1,000 – 2,500 Instagram Followers….And What I Have Learnt

Another few months, another few followers on Instagram. I’ve decided that the 2,500 milestone is a good time to reflect again on what I have learnt about growing an account on this busiest and most demanding of platforms.

There is a lot of speculation about the mysteries of Instagram and it’s (supposedly) menacing algorithm. I’m going to try and stick to what I’ve found to be demonstrably true and workable for me. Please share your own thoughts at the end. I’d love to learn from your experiences too.

I wrote about starting an account from scratch a few months ago, if that sounds like a good fit for you then read my post Zero – 1,000 followers on Instagram.

Make the first move

I like to think of Instagram as the most crowded, noisiest and darkest nightclub you’ll ever visit. If you don’t get out into the crowd and start throwing some shapes, then no one is ever going to notice you. So my first bit of advice is as true today as on the first day that I opened @notaboutthekids.

If your growth has stalled or is struggling to get going, the simplest thing to do is become more involved with other people’s content. Discover, like and comment on their posts. Hopefully, it’ll encourage them to pop over and check out yours.

Helen Perry in jeans, a red Breton top and jeans against a red and white striped wall. Instagram post.
If you want people to see your content you will have to get out there and introduce yourself.

Often the best way to find fresh and interesting content is through the accounts that I love, and that I think are most closely aligned with what I’d like to achieve. Who are their followers, maybe we could get along?

And remember it’s not all about you

Often, my most successful posts (if we assume that comments are the most meaningful form of engagement on Instagram) are when I directly ask my followers for tips, advice, thoughts and views. I try and ask myself all the time, what are people getting out of my content? Where is the value for them?

Build relationships

If you take a look at lots of really successful accounts, you will see the immense benefits that come from working with other people on Instagram. You can share, and potentially double your followers.

Interiors stylists Lisa Dawson and Dee Campling are a brilliant example of how teamwork can boost your account. Both have now sailed past 100,00 followers and are (even more importantly) building a solid business for themselves.

Anyone can do this by running a giveaway with an Insta mate, or just taking pictures together, or launching a hashtag.

Having the blog gives me the perfect opportunity to collaborate with people I admire on social media. They can contribute expertise that I don’t have to my posts, and if they talk about it to their followers, even better!

Brands

If you post a good picture that has an item that is currenlty available in it, tag the brand. They might feature it on their account. Mint Velvet regrammed one of my shots, and I gained more than a hundred followers.

Mint Velvet feature lip jumper as photographed by @notaboutthekids

Stories

People often get so absorbed in watching Stories content on Instagram, that they barely make it on to the main feed. It took me a while to fully find my Stories mojo, but try and stop me now.

I’ve found it is a great place for experimenting with the more frightening stuff. Chuck a video up there, or try and be funny. Let people get to know you. If it bombs it’s gone in 24 hours. 

You can gain a huge amount of engagement on Stories as well. Use polls, hashtags, @mentions and add geotags (location tags) to get your content shown in local feeds.

Archived Instagram Stories slide, Not About the Kids, red nails, green jumper by Hush
My feed is curated and styled, so I like to use Stories to show how I work. These are outtakes from a recent post.

Stories is the most intelligent search engine out there so ask it questions. You will receive great advice from a group of like-minded people. People love to share recommendations.

There are lots of apps out there to make your Stories rock, I currently use InShot and Unfold.

Faces

I suppose that I used to be typical of someone my age (41) in my attitude to selfies. I really did not like the way I looked and I thought it was mad to assume that anyone would want to see a picture of me anyway.

Immersing myself in social media for the past few months has helped me to get over this. I now realise that posting photos of yourself is such a powerful way of connecting with people. We like to know who we are talking to.

If your feed isn’t about faces, show up on Stories instead. Trust me, this is something that gets easier incredibly quickly.

Journalist and blogger Helen Perry, Harlequin wallpaper, blue jumper, red lipstick

It’s not new research but the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs found that pictures of faces are 38% more likely to get likes and 32% more likely to get comments.

Read about the selfie secrets of people who are nailing the art.

Video

All of what I said about faces, apply to video and double it. Video has a growing dominance in social media and Instagram is a great place to dabble. Do a Live chat. Make a short, fun stop motion video or show people around your house.

If you are interested in making your own videos but are reluctant to appear in them, or don’t know what to shoot, the blog of video coach Tors Grantham is a good place to start.

Just remember subtitles. Here’s a statistic to remember: 80% of video on social media is watched without the sound off*.

I’ve written a separate post on this topic if you want to know more.

Lots of content

Am I any nearer to answering the big questions like how often and how much should I post on Instagram? It goes against all my instincts (around not boring people or showing off) but post lots and lots of content appears to be the answer.

Eva Chen is Head of Fashion Partnerships for Instagram. It’s her view that if you only post occasionally, your pictures and Stories will be buried underneath everyone else’s. So don’t be shy. Click through to watch Eva chatting to Women’s Wear Daily, she also has some great (and healthy!) things to say about grid curation and the Instagram algorithm.

Staying power

Finally, I have no advice on how to grow your account super super quickly. So persist at being persistent. Turn up every day, but only while it’s fun.

A few other useful clicks….

The Later blog’s guide to understanding your Instagram analytics

30 Ideas for fresh Stories content from Instagram powerhouse Sara Tasker

A rundown of all of the apps I am using to enhance my social media content

*Findings on video use on Facebook from Digiday

 

 

13 Comments

  • Ah that was great Helen!..So informative and you are certainly right about posting often as I discovered recently when I didn’t post or interact for five days as my lovely cat had to be put to sleep and I had no desire to interact with the outside world! So I lost some followers. Lucky for me the people I interact the most with have stayed and I’ve gained a few new ones aswell well since my return haha.

  • Hi Della, I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. That’s rotten. Sometimes life is going to get in the way and I think that we have to have a healthy attitude about that. It’s only Instagram!! However, when we are able to, posting as often as possible can be really effective. Especially for building relationships with our lovely followers. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, I love to chat 🙂 Helen x

    • Thank you Helen and yes I’ve had some lovely messages. I agree, it’s great building relationships on Instagram and getting to know people we probably never would have.
      Della xx

  • Hi Helen! I love reading your blogs. There are always useful information and practical tips, thank you! I also came a long way (not quite as long as yours) since I started last October and for someone who didn’t know anything about Instagram I think I’m doing fairly well. It’s hard work and it takes a lot of my time and some days I don’t feel like posting, which I believe is fine as long as you don’t disappear for more than 2/3 consecutive days. Engaging is key but as you rightly say, collaborations with fellow Instagrammers (is that even a word or have I just made it up?) or even a picture taken with the right colleague (😂 colleague? 🤷🏻‍♀️) can earn you lots of new followers. It happened to me too and that made my day, or even my week!! Great point about the geotag, I didn’t know that. I’m still practicing on stories, I’m just a beginner but I do enjoy it a bit more now!
    Anyway another great blog, very helpful, informative and jam packed with useful info and link. It’s always a pleasure to read it.
    Elena xxx

    • Hi Elena, how lovely to see you’ve been reading :). You are so totally right, apply common sense, some days we just can’t post….or don’t feel like it and that is fine. No need to get stressed about Instagram. Use those geotags, the mean far more people will see your Stories. Thanks for your support, Hx

  • Really informative and useful as always Helen. I need to adopt some of these suggestions more, I’m currently having a rethink about my own account and the nightclub analogy is a great one!! I’m fine with connecting with people and commenting on their account as I genuinely like to communicate with the accounts that I follow. I think my downfall is consistency and not wanting to over expose myself, but in such a competitive market I think I’ve got a long way to go before that happens!!! I’m starting to feel more comfortable with Stories and the point you make about the Sound being turned off is an excellent one. My husband is an advocate of Linked-In (he doesn’t like IG) and subtitles on videos is very much the norm on there apparently! Makes sense too as much of our communication is done while we’re on the go anyway!

    • Hi Juliana, great to see you on the blog 🙂 thanks so much for reading. Yes, more often than not I have the sound switched off on my phone…so certainly appreciate a few helpful subtitles myself. I for one would love to see a bit more of you on Instagram. Hx

  • Great stuff! Brilliant tips. I’m flagging and this has def rejuvenated me. You don’t mention #? ( Or do you and I skimmed past) . How do you decide which to use? Mide X

    • Hello Mide, thanks for stopping by. I covered hashtags in my previous post 0-1000 followers, the link is in the top paragraph of this one. However, I often look at hashtags that other people are using. Especially Instagrammers who do work like mine, or that I simply admire. And copy them! I search for words that apply to my picture #colour for example…and Instagram comes up with some suggested tags. I try not to use any that have too many entries (over 500 000) or too few (maybe under 1000), and your picture can get lost. You can use up to 30. I tend to find 15-20 is a good number, if you are trying to keep them relevant. Oh, and don’t use the same ones all the time, you run the risk of Instagram mistaking you for a bot. Hope that’s a bit of help, H x

  • Good stuff Helen. I hear you about the face issue: my daughter keeps telling me I need to do much more of that, but I really really struggle with that. I love your feed, and I’m sure you’ll be north of 3000 in no time!

    • Hi Scarlett, in spite of your best efforts I have spotted your face on the odd occasion. Why don’t you post some pictures featuring your face in Stories :). It’s also worth noting that Julie Falconer @aladyinlondon, who has a huge following, NEVER posts her picture. She says when she does likes plummet. It’s just not why people are following her…..so rules are made to be broken. Hx

  • I’m late to the party – but another great and informative post, Helen. Thank you. I definitely still haven’t gotten my head around IG and gaining followers, but this is for sure a help! Nete xx

    • Hi Nete, how lovely to see that you have dropped by, thank you! Well, I for one love your posts and chatting with you most days. It depends what your goal is, not everyone is looking for huge growth….I look forward to seeing where you take it. Helen x

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