How I'm Growing My Instagram & the Strategy I'm Using

How I’m Growing My Instagram & the Strategy I’m Using

In May, I decided to walk the talk: create a strictly business Instagram account. I'm always sharing with my clients and students that if they have an Instagram account to be very clear about what they post there, and to be consistent within their posting.

I am embarrassed to say, I was doing none of that for years on my original Instagram account, and it was driving me nuts (and doing literally nothing for my business. More on why below.)

How I’m Growing My Instagram & the Strategy I’m Using

Spoiler: if I knew what I know now, I would have made the change years ago! I made the switch in late May, and I've seen skyrocket growth: with upwards of 50% in follower growth, 204% percent in website traffic directly from Instagram, and roughly a 20% engagement rate!

I've been really excited by what I've seen and experienced!

Below I share with you what I've done to build my new account, and the tangible results that have happened because of it.

Consistency is always key

I've had my original (now personal and private) IG account since literally 2 days after Instagram launched in the app store.

Like most people, my life has evolved quite a bit in 8 years - I've gone from art blogger to corporate tech social media manager in Silicon Valley to a small business consultant.

Those iterations have attracted many different followers. And most of those people are no longer my ideal follower for my current business.

Along the way, the account has also become more personal. And like many creative business owners I've had a lot of mixed feelings about sharing promotional stuff on a personal social media account.

Should it be personal? Should it be all business? Ugh. (Please know, that this is a decision that is different for every business - there is no right answer.)

Suffice to say, my posting on that account became incredibly haphazard. My content ranged from personal content to very promotional, marketing content. And it resulted in a stagnant, all over the place Instagram account - and quite honestly a place I kind of hated being. And it made me super uncomfortable.

If you learn anything about building a brand online, the number one rule is it's all about consistency - regardless of what it is you're posting (personal or promotional).

 This is how all of July and the beginning of August looked in my Planoly account. You can see that starting mid-July is when my posting increased and became much more consistent.

This is how all of July and the beginning of August looked in my Planoly account. You can see that starting mid-July is when my posting increased and became much more consistent.

Talk the talk & walk the walk

At the end of May, I decided to bite the bullet and create a separate Instagram account for my business. I wanted to have a place on Instagram that I could be strictly business, and not feel held back by the people I imagined were following me on my other personal account.

 Having a visually cohesive grid is one of the best things you can do to attract followers.

Having a visually cohesive grid is one of the best things you can do to attract followers.

(It's kind of amazing how not knowing who your followers are can really inhibit your posting!)

My goals for this account were:

  1. Drive valuable traffic (ie: people that want to read my content) back to my website.
  2. Not only build a following, but an engaged one. I wanted to see comments and lots of likes for a small account.
  3. Offer valuable content that helped get my name in front of others, essentially build my brand further.

The right switch: the growth I've seen in just 2 months

I started my account on May 27th, and as of writing this blog post it's been just a little over 2 months and I'm pretty excited about the data I'm seeing!

First though, you might think because I had over 5-6k followers on my personal Instagram account I could very well easily grow my following by leaps and bounds on my new account.

Not so. And this experience has made me see how smart it was to create a new account.

When I posted on my personal IG account saying I was creating a new account, I *maybe* recouped 150 followers. That's roughly 2.5% of my following - which is a good number metrics wise, but as you can see it's not thousands of people. So I didn't have a huge leg up.

But what I have seen in the organic growth in the past 2 months has been excellent.

Here's what I'm seeing:

In that time period I've grown my following by 53% in June (up 204 followers from 186) and 30% in July (up by 168 followers to 559).

It's true 559 followers may not seem like a lot, but most Instagram accounts grow at around 6%-8% per month. So you can see the numbers I'm seeing on my account above are way above the norm.

And guess what? If you tell people to go back to your website, and make it easy, it actually works! I'm seeing a 204% growth in Instagram traffic to my website from June!

Something else that's been wonderful to see is I have really fantastic engagement on my content, which makes the student in me very proud. 😚

Average engagement rate per post on Instagram is roughly 3%-6% (so bad, right?!). But I am seeing between 14%-28% on each post and an average of 20% overall.

That's huge and encouraging!

The magic formula (surprise: it's work)

How I’m Growing My Instagram & the Strategy I’m Using

One of the biggest reasons I was excited to start a brand new Instagram account from scratch was to employ tactics I know work. I wanted to put to work things I tell others to do. However, that doesn't mean:

  • Lame follow/unfollow BS.
  • Signing up for a 3rd party app that will like random images based on hashtags.
  • Using a 3rd party to leave insipid comments like "good job!👍" or "great feed!"

None of the above spam tactics will build a following that truly cares about investing in your business.

It's crazy how we get caught up in believing that there's some magic formula to getting better engagement and follower growth on social media.

There is no magic formula.

The only real magic formula is posting consistently with a solid message and working hard. That's it.

The tactics & strategy I'm using

Here's what I've put into place over the past 2 months that I really believe have gotten me the results we see above, and I'll continue to employ these:

  • Posting consistently: I was initially posting roughly 5x a week/once a day, but mid July I upped it to twice a day (Monday through Thursday) and once a day (Friday through Sunday). I've found that if you want to really grow your following, you need to post more.
     
  • A cohesive grid/feed: This feels trite and cliche, but it is really one of the best ways to attract new followers. People on Instagram are precious af and they want to be visually stimulated. So I've made sure that my images are beautiful. I only use stock images because I don't have the resources to create beautiful on brand photos.
     
  • Speaking ONLY to my ideal customer. I have done a lot of work on who my ideal customer is and what she wants from me, and I'm very clear on how I want to speak to her. I make sure all of my posts are directed at her.
     
  • Ensuring I'm offering true value in my posts: Because I offer a service I want to ensure I'm educating my audience on what they want: social media, content creation, email marketing, running a small business, and being inspired to keep going. So all of my posts stay within those parameters. Nothing is off brand. Ever.
     
  • Dedication: Because I'm all in on my content, people are sharing my account and tagging me. This has been super helpful to help me grow my audience and get in front of other people. AND really helps to keep me dedicated.
     
  • Planning, planning, planning. Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling: I sit down on Monday and I plan out my posts using Planoly (that's an affiliate link). This allows me to get cohesive and make sure I'm posting consistently, and talking about things I need to (promotions!), and making sure everything works together for that week.
     
  • Using hashtags: This can feel like a spammy tactic, but it's not! Hashtags will really help you get in front of more people. I make sure to use relevant and consistent hashtags. I also make sure to switch them up - and not use the same group for each image. Learn more about using hashtags here.
     
  • Following back: There's a shit ton of stupid tactics on Instagram, such as follow/unfollow. And I truly hate it. I also firmly believe Instagram has encouraged a spammy culture for not cracking down on this kind of behavior. It's important to me to follow people I want to engage with and see in my feed, and also follow people that support my business. This means making sure I follow my clients and audience that has followed me for years. I also make sure to follow people within my industry.
     
  • Truly engaging: Like I said above the garbage tactics are rife on Instagram, and it's unfortunate. But I can only create the community I crave, and I can't worry about others. So I make sure to hang out in the main feed and like and comment on photos so I am actively engaged. This is important to me. I also make sure I respond to any comments on my post (unless they're obvious spam).
     
  • Sharing about it on social media: I'm making sure that I am posting on my other channels (FB & my newsletter) that I have a new account. I do this once every 2 weeks.

All of the above you will find everywhere when reading about how to grow your Instagram. And if you look at the accounts that you follow and love they're also doing all of the above.

You can follow along on the new account here and see what I am doing, and of course continue to learn how to build your business online at  the same time!

I am not sharing anything special here.

None of this is rocket science or some magic hack you have to spend $1000 on a course for. You can easily do all of this!

It's simply straightforward speaking to your ideal client, being on brand, and offering things people really want to see.

I hope this helps you, and as always leave me any questions you have below! Happy posting!

Meighan O'Toole

Always all in.