Starting in April 2021, I grew my Instagram account from 0-100K in 7 months and it was a crazy, special and bizarre ride! I have so many stories about things that have happened, but I’ll save those for another time with you over a glass of wine. I think a lot of people want to grow quickly on IG and so they want to know your secrets when you master the recipe, so I thought I would share some things I learned along the way…
Hashtags are NOT the secret to growth. I used to spend so much time on my previous accounts researching hashtags and trying to use a different set of 30 with every single post. They definitely help, there’s no harm in doing this, but this is not the secret to growth on IG. Where is my proof? I use pretty much the same 30 hashtags on every single one of my posts and I’ve grown like crazy.
So what is the secret? Hitting the explore page. That’s where the sauce is at. IG pushes content in front of masses of people who don’t even follow you, if they think it will appeal to them. So how do you get onto the explore page? Your followers put you there. It’s really simple when you break it down: IG wants the most appealing and interesting content on the explore page to keep its users happy, and they use algorithms to detect what that content is. The only way the algorithm can tell if your content is of interest is if it receives high engagement. Your followers are the ones who provide that engagement.
The next question is, how do you get your followers to engage with you enough to make it to the explore page? You need to post consistently. I’m not talking about flooding their feed with 5 posts a day, I’m talking once a day. I know, I know, it sounds stressful and like a lot of work. The bottom line is, IT IS a lot of work. If you think that it would be too much for you mentally, I would highly suggest you do not approach this method as it can be a lot.
This is genuinely one of the big factors which made me grow so much so quickly. You have to be patient to see the results of this method, I began to see my account boom for the first time after about 5 weeks of posting.
Content is king. You can post all you like, but if your content doesn’t provide value in some way, you will not grow. Ask yourself this question: what do I provide that would make someone need to follow me so they can find my content over and over again? For example, accounts I have followed lately are: jewellery brands which I love so I can find them again and order, a travel account which takes incredibly beautiful photos from a unique perspective, funny reel accounts which consistently create new videos, witty cartoon accounts which creates relatable and humorous posts, inspirational illustration accounts which provide positive and uplifting content... did you notice the theme? They all provide me with something. What does yours provide?
Having a break from IG will NOT permanently damage your account. Sure, during your breaks your following will slow, but once you post consistently again, it will build back up. I highly advise taking lots of breaks from social media.
Reels are another great way to grow on IG. They’re a great way to show your personality too. They don’t always have to be directly related to your niche either, they can just be a nice way to have some fun and let people get to know you. They take a little time to build views in the background and sometimes take off months after you posted them.
Having lots of followers somehow changes the way people treat you. I think it was around the 40-50K mark that I noticed a difference. People (total strangers) were coming to my account and openly criticising my work and telling me they didn’t like it, didn’t agree with me, didn’t think I did a good job etc. I attracted some pretty nasty comments and considering my content is about spreading positivity, it was quite confusing for me. I would think to myself, if I only had 10 followers, would they feel this brave? Probably not. It’s like they think 50K followers hides them in the crowd or something. It used to bother me a lot, but another thing that will happen when you gain lots of followers is you grow very thick skin, very quickly. Now it’s just a swift block and delete.
Brands, even the big ones, will still try to underpay you when you have over 120K followers with incredible engagement stats. Sigh. Just say no. Know your worth.
Your followers are everything. They are like your big group of besties and should be treated that way. I recognised that very quickly, they showed me so much support and love from day one. Put time in to reply to their comments and DMs, that’s the least they deserve. I owe my followers everything, I don’t do much branded work, I make most of my income through my online shop for now and that is purely thanks to my followers. So I also try to run giveaways and discounts to thank them!
A huge way to grow on Insta is by creating ‘shareable’ content. Whether that be a beautiful poem, gorgeous travel pics, jokes, inspirational content, extremely detailed work or tips and advice (obviously the list goes on), there’s always a way you can create something that people will want to share.
You have to absolutely love what you do to be able to keep up with these tips. I am absolutely obsessed with illustration and sharing messages that make people feel brighter, so when I’m still working at 11pm, it doesn’t feel like work to me, it’s my passion. I love every single moment and if you don’t feel that way about it, firstly, it won’t work and secondly, what’s the point anyway?
Okay, there ya have it! I hope sharing my 10 things has helped, encouraged or inspired you in some way. Maybe you learned a thing or two! If you’re still reading, thanks for being here and showing your support. Come let me know you read this over on Insta!
Cheers, Steph x