Instagram Growth Step-By-Step
Disclosure: Yes, there are some affiliate links below, but as you can tell, I will only recommend things I actually use and recommend. In fact, I have intentionally left off some products I have tried out but would not recommend. Just sayin'.
I'll admit it. I am new to social media. I had to do a deep dive in learning because I was so pumped up about my podcast, I wanted others to get the same benefits I was getting to talking with these amazing mompreneurs!
So, I had to learn about social media. As much as we want our online world to be organic it is far more strategic than one would ever imagine. So pick your platform.
I love Instagram. I am pretty pictures kind of gal. If there is a quick quote for me to read, great. If there is something cute, sweet, tasty or neat, I buy right into it. I am a mom. People magazine is too dense for me. US Weekly? I don't even know who those people are anymore. But I like the pictures.
(And don't get me wrong, I totally love to read. But reading People, US Weekly, Facebook and Instagram are completely different than reading a great book. I even wrote this post about how to be a mom and read again which you can check out too if you like.)
Okay, so with Instagram being my preferred platform, I took to learning all I could.
First, Curated Photos are Key.
Everyone says pic a theme and stick to it. I could not agree more. Even so, my style in the last few months has shifted. I realize I am more one way vs another. Can you tell by my feed? Use the photos that you are attracted to.
I was also introduced to PicMonkey around the time I started to get serious about working online. It's the editing app to resize your photos, brighten them up, slightly correct them if you need to. Add a filter or a bubble or some verbiage. I lived on PicMonkey.
PicMonkey also helped me creating my cover photos for my blog posts. You can set the size you want (square for Instagram) and then add in verbiage if you want for a quote or to make a comment. The filters are plenty and it's beyond easy to use. Even for the non-techie like me.
Exposure Exposure Exposure
Remember my podcast interview with Rosemarie Groner?? She's from The Busy Budgeter and is making some serious waves. I will never forget her words of wisdom, starting with stating something like "helping someone become successful does not take away from my own success." She so right and absolutely lives those words. She acts like a mentor as she keeps increasing her stamp on this world. When I interviewed her near the beginning of the year she was 1 1/2 years into blogging and was hoping to make $8,000 for the month. She surpassed that number by a zillion and now regularly earns $20,000+ a month from her part-time blog.
She also made it crystal clear that you YOU had to be the one to put your work out there. It's up to YOU to get your work published, your products found sought after. If YOU don't do it no one will.
And with that mentality in mind, I became a believer in finding and creating exposure.
How do you get exposure on social media?? You create it. You engage.
When you like someone's photo, that is exposure for your own profile.
When you comment on someone's photo, that's exposure for your own profile.
When you like someone's activity at one of your favorite places, that's exposure to your own account.
When you like photos from a specific event or hashtag, that too is exposure for your account.
Adding a Place or Location to your photo, that is exposure for your account.
Hashtags categorize your work and guess what else they do - they are expose your account.
Actively "liking" a profile, a place and your favorite work in hashtags creates exposure to your own account. Just like you would put out your blog post or your product and promote it, when you like something on Instagram you are promoting your own account.
This is exposure. You want exposure.
You actively want to expose your work to your target market. Expose. Like. Comment. Like. Comment. Like. Comment.
Consistency is hard, I am going to admit. And there's a wide variety of opinions on how much to post. There are people out there that think you should post 5x a day. And there are others there that think 1 is enough. Most people agree that posting photos 1-3x on a consistent basis is enough. As far as I can tell there are two programs that allow you to schedule out Instagram photos and that's Hootesuite and Schedugram.
Hootesuite is a program that allows you to review and schedule postings for all of the different platforms. If you want one place to post from and one place to schedule from the free option allows you load in, I think 3 accounts. If you have more than that you want to manage from Hootesuite, I again think the fee is $10 / month give or take. Actually what I like about their set up is they allow me to see if I really will use / need the program before committing to a monthly expense.
While I really like Hootesuite as a whole, for Instagram, I prefer Schedugram. In Schedugram, I can see in calendar format what is going to post when. I am a visual person and this really helps me. When I started focusing on gaining exposure to my Instagram account I scheduled almost my entire week out. It took me about 2 hours per week to do so and then I plan to add specific postings (like podcast specific posts) manually during the week.
Now, as I am busier and busier, I use it as a tool to assist me when I know I am going to be super busy. If I have back to back to back meetings I will try to schedule back to back postings so my account is not sitting that long, nor is my exposure dwindling. With Schedugram, I can upload multiple photos at once and simply leave them in Draft mode too. I have a bunch of quotes that I love and will scroll through them when I am looking for inspiration or the right post to set how I am feeling.
I really prefer this program for Instagram and can't believe so many people do not yet know if it!
Special Treat: If you choose to sign up with Schedugram, will kindly give you and me a $5 credit to our accounts. Just Use Referral Code: MOF.
With all this talk, there are people out there that have hundreds of thousands of followers. There are people out there that have 10s of thousands of followers. As I got into my research, I just wanted to know / had to know what these people were doing differently than I was.
Oh! And it's important to mention that I also came across in my path some information about apps where you can BUY followers. The descriptions on the apps are enticing and I downloaded one (maybe 2?) for like 1/2 second. On one app, I was immediately hacked and on another app it was so weird how people with one or two followers (like a zillion of them) would become your fake follower. Or something. Once I figured out how big a scam that stuff was, I immediately deleted the app and accounts. It was weird. And that's also how I know I can look into any account and see if you / one is paying for scammy followers!
In any event, I still was / am trying to learn all about Instagram. I came across Alex Tooby's tutorials, she has one account @menandcoffee that has over 350,000 followers, so I figured she knew what she was talking about and I signed up! Her in-depth Instagram course Infamous to Influential was the tips and tricks I think everyone else is doing - or should be doing. I immediately saw improvement in my engagement. I couldn't believe, I finally found the information I was looking for. How do you actively expose your account and connect with your target audience?? How do you make progress strategically not slimy? Her focus is to teach you how to expose your work and connect with the people you want to. Targeted. Connected. And real. I would share, and hope I have throughout this post, some really key takeaways. That said her courses are great if you are serious about wanting to grow your Instagram accounts. Not kidding one bit.
Finally, to help track and manage comments and progress, there's Iconosphere.
It's really fun to pull statistics that say you are on an upswing of 269% for this and 240% for that 109% for that. And this was just at the beginning!
One of my favorite features besides the great graphs is that it allows me to add in a few "competitors" to study and watch. I can see what they are doing compared to what I am doing. It's another set of analysis that helps along the way.
I love Instagram. It's my favorite platform. I am a pretty pictures, in the moment, kind of gal and I am excited to see progress and engagement made.
Hey - Have you checked out my Instagram account yet?