How to grow your Instagram page is probably one of the most common questions I get asked. I grew my page from 1k to 30k within about 18 months, which isn’t the fastest I have ever seen a page grow, but it sounds impressive if you’re stuck.
Here are the things that, through much trial and error, I have found to work. I also cover a lot of the things I wish that I had known and planned for in the beginning.
While I write this by primarily using examples for starting a fitness profile, these key points apply to any brand.
Plan Out Your Branding
Before you even launch your page, sit down and plan out your branding.
Consider these questions before you consider how to grow your Instagram:
- What is the purpose of the page? Is it your personal blog, are you promoting your business, are you trying to get sponsored, are you seeking affiliate relationships? Have a clear purpose or purposes.
- What is your niche? What makes you stand out in the market?
- Who is your target audience? How old are they, what are their interests, where do they live, what things do they Google?
- How do you want your brand to appear visually? Consider details like colors and fonts, future logo design (if you don’t have one already), icons, emojis, etc.
- What core values do you want to communicate?
- What affiliate relationships are you interested in and what makes them a good fit for you?
Choose Your Username
Again, think long term branding. Is this page for your personal brand, representing all of your business endeavors, or is this page for one specific niche.
Once you claim a niche, it is hard to change it. However, you can have multiple aspects to your niche. I started my page as a type of “fitspo” Instagram profile, but also use it as a platform to talk about personal development and business.
If you are going to use a name other than your own, make it memorable. Great examples of this working successfully are the Buff Bunny (Heidi Somers), Cute Katie Bug (Katie Corio), The Ripped Barbie (Hanna Jamroz) or The Sam Plan (Samantha Gwaz).
Other athletes stick to their own name for all of their branding: Ashley Horner, Nicole Wilkins, Jessie Hilgenberg, Rachel Hollis, Jenna Kutcher, etc.
I chose Halfpint Honey Badger because it is: memorable, a little humorous, a little badass.
Have an Engaging Headshot
This is huge. Your headshot is the first thing people see when they click on your page, but it’s also the only thing they see when you comment on a post or send a message.
You want to grab attention. Make sure that 1) your profile picture is actually a picture of your, and 2) it’s something that can be clearly seen in the tiny circle it will show up in.
We will talk in a second about how to take attention grabbing photos; possibly one of the most important aspects of how to grow your Instagram.
Have a Clear Bio
When people click on your page, they should be able to tell in about two seconds what you’re all about.
You only get like thirty characters, so you have to be very clear and concise. I know it’s tempting, but don’t use word abbreviations or poor grammar to try to fit more information into that little box.
Use a service like Linktr.ee to host all of your web links under one link. This is where you want to put your website, blog, affiliate links, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, etc. Also, your Facebook page, which we will talk abouttttttt……now.
Link to Facebook Page
This is more specific towards business owners, but can be applied to personal pages as well.
Instagram Business Profile Hacks
If you want to utilize the “swipe up” feature in your stories when you reach 10k followers, you will have to have a Facebook Business page attached to your account.
For that matter, if you want your Instagram page to be a business Instagram page, you will also have to have a Facebook business page. If you do not, and you switch to a business account, Facebook will create one for you and give you the option of claiming it.
When they create a page, it will be named your profile name, and if that is not the name of your business, or if you do not take over and run the page, you will end up creating confusion for all of the traffic that goes to that site.
One of the main ways people seek more information on businesses, (especially if they aren’t millennials) is via Facebook. So take two seconds to set up a page- you can customize it later.
Facebook and Instagram Cross Pollination
Even if this page is just a personal one for you to share your journey, you do want to encourage cross pollination between your different social media platforms and draw people into your content from your Facebook account. This is a great way to grow your Instagram from an audience that you already have.
When you share posts and stories, you can seamlessly also share them to your linked Facebook account. This saves you time, and sends a consistent message across all of your communication channels.
Create Quality Visual Content
This is a two part topic, addressing individual photos, as well as how they work together on your page.
Taking and Posting Eye Catching Photos
Tips to taking good pictures. Don’t post pictures of things, post pictures of you! If you built something awesome, or have a cool sunset picture, save it for the second photo in a multi-photo post, or add it to your story.
Use emotion in your photos. People gravitate towards anything that looks intriguing or relatable. Smile, laugh, feature pain pictures, show a look of comic disgust, whatever.
Either look directly at the camera, or make sure your whole face is visible. You can get the selfie setup I use here; just remember to turn the remote off or you’ll run out the battery.
If you’re shooting in low light, I use this mini light. It saves my life because I can clip it onto whatever is available.
Consider using presets for a consistent look across all of your photos. You can download sets of these from professional photo editors for $30-50 and they are, in my opinion, well worth it.
Not only do they create a consistent look- they save you tons of time, and they will make most of your edits one click. Unless you have a giant zit on your face, then you’re also going to need to deal with that, but still. Two click edits are better than ten click.
Creating an Overall Page Look
Remember- people will decide whether to follow or not based on the top posts that they see.
Factor this in to how you want your grid layout to be organized, because it will affect what you post on different days. If you want the middle row of your grid to be all quotes or tips, every third day you will have to post this instead of a picture.
Keep in mind that while this may improve the overall look of your page, posts like that do tend to get lower engagement than regular photo posts. If you are interested in how to grow you Instagram fast, you may want to save this strategy for later down the line.
Use a service like Canva, Word Swag or Adobe Spark to make these posts look even more professional and consistent. Formatting a quote over top of an engaging background photo will still create the grid look that you want, but raise the engagement of individual posts.
This is something to play around with, and don’t be afraid to delete or archive under performing posts.
Get in Front of the Video Camera
I go into detail on this in The Level Up Project mastermind group, which you can join for free here, but right now I will cover some of the basics and secrets to manipulating the Instagram algorithm with video.
Because of trends like YouTube and reality TV, your audience is much more likely to engage with and have an emotional response (which will keep bringing them back) towards video content, rather than just still photos.
- IGTV- Touted as possibly being a competitor to YouTube in the future, IGTV is a great way to post longer videos (up to 10 minutes) on your account. A preview will be featured in your feed, and you can also post the preview with a clickable link to watch the whole thing in your story. (Click on feed post, click “share”, “share to story”). If your account does not have 10,000 followers and swipe up is not enabled, an excellent way to drive traffic to your website is to embed clickable links into your video description.
- Facebook Business page videos- instead of sharing videos directly from your Instagram directly to your page, you should upload them separately and take advantage of the automatic closed captioning generator that Facebook has for business pages. 80% of all FB videos are watched with the sound off, so if you don’t have subtitles embedded, you are missing a giant chunk of viewers.
Write Quality Copy
Everything that you put on social media should have a purpose. Don’t arbitrarily throw out a photo and only caption it #TGIF. You might as well caption it #IHaveZeroCreativityWednesday, or whatever day it is.
Ideally, each of your posts should do one of three things: educate, entertain or inspire. I would rotate between these three to keep your content fresh.
Always, you should either be teaching something, sharing something motivating, or simply doing or communicating something unique and creative.
Remember: facts tell, stories sell. Avoid sounding preachy when educating. As much as possible, paint scenarios that people can relate to, either from your own life, or something you heard recently.
Always make your posts about your audience. They don’t care about your abs, they care about how you choose your groceries, how often you do cardio, what supplements you take, and if that selfie you just posted is 90% good lighting.
Also, use an Instagram caption formatting tool so that you can make nice, neat paragraphs without those annoying placeholder dots. I could give you a link to one now, but I want you to practice your networking skills and go find an account with a nicely spaced out caption and ask them how they did that.
Interact With Other Niche Members
Guess where your potential followers are? They’re following other people in your niche.
Let me be clear: this is not a zero-sum game. There is plenty of market share for everyone. Go find people who are similar to you, and consistently put quality comments on their posts- people will notice that, and click on your profile.
That is, if your headshot isn’t your pet cactus.
Also, avoid social media wars like your life depends on it, because your reputation does. Make sure that if you’re going to disagree with someone, do it in the most respectful and non-accusing way possible, because messages are so easily misconstrued on the internet.
If you are interacting in these spaces, traffic will start to flow to your page. Give 10x what you expect to receive and watch the results.
Be Consistent in Posting
This is probably the biggest thing most people mess up. They post really well for a week or two at a time, but then they go missing for days at a time.
Not only does this send a conflicting message to your engage followers (and make them less engaged) it makes your visibility drop wayyyyy down in the Instagram search function.
You will literally see your profile views tank right in front of you.
Personally, I plan my posts ahead of time, and on a desktop platform, so that I can make sure that what I’m putting out there is well worded and intentional. I schedule the time I want them to post, and boom, done.
It also is way more efficient to plan 3-4 posts at one time, once I’m in a creative mindset, than it is to come up with something new every day. It also helps you to not be too repetitive, and to establish themes as you lead up to different launches, events, etc.
As far as frequency goes- I would post once a day, but no more. Definitely no less than 5x/week.
Posts vs Stories
Know the difference between the purpose of your posts and the purpose of your stories.
Your posts should be a manicured, finished product, with great lighting and a clear message.
Your stories are the behind the scenes action. They’re your food pics, silly boomerangs, gym selfies etc. However, they aren’t all fun and games.
Instagram stories are a powerful, lead driving tool, that allows you to access a much larger portion of your audience. Not everyone will relate to and comment on the post of the day, but in your stories you can cover a myriad of topics that might hit home for a lot more people.
Integrating polls, questions, quizzes and creative responses into your stories is an awesome way to get conversations started and potential leads into your pipeline.
Learn from Others
Okay, I say this about everything, but if you see someone who is doing what you want to do successfully, copy them. Listen to podcasts (recommend Often Ambitious and the Goal Diggers Podcast), read blogs and stalk people who are killing it.
Take note of what types of posts get the most engagement- what posts are you most prone to reply to? How do they communicate their brand. What does their page’s layout look like?
Encourage and Reward Comments
Comments are Instagram’s form of SEO- the Insta algorithm heavily rewards posts that get quality comments and replies to comments. This shows them that you are putting out good content that people enjoy.
You will rank higher in searches if you can do this. A key way to build this is to create comment challenges (check out the 2-minute drill by Ed Mylett), or always ask a question or have a call to action.
Reply to Comments & Messages Quickly and Sincerely
This really ties into the above post, but don’t take a week to reply to comments. I don’t mean that you need to be constantly checking your phone, but every couple of hours pop on and reply to any comments.
This is going to sound crazy, but you don’t actually have to start scrolling every time you open social media. You can be productive and get out, therefore not wasting your time.
This also helps to keep your replies fresh. If you’re making 10-15 replies at a time vs 50, they are far less likely to sound canned and repeatable. Always try to be super genuine in your communication- even if desperately you want to sell something.
People can smell that so fast and it usually sends them running. If you find yourself really struggling with this, you need to stop and evaluate why you got into business in the first place. Was it to get rich quick? Or was it to provide as much value as possible with the talents, tools and resources at your disposal?
Believe me, if it’s the latter, the money will follow.
Use Relevant Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags- love them or hate them, they help you get found. However, people tend to pile tons of them on haphazardly, and this really does nothing for your page or post.
Don’t try to be witty with your hashtags either. Probably no one is searching for #DonutsAreTheDevilIWouldRatherEatSalad. Literally no one is searching for that, actually.
Choose hashtags that don’t have 5.8 million freaking posts either. What are the chances of your post staying at the top long enough to even be seen? People who follow hashtags are only fed a few of the top, most relevant posts in each category, so as to not overwhelm their feed.
If your post doesn’t have 20k likes in the first two minutes, you’re probably going to get buried.
Select niche specific hashtags, and make them all related. It should be super clear what your post and picture are about, so that you wind up categorized for people searching to find.
Instead of #entrepreneur, I would probably put #newentrepreneur, #veteranentrepreneur or #femaleentrepreneur. Then I’ll put related hashtags like #millionairemindset #cashflow or #moneymoves.
I’ll throw in my own hashtags: #victoriam and #levelup, and maybe some hashtags from big accounts I follow that have a lot of people in my market space, like #maxout (Ed Mylett) or #100to0 (Andy Frisella and 1stPhorm).
Be sure to hashtag your business name and brand consistently, so that if someone searches for you directly on Instagram, you are sure to pop up.
Don’t be “Salesy”
I’m going to say it louder for the people *cough* network marketers *cough* in the back: do not direct message a bunch of people with your pitch. Do not be that “hey girl!” person who reaches out to everyone they’ve known since elementary school, in order to sell them a product.
That might have worked in the past. In fact, it did. Empires were built on it. It is not an effective use of your time anymore. People have wised up.
Also, keep in mind that people are not in Instagram or Social Media to be sold. They aren’t shopping. They’re scrolling. They want to be entertained.
Tell the stories, every day, of your life and how your product(s) makes it better and believe me, there will be buy in. It takes 7-10 direct touches to make a sale, so start replying to all your comments and DMs and stop pestering people with copy and paste messages.
Pay Attention to the Rules of Instagram
Finally! Last one. Pay attention to the rules of Instagram- especially lately. In previous years, massive Instagram activity was tolerated to the point that thousands of bot accounts were active and wreaking havoc on actual stats.
Instagram did some major housekeeping at the beginning of July (2019), and has cracked down to the point that you can get your account restricted for doing almost any out of character activity.
So- if you get blocked for following or un-following too quickly, even if it’s legit, stop what you’re doing for 12-24 hours to let IG know you aren’t a bot.
The same can happen with sending too many messages to people you don’t know but since we already covered thisssss I KNOW you won’t have that problem.
One Last Thing
If you got anything out of this post, do your girl a solid, and hit the share button up at the top, or leave a comment. I try to provide as much info as possible absolutely free, so if you could help convince Google that I put out quality content, that would be great.