Last week, I wrote about my experience of buying Instagram followers. My interest had been sparked when my Twitter feed had exploded with tweets by bloggers who were discovering how common purchasing followers really is. Follower counts are important, social media is a numbers game, but I found out that buying followers is shady af. Today, I’m going to give you 5 Insta to-dos that can help you boost your follower counts and engagement in a natural and organic way, without spending a penny on fake, bot followers!

On 1st April 2017, I had 126 Instagram followers. Once I started implementing the tricks I’m about to share with you, I grew by 300% in just three weeks. It’s now 1st May 2017, and I have a total of 568 followers – and that number climbs every day. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme – you’re not going to have a 10k following overnight, but what I can guarantee you with my strategy is that you will grow day in, day out!

When you’ve finished, don’t forget to check out Part 2, which contains 5 more ways to organically increase followers and engagement on Instagram.

The 5 Simple Steps I took to TRIPLE my Instagram followers in just 3 weeks!

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The 5 Simple Steps I took to TRIPLE my Instagram followers in just 3 weeks!

1. Be social – it’s social media

It’s an often overlooked step in increasing your Instagram followers, but actually engaging with your followers (and their followers) is the most effective way to attract a loyal audience.

Your audience takes the time to engage with you, so you should do the same for them! When someone takes the time to comment on your images, reply to them! Try to spark a conversation, and even comment back on their photos, too. People will be more likely to comment on your images if they see you responding – it makes you seem approachable and friendly.

DO:

  • Like & Comment on 10-15 images in your network/niche every day

DON’T:

  • Leave unmeaningful comments. When you leave an emoji with no context, “nice pic” or “pretty!” as a generic comment, you won’t spark any engagement. Instead, personalise your comments a little. It’ll encourage anyone reading your comment to click on your page!
  • Like and reply to comments on your latest image & reply, or return the favour and comment on other people’s images

2. Follow others in your niche

Follow other people in your niche by checking relevant hashtags and seeing who is liking/commenting on your images and images of those in your network. Follow these people! If they like your content, they’ll probably follow you back and could likely become really engaged Instagram followers.

DO:

  • Follow a few people every day or so who are in your niche and who’s content you like and would like to engage with.

DON’T:

  • Go on a huge following spree, and unfollow as soon as you get a follow back. It’s transparent and gives off the wrong impression of your blog or biz!

3. Stick to a theme

Instagram is all about your theme! Download a really good editing app – I use ColorStory and VSCO – the combo of these two apps has skyrocketed my engagement! Since I started trying to theme my images in Instagram, I’ve more than tripled my Instagram followers and got my first ever 100+ likes on an image (then got 100+ likes on every image after that!). This has just been a combination of a good photography, consistent editing and strong hashtag usage.

DO:

  • Stick to a visual theme for your Instagram feed
  • Keep your images bright and crisp
  • Follow my Theme Your Insta board on Pinterest – I’ve compiled all my favourite themes and they all have instructions on how to get the same effects with VSCO!

DON’T:

  • Post low-quality, dark or blurry images – post things you think are beautiful and would want to interact with yourself

4. Hashtag like your life depends on it

Love them or hate them, hashtags are the best way to reach audiences who aren’t directly following you. Strategically use hashtags related to your niche and your image to reach a wider audience and encourage engagement, and new followers.

DO:

  • Use between 10-30 hashtags on every image
  • Use linebreaks to separate your hashtags from your main caption, or place your hashtags in the first or second comment on your image.
  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Download my hashtag cheatsheet

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DON’T:

  • Use hashtags like #follow4follow, #like4like, etc – they don’t attract a relevant audience!
  • Use generic and overused hashtags like #love, #sunset, etc unless they are directly relevant to your image/caption. While they may be relevant to your image, they’re widely used and so you won’t stay at the top of the search for very long!

5. Join some Instagram Pods

Instagram users are more likely to engage with posts which already have some engagement. An Instagram pod is a group chat where everyone in the group will like/comment on each other’s images to get the engagement ball rolling. Find pods on Twitter, in Facebook groups or… start your own!

DO:

  • Send your latest pics to any relevant pods you are a member of
  • Regularly go back and like/comment on any images sent to the pod that you haven’t interacted with

DON’T:

  • Join too many pods – it’ll become unmanageable, and you’ll fall behind.
  • Send too many pics to the pod – try to only send one per day
  • Rely on your pod for all of your engagement. Being a member of multiple pods can mean you can get a lot of engagement, but don’t neglect your own followers or your wider audience!

How do you increase your Instagram followers and engagement?

Guess what? I now have a free Instagram cheatsheet – 300+ Instagram hashtags that are totally perfect for your blog and your niche! I cover hashtags for all major niches, plus some super handy blogger-friendly hashtags!

Get your hands on it below!

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