Hello! My name is Lydia and along with my “day job” I have an interiors blog, www.houseofspolland.blog, and an interiors Instagram account, @houseofspolland – followers currently stand at just short of 15k.
I started to document the renovation of our house just over 2 years ago and started my blog last year. I had always intended on starting a blog, but I guess I doubted myself at first and it took about a year to pluck up the courage to do so.
I hit 10,000 followers in December last year, and it really did feel like a big milestone, not only because you get the ‘swipe up’ feature, but also because it was amazing to think that 10,000 people wanted to follow along with my ramblings and house updates. It also impressed upon me that I could definitely use this platform for good. I regularly endeavour to support small businesses, promote them through giveaways and collaborations and share other accounts too.
It’s certainly harder than ever to gain a following on Instagram. I started my account just after the algorithm kicked in and you could no longer scroll your feed in chronological order. There are more users than ever and so what can you do to create an engaging audience and increase your following on Instagram? Here are five things that helped me:
- Know your niche
It has been said that the Instagram grid is the new shop front. Your first nine squares are the ones that will be seen straight away by anyone clicking onto your account. I try not to think too much about whether all my squares are colour coordinated; mainly because I have an interiors account and I don’t have the same colour in every room, and also because it would make me feel really restricted. Ultimately it should flow and a prospective new follower should know what you’re about, or your business, by looking at your profile.
Obviously, I do try and mix in things to make it fun, because you must enjoy social media, but keeping your niche in mind really helps you stay authentic. If you feel that you’re veering away from “you” then you need to bring yourself back, as there is nothing more stressful and discouraging than trying to chase numbers or jump through hoops just because everyone else seems to be doing it.
- Use the right hashtags and use them well
Once you have your niche sorted and you know what you want to post, you need to use the right hashtags so that your posts are seen. There seems to be a hashtag for everything these days so how do you know which ones to use to get noticed?
They’re like a mini tribe and Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in each post, and so you may as well use them all! You have the potential for your post to be seen by others in up to 30 hashtag feeds. Follow a hashtag and discover more accounts, head into the hashtag and engage with other posts in the ‘tribe’ and use hashtags that are relevant to your post.
If you’re struggling to find hashtags that are suitable then head to the accounts that you follow in your niche for some inspiration. See what hashtags they use and make sure that the size of the hashtags you are using (the amount of posts in the hashtag already) are mixed. It’s often easier to be seen in a hashtag with less pictures in it, but you may get a larger following in a hashtag with a large amount of posts if your posts gets the right amount of traction.
- Quality over quantity
Don’t just post for the sake of it. You don’t need to post daily if that doesn’t fit into your schedule, just make sure that you have some schedule or consistency there. Keep turning up consistently and your followers will get used to when you post and look forward to seeing what you share next. At the same time, don’t feel bad for not posting if you’re not feeling it. I often lose my ‘insta-mojo’ and, when that happens, I take a little time away.
Just keep showing up in the best way that works for you and, if you’re a business, for your business or service.
- Be nice
It may seem to be an obvious one, but there is a reason why social media is called social media. This is where that word engagement comes into it. That includes liking, commenting and sharing, and includes using Instagram stories too.
Try and use all the features on stories – use the polls, quizzes, question boxes and try and share on there when you have a new Instagram post or blog post. You could create highlights and save them on your profile. Keeping your stories active can really help your account to be seen and can also be a great way to share other accounts in your niche and show your support.
Story shares help to show your support and are basically saying “look at this amazing thing!”. Make sure you tag the account so that they know as they don’t get notified if you just share with the aeroplane under the post and they don’t have the option to repost your support to their stories either.
Try and engage more with the accounts you follow. I can’t always comment on each post I see or like, but when I do I really try to take the time to read the caption and comment on either something that they’ve said or something in the picture. Wish someone a good day, send love if they’re not having a good one or compliment them. I try to think of what I would say to a friend in real life or what I would like someone to comment on one of my posts.
Your captions are important too. Wording your caption to start conversation on your posts is a good way to increase engagement with your account. Try to reply to all of your comments in a meaningful way, and not just with an emoji. Head over to the accounts that comment and see what they’re about too, as that can be a great way to find new accounts to follow.
All of this may sound like a lot of work, but it will soon become part of your routine. I also think that there’s nothing nicer than getting a reputation for being a supportive person
Once you’ve started to engage and interact with other accounts in your niche, you will find that you click with some more than others. You will find that you have things in common, whether that be the area you live, your business or your style of pictures.
Collaborating with other accounts, whether that be other businesses or someone who you feel could support your business, can really help promote your account or business. I’m sure you’ve seen already how small businesses may find accounts that suit their aesthetic who can promote their products or services, and that kind of collaboration can really work well.
You could collaborate with others with a social media challenge, running a hashtag or by doing an Instagram live. This will really help to engage your audience and grow your followers too. It may be out of your comfort zone, but it is nice to see the person behind the account, especially if you’re a small business.
It is so important that you enjoy using social media and this will come through in your posts and what you create. You must make it work for you and your routine and I’m sure that will be reflected in your audience. I know that as soon as I started to get my head round how the app could work for me and how I could engage with my audience in a better way, I started to enjoy being more creative.