles, oh look it’s the ocean from my balcony!” pic. This was taken literally seconds after I got out of bed. The view was beautiful so I thought I could try to do some artsy creative “good morning from LA” shot. There is one tiny problem, I am neither artsy nor creative. I got some hilarious outtakes from this one. Because of the angle of the sun, I had to keep turning my phone certain ways or the sun was DIRECTLY IN MY EYES burning holes in my corneas. Those were keepers. Not.

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I love candid shots, and this one came out really cute, except you could see some serious wrinkles around my eyes in the color shot. Enter black and white! There, now don’t I look about 18? I wish.

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This is an old one, taken back in the fall of 2012. I was struggling with major anxiety during this time due to some personal and job stuff with my husband, and the side effect was bad stomach issues. This in turn caused me to drop about 15 pounds. This is the thinnest I had been since high school, and I was so sick I could barely eat. People kept telling me how good I looked, but if only they knew the crap I was going though and I was not intentionally trying to lose weight. I was really unhappy but “I feel great I just ran 18 miles!” Still not sure how I pulled that off on my 500 calorie a day anxiety diet.

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And finally, another attempt at being artsy. I was on the Santa Monica Pier and wanted a cool medal shot. The only problem was the sun was beating down and I couldn’t see the screen on my phone. I took no less than 20 shots and just crossed my fingers that when I got back to the hotel where I could actually see that ONE of the photos came out ok. Aren’t I cool?

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So, as you can see, my life is messy, unpredictable, and boring. Not to mention all the mundane in between days where I don’t have anything exciting to post. For instance, I posted a picture yesterday of my dog in a laundry basket. That was about the most photo worthy thing that happened all day, I kid you not.

And don’t get me started on filters. They can really turn a photo around, and I very rarely post a “no filter” photo unless it’s of my dog in a laundry basket. She looks adorable in any lighting.

So what is my point to all of this? I guess just to take social media with a grain of salt. Yes I have gotten the opportunity to do some awesome things and go to fun places, but most of my life is your everyday mundane stuff like doing mountains of laundry, cleaning spit up off my pajama pants, and making tacos for the third time this week. But who wants to see pictures of that? I don’t think anyone is “at fault” here, I just want everyone to be careful to guard your minds from falling into the comparison trap based solely on the Instagram life. I can promise you the person behind the photos is struggling with SOMETHING, so let’s not forget that we are all fighting battles, and sometimes it’s ok to just be real. #NoFilter.

QOTD: What are your thoughts on Instagram photos and the comparison trap? Have you fallen for it?

For Two Fitness $100 Gift Card Giveaway

As a For Two Fitness Ambassador, I am notified of occasional deals and giveaways, so wanted YOU to be aware of one! Who wants to win a $100 For Two Fitness gift card?

giveaway for two

One lucky instagrammer will win $100 gift card to For Two Fitness – the very best in maternity activewear.  Simply post this image on your instagram feed along with the tag #fortwofitnessgift and mention @fortwofitness.  Include in your comment the item or items you love the most.  A minimum of 50 reposts will be required to unlock the prize, so share with all of your pregnant friends, and good luck!

I llovveee my For Two Fitness tops, if you can’t tell by the massive amounts of blog and Instagram photos of me wearing them. They are the most comfortable workout tops, and they are super soft as well. Not to mention, they stretch really well as my bump grows! They are by far my favorite maternity item to wear, and I wear them not just to workout (whoops!) Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway!

Giveaway runs June 23-June 27th, so hurry!

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I am still at the beach soaking up the sun and the quiet time, we travel home tomorrow afternoon so I will try to have a pregnancy update on my blog for Thursday if I can. Have a great day everyone!