How to Growth Hack Instagram in 48 Hours
As a travel blogger and Social Media Manager, having an active presence across all social media channels is a must. While I have always been quite active on Facebook and Twitter, I was very much a latecomer to Instagram only joining very recently.
I actually felt ashamed at having such an awful Instagram account and decided to take action. Last Friday, I reached out to all my friends, fellow Irish bloggers, fellow female travel bloggers and essentially every other blogger group I am a member of on Facebook in search of a little push in the right direction, in the hope I could reach 1000 Instagram followers in just one week. Fast forward 48 hours and I had already hit my target.
I somehow reached 1000 Instagram followers in less than a week and learned a lot in the process.
Here's how you can do it too...
1. Download a photo editor. Seriously.
I was originally uploading mediocre travel photos that were taken on my phone and had no real appeal. They were totally unedited and were averaging 10-20 likes per photo. The minute I invested in a decent editor, I immediately saw the difference and couldn't believe when my photos started getting 50, 60, 70, 80...120 likes! Many people opt to put a frame on their photos, and while I have decided not to do this, I can certainly see the appeal. The photos really jump off the page given the right editing and the right frame. I recommend downloading VSCO Cam, Afterlight or Aviary Photo Editor for the best editing tools.
2. Only upload your BEST photos.
One of the main tricks to a killer Instagram account is to only post your VERY best images. Forget the rest, seriously. It doesn't matter if you post once a day or once a week (however, don't post more than 4-5 times a day or people might get sick of your images), as long as your images are of excellent quality. Check out the Instagram feed of my friend Max (@maxrmcd) who travels the world MCing The Colour Run, helping out with The Yacht Week and The Ski Week and many other adventures in between. You will find only the most spectacular photos on his feed...something that makes me what to return again and again looking for updates.
3. Pick a niche.
I talked to my friend Allan Dixon, an Instagram guru and winner of Best Job in The World in Australia, who gave me some good tips too. Try to pick a niche that is special to you. An area that you love and will enjoy posting about. The followers will then come to you. Allan, for example, absolutely loves animals and nature. So, he combines the two by uploading the cutest animal selfies around the world with photos of him doing mad things in the wildest of places. He has almost 11,000 followers!
4. Use different photo themes
This is a bonus tip, given to me by Dr. Cacinda Maloney of the very popular Points and Travel blog. With over 24,000 followers, she sure knows what she is talking about. Her tip is that you should pick a different theme for each trip you take, so that the photos uploaded blend together nicely. You should then only upload photos that match that theme. For example, you could upload 6-9 photos over a two day period from a market in Guatemala. Then you could upload 6-9 photos of all the colorful buildings you saw in another small Guatemalan village 2 days later. If you check out her Instagram, you will see exactly what I mean.
5. Pick the right hashtags
Use a few good hashtags, and stay away from the ones that every single Instagrammer on the planet uses. Skip #travel and #wanderlust and choose ones such as #MyVietnam, #ChooseMyThailand or #IrelandInspires instead. When you are travelling to a new place, do your research and see what the right hashtags to use are. For example, when I was on a recent trip to Jersey, certain hashtags created by Visit Jersey tourism board ensured a lot more engagement than generic hashtags. You can also use specific hashtags to get the attention of some HUGE accounts such as @InstaIreland or @ExpatWoman or @Wondeful_Places. If a big account features you, your followers will no doubt shoot through the roof.
6. Find the RIGHT followers
I decided to find my followers in quite a unique way. Personally, I am only interested in travel. Fashion? Nope. Cars? Nope. Luxury? Nope. So I decided to follow every travel blogger I knew. Then I decided to see what bloggers they were following, and followed them too. The key is to target big accounts (such as @GirlvsGlobe or @DameTraveler if you are a female travel blogger like me!). This will help you find the right followers in your niche. If you are into fashion and style, I recommend you check out my friend Eimear Varian Barry (@eimearvarianbarry) who is making waves on Instagram right now. The key is to follow, and take inspiration, from key followers in your area. Whatever that area might be.
7. Like some photos. Then like some more.
Not kidding....I probably spent 5 hours or more over the weekend just liking other peoples photos. A bit extreme? Maybe, but it helped me to find I some useful hashtags in the process, many amazing accounts to follow and taught me a few more lessons. Such as, liking multiple photos on one persons account will have a better return than liking one photo on many accounts.
8. Download CrowdFireApp.
I am a big fan of tracking my followers to see what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. I use it for Twitter all the time and find it so useful. Crowdfireapp tells me who unfollowed me , who followed me, if there are any people who follow me but I don't follow back etc etc. They now also track your Instagram account which is pretty amazing, especially when starting out. You can use it to very easily unfollow (fire the crowd!) any people that are not relevant to you, are inactive or who do not follow you back. There is a certain limit each day but it really is an incredible tool for building a large and engaged Instagram community.
Read Allan Dixon's 'How To Kick Ass On Instagram' post for some of the most comprehensive Instagram tips and tricks you will find anywhere on the net.
If you have any great tips be sure to leave a comment below.
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