About a year and half ago, completely on a whim, I decided to start this blog and my instagram, Sweet Frugal Life. I wanted to share my frugal life, but honestly didn’t know if anyone would even care and I had no idea how to organically grow an instagram account, but I wanted to try!
Surprisngly, people did care, and my account grew quickly. In fact it grew from 0-50K in one years time. I was probably more shocked than anyone. This was something I never expected to happen.
I get messages weekly asking me what my “secrets” are for growing my account
The fact is there is no secret. There is no magic formula. I didn’t pay for followers, I didn’t follow a bunch of people, I didn’t participate in follow groups. To be completely honest, most of my friends and family don’t even know about my instagram account. Every single follower I have I grew organically; by being consistent, sharing good content and being true to who I am.
Now, I am not trying to toot my own horn, but I am asked this question so often I decided it was finally time to type up my personal “instagram strategy,” so it could all be in one place. Somewhere that others could find and hopefully see the same success. I truly do want you to succeed!
1. Quit Trying to Get Followers.
There I said it. And I totally mean it. I honestly believe this is one of the most important parts of instagram, or any social media for that matter.
Let me explain. Your focus on your instagram account needs to be to meet the needs of your audience. When that focus becomes trying to get instagram followers, your account will reflect that, your audience will sense what you are after. I honestly believe that when you put your audience first, and your own needs second, your account will grow naturally.
Spend your time and energy creating posts and content that will benefit your audience, and you will see your followers increase. My entire first year of my instagram account my motto was, “Create something my audience needs and see what happens.” I didn’t ever think anyone would ever press follow, so instead of focusing on growth, I focused on helping….and I truly believe that has made all the difference.
2. Content is Key
Why did someone take the time to follow your account? Most likely it was because they felt you had something to offer to them. A resource, knowledge, or insight that would enhance their lives in some way.
Every instagram account offers something different. Your audience might be looking for tips on how to save money, decorating ideas, parenting advice, etc.
The content that you share on instagram needs to be beneficial to your audience and their needs. Give them helpful and creative posts that will truly help them. Yes, it’s fun to post random parts of your life, but this should be done occasionally. Put your followers needs and wants above your own, give them the helpful content they were looking for when they found your account.
3. Be Genuine
Nobody likes to be sold to, and most people can spot a fake from miles away. If you LOVE a product, share it! If you really don’t like a product but you were offered money to pretend to like it…don’t do it! Your followers will sense your dishonesty and you will lose their trust.
My rule of thumb is, “If I wouldn’t share this with my best friend, I’m not sharing it on Instagram.”
4. Create a Community
Focus on creating challenges or experiences your followers can participate in with you.
6 months after starting my instagram account I decided I wanted to host a “pantry challenge.” Honestly, it started for selfish reasons. I was trying to cut back on my grocery bill that month. I knew if I had some accountability on instagram than I would see more success.
So, I told my plan to my followers and I asked them to join me. And they did! I created a unique hashtag for the challenge and asked them to share daily so we could help and support each other.
Not only was I able to have the support I needed while saving money, I was able to help and support others as they did the same.
It was fun, engaging, and it brought unity among my followers and spread awareness about my page.
5. Be Social
Interact with your audience. Get to know them and become their friend. If someone gives you a comment, reply to it! When you receive messages, take the time to send a message back.
I know it can be hard and daunting to reply to every single person, but even a simple “thank you” is enough to begin to feel a connection.. That is the goal, to connect with your followers.
6. Use Hashtags
You are allowed 30 hashtags on instagram, so use them. The hashtags you use should be unique and different depending on what you post.
Try to use hashtags that have around 30k-80k posts (you can easily find this number after a quick search on instagram). This is a good number to ensure the hashtag is popular enough to be seen by a large group, but not over popular that your post will get lost beneath the millions of other posts.
Be specific when using a hashtag. For example: I blog about frugal living topics. Instead of using the hashtag #frugal I use the hashtags #frugalmom or #frugaltips.
7. Support Others
I truly believe that what goes around comes around. I would love for other frugal bloggers to support me and my brand……so, I need to be supporting them.
No, I don’t reach out and say, “hey I’ll share your posts if you share mine.” Instead, I just happily share without expecting anything in return. Many times the favor has been returned, and some times it’s not. I try not to focus so much on who is sharing my posts and focus more on how I personally want to run my business.
Comment on other bloggers instagram feeds, like their posts, and share them in your stories. When you do this you will make some new friends, help a fellow blogger out, and maybe they will want to help you. If they don’t want to help you in return, that’s ok, you can still feel good that you helped someone else!
8. Be Consistent
Set a schedule and be consistent. Your audience needs to be able to count on having a post for you at regular times and intervals.
You should be posting something inspiring and helpful (catered to your niche) on your feed and in your stories every day. I also recommend getting your face on your stories daily. It’s so important your audience gets a face to face interaction with you as much as possible.
9. Show Your Personality
Be unique, be original, be YOU! It is more enjoyable to follow someone who is being real. This will mean imperfect and vulnerable and quirky and flawed. And you know what, that is what your audience will love most!
I get so many messages from people telling me “Thank you for being real.” I try very hard to be exactly who I am at home on instagram. This means I show a side of me that I’m not always proud showing, but my followers appreciate it because it makes me more relatable.
Your personality will be different from the other instagram personalities. They might be funny, you might be deep. They might lip synch, and you might talk about your difficult day. There is no exact mold for a good “instagrammer.” The world needs each individual personality, and so does instagram. Be you and be proud to be you!
10. Use Your Stories….Correctly
Use your stories. Every day you should be in your stories sharing helpful content. Remember, your followers are following you for a reason. They might want to see good deals, learn more about decorating, or money saving advice. Whatever it is should be the main content of your stories. Yes, you can sprinkle in a few other tid bits about your life here and there, but your audience wants the helpful content.
Here are a few tips to make your stories top notch:
- Keep them short and to the point. Your followers will lose interest if your stories go on and on. Try to aim for about 5-8 frames.
- Words on the screen. Most people are watching your stories without the sound on, they are just trying to tap through them as fast as possible. If there are no words typed onto the story they will lose interest quicker. Every single story should have words typed on the screen, just a quick summary of what you are saying in that story.
- Get your face on camera. I know how scary this is. It is hard and uncomfortable and scary, but I promise it’s worth it. The more you put your face on camera, the easier it gets. Your audience wants a face to face connection with YOU!
- Ask questions, encourage engagement. Use polls, questions, etc. to encourage engagement with your story. If you just say, “Do you like pickles?” you won’t receive a lot of messages giving you an answer. But, if you say, “Do you like pickles?” and then attach an instagram poll your audience will engage. More engagement means a closer relationship with your audience, and that is what you want.
11. Encourage Engagement
The instagram algorithm is always changing and can be very hard to keep track of. I like to focus on engagement. If you have an engaged audience (meaning they are liking, commenting and sharing your posts) instagram will show your post to more people.
Always encourage engagement. Your audience needs some motivation, and that’s ok! Use phrases like, “Hit like if….” or “Double tap if….” or “Tag a friend who….”. I also try (not perfect, but try) to ask a question with every post. People like to talk about themselves. I will ask, “How do you feel about……” or “What do you like about….” or “What are your weekend plans…..” etc. This gives your audience the encouragement they need to engage and interact with you. And don’t forget to reply to all comments. Your audience needs to know you respect and value their thoughts.