The ‘gram. Insta. IG, even. Whether or not you like it, it’s here to stay. By now even if you’re not acquainted with it, chances are – you haven’t been able to escape it. Be it the constant mention of new-age influencers, trends, or even Facebook and Instagram linking more of their services. You have – most undoubtedly – at least heard or it. Perhaps you have even interacted with it.
If you haven’t the slightest idea of what you’re doing, but you know you want to do something with your Insta account: you’ve landed up at the right place. This is not; however, a beginner’s guide – as this article caters more towards people looking to grow their Insta pages. Be warned, fertiliser and water not required for this.
What is an Instagram, and How Does One Use It?
Instagram can be daunting – especially for someone who hasn’t the slightest clue of whatever on earth is happening in their own ‘feed’. Instagram is the third most used social media platform. IG has previously been described as a more teen-friendly version of Facebook. Instagram is directed towards a younger audience (which is a demographic some businesses are trying to connect with). With over half of its users being under the age of 35, Instagram is a better choice for certain brands. If you’re hoping to grow your presence within these ranks – the ‘gram is the place for you.
If you can’t help but stare at your meager follower count (which consists of little else than your friends and a couple people you know), then – boy oh boy – you’re definitely right where you need to be. Instead of sulking around, why don’t we figure out some ways to grow that unmentionable number. Yup, it’s just as easy as sprinkling some water.
Growing Your Instagram
If you’ve ever opened Instagram, you’ve definitely done it. You know you have. Does the infinite scroll speak to your shame? Not to worry – there’s not an ounce of judgement here – practically everyone’s a victim of that. There is, however, a slightly more productive alternative.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to pay for most methods of growing your Instagram account or page (depending if you represent a person or a brand-like entity). Based upon your budget, you most definitely can opt for paid services, but it’s completely plausible to set off and do it all on your own. Mhm, you heard me. You could even start today.
Now, instead of worrying about whatever it is that’s been holding you back since Instagram was first established (on 6th October, 2010), you could be promoting, or growing, your very own Instagram page. First, you need to have a proper idea or a concept, and here’s a couple ideas to get you started. Now that you’re sure of how you want to present yourself, make sure you’ve got all your best angles and let’s jump right to it.
Below, there’s a list of DO’s and DON’Ts of Instagram, and – most importantly – the key to understanding what on earth the whole Influencer thing is all about.
1. Do Not Buy Fake Followers
Yes, this move may seem beyond counter intuitive, but have a little faith, we’re just getting started. While this may boost the number of followers you have, it won’t do anything whatsoever to increase the engagement of those followers – which is what companies scouting influencers or other potential brand partners look for. Plus, you can’t exactly engage with a bunch of bots – it’ll just yield depressingly low likes and low responses. Nope, we’re gonna show you how to do this the right way. But, while we’re on the topic of engagement…
2. Engage your followers
A completely intentional segue into this point, the more you interact with your following – even if it’s just your close friends and family – the better it is for you! Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. If users promote content, it’s shown to be more effective than paid sponsorship in terms of engagement. Engaging isn’t hard (you’re not proposing for chrissakes!), and people love all types of engaging content on Instagram. Or rather, posts which allow them to interact with you in any way possible! For example, you could hold live streams (IGTV), Q&A sessions (real time or through a platform), or simply post an ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) on your story. See? It’s not all that scary.
Though you’ll find it hard to believe, the key to growing your engagement is just to be engaging.
3. Be Professional
It’s a lot harder to grow a private account, because people can’t see the content you post prior to following you. Switching over to a business account doesn’t simply entail going ‘public’ from private, it requires a short registration process, but don’t be scared! After doing this, you have access to a plethora of tools to help you work on – and improve – your strategy for posting and getting more ‘likes’. On top of that, you now have the option of a contact button right near your bio, which makes it a lot easier for people to get in touch with you. These are just a couple of the benefits, but the majority of your instagram persona depends on what you post, and whilst on that topic…
4. Don’t Post Spam
Yes, that filter looks very cool and even manages to hide your newly acquired double chin. But please, for the heavens above – do NOT post it. While it’s recommended for you to post an average of 1 – 3x a day, it is not recommended for you to spam people’s feeds. Unless you produce meaningful and engaging content at that rate (kudos if you do), as a courtesy to the general public of Instagram; DO NOT POST IT.
Having a schedule for posting is important, yes. Do note that nobody likes an account with one selfie too many (yes, there is such a thing). Did you know that you’re much less likely to see multiple posts from a singular person – because Instagram’s algorithm prevents this from happening.
Let’s see how one can put this with the appropriate amount of emphasis: even if Instagram’s hashtag limit is 30, there is absolutely no reason for you to strive to hit that. Overachievers beware – nobody likes someone who over hashes. To give you a reasonable limit, no more than nine. Do try to stay within a 24 character limit while you’re at it. Hashtags allow for your posts to be recommended to people that follow or like posts with similar hashtags. But overdoing it will only bring about your downfall – not your heavily anticipated rise to fame. Instagram has also announced new updates that will allow people to find pages based on your bio. So, don’t feel the need to squash everything into your hashtags or captions.
6. Organically Grow
Haven’t you heard? There’s a worldwide trend of going green, and therefore no harm can come from keeping to it. Think of buying followers as the GMO equivalent to an organically-grown account. This is not intended to disparage you from buying tomatoes that never rot, this does apply to your social media. Reeling it back to growing your Instagram, sponsored posts tend to receive fewer likes than organic posts. Scratching your head? Worry not, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about organic traffic.
Secondly, you needn’t worry about paying for organically generated traffic – as it makes use of Instagram’s algorithms. It also keeps you far, far, far away from cancel culture (which is precisely where you want to be). You can figure out exactly how the algorithm works here. Plus, a couple tips and tricks for how to use it to your advantage.
As goes the age old saying: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and make use of their mysterious algorithm.
7. Avoid Posting Certain Things
Yes, yes, it should be a no brainer to NOT post that rage-fuelled rant about that anonymous co-worker who keeps stealing the pickles off your sandwiches (you know the one). This one definitely deserves to be included in the holy grail of growing your Instagram. As a general rule, stay away from TMI posts – because while it’s cute to gush, Instagram is neither the place nor the audience you want knowing that your dog threw up on that lavish floor rug you bought. Just stay away from vomit-related banter, in general.
Aside from most TMI content – whatever you wouldn’t want your elementary teacher knowing – please be cognisant of your audience. Instagram allows you to have a wide reach with your content, and access to minds that haven’t fully formed opinions of their own. It should go without saying, but take a breather before posting that speech fuelled with negativity. Always remember to be sincere with what you post – it reflects upon who you are.
Be the kind of person you needed when you were younger – not someone looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.
8. Be Sincere
On the topic of sincerity, originality and core values also deserve to be touched upon. While it’s definitely ‘hep’ and ‘kewl’ that you’re jumping on that new trend you’ve seen all over the web, understand that you’re building your own presence. People won’t follow you for what they can get elsewhere, and that, my friend, is the both the gift – and the curse – of the internet. What you post and shape your brand around is who you are, which is something to be pondered over very carefully before you start. Which is why this article can help you get started if you’re only just piecing together a concept you want to pursue. While you may evolve over the course of developing your own identity, your morals shouldn’t be flexible.
Draw your lines and stick to them.
9. Do Not Over Caption
This may just break your heart, but nobody wants to read your Pulitzer Prize worthy essay in your IG caption. You have a generous limit, but as you may have seen with today’s generation – most people have the metaphorical attention span of a goldfish (sorry, less). Even though, 2,200 characters may seem like a lot, which they are, do not use all of them. Ahem, allow me to repeat for proper emphasis with a megaphone: DO NOT USE ALL OF THEM!
For reference, just in case you were feeling curious, the recommended organic Instagram post caption uses 138 – 150 characters, and you should also know that Instagram truncates, or cuts off with those three little dots of doom (…), your caption after 150 characters. This is why it would behoove you to stay under the 150 character limit.
Short, sweet, and sentences complete (and ensure you have some semblance of punctuation in there, too).
BUT, long captions increase authenticity too. The average number of characters per post has been steadily climbing over the years, and maybe – just maybe – the world really does need to hear your Pulitzer Prize winning essay.
10. Post Often [THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND]
We all know a person that pops up from nowhere and proceeds to spam you relentlessly for days on end, and then poof – they’ve vanished. You’re left with nobody to condemn for how wronged you feel. You’re not alone. We all hate that person. It should go without saying, but – just in case – do not be that person.
Moral of the story: find a rhythm that works for you. For potential business, or individuals with commercial interests and the like, it’s recommended to post at least once a day. Although a 2021 study found that successful businesses tended to post an average of 4x a week. This is highly dependant on your following, and the type of content you create (the level of engagement of said content is especially vital). A study, which analysed over 80 million instagram posts, found that image posts received 27.55% more likes than permanent video posts, and 13.55% more than carousel (multi-image) posts. However, do let it be known that Instagram is pushing the use of IGTV (think of it as a permanent story for accounts, like a TV show), and every time you publish a new episode, it’s given a little bit of a boost.
Go ahead, take this as your sign to post, BUT beware the dangers of posting a post too many.
11. Be a Good Citizen.
Countless, countless, COUNTLESS posts, comments, and messages are published daily – no, hourly – with incorrect grammar. And it is with a heavy heart that the general public of Instagram pleads with you to NOT JOIN THEM. Take this as your precursory warning: it won’t kill you to review that post and capitalise the beginnings of your sentences. It will save a poor soul scrolling through if you catch that rogue, completely dispensable, comma. You’ll sleep better knowing that you used that semi colon properly. Proper grammar, even though you didn’t believe it in school, can make you more likeable.
In all seriousness, folks. Heed this: learn grammar, and implement it. Here’s a handy-dandy little guide to save you from being socially crucified by Instagram’s grammar vigilantes.
Go Forth and Prosper
Now that you’re slightly more well-versed in the ways of the ‘gram, you’ll get off to a flying start at growing your account. As you’ve seen, over the course of this article, all you need to do is simply rise to the occasion. And, if you’ve survived thus far, you most definitely can begin implementing the tactics discussed. Worst comes to worst, it may work and you’ll end up with a few more followers (what a horrible situation, indeed). Either way, you’ve got a solid base to build off, and you’ll be able to get right to growing that account of yours.
It’s simple, just add some water.