How do you successfully create and grow your IG account?
What creates a successful Instagram account? There are as many different pathways to success as there are successful feeds. I am fascinated by the different pathways because they are as unique as the people themselves. This is my story. It is my personal path, one I have enjoyed and continue to love. I devote myself to my Instagram account because of the intrinsic rewards. Additional rewards have been a bonus and a blessing, but not a goal. I didn’t set out to be rewarded in any other way…perhaps that is the main reason for my success. Even if you don’t have tons of free time, even if you have other motivating factors I know you can still apply all that I have learned to help you achieve your goals. Here are my most powerful insights into IG success:
Insights into IG Success
Originally I began my account to share pictures of my home and make friends. Both of these factors remain very important to me. It is as much about the friendships as it is the pictures. However, over time I evolved. I began to hear God calling me to use my platform to share His love and truth. Now sharing my spiritual strength is very high on my motivation. I also love to use my platform to help others, whether it is for their businesses or simply to spread the word about their wonderful feed. I am choosy, and I always stay authentic to who I am and my beliefs.
How to begin
Honestly, beginning is the hardest part. Everyone begins the same way, with zero followers and an empty gallery. I always tell people that the first 1000 was harder than the rest, and it’s true. How do you attract people? Why would anyone want to follow you? You have to have worth before anyone (besides your dear friends and family) will follow you. So, you must create a gallery. Also, you have to have a track record. You can’t put the cart before the horse. Creating a consistent cohesive-looking feed is number one. To me (and I hope most of my followers) my words are as important as my pictures. But Instagram is predominantly pictures first, words second. Your pictures should not be all over the place. Otherwise, people won’t know what they are following. Show consistency and something of value and your audience will find you.
Interaction is everything
You must be willing to give, give, give before you receive. While you are busy creating something of value on your own page you must reach out and connect. This is very time consuming, but it is also rewarding. I searched and followed people who were successful in the home decor community. These people were modeling for me what success was. It was important for me to follow, study, and learn.
During this phase I was a student, and they were my teachers. Even now when I follow someone new I act like I am meeting them in real life. You wouldn’t “stalk” someone without at least saying hello, would you? Be friendly! If you want to make friends, be a friend! I usually introduce myself and tell them why I love their feed. To me, this follows logically: I am building a relationship, one I am committed to. It’s rare to see people use this technique, but this is authentically me.
Authenticity is essential
Here on Instagram just as in real life it is utterly imperative that you be yourself. Be yourself, and be your BEST self. Take all your beauty, love, generosity, humor, and goodness and don’t hold any of it back. Think about this: each comment is an opportunity to stand out and TRULY CONNECT! Will you waste it and blend in or will you use it to powerfully connect? People can see through phoniness. Be real, but be as gorgeous as can be. Give what you hope to attract.
You are meeting people but without your facial expressions, without body language and without tone of voice. Therefore, all you have to make an impression and to express yourself are WORDS and emojis (thank goodness!) Instagram is no place to hold back and no place for shyness! You must be all you can be…let all your personality pour out or you will be lost in a sea of mediocrity. It is no time to blend in. You must stand out!
Next, it’s time to get involved. I had someone ask me recently, “How do you become part of a hashtag?” There are several routes to getting involved. Direct Messaging (DM) is the behind the scenes activity on Instagram. There is a lot happening back there. You can be asked by an individual or group to join. Or, you don’t need to wait to be asked. You can be proactive and think up your own. You can DM individuals and propose your idea and see if they would like to be a part. My philosophy is it never hurts to ask. As the IG community continues to grow and grow the number of hashtag “games” also continues to multiply.
In the vast sea of tagging, the once powerful hashtag has lost it’s original potency. However, it still is a tool to connect with the community and grow followers. You can create your own hashtag and go it alone, but usually until you have a large following you won’t get the visibility necessary to make a big splash. And balance is key as with everything. If your feed is 80% hashtags where are you?
Make the most of each and every post
Each post has two avenues to attract, or two points of power: The picture and the message. If you choose to skip one I believe you are missing half your potential influence. That’s just my opinion. To make the most of each post the picture should tell its own story without anyone needing to read a word…many don’t slow down long enough. It should be unique, beautiful, inviting, and captivating in some way. Lighting, details, something that draws the eyes visually to pause.
Next, share something with your message, add value. It can be light and cheerful, it can be words of wisdom, it could be a personal story that helps present yourself as a real person and helps people connect with you. It can be humorous and witty, spiritual and uplifting, didactic and informative, something that ties your readers closer to you and says “I am worth reading” and “I am worth following”.
Define your niche and stay consistent
Each post has power, power to grow your feed and power to hurt your feed. Therefore, post carefully. Remember the rule of consistency. All your photos do not need to look alike. However, I recommend defining your niche and continuing on that path. For example, if you want to be followed in the home decor community on IG don’t post pictures of your teenagers playing basketball. Keep the personal, non-decor photos for your personal feed. If part of your niche is more lifestyle and you regularly include artistic photos of your home decor with your children also captured that is totally fine. It is consistent with what you are offering. People who love that will follow and won’t be shocked into unfollowing.
Also, pay attention to what does well. The reaction of my followers to each and every post is valuable information. They will “tell you” whether they want more of that type of post or not in how they “like” or don’t and how they comment or don’t comment. If you don’t pay attention to how your followers react then you are halting your own success.
Why are hashtags considered “insights into IG success”? Hashtags are an integral part of the Instagram platform. To ignore them is a mistake. There are two ways to use hashtags: There are hashtag challenges or “games” that I’ve discussed. Furthermore, hashtags are used to capture the search engine of IG. Originally, before we developed the challenges, this was the only purpose. I remember a couple years ago when the only hashtag “game” was #widn and we tagged each other for this as a way to just say “I’m thinking of you” and “tag, you’re it.”
In addition to playing the many daily challenge games hosted by individual and groups you can use up 30 total hashtags per post. A hashtag is how IG searches and finds posts. IG puts a limit of 30 on each post. You can add them to the bottom of your actual post (I like to put a little distance visually between my words and these tags). Even better, you can add them to your post in a comment. It will work the same way for pulling up your post in searches.
I recommend using hashtags to help the visibility of your post. You should always choose appropriate tags. Using random tags that don’t apply is a waste. Choose some specific and some general. You can get ideas for which hashtags to use by looking at people you follow and pick and choose ones that apply to your particular post.
Enjoy the journey
As anything in life, you get what you give. Instagram is no exception. If you expect overnight success you will most likely be disappointed, even frustrated. For me it is a labor of love and a lesson in patience. My number one insight into success is enjoy the journey, for it is the greatest reward. If it feels like work then that feeling will be the one conveyed. If you feel joy in the process you will exude joy to others you encounter. Give what you hope to attract. Go spread JOY!
To continue reading more insights into Instagram success read our other Instagram blog posts:
Stay tuned for future posts in this series.