How to get people more engaged with your Instagram page and attract more followers

In the second instalment from Rosie Aikenhead, she goes into further depth about how you can attract more followers on Instagram.

Rosie Aikenhead Instagram blog

In my last post, we looked at how to decide if Instagram is the right platform for your blog or small business. This time around, we’re looking at how to increase engagement and attract new followers into the mix. I’ve learnt these tricks via running my account @slimmingworldrecipes, but I’m also busy setting up @kvallcandles so I’m currently practicing what I’m preaching below! Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. You do not have to be on Instagram 24/7 to be a success story, but you do have to commit a few designated hours each week to the platform. This can be done on the train, on your lunch break or god forbid, even on the cross trainer at the gym. So breathe a sigh of relief, because it shouldn’t have to impact your precious time too much.  

The main thing to know about Instagram is that it’s not like any of the other social platforms you’ve used before. It is a very visual platform, and the quality of your photos is absolutely paramount. Posting once or twice a week is adequate to start with for most bloggers or small businesses, so don’t go overboard or post content just because you feel you have to or because others are. The tips I’ve outlined here will help you if you want to steadily grow your presence on Instagram for your business or blog. I’ve tried to order them logically, starting with the easiest, most basic things and progressing up to more advanced and timely items.

Kvall Candles

Take at least 9 very good photos. Post them to your new instagram page or to your current page to reboot your Instagram efforts. When people hit your Instagram page for the first time, they need to be impressed. You need at least 9 pictures for it to look appealing on a standard iphone but 12 is even better. The pictures need to be relevant to your business but they don’t have to be salesy. Think out of the box. For example, with my business Kväll Candles, I make scents inspired by places, so about 80% of what I post on Instagram are lovely travel pics. Think about the pictures you are liking as you browse on Instagram, why do you like them? I guarantee they’re good quality photos of interesting things, right? Apply the same ‘would I like or comment on this photo?’ approach to your own content and you’ll be off to a flying start. 

Improve your photos in general. This is never what anyone wants to hear, least of all me! I’m not a natural photographer, and I sure as hell don’t like wasting time letting my food get cold while I take photos of it. However, if you scroll back through my page you’ll see some pretty catastrophic food photography at the start. As my photography gradually improved on the @slimmingworldrecipes Instagram page, so did the follower count. Instagram has also recently changed its algorithm meaning your photos need to instantly appeal to your audience. If multiple people scroll past your post without liking or commenting on it, Instagram then shows that post to less and less people, meaning fewer followers see your photo. It’s a vicious, fairly unfair circle but it can be avoided if your posts are good from the get-go. 

Get your whole network to help you out. Yep, you guessed it, it’s rein in the favours time! Ask all your family, friends, colleagues and local connections to follow your account and explain why it’s so important for you (“I’m trying to raise awareness, would you like my Instagram page for me and comment on a recent post?”). If you’re friendly when you ask, you’ll be surprised by what the power of your own network can achieve. Ask them to comment and like frequently and interact with them publicly as well when they do help you out. When people see others engaging, they’re more likely to do the same. 

Don’t sell, sell, sell. If you sell products, a maximum of 20% of your posts should be selling your products or services on Instagram, but ideally less than 10%. Instagram isn’t really the best platform to sell on anyway, since you can’t include links in your main posts. Save your selling for email blasts, website promotions or Instagram Stories where you can include a link (more on this below). 

Check out other accounts. If your blog is about beauty, for example, follow accounts doing similar things to you in the same space. If you don’t know what to search for, try a google search for something like, “which are the best instagram pages for xyz?” and follow appropriate accounts from there. What kind of posts do those accounts do that get lots of likes and comments? What ideas can you pinch from them? Think carefully about how they phrase things and their tone of voice when crafting your own posts. 

Ask questions in every post. Things like ‘I hate avocado, who else agrees?’ or ‘who says you can’t eat cake on a diet?’ have been a surefire way to spike a debate on my accounts. This, in turn, leads to more engagement and comments on each post. Note - make sure your question is relevant to the picture you’ve posted. For example, if you post a travel picture, try something like “Who has been to Nova Scotia? What’s good to see there?” rather than “who likes this photo of Nova Scotia?”

See what hashtags people working in the same space are using and copy them. Hashtags, oh, that tricky beast. Except it’s not that tricky, when you know how. Simply look at the accounts you like best, in the same area as you’re working in. So if you’re a hairdresser, look at all the popular hairdresser accounts you can find and see what hashtags they’re using. It might be things like #updo #hairstyling or #hairshow2018. Click on these hashtags and see what kind of usage they have. Usage just means how many other people are using that hashtag, and you will see the usage number to the right of each hashtag. Try and use up to 30 relevant hashtags that have a large reach in every post you make. You can also build your own portfolio of hashtags, as I do for my food blog like #slimmingworldrecipes and #rosieandtherecipes . Doing this means other people will start using them too which is pretty cool to see! 

Rosie Aikenhead Giveaway

Consider a giveaway. If you’re in a position to run a giveaway something free on your Instagram, do it. People go mad for free stuff, however small! So if you can gift a few bottles of fizz, or better still one of your own products or services (like, ‘win free candles!’)  it’s a really good way to raise awareness. Let people know it’s a competition and dictate what you want them to do. It’s normal to ask for them to follow you and any partners you’re working with, as well as to like and comment on your post. I usually do mine so they have to tag a friend in the post (as this can raise awareness even further by reaching more people). When it comes to selecting a winner, this randomising gadget is helpful. Make sure too that you add gifting hashtags to your post like #freebies #giveaway #competition etc to widen your audience as that’s a good way to get more followers. 

If you’ve got the time, invest it in Instagram Stories.

Stories are the ‘live’ section of Instagram. You can use it to take photos and videos of what’s happening right now and you can overlay it with funny comments, emoticons, links and even music. It’s quite fun and the stats are showing more and more people using this feature rather than traditional posts so it’s worth investing some time in although posts only last for 24 hours before disappearing so make it count! I use it often for letting people know I have a new blog post live, or to showcase my alarmingly red face after I’ve been working out at Orange Theory. For some mad reason, that type of ‘real life problems’ type of content seems to be popular!

So, to conclude. With some of these tools in your pocket you should be well equipped for starting to raise engagement on your Instagram page. Remember too that it’s not just about how many likes or followers you have. I’ve seen amazing accounts with way less followers than mine end up with much higher engagement rates, which in turn can mean lots more views to your website or more purchases of your products. Consider too that the magic won’t happen overnight. My account is nearly five years old and I too started with no followers! Start with some small goals like 500 followers and take it from there. Never, ever buy followers – you could end up being banned from Instagram and you will get much better engagement from genuine followers anyway.  

If you’ve any questions about this blog post, please comment below and I’ll come back to you. Alternatively, you can of course direct message me on Instagram!

If you would like to find out more about Rosie, head over to her website or follow her on Instagram.