Are you struggling with growing your following over on Instagram? I totally get it. One of the number one things people ask me all the time is, “Katie, how can I grow my Instagram following?” So today, I want to give you a few tips, tools, and things not to do.
First of all, let me tell you what not to do. First, do not signup for one of those automated bot system things, where you’re paying money for automated content and comments. If you are doing that, please for the love of God, knock it off.
It is so annoying. I know, I serve the real estate industry. I am going to put those of you who do this on notice. Now, I’m not going to publicly call you out, but there are definitely a few of you who follow me, where I know you’re just automating your comments. I know that’s not really you. You’ve just got some little bot that’s working for you. Do not do this, okay? Because, in the long term it’s not helping you at all. The whole point of social media is to be social. If you’re just automating, especially if you’re automating the engagement part of Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.
So that’s what not to do. If you’re not going to do that, then how do you actually grow your following? I can speak from experience, because we really accelerated our growth on Instagram over the last few months. I wish I was good enough to track exactly where we were in terms of numbers, but we accelerated way past 10,000 followers pretty quickly. I will tell you a couple things that made a big difference.
First of all, posting daily. Now, there’s all types of people who will tell you different things. I’m just going to share with you what worked really well for us. We started posting on a daily basis, and we really started to be really intentional about our content with Instagram. It wasn’t just at a whim like, “Oh, I’m going to post this.” I really started to be even more intentional with my Instagram.
With my Instagram, it’s primarily business, but I do like to incorporate a little bit of me personally in my Instagram. You’ll see from time to time pictures of my boys, and our family, and some of our vacation things. But, primarily it’s business. When I found that people generally like to look at the most on my Instagram, are either pictures of me with our clients, people love looking at pictures of other people. There’s some scientific proof to that. But also, I really love to share some inspirational quotes, things that are really relevant to our brand, and what it is that we do. It really made me kind of take a step back and go, “What do we want to accomplish with Instagram, what do we want to promote, what do we want to highlight, what do we want to share and really get together an intentional strategy?” What you see in my Instagram newsfeed, is I try to have a really balanced strategy when it comes to the content we put out there. That’s first and foremost.
The other thing that made a big difference is we really went all in when it comes to Instagram Stories. Now, if you follow me over on Instagram Stories, I don’t do a whole lot of polished, super professionally edited Instagram Stories. Where I think the secret sauce lies with Instagram Stories, is just being really real. I have to say, there’s something really powerful about being vulnerable, about showing the not so polished side of yourself. That’s where I find Instagram Stories really powerful.
But, how it helped our growth is with Instagram Stories, I started doing things where I started asking simple questions. I started using the poll feature within Instagram where you’re asking a yes or no question, I also started asking specific questions of my community. Then I would highlight those people in my Instagram Stories. What I found, is that people started messaging me, I started getting five, 10, 20 private messages every day on Instagram from people who are watching my Instagram Stories, and not just watching passively, but really engaging. That’s really what it’s all about, it’s really about engaging with people in a really meaningful way. I would then try to take it a step further and go to their Instagram account, and see what they are up to. Follow, and connect with them.
The other tip that made a really, really big difference is intentionally connecting with people outside of my following. If you want to grow your following, and you’re just looking at your newsfeed all the time, you’re not going to necessarily grow your following in a large amount because you’re not connecting with people outside of your following. What we started doing is looking at relevant hashtags relevant to our brand. Now, my brand is social media, but we specialize in working in the real estate industry. We started searching relevant hashtags that we found that realtors were using, and real estate events were using, and social media. Things that had to do with what we were talking about. We started actively searching out specific hashtags, and then liking, and commenting, and interacting with people who also were using those hashtags.
It’s like rolling up your sleeves and saying, “Okay, are there 20 or 30 people every single day that I could actively like, or comment, or engage with who are using hashtags that are relevant to my business?” That was a small thing that made a big difference. When you look at your own business, and you look at what hashtags are you using in your Instagram newsfeed. If you are a real estate agent in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re probably using hashtags like, “#SfBayArea, #SFHomes, #SFRealEstate.” But, I also want you to think about what are hashtags people using that just love the area? Maybe #IheartSanFrancisco, or, “#IHeartheBayArea.” Kind of thinking outside the box.
There’s actually a great website called, “Hashtagify.” Hashtagify.me is a really fantastic resource. You can put in different hashtags to see how many people are actually using that hashtag. That helped us a lot. We started just searching like #RealEstate, which millions of people are using. It helped us hone into what are people using. Then, it really helped for me to be able to go into my Instagram account, and on a daily basis as I was pushing a piece of new content live to Instagram, as I was using Instagram stories. I would also make sure to take five minutes a day, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Five or six minutes a day, search out a couple of those hashtags, and intentionally engage with those people. I will say, out of everything, that’s one thing that really made a big, big difference.
The last thing that makes a big difference I have found when it comes to growing your following, is to be really intentional about the wording that you use with your content. We started using a tool called, Later.com. I’ve talked about Later.com in other Instagram videos. But, Later.com has been really effective for us, because as much as I love my phone, I love being able to use my desktop and my laptop to actually type. By using Later.com, I’ve been able to upload a lot of our Instagram content, I can see it a week at a glance, which is great. I can type in exactly the caption, I could also save hashtags. I’ve got a number of saved hashtags that are in there, which has just really been a huge time saving tip. Using a number of hashtags has made a big difference. You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags in your Instagram post.
We’ve also found that it doesn’t necessarily matter if the hashtags are in the caption, or if they’re in the comments below. What we’ve found that makes a big difference, is how soon you post those hashtags. Instagram, just like any other social media network, it works on an algorithm. The more interaction, traction, and engagement you get that first hour, the more your post is going to get seen by more and more people. Getting those hashtags out there right away, right when you post makes a big, big difference.
Phew, all right we covered lots of good things. I hope it was helpful for you. I would love to know from you, what is one question you might have about Instagram? Put your questions about Instagram in the comments below. I’d also love to know what your Instagram handle is. Let’s connect on Instagram, so drop your Instagram handle in the comments below as well. By the way, we have an awesome course all about Instagram. If you like this video and you’re really ready to take your Instagram strategy to the next level, check out our Instagram for Real Estate Course here.