Six Tips to Help You Grow Your Instagram Account
By Rachel Leggett | Published October 25, 2020
I doubled my Instagram followers from about 450 to over 900 over about six months in 2020. In addition to working on improving photo quality, I have found these things things to be the most helpful for gaining followers and increasing engagement on Instagram.
If you haven’t already done so, definitely convert your account to either a Creator or a Business account. It’s free and you’ll get access to lots of helpful insights, like how many people saved or shared your post, how many impressions it got, and how many of those impressions came from people who are not following you (that last one is a good indicator of if your hashtag choices are working).
The benefits of the Creator and Business accounts are pretty similar these days, but here is an article on what each type offers to help you decide.
My @arbortwist account was a Business account for a few years, but I switched it over to a Creator account when that option became available. It seemed to fit me better as a content creator.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting with different hashtag strategies this year and I’ve found that my posts that use a few less-popular, highly targeted tags perform better.
For example, tagging a post where I’m modeling a hand-knit sweater with ‘#sweaterknitting #sweaterknittersofinstagram #michiganknitters #todaysknitoutfit’ reaches people more likely to be interested in my content than using generic tags like ‘#knitting #knittersofinstagram #ootd’.
Plus, using less-popular tags keeps my posts near the top of the search pages for those tags longer. If I use a wildly popular tag, my content is going to get pushed way down very quickly, plus it is more likely to be targeted by annoying, spammy bots.
I’ve read advice that says I should use at least 11 tags, up to as many as Instagram will allow, but I’ve actually seen worse engagement on those posts where I tried that.
These days, I don’t shoot for a number of tags, I just use whichever niche tags make the most sense for the post. I do usually use at least 3-5 tags.
What can I get from your account that I can’t get anywhere else? You!
Even though my account is for my business, I try to make it feel like a personal account.
I like to follow people who might happen to have a product to sell/a website to promote and I want my account to be something I would want to follow.
This means I don’t only post photos promoting my next design, though I do also promote my upcoming work. My posts are usually about what I have been knitting, or what I have otherwise been up to in my crafting life.
Follow others in your niche, reply to their posts and stories, share their posts in your stories, etc. Sharing people’s posts to stories (and resharing to your story if someone says something nice about you in theirs) has become a big thing on IG in the last year or so. It’s a great way to build community around your account.
If you have trouble finding others in your niche to follow, try following hashtags. I am constantly finding beautiful new accounts to follow by following some of my favorite tags.
Bonus: a lot of the people you follow will follow you back!
The Instagram algorithm seems to reward engagement on posts, showing high-engagement posts to even more people.
Adding calls to action to my post captions has helped me increase engagement on those posts. A call to action can be as simple as a question that is meant to spark a conversation, or you could ask your followers to do something with your post.
For example, in the post embedded below, I wrote about the cardigan I was wearing and then asked “What is your favorite knit or crochet garment for the cold weather?”
View this post on Instagram
Feeling comfy today and felt like a no makeup outfit post! The #FarmhouseCardigan by @savoryknitting is far and away my most-worn garment. I reach for it as soon as it gets chilly in the fall and wear it well into the spring. In fact, I like it so much I've made two! This one is knit in @harrisvilledesigns yarn I picked up from @spunannarbor a few years ago, finished off with the cuuuutest leaf buttons, also from Spun. What is your favorite knit or crochet garment for the cold weather? #myknitoutfit #todaysknitoutfit #nomakeupselfie #sweaterknitting #sweaterknittersofinstagram
In the call for test knitters embedded below, I asked people to share my post to their stories if they weren’t available to test but wanted to help me out. A few people shared it, which helped me reach test knitters who wouldn’t otherwise have seen my post.
View this post on Instagram
🌟 Testing call! 🌟 I'm looking for test knitters for this simple sport weight (or heavy fingering weight) beanie with the world's squishiest brim! Available in sizes newborn to adult large. 🔗 Check out the first link in my linktree for all the details. 🥰 P.S. if you can't test but want to help me out, I'd really appreciate if you shared this to your story. 💞 #callfortestknitters #testknittersofinstagram #testerswanted #testknitting #testknittersneeded #SmushHat
To summarize, these are my top six recommendations based on what has worked for me:
- Convert your account to a Creator or Business account to take advantage of the Insights feature.
- Use highly targeted hashtags, i.e. tags that are specific to your niche and to the specific post you are using them on.
- Use only the most relevant hashtags and not too many. Avoid using too many hashtags so your posts don’t look spammy. Use only those that are the most relevant (and targeted—see #2!).
- Get personal and be yourself! Even if you’re trying to grow a business (I am!), try not to come across like a faceless business that just wants to market to everyone.
- Engage with others in your niche.
- Add calls to action to your captions/stories/etc. Starting a conversation or giving people a suggestion for sharing your content can give your engagement a boost within your niche.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any suggestions you would add? Let me know!