A few weeks ago The Ocean Minded (TOM) had a three-year anniversary. I’m simultaneously thankful and in disbelief that I’ve been doing this for three whole years. I’ve come a long way since then. If I’m being totally honest, I bought my first 500 followers back in 2016. As embarrassed as I am to admit that, I was even more embarrassed to launch a blog and start from zero on Instagram. I’ve since lost said followers during an Instagram bot detox, and I’m glad that I did. While I’m still hustling to hit 10,000 followers (I need that swipe up feature, ya know?), I’m proud to say that my following is now 100% authentic and real. Without sounding like a hypocrite, I now understand the importance of an organic following.
I’m fully aware that I’m a small fish in a big pond of influencers, but my growth is steady. Right now I am averaging about 1,000 new followers each month. That may seem like a small number to the bigger career bloggers, but to me it’s a number that I’m proud of. It’s a number that I’ve achieved by being myself, taking chances, and being open to new friends and partnerships.
A lot of times girls starting out will ask more established bloggers how they gained their following. In my opinion, there are a thousand courses you can take online to help “teach” you how to grow, but it all comes down to you and how you sell yourself. That being said, there are some best practices to ensure your Instagram friends are loyal and true.
Let me break it down for you.
Find your niche
First thing’s first, find your niche. There are hundreds, and thousands (maybe even millions), of people on Instagram doing what you’re trying to do. By finding your niche– whether that’s food, fashion, travel, parenthood, or life– you’re finding your place in the midst of the chaos. People interested in what you’re posting about will gravitate to you, and will be your biggest cheerleaders.
Keep it real
Your most loyal followers will keep coming back because they can resonate with what you’re posting and saying. So, keep it real. Be honest about the brands you’re featuring, be open about your life, and share your experiences. People love that, swear. You’d be surprised how many more followers I got once I started sharing more personal things about my life. I realize not everyone feels comfortable posting their life on the Internet, but find a way to relate to your followers on a more personal level.
Use your hashtags
Truth be told, I don’t use hashtags as often as I should, but there’s something to be said about the power of hashtags. Using hashtags that are relevant to your brand is how new people can find you via the discover page. There are a lot of statistics to support this, so the proof is really in the pudding here.
Engage with like-minded people
It is no secret that engagement is key. I have three hacks for you. The first one is to like and comment on photos twenty minutes before you post your own. Somehow (in the weird world of Instagram) this helps bump you up on the IG algorithm, which means more people are seeing your post. Second, make sure you respond to every comment and DM on your own account. While this also allegedly helps to boost you up against the algorithm bullies, it makes your followers feel heard and seen (which is important). Lastly, make an effort to follow and support like-minded accounts. This can help you find new inspirations, make new connections, and build new friendships (followers).
Tag your brands
Tag, tag, tag! One easy way to get new followers is by getting re-posted by a brand. Tag every brand, or company, that’s being featured in your post in the hopes that said brand(s) will share your photo with their own followers. Obviously, the better the content, the more likely you are to get a repost. Take pride in your work, and what you’re posting, and the followers will come.
I feel the need to add– your followers do not define you. While it’s great to hit new milestones, it’s most important to build a brand that you’re proud of and to enjoy the process. The rest will follow in due time.