~ ADVERTISEMENT ~
Everyone wants to grow on instagram these days, the thought of lots of likes and love and the possibility to work with brands is pretty attractive isn't it? The fact that people can earn a living from simply sharing their life online sounds amazing - although take it from someone that does, that it's not as easy as it sounds. As lovely as it is, there are no shortcuts to that kind of lifestyle and the key thing is to create your own little online community. Fake followers and likes won't get you anywhere, even 'micro' influencers are getting further than some larger influencers these days simply because they have created a small, but engaged community rather than a larger one that is made up of fake accounts, or people who just aren't engaging with their content.
I took my blog instagram/full time over three years ago now which is madness to me as it feels like just yesterday. In that time, I haven't grown a massive amount. I see my growth slowly but surely climb, however I put out the content that I want to put out rather than the content that's on trend - I just wouldn't enjoy it otherwise and I think that's the key to creating an engaged community. If you don't love what you do, how can you expect anyone else to? Whilst still on the smaller end of the influencer spectrum, I have a pretty large group of accounts that regularly engage with me and enjoy watching my day to day life. Imagine 13,000 people in a room?! Instagram is a crazy place. In this line of business, growth is definitely important but having an audience that trusts you whilst enjoying your content is much more crucial.
So, how does one grow an instagram community?
My first tip would be to put out content you love. If you start posting to instagram by just trying to fit in with the crowd, you'll soon get bored, lose the motivation for it and end up getting nowhere. Instagram, in my opinion, is a creative platform where you can share your loves, your passions, or your talents. Focus on that and share what makes you feel excited to post. I love it when I've been working on a DIY or project or an area of my home and it's all finally come together. I get so excited to share it with my audience just to see what they all think, and to see if anyone takes some inspiration from it. It's that passion and excitement that motivates me to keep creating content, and to keep engaging with my own community.
Once you start sharing what you love, you've already set the ball rolling as you'll start to build a community who loves the same things that you do. This is what you want, because creating an instagram community around something you have no interest in is completely pointless.
Should I post six photos of my cat?
If you want to build a community of cat lovers then go for it! I do think it's vital that your content is carefully curated, and the good news is that you can do that with pretty much any kind of content. Snapping multiple photos of your cat and publishing them all in one go might be your idea of content that you love, but it's not what you publish that matters as such, it's how you publish it. Whatever it is that you want to share, work on improving your photography, play around with apps and editing tools or maybe even invest in some photo presets. Presentation is pretty important when it comes to Instagram, because to create that community, it's all about first impressions of your page.
There are many influencers who don't have curated feeds at all, but I think to get to that point without it, you have to have gained your popularity from another platform like YouTube for example. Either that or they simply got lucky with reach/shareable content. If you're just starting out or are what you'd consider a small account, I really feel like working on your aesthetic will help you out loads. I have a few blogging friends who have recently been working on the look of their own content and have already seen huge growth because of it. It works!
Do I need to share personal info?
In my honest opinion, it's not that you need to share where you live, but you do need to let your audience in on a few things here and there. To create a community, your audience needs to be able to know things about you and to be able to relate to you. I've personally never warmed to an instagram account where I have no idea what that person looks like or whether they like rock music or going to the beach. I feel like those little things are so important because it's not a picture on your grid that's going to make people follow you, they're following the person behind that photo. I occasionally ask my audience on my stories what they want to see from me, and 98% of the replies are that they love everything I post and that they love the mix of family, travel, home and whatnot. They're essentially saying that they follow my account just to see what I'm up to and what things I love. If you're incredibly wary of what you share online, like I'm sure most of us are, it's possible to share your life without sharing everything. There's thousands of things that my audience don't know about me or my life, they only know what I choose to put out there.
How much do I need to be online?
You don't need to spend your life glued to your phone, but in order to build an instagram community and keep it, you do need to stay active. I guess this is why bloggers/influencers who do this whole thing full time find it so hard, as it's so easy to slip out of being active just as easy as it is to forget to put your phone down. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I'm spending much less time on my phone but I've equally noticed my engagement going down because of it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, it's probably just that I'm not alone in enjoying the nice weather! However, in order to keep your audience engaging with you, you just need to check in from time to time. You also can't expect your own content to get likes and comments if you aren't giving any out. Constantly engaging pays off massively, it's one of the things that I make sure I do as much as possible. The more I share, like and comment on other peoples posts, the more engagement I get on my own content. Always keep the conversation up with your audience, it's key.
The last tip I will give about instagram is, try and not focus too much on numbers. Even if you have less than 1000 followers, if you've got 900 of them engaging with your content regularly, you've already got a better engagement rate than some influencers with 10,000 followers. It's more important to focus on who is following you and not how many of them there are.
Have you built your own instagram community?