How I increased by Instagram following my 160% in 3 months

I began to focus on my Instagram after giving a ton of advice to my cousin and working to benefit her modeling career. I was researching marketing ideas, thinking of collab partnerships, daydreaming about all the ways she can benefit from the fantastic platform and community building site. 

And then it hit me. I need to have a larger presence on Instagram!  I love posting photos, chatting with the users, creating content, editing, brainstorming ideas for how the app can benefit small and large brands. 

Since I started my Instagram presence, I was always posting travel, architecture, photos of my friends looking gorgeous and styled. But when jumping further into becoming an influencer, I began investigating what content works for my followers, what do the users really love to interact with, and what I can actually make into a brand and a paying business. 

This is what my Instagram used to look like:

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Initially, posting photos of myself was a challenge. I didn't want my friends and family who follow me on Instagram to think "Who is this girl? She's not a model. Is she trying to do this Instagram thing? Such a lazy millennial." Did anyone ever make comments like this? No! But the irrational fear was there, and sometimes still persists.  I saw some family members roll their eyes and say something to the point of “oh you silly kids” but at the same time, this was important to me and I was going to keep going. 

But on the flip side of fear, is hope, and curiosity. I enjoy being the photographer, and I also enjoy capturing the memory. It's fun to get dressed up and look stylish for the photos and act like a model for the moment. And at the very core of my love for photography is also the desire to make Instagram a part of my full time career. I wanted to experience things that my 9-5 couldn't offer me. 

And so I began to prioritize making time to shoot photographs of myself, in addition to the work that my followers are already used to - buildings, travel, street photography. I made a plan to post a photo of myself at least on a weekly basis and see how those posts performed.

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The results? My account started growing rapidly, and in three months, I grew more than I've grown in 2 years. My followers doubled (and then some) from ~3000 To the most recent number of 7800. And it’s all done with revealing a little bit more of my personality rather than just my love for photography. 

I looked back at the analytics to see whether the numbers back up this claim, and they absolutely do. Every single photo at the very top of my engagement bubble has me in it.

I started to think about why this is, and I gathered:

  • Users probably love seeing who the person is behind the account. They got to see the creator and know my life a little better

  • I solidified my theme by incorporating lifestyle into my travel category

  • My photos became an extension of my personality and my brand and users could connect better with me

The results speak for themselves. I began to receive followers from the style and fashion community though I don't consider myself one of much style. My content became a little broader and desirable to individuals who like to travel, but also look cute doing it. Essentially, the photos I posted of me really showcased my brand. Who am I? What sort of travel do I do? Who else is important in my life (my puppy, duh). Where do I like to be? It was just simpler and more meaningful for my users to connect with me as a person, rather than a magician behind the curtain curating this gallery of buildings and travel moments. 

So how can you incorporate this into your feed?

1. Begin to post photos of yourself & be consistent 

This is tricky at first, but understand that users want to see who you are! You don't have to have a huge budget to have the most Instagram relevant props like Fashion Nova clothes or Fit Tea ads. Show yor style and show what you love in your day to day. Let your users see who you are. Showcase your outfits, your favorite activities, your day-to-day work, and some behind the scenes. Are you a photographer? Great! Get a friend to capture you in your moment, or just use your camera as a prop. Explain in your caption why you love your art. Connect with your users by stepping in front of the camera.  

And when you do begin to post photos, slowly ramp up to a consistent, periodic frequency. It's not enough to post a photo every 3-4 months as in "Hey! Do you remember me? Still here!" Your face is an extension of your brand. Your style, your hobbies, your work is an extension. Showcase them.

2. Interact with followers on stories 

Instagram stories are another avenue to start conversations with your users and for you to show them a more low-key version of yourself. You don't need to be perfect on Instagram, because that may lead to burnout. Enjoy yourself, post content from your day-to-day, ask your users questions, share videos and photos from your activities.

3. Introduce photos that fit the theme but are more Instagram friendly

You can post a photo of yourself in a couple hundred ways. Variety matters when it comes to your gallery because users view Instagram galleries, often starting from the high overview, coming down to individual posts. If you look at your category and you've got content that doesn't match the brand, it's time to reconsider that content, or perhaps the way you take photos of said content.

So when you are adding photos of yourself, it's not enough to pull up your phone and take a selfie if the rest of your content is professionally photographed. Photos of you must match the rest of the content, and you should always keep pushing the envelope on the aesthetics of your page. Small changes in the way you take the photo will ultimately help you have a more succinct and well-put-together page.

4. Post infrequently at first, and figure out how photos of you will blend into your gallery

When I began, I posted a photo of me every 15th-20th post. It felt really strange to move that range down to 3-5, and then to every other post. To keep your sanity and to dip your toes into showcasing more of who you are on your page, add a photo to your feed once per week, and slowly move that up to every 4 posts, up to every 3 posts, etc. Don't get carried away by switching your feed up overnight. Let your followers catch up with this change, and let them interact with your new content. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you're not "spamming" your friends with your photos, but rather are working to grow your following so that your business can grow.

Thank you so much for reading and letting me spill my soul. I hope you begin to see how special you are and how wonderful it will be when you share more of your true self to your followers.

Keep reading:

11 tips for creating the most engaging stories

How to set up newsletter an build up 10,000 subscriptions!

How to make money with Instagram

Khrystyna OrosComment