5 Ways to Organically Build Your Instagram Audience
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Building your Instagram audience can take patience and persistence, but a few small adjustments to your strategy can make a world of difference in both the quantity of new followers you receive, and how invested your followers are in your blog.
With so many influencers taking shortcuts — whether they’re buying followers, posting inauthentic comments, or playing the follow/unfollow game — it can feel like these practices are the only way to get ahead. But bloggers who have tried these tactics are also starting to find that shortcuts come with consequences that just aren’t worth it to your brand.
Not only does poor engagement damage trust with brands — particularly when they’re expecting results based on your audience size — but chasing inauthentic followers also leaves you more susceptible to losing the followers you have since those acquired inauthentically aren’t all that invested in your content. This leaves you scrambling to chase new followers rather than focusing on high-quality imagery or forming more genuine connections.
Fortunately, building an audience organically isn’t a myth; as many bloggers have found, it’s a an achievable goal with the right approach. Here are five ways to authentically grow your audience, using inspiration from bloggers in our network:
1. Know Your Niche
Failing to define a clear focus for your account is a common mistake among aspiring influencers. Although you may have wide-ranging interests, building your brand as a blogger requires a more media-centric mindset than you might take to your personal account. To attract new and engaged followers, a well-defined theme that sets expectations for your followers will help you cultivate a dedicated — and interested — audience. Think about your own favorite bloggers and even your favorite magazines. Whether you follow for style inspiration, beauty advice, or design ideas, you can probably pinpoint a clear focus. You want to see a real person behind the content, but if an account veered too far from what you expected, you might be inclined to unfollow. Your own followers are looking for the same consistency.
A Pair & A Spare is a great example of an account with a clear focus. Geneva Vanderzeil covers fashion, travel and home decor - but her posts follow a uniform aesthetic and fit under a “lifestyle” umbrella:
2. Share the Details
The best bloggers don’t just share their favorite looks, but also how to get them. If you wear a brand you love, tag it. If you find a glorious new beauty product, share where to find it. Modernize your living room on a budget? Reveal how you did it! Your followers are looking to be inspired, and the more helpful you are, the more invested in your account they will be. It takes dedication to pore through your comments to answer questions, but offering more detail goes a long way toward building a truly engaged and loyal following.
Le Blonde Fox is a good example of a blogger who goes out of her way to share the details, noting products she uses, cafes she frequents and brands she wears. These little things that are helpful for your followers:
3. Make Every Photo Count
Since Instagram is highly visual, your photo quality counts every bit as much as your content. To stand out from the crowd, invest in the highest-quality camera you can and learn how to use it. Stage your shots mindfully, and take the time to make every photo you post one that you love. Although consistency is important, particularly for your blog content, Instagram requires a different mindset. Posting for the sake of maintaining your schedule can hurt more than it helps. Skipping a day may not earn you any new followers, but a mediocre photo may cause you to lose a few.
Read More: Photography Tips for Style Bloggers
Lavenda Memory (who guest wrote the post above) is great example of how transformative investing time and energy into learning how to shoot professional-quality images can be for your account:
Nothing like the Windmill Farms to remind you of how tiny we are in this world... always makes me feel pensive and reflective to drive through these hills... _ Check out the full post with @everlydarling and @thetwohandexchange NEW on the blog. •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• #ootd#styleblogger#fashionblogger#lavendascloset#portlandblogger#wiw#portland#fashion#instafashion#portlandstyle#todaysoutfit#topfashionbloggers#streetstyle#lablogger#blogueralatina#streettrends
4. Authentically Engage
Remember that Instagram is a social platform — it pays to be social! This starts with responding to comments and engaging your followers by showing interest in their own accounts. Scroll through a few follower accounts each day, and genuinely comment on the photos you love. Go beyond a spammy “Love it!” and make a note about something you liked — the destination, the brand, the positive message. Connecting with people who share your interests is part of what builds a community. Ultimately, this is exactly what you want to create.
Lian Galliard (@liangalliard) is a great example of a blogger who goes out of her way to engage her followers, going the extra step of asking questions about their own lives:
5. Pay Attention to Your Analytics
Your analytics are the most powerful tool you have for understanding what works and what doesn’t. If you haven’t switched to an Instagram business profile, start there. This will give you access to insights about your impressions, overall reach, follower information and top posts for the week, so you can see what kinds of content perform best, and what demographics you appeal to most. Coupling these insights with your Google Analytics from your blog will give you the best idea of where to focus your energy.
Approaching your Instagram account with a focused niche, a dedication to high-quality imagery and a social mindset will allow you to build a steady, engaged audience without the need for quick fixes or shortcuts. Better yet, your following is more likely to remain engaged and loyal, leaving you more time to focus on your content and less on chasing new followers!
We would love to hear your own advice for building an engaged audience. Comment below or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in our follow-up article!