As promised in yesterday's post I am sharing what I think contributed to my Instagram growth this year. One of my biggest hopes of 2016 was to grow my Instagram account to over 10K, so that I could be classified as an influencer on more than one social media channel. But I didn't want to just get a number, I wanted to organically grow an audience that relates and enjoys what I share.

Up until fall of 2015 I had been using Instagram regularly, but I had been sharing a mix of my own iphone snaps and work of I had done as a stylist. It was kind of a mix of everything with no consistent message for people to understand and relate to. Essentially, no one could really know me from a glance of nine photos, and that's, basically, what people look at before they decide to click "follow." 

After I accepted the big problem of my lack on consistency and voice I became to determined to change that, and ever since then my Instagram has continued to grow organically. There are also some tools that I believe have helped, as well as wisdom I have gleaned about the platform. Below is a list of what I believe has contributed to the growth. I hope these things help you too.

1. I stopped posting my iPhone photos, and I hired a photographer regularly // I know that Instagram used to be a place of instantaneous photography. However, it's important to also note that since it's an image based platform people with photography skills and professional photographers are always going to have the upper hand. I came to terms with the fact that I can style an amazing photo, but I cannot take one to save my life. So, this year I had Rennai Hoefer come over every Monday of the week to create content for my blog and social platforms. This is content I make with my own hands so that it's still authentic to me and what I want to say. It's just that it's taken with a DSLR camera by someone that knows how to keep my style consistent. It's an investment that has paid off ten fold. Take the leap!

2. I use Planoly // This app is genius and helps me plan my grid. Being a curator is very important on an image based platform. You can have all of the best photos in the world, but if they don't go together in a pattern then your IG account is still going to look ugly. Appearance matters my friends, but that doesn't mean you have to lose authenticity either. It just means you need to plan. 

  • Follow the pattern: person, thing, person, thing. This was told to me by a popular Instagrammer and it works. Creating separation between faces is helpful to the viewer.
  • If you're a lifestyle blogger like me I often will mix-up the person as sometimes myself in an outfit and other times my kids. For the "things," I trade off between far away shots of space, close ups of objects and food.
  • Pay attention to a color scheme. I try to stick to natural warm tones that are in my branding. I never post bright photos like pink, green, yellow, etc. That's just not my style. Define your style...Are you bright and bold or soft and natural.

3. Post daily // This has been very important in telling the algorithm that you're regularly updating your profile. However, I don't post just to post. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. If you don't have anything to say don't say it. It can hurt you to have a post that is not engaged with. So, make each post count.

4. Spend time commenting and liking other peoples photos // This tells the algorithm you are active. I especially try to do this immediately after I post. I also joined a couple Instagram communities with bloggers and creatives whose styles I really love. They notify me when they post, and then I make sure to go visit their profiles and comment. We are by no means obligated to do it, but I genuinely want to do it because I love their stuff. This is also helpful since the new algorithm hides a lot of the accounts I love most.

5. I don't do giveaways // I tried a couple of giveaways in the past, and I find that they may result in spike of followers in the short term, but they aren't people that necessarily enjoy who I am and what I am creating. This can also pose a problem later on when brands will see a high follower count, but notice your engagement is low. Brands would rather partner with a 10K account that is highly engaged with than a 200K account that has a smaller of a ratio of engagement.

6. I installed MiloTree App on my blog // When people visit my blog a pop up shows up asking them to follow my on Instagram. It's very tasteful and not bothersome at all. 

7. Play the Hashtag game // I found the best hashtags for each type of content I share (food, home, fashion, kids) and I add the hashtags in the comments. It has helped my content get noticed and engaged with a lot. To find hashtags, visit popular Instagrammers and see what they are using.

8. Get featured on big Instagram accounts // This year my home decor projects have been reshared by some huge IG accounts and some very small ones too. But each time that happens and people give proper attribution in their post I gain quality followers. They genuinely like my content and click over to my profile to follow me. 

9. Posted on IG stories // So far I have noticed the more I use IG stories the more I grow. I think this is a temporary thing, but it has been working. Of course, I only post when I have something I really want to say, so don't force it. Quality over quantity!

10. I shared some videos // The algorithm seems to favor .mov files that I share on my IG profile. They get ways more views and engagement than regular photos. That said, it's time to start learning how to do video and investing in video.

I hope this post was helpful. Be sure to tune in tomorrow to learn what has helped my Pinterest growth.