In Summer 2018 I made a conscious decision to turn my personal Instagram into a travel Instagram. I didn’t really have a clear vision of how to do this or what exactly I wanted it to become but what I’d realised is that I was within the first 3% of accounts to be created on Instagram and could have been doing so much more than I had. Better late than never I thought and decided to begin the journey to building my account.
Over time my photography has developed, my editing has improved and I’ve created a blog (hey!) to share in more detail than my Insta captions allow. It’s taken a lot of hard work (and believe me there’s plenty more to come) but here’s what I’ve learnt over nearly two years of building my Instagram account from 500 followers to over 4,000 (only a fraction of the number I want to reach).
1. Find your niche
Gaining followers and increasing your engagement and exposure is only going to happen if people want to see more of your content and hit that follow button. You need to give them a reason as to why they should do that…why do they want to see more of your content? This is where it’s important to find your niche and be consistent with it.
You’ll likely notice that if you share something different to your usual theme it may not get as much engagement and as many likes which has happened to me a couple of times. Don’t let it dishearten you, it’s great to try something new and see how it does. It will help you gauge what your followers are interested in seeing.
It’s totally fine to change the direction of your content if that’s right for you but don’t be surprised if you lose followers and have to spend time building up again in the new direction. Remember who your Instagram is for and at the end of the day it’s all about what is making you happy – whether that’s your content or your growth – post with YOUR goal in mind.
2. Swap to a Business Account
Swapping your account to a business account is totally free and unlocks so many more statistics to help you understand what is working for your account (and what is not working!). The one drawback is that this will create a facebook page for your account which you can either leave or use to your advantage if you plan to create more than just an Intsagram page.
A business account gives you a lot more information on specific post statistics (you can see which are the most saved vs the ones that have driven most follows) as well as on your followers. You are able to see the breakdown of follower demographics as well as when your followers are most active to help you know when is the best time and days of the week to post.
3. Post frequently (but not all the time!)
This fits in with the idea of consistency but being with consistent with how and when you post leads your followers to know and expect your content. Posting frequently (at the right time – see above!) is key to continuously engage your followers. BUT posting too frequently can be offputting (plus very time consuming if you spend a lot of time editing and writing captions!) and annoying so work out what the right balance is for you. For met, I like to post 3-5 times a week and very rarely on a Friday or Saturday.
4. Ask questions
How often have you been reading an Instagram caption and felt compelled to comment because you’ve been asked a question? I have to admit this frequently happens to me. A question always feels so direct and I almost feel rude not to comment once I’ve read it!
It might seem a bit cringey or awkward at first but don’t worry it becomes easier and more natural, especially when you really are interested in what people have to say 😃 Some examples to try could be: try a rhetorical question (eg how quick is this week going?!), asking if anyone has tried / visited what you’re sharing, asking if you can spot something in the photo.
Plus, since the engagement of a post is key to boosting its presence on Instagram using a question to engage people reading and looking at your content can drive them to comment and increase your exposure 🤷♀️
5. Reply to comments
There are so many reasons why this is important! Number one is that it makes you far more friendly and approachable when you take the time to reply to the people that have been great enough and engaged enough with your content to reach out and leave a comment. Think about how you feel when someone replies to you 😊 If you don’t reply to your comments then someone may be less inclined to comment on the next post they see as they don’t expect any response.
Try and allow yourself some time after you post to reply to comments as every comment you add as a reply increases the total comments on your post and again boosts the engagement that is especially critical in the first hour or so of posting.
6. Use your story
There is so much potential with using your story. Followers are more of a way to engage and retain current followers rather than gaining new ones and there’s a complete myriad of ways that you can use them to engage with your followers.
- The Instagram algorithms can mean that your posts aren’t shared with all of the your followers so some people use their story to let others know when they’ve posted new content.
- Give a fellow Instagrammer a boost by sharing one of their posts on their account as part of #followfriday or an equivalent
- Use the polls / questions stickers to ask for advice, make followers laugh or try some quiz questions
- Turn stories into highlights that are stored on the top of your Instagram profile (beneath your bio) and create a series (eg this could be photos from a specific city for a travel account or the step by step guide to cooking something delicious if you’re a foodie account)
- Use your story to help followers get to know you and share your everyday with them
7. Engage with fellow grammers
Once you’ve found your niche, search out similar accounts (both big and small) to follow and engage with. Bigger accounts with tens and hundreds of thousands of followers are great for getting inspiration from. Whether it’s to see what content is doing well or get tips for equipment or inspire you to try something new they’re great for working out what you want to strive towards.
Smaller accounts that you engage with are an amazing way to build up a community of Instagrammers that you can support each other with. Both in terms of comments and likes but also reaching out and sharing with. I’m honestly amazed the way in which the people behind accounts I love have become virtual friends that I can ask for tips from, reply to stories and check in with how they’re doing. What starts off as a way to build engagement becomes a way to make friends with similar goals to you from all over!
8. Tag hub accounts
First of all you might be wondering what on earth a hub account is?! Well, they’re themed Instagram pages that are dedicated to sharing other users content. For travel, they can include anything from the official tourist board of a country or city (eg Visit London or Germany Tourism) to worldwide hubs with millions of followers (eg Passion Passport). Getting the attention of hub accounts and being shared by them can bring a huge amount of exposure to your profile. One of my photos of Bywater Street, Chelsea was shared by Visit London and with it came over 100 new followers that had checked out my work because of it!
You can tag up to 20 accounts in your photo (and to be neat pop all your tags in one corner) so search for those that are relevant to your area and specific photo.
9. Don’t be afraid to use #s
Plenty of places tell you not to use #s or use as few as possible…personally I make the most of them and use close to the 30 max you’re allowed. Why? Because when I look at my insights (that come from having a business account) usually over 75% of my impressions (number of accounts that have seen my posts) come from hashtags – they help you reach a much wider audience than you do via home feed alone. Pesky algorithms mean not all of your followers will see your photos from their home feed.
Most of my #s come from the relevant # that comes with tagging a hub account (above) but I also add on some to do with what I’ve photographed (eg for a photo of me in The Vennel in Edinburgh I’d include #travelgirl #edinburgh #scotland #thevennel).
High levels of engagement within the first ~ hour of posting can see your post go viral and trend on a hashtag which will again give much greater exposure! There’s an art to choosing the right hashtags – too popular and your post will get lost, too small / niche and no one will ever search for it.
10. Complete your bio
An Instagram account without a bio is like a website without an about page – a bit suspicious and you’re likely to click off it. Your bio is the first thing people will see when they click on your profile. It can tell someone straight away what to expect from your feed and your content. It’s also a great place to advertise your blog, website or any site you want to send your followers to.
11. Switch up your font
You want to grab your followers attention when they’re checking their Instagram feed for the 100th time of the day. You don’t want your post to be another one they scroll past so make sure they don’t Of course your photo should do most of the talking but remember they can always see the first couple of lines of your caption as well. Use this to your advantage and stop the scrolling by switching your font!
Most people just leave the font on their Instagram caption as it is so changing this will really make the text stand out. Search for Instagram fonts on Google to find a few different sites that will do this for your. Type in the text you want to change and choose (select & copy) the font you like the best then paste this into your Instagram post for an instant caption upgrade!
12. Invest your time
It might seem obvious but investing your time is critical for boosting your Instagram page and engagement. Followers don’t appear overnight. Finding your niche and style doesn’t happen automatically. Editing content and writing captions doesn’t take two minutes. If you’re serious about building your Insta then you’ll need to be willing to put the time into creating captivating content. You’ll need to set aside time to engage with other accounts and reply to those that are being inspired by you. You’ll need patience on the days where your follow count seems to drop and drop and with how long it can take to build a follow base. Cheesy quotation 101 but it’s not just about the end result it’s important to enjoy the journey that takes you there as well 😘
Good luck and if you have any questions give me a shout!