Hello, friends! A while ago I polled my Instagram friends whether they wanted to see this post and met with an overwhelming ‘yes’! As always, I truly believe in growth and improvement over focusing on the ‘numbers’ or letting any stats define me. I have learned so much about Instagram and social media in my three years blogging, so I created this video and post to share my honest tips and lessons with you to improve and grow your Instagram organically in 2019.
For so long, Instagram felt like an enigma to me. I struggled in learning how I wanted to use my account. I love the behind-the-scenes and tech aspects of blogging and social media, which is why I’m happy to share my tips with you all. I’ve doubled my Instagram following over the past year and (I think) really improved the quality of my photos. It’s taken 2 years, but I’m finding getting a hang of the ‘gram and I’ve found what works for me!
PS – This is my 200th blog post!!! Which calls for a celebration. KristenShane.com is one of the greatest blessings in my life and I cannot wait to see where 2019 takes me and this rose-colored blog.
7 Tips for Genuinely Improving Your Instagram This Year
Set up your Instagram profile & optimize for what you’d want to see
- Use the name & bio sections to convey your brand easily and quickly to new viewers. ‘Who, what, why, where’ are good questions to ask yourself / things I look for in new accounts, to get to know them right off the bat.
- You’ve only got a few seconds to capture the attention of potential new followers. The top of your account (name, bio, profile picture, website) are the first things people see. Adding your title, like ‘blogger’ or ‘photographer’ as well as your location, along with a little bit about what you do are good places to start!
- If you’re a blogger/influencer/instagrammer (beyond using your account for personal use), I highly recommend switching over to the business profile. All you have to do is set up a Facebook page (click to see mine) to link to your account (you don’t have to be active on the page, just have one to link!). With the business account, you can access help insights & statistics about your photos & account that are useful for tracking your growth and what’s working for your account!
- I’ve used the business profile pretty much the entire life of my blog Instagram, so I can’t totally speak to the differences of a business vs. personal blog account. However, I think the benefits to the biz account are great and the cons are few! I’m personally a nerd for numbers so I love checking out the statistics features because I’m curious by nature!
- I highly recommend setting up and adding a website link to your bio. It adds legitimacy as a blogger or YouTuber and allows people to instantly learn more about you and see what you’re about. I created my blog Instagram (@kristenshane_) solely for the purpose of promoting my blog, so utilizing the website link is a no-brainer for me.
- Stories highlights are a reletively new feature useful for adding more content and info on your account, right off the bat. I often look through someone’s highlights when deciding to follow them, especially because I love the realness of stories over photos. I’ve saved a ton of my previous stories as highlights for anyone looking to learn more about me or my content! See how I use and create highlights in the video!
Engage with your current followers
- This is where a lot of people drop the ball or change their priorities in trying to ‘grow their Instagrams’. Encouraging growth is important, but you should always keep lovin’ on & appreciating the people who already follow and like you! While it’s great to encourage growth (which is why I’m even writing this post), don’t take your current followers for granted! If people have already decided to follow you, you’re obviously doing something right. Acquiring new customers/followers is always more difficult than retaining current ones!
- My goal on Instagram is to promote my blog, but also to build relationships and encourage conversation. These two goals keep me focused on the ‘community over competition’ aspect of social media and help me appreciate building connections over building ‘numbers’. I hope to always inspire and encourage reflection & conversation through my posts! Finding your ‘why’ will help you find a common purpose throughout your blog and social media content.
- Make a constant effort to respond to all comments and messages! This is something I personally struggle with, because I get overwhelmed (by honestly even just a few comments) for some reason & then guilt-trip myself when I feel like I’ve taken too long to respond or possibly missed comments… I’m working on it! Again, this is how you engage with your current followers and build relationships with the people who are already engaging with your content. I still admire many of the pro-bloggers who take the time to respond to emails, DMs, and comments and I do my best to maintain the 2-way-communication on my account as much as possible.
Use all of Instagram’s features!
- This is one of my ‘gram goals for 2019! I like to stay super active on stories (posting almost daily), especially since I don’t have enough quality photos to post to my feed every single day. Stories are a great way for your audience to get to know you. Keep your stories helpful and relevant, but also keep it real!
- I can’t exactly tell you ‘what’ to post, but people like to see the more ‘real’ side of life in stories. I post daily updates, outfits, or little chats about my day or something going on in my life.
- If people continue to watch your stories (which improves as you become more consistent on them), your account will pop up closer to the beginning of their stories feed. This will help engagement with your photos when you do post them, as Instagram learns what accounts are consistently viewing and engaging with your account’s content.
- I’ve read that Instagram rewards users who utilize all the features available, like stories, polls, live, IGTV… I’m just starting in IGTV and haven’t gone live yet, but once you have a solid following for people to actually watch live or IGTV, they’re good features to try out! It’s worth a shot, you just might like it, and your followers might, too!
Engaging with others
- Be a good follower first! Engage with the accounts you like. Comment on the photos and stories you genuinely enjoy. As you hope for others to enjoy your content and spark conversation, show your appreciation for others content and join their conversations, too!
- I cannot over-emphasize the value of being genuine. Don’t copy and paste the same ‘Nice pic!’ comment on 50 photos in a row… Take the time to read people’s captions and leave thoughtful comments. Treat others as you want to be treated! It sounds silly, but the golden rule absolutely applies in the online community world.
- When I first started my blog Instagram, I spent a ton of time each week finding similar accounts to follow. Those were the ones I was more likely to connect with, rather than just following all huge celebrity accounts. It’s not all about the numbers (as I’ll say again and again). I’m still following mainly of those early accounts who were in a similar range of <1000 or even <500 followers, etc. as we’ve grown over the years together. I remember starting out at 0 and looking up to accounts even with a few hundred, let alone a few thousand followers, wondering how they got there. I created this post and video for those who feel like that, too!
Engagement groups & Facebook groups
- I prefer using Instagram & blogging Facebook or DM groups for building relationships over helping engagement. In my experience, ‘engagement groups’ truly did not improve my photo engagement, and I’ve often found them superficial and difficult to maintain. I’d rather have a group of a few likeminded ladies to ask questions and ask for feedback on our content. There’s a ton of different Facebook groups out there for any type of creator or niche. I recommend doing your research to find some support groups to fit your needs!
Using hashtags, tags, & locations
- Along with using all of Instagram’s features, use the locations, account tagging, and hashtags features on your photos. I’ve also read tagging relevant accounts (like the brand of your makeup or clothes, relevant brands, etc.) and adding locations to your photos (even just adding the city you took the photo in) helps your photo engagement. You’ll also have the possibly of the brand re-posting your photo!
- I see these options as one more way to add additional info to your photos. People are naturally curious! And tagging brands or locations are more ways for new accounts to find your photo.
- I keep a note on my phone of previous hashtags I’ve used as an easy way to update my list for each photo. In the video for this post, I show you exactly how I analyze which hashtags to use and which ones are working for my photos!
Posting high-quality photos
- Posting clear, bright, high-quality photos is something new accounts might overlook or undervalue when hoping for quick growth to their account. Finding a photo ‘theme’ or editing style takes time and practice. I work on improving the quality of my photos and the cohesiveness of my editing all the time! It takes constant practice and, as with anything, ‘success’ is relative and doesn’t come overnight.
- Experiment with what you like and what works for the style of your photos. I don’t think using the same preset on your photos is essential. But a similar editing style or color scheme truly improves the overall look of your account. I really enjoy the photo editing process, so this is a part of Instagram I like spending time on. I currently use the Lightroom app for photo editing and the ‘preview’ app for planning. Both are free on the App Store!
- With this, it can be helpful to take inspiration from some of your favorite accounts. Why are you following them? What do you like about your photos? Your photos are always going to be unique, and every account is going to be different. It’s that ‘you’ quality for which people are going to follow you and keep following you over time. Like I said, it can take a long time to figure this out and it takes constant improvement.
I hope you enjoyed this post and video and learned something new about Instagram! Or, at least learned a new area of your Insta to improve in 2019 :). Like I said, it’s all about growth and self-improvement for me. Be sure to save this post to Pinterest for future reference!
“We rise by lifting others.” As I said in the video multiple times, I’m so passionate about sharing the knowledge I have and helping others get to where I’m at and beyond. There is more than enough room in the digital world for all of us. And I hope to always be a resource for others to learn and grow. Comment any questions or post requests, and I’ll get back to ya ASAP.
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Thank you so much for reading! I will always be thankful you’ve chosen to share a few moments of your day with me. Blessings always, & happy blooming!