How to Grow Your Instagram Following in 2018

Welcome to episode 384 of Hit The Mic with The Stacey Harris.

I’m stupid excited about today’s episode. We’re going to talk about Instagram. I’m excited about this because I’m like, I don’t know, nose-deep right now in Instagram stuff because I am prepping the Instagram guide. We’ve leaked a couple of, or dripped or whatever you want to say, a couple of Instagram modules out already inside of Backstage. It’s been super fun putting this together because it’s been so, so highly requested.

But yeah, so anyways, I’m all about Instagram right now. I’m loving it up. What’s really amazing is we’re going to talk about it here today too. I’ve been actually having a lot of fun on Instagram, testing things and tweaking things over the last few months. That’s what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about growing your Instagram following, so actually growing your audience on Instagram. But here’s the deal, I want to talk about it from the perspective of quality over quantity. Because yes, you could absolutely get 10,000 people to follow you in the next two days if you pay for them, but that’s not where the value is. The value is growing it consistently and steadily over time and building an audience that actually cares about what you’re posting. They’re engaging with it, they’re liking it, they’re commenting on it. They’re spending time with you on Instagram, that’s what I really encourage you to look for.

Everything we’re talking about today is really geared toward building an audience that is that, quote-unquote, “right audience,” is filled with people who you want to work with and who want to work with you.

What’s your hashtag strategy?

To start, sort of the most obvious, the thing that people are using but maybe not effectively, is hashtags. Hashtags are fantastic. What’s amazing about hashtags on Instagram now is you can actually follow specific hashtags. I’ve really liked this as a resource because I can follow hashtags that I’m thinking about using and start engaging in there and seeing what kind of traction I can get. Or, I will follow some of my audience’s favorite hashtags to use and engaging with them there.

That will gain followers for me of people who, again are going to want to engage, are going to want to actually be a part of the community. On the flip side of that, I’m also utilizing a hashtag strategy with my actual posts. So whenever I post a photo on Instagram, guess what, you’re going to be shocked but there are 25 to 28 hashtags in the first comment. Those are hashtags that I’m always testing and always tweaking to get in front of the people who need what I’m doing, who are looking for support.

Now, what’s interesting is I utilize things like social media and social media training and social media marketing, but that tends to be filled with more people like me. Which is important because when people go looking for that sort of thing, they can find those resources by using the hashtag, but I also like to use hashtags that I know my audience is using in their own stuff and paying attention to, and now potentially following.

That really makes your hashtag strategy on your actual post that much more important, but again make sure it’s not just about what you do but also relevant to what they’re using, paying attention to and following. For example, I use a lot of female entrepreneurs, women in business, those kind of things, but I also use stuff like health coaching, business coaching, life coaching, leadership, those kind of things. Because those are the hashtags that my clients are following, because those are the industries my audience is in. They’re following those, they’re using those and they’re paying attention to those.

That, again, is important because that’s who I’m trying to talk to. I’m not trying to talk to more mes. I got all the me I can handle. I don’t want more me.Now, occasionally I’ll add those in. That may be three, four, five of my overall 25 hashtags, but it’s definitely not all of them. Because again, I don’t want more mes, I want more yous.

Okay, so hashtag, think about it from both side. But again, pay attention to this ability to follow hashtags, because people are following them, you can be following them to increase your engagement. Let me say this, what following a hashtag does is it actually pulls post from that hashtag into your timeline. So when you are scrolling, and generally you would see just pictures from people you follow and of course the ever-wonderful sponsored ad posts, now you’ll also see hashtags, posts from other people, people you don’t follow who are using a hashtag you do follow. Cool, does that make sense? If not go to Backstage and ask questions.

Talk to them – conversation matters

Next up, engage. Engage with stories, engage on posts of people who are already following you. Because here’s the deal guys, following is fantastic, but I want them to have conversations with me. Sometimes that means that I get to go have a conversation with them. One of the things I’ve been doing a lot recently is actually going and looking my follower list, because I don’t follow everyone who follows me. But I’ll go through there and I’ll pick five, 10, 15 people depending on the time I have that day. I’ll go look at their profiles and I’ll comment on some photos and I’ll like some things. I’ll engage with them a little bit, because that helps start a conversation.

Guess what, the people who post the most often on my photos or message me back to my stories, they’re people who I’ve been having conversations for a while. There’s a back and forth there. Remember, engagement doesn’t just have to be on the profile. In fact, I get way more engagement through my stories than I do on my profile. I don’t know why, but it feel more personal I think, it feels more connected. So it’s a great way to start having conversations and start connecting.

If someone posted they’re sick, send a little message saying, “Get well soon.” We all want to hear that when we don’t feel well. We want to know that somebody is in our corner and rooting for us. If somebody’s celebrating something, a victory, say, “Congratulations.” This doesn’t have to be super complicated. It doesn’t have to be, they’re complaining about something and you’re solving their problem and now they’re going to buy something from you. No, that’s not the path we’re taking. We’re treating people like people.

So, saying, “Congratulation,” saying, “Get well soon,” saying, “Oh my God, I’m so glad you’re finally over that,” or, “Oh, what a cool new planner.” Sorry, that’s top off mind, because it’s the beginning of the year. Or maybe it’s, “Congratulations on your launch,” or, “This looks super great,” or whatever it is. Just be a human and support the humans in your community.

Consistent… Quality… Content

Last but definitely not least, the best way to grow your following, and I actually tested this by not doing it. The best way to grow your following, consistent quality content. You hear me say those words a lot, consistent and quality, because just putting anything up for the sake of whatever is not valuable. But on the flip side, going dark is tough.

I tested this in November and a little bit in December, where I’d go a week, two weeks, without posting anything. Guess what happened to my follower count? Not only did it stop growing but it would tick down. Over the course of two different breaks I lost nearly 100 followers because I wasn’t posting anything. I went quiet on stories, I went quiet on the profile. Quiet, just dark. I lost 100 followers.

That’s a big shift. Now, a part of that’s also because I wasn’t engaging, I wasn’t connecting. I would scroll and I would like stuff, but I wasn’t utilizing the platform to engage, to connect, to build relationships, and it cost me.

On the flip side, I posted a photo, I went and engaged, and I added 15, 20 followers in the matter of two days, three days as we’ve added back. Now I have time on my calendar, because Instagram is some place I’m really working on growing in this first quarter of the year. So I have a time block on my calendar every single day to engage. Guess what, that time block is not during the office time. No, it’s actually in the evening, when I’m watching TV and relaxing. I go through, I scroll through my Instagram, because honestly I tend to scroll through my phone when I watch TV anyways.

It doesn’t have to be, “Oh, I’m sacrificing client work to do this.” No, if you’re somebody who tends to scroll your phone in the evening, why not make that time useful? Scroll as you are and engage, connect, pay attention to the people in your community, respond to them. That’s going to be a really critical piece, is consistent quality engagement and consistent quality content. Consistent and quality, those are going to be your two words to live by because that is what is going to separate the good from the great, and the results from the noise. Really, it comes down to being that basic.

So, figure out a plan. Use a tool, there’s a ton of them to schedule. A lot of the larger social media scheduling tools now have tools to schedule to Instagram, where you just have to push it from your phone. I use Grum which does actually schedule. There’s tools like Later. There’s a ton of options. Pick the one that works for you, utilize it and do the work. Schedule time to do it and make it happen.

That’s how we grow our following. As I’m use you have lots more Instagram questions, guess where you should go? Hit The Mic Backstage. This month we have an entire Instagram guide actually launching to the community. It’s amazing. I’m super excited about it. I can’t wait for you to get in.

The best part is, you can come in and talk in the community, share your profile, get feedback. I do profile reviews, where I actually do a video screen cast and review some of these profile forum. You can ask questions on the mastermind call about content ideas. You can ask the community, “Hey, this is what I’m posting. What are you thinking?” You can crowdsource the hashtag ideas from the community in the forum.

Use these tools. There are available to you. If you want to see results you’ve got to do the work, and doing the work means getting the support you need. Alright? Alright. I will see you very soon. Have a fantastic rest of your day. I’ll see you Backstage.


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