Do you know what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If you’re doing the same thing over and over with your Instagram, expecting the algorithm to somehow rank you differently this time… Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re insane.
Ever since I started noticing dips in engagement, I experimented. A lot of people didn’t do this for fear that the algorithm would punish them more. I added things to my repertoire, took things out, tried comment pods, left comment pods, switched pods, followed/unfollowed, tried every engagement method in the book… If you’ve heard of it, I’ve probably tried it.
Some of the techniques I was ashamed of. Follow and Unfollow for one, is one technique that I cannot stand behind anymore. I did it for a while and actually loved it. I met and engaged with other bloggers that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. (I’m still following them by the way.) For that, I’m really happy that I used that method. However, for the most part, it just left me feeling really guilty, so I switched growth tactics. I would say that about 5,000 of my audience can be attributed to the f/uf method.
The other 10,000 of my Instagram followers came from my other methods. Some of the methods take time, like the engagement methods outlined in my latest ebook. But here are a few things you can do right now to improve your Instagram.
Post more “in-the-moment.”
Let’s not forget what Instagram was started for. Instagram was meant to instantly share photos that you were taking in the moment with your friends, family, and other followers. I conducted a Twitter poll* out of interest and found that 40% of respondents actually prefer seeing only in-the-moment shots on Instagram. Only 14% of respondents wanted a professional, styled-shot looking feed. The remaining 45% preferred a mix of both types of photos.
This is so important. Why are we [bloggers] ignoring what our audience actually wants to see? We’re so wrapped up in “the perfect feed” that we forget that our followers do want to see things as they happen. So, I challenge you (like I’m challenging myself) to take more iPhone photos (especially if you have a 7 plus) and post more things in a 24-48 hour window. I’m now reserving my DSLR photos for promoting blog posts and for those days when I just don’t have anything else to share to create a better mix of photos.
This also helps authenticity. If you’re a fashion blogger, people want to know that you’re actually dressing in the styles you promote when you’re out on the town. If they found out you were wearing sweatpants and tee shirts instead of that gorgeous palm maxi dress you said you wore, it would make you untrustworthy. See what I’m saying? They just want more authenticity from us bloggers. (This is also why I’ve started dressing up every single time I leave the house, but that story is for another day.)
*The Twitter poll recieved only 22 votes, so the data is statistically insignificant. However, it is important information.
Switch up yo’ hashtags!
With the “shadowban” rumors raging, some people are beginning to think that Instagram is phasing out hashtags, making them obsolete. This is not true. If you’ve looked up a hashtag before, you know for a fact, that they are still a useful way of reaching your target audience.
I just started using Tailwind for Instagram (I’m a paid user for Pinterest) and I’m telling you, this program is a must. I’m currently using the free version (so save your $$) to use their suggested hashtags and smart posting schedule.
So what it does in more complex terms:
You decide how many posts you want to do each day (I have it set on 2) and it will give you your best times of the day to post. I keep drafts in my queue so I get an alert on my phone when it’s time to post.
On the desktop version of Tailwind, just type in a hashtag in your post caption and they will provide you with suggested hashtags. The suggested tags are color coded, with dark green being your best tags to use and light green being other good tags. Orange tags mean that they’re probably overused and won’t help you gain much exposure. For those of us who are always switching up tags, this feature is a lifesaver! Although I’m still on the free version, I’m definitely looking into the paid Instagram plan soon.
Stop stressing about your ‘aesthetic.’
I kid you not. The minute I stopped stressing so much about my aesthetic, it actually improved my theme. Pick a filter or two and just stick with them. I promise you the images will begin to come together. I used to stress so much about photo locations, outfits, and everything to match my ‘theme’ that my style started to disappear.
So I picked out a filter scheme and just started posting everything. Almost instantly, I could tell that this was what I wanted to go for. Style is always evolving and you don’t have to stick with the same theme forever. Candidly Chan is one of my favorite bloggers and I started following her back when her whole feed was color. Now, she does a lot more desaturated and monotone looks with pops of color and I still love her account. If your style evolves, don’t be afraid to switch up your theme.
Use Instagram stories.
If you’re not using these yet, what are you doing, ya nut? Everyone who’s read anything on Instagram lately has told you to use IG stories, and for good reason.
IG stories show right up at the top of everyone’s feed. If you want to be seen, you need to be using stories, point blank period. Even if you’re a diehard Snapchat fan, you cannot let this go. If you want your Instagram to grow, you have to be creating meaningful Instagram stories that your audience can engage with.
Post more of what your audience loves.
So, this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. Go through your most recent nine photos and look for the ones with the most engagement. Are they flatlays, photos of you, scenery? If you find that there is a pattern of what your audience engages with more, post more of that. Listen to your audience!
If your audience follows you for affordable fashion advice, maybe stray away from luxury items (unless you’re talking about investment pieces). Just stay true to what your audience followed you for.
Are you engaging with your target audience?
If your answer is no, you need to start doing this like yesterday. If you’re looking for how to find your target audience, that’s a completely different ballgame. For tips on creating meaningful engagement, I highly recommend my ebook. It’s a no frills guide to responding to comments, finding your target audience, and creating meaningufl engagement that will both increase your reach and find you the right followers.
For how to increase your Reach and Impressions on Instagram, check out my ebook here or click the image below.
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