Tuesday, 28 June 2016

How I grew my Instagram

Now, for many who don’t know, I have been growing and building my Instagram since January this year. I loved it as a social media account anyway but wanted to really get to grips with it. Somehow, and I am still not really sure how, it all worked and I have a great and active account that is flourishing; something that a lot of bloggers have noticed.
I was sat in the Travelodge Bar after an eventful day at #BML16 chatting with some lovely bloggers and we started discussing my Instagram account. They suggested that I share this all with you.

Now, I would like to make something clear: I am NOT an Instagram master and I am sure there are many aspects of it that I don’t know but after the above discussions I have been getting feedback that it has been working well for those who were involved.
Following on from my posts such as “7 Reasons I dislikeInstagram”, “My Basic tips for Instagram” and “Instagram Limits” here is how I gained 8k followers, increased my likes and grew my community in 6 months.

I read last year that an average Instagram user gets 10% of likes in ratio to their followers. I found this a really interesting concept but after looking at my gallery I noticed I was getting around 2-3% which actually seemed standard for many bloggers.
How can this 10% be true then?

You need to take into account the amount of people on IG and the variety that you find on there.
Anyone with a few hundred followers will obviously be hitting at a higher percent because they have a smaller interactive community or on the other end you have celebrities who gain 80%+.

Then you get the different fields; an experienced and expert photographer, for example, will be getting 50%+ because, let’s face it, their photos are fantastic and within that they have a select group of devoted followers.
So where does that leave us? Well from research it appears that bloggers get the percentage mentioned above. They are active but in many ways we have a very select audience; 80% are usually fellow bloggers and the rest fellow parents that have come via our blogs.

Gaining Followers
When I started I needed to see if I could approach this stance differently and aim for a varied community.

I decided, therefore, to search for people that I have an interest in. One of the degrees I have is in Art and within that a course in photography and with this in mind I followed photographers so I could appreciate what they do; after all, if you are going to fill your feed up you might as well do it with images that you enjoy!
I searched through relevant hashtags that matched my want and started to follow people and in addition started following their followers.  My thought process was simple: Follow a subject I enjoy and follow their followers, especially if they have a great interactive community!

Understanding the limitations that Instagram puts on you, permitting no more than 150 per hour, and I did this twice a day. (It can be very addictive!)

Now not everyone followed me back but the majority did and what they did next added to my approach.

Each new follower took an interest and back liked a few photos and, performing good common courtesy, I back liked some of theirs.
I started to notice a pattern. If, for example, I liked 1- 3 photos I got very limited and inconsistent interactions back. However, 5 or more back likes increased the interaction.

If you went on the principle that only 40% of the people followed you back (120 users) and 80% of those back liked 5 photos you gain 100 new likes per post. Yet, over a week you could get 700 likes on that same concept.
This seemed to be true for me.

Within 2 months I went from an average of 70-100 likes per photo to 800 – 1000 likes.

You may question however how this was possible; shouldn’t I only be getting 700 likes each time?
Community building and the New Algorithm

If you have continued to do this you should have slowly built up an exponential regular community of likers. This, of course, isn’t always going to remain that way. You will lose followers that you have gained and you will lose interactions.
Yet, there is a way to keep it up and it will also help with the new addition of the Algorithm.

Take the photo above, for a month I was averaging 900-1k likes and with that I would spend time each week to back liking ALL of the likes given.

Not because I placed #likeforlike (which I wouldn’t advise using!) but because I wanted to show that I cared that they are part of my community. You will also now realise that it will mean that there are 5,000 likes given if you back like 5 at a time! This sounds crazy and it kind of is!
Instagram has a limit of 350 likes you can give per hour this then means to back like all 1k it will take you 14 hours! Mad I know! But it is easier than it looks.

Every day I spend 20 minutes back liking, take a break for an hour and do another 350. (I counted in fives) By the end of the week you will have back liked 5k worth of photos and more if you are continuing to grow.
Your followers will feel valued that you have taken an interest in them and on top of that the majority of the time you will get those likes back. The more they consistently like your photos the more the algorithm will pick you up as a person of interest. The higher the likes you get the more likely you will be found at the top of the feed.

I did this for just over 4 months and at the height of doing it I was working at 12-15%. However, to be honest I spend very little time now back liking my follower’s photos unless it is obvious that they have gone to the effort to back like a number of mine. I just don’t have the time to maintain this continually. (I am also embracing my love of Instagram, don’t lose that!)

My likes have now dropped but because of the effort that I put in I still get 500-700 likes per photo and have for the last 2 months. I am now consistently staying around 7% which with 9k followers is a far better result than where I was 6 months ago.

This is what I have been doing. I haven’t bought followers or likes, used hashtags or Facebook threads but instead looked at internal growth. It is time consuming but from 5 bloggers I know who have been doing this, they are already showing a positive increase.
What do you think?

If you have any questions ask and I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Unknown said...

This is hands down the best Instagram advice I've ever read. Much better than crap about making pretty photos or sticking to your niche which I just don't want to do. Building a community - now that is something I like the idea of. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Unknown said...

Ah thanks for this. It's a tricky one Instagram. I sometimes get people liking 5 or more photos but then experience I follow them and they unfollow later! I'm going to try and focus on this over May and see what happens x