Guest post by Kristine Ofstad from www.blogitbetter.com
Hi, I'm Kristine!
I've been a full-time blogger for half a decade and a business and marketing professional a decade before that. I run "The Gluten Free Lifesaver" and "Blog it Better!", and together they are my passion and my full time business.
Through "Blog it Better!" I help other devoted bloggers reach their goals, grow their income and increase their influence by giving them the tools they need to confidently pursue their passion.
- I'm very excited about this guest post exchange with Clare. She is such a talented and inspiring blogger and coach, and I'm proud to feature her awesome post "How To Create The Perfect Media Kit" on Blog it Better. Make sure you check it out and download her free media kit template!
I WANT YOU TO ACTUALLY ACTION THESE INSTAGRAM TIPS!
As I am writing this, my @blogitbetter Instagram account has 8091 followers and averages 400-500 likes per post, and my @theglutenfreelifesaver Instagram account has 27,300+ followers and averages 1500+ likes and 50-100 comments per post.
- I'm not telling you this to impress you. In fact, to me, there's not much in this world less impressive than a large Instagram following. Useful yes, impressive no. What I do want, however, is to impress upon you that I am writing this post from a place of experience rather than regurgitating other people's info from the internet. I think that's important to share, because I want your full attention.
Now, let's get to work!
ARE YOU WONDERING HOW YOU CAN ORGANICALLY GROW INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS?
Do you want more Instagram followers? Sure. Who doesn't, right?
Instagram is one of my favourite social media platforms for blog conversions. A booming Instagram engagement rate has the potential to directly transform into an equally booming blog, so it's super important for bloggers to learn how to improve Instagram engagement!
- If you're not familiar with the term "conversion", it simply means that you effectively manage to move your followers from one platform to another. As a blogger, your main platform is your own blog, and it's very important to run your social media sites as a funnel to fuel your own online "property", hence the emphasis on conversions.
If you've ever visited my blog, Blog it Better, you have probably noticed that I tend to go on about the importance of "not building your house on rented land". This is something a LOT of bloggers overlook, and which can cost them an arm and a leg down the track.
Because of that, I couldn't possibly write a blog post about how to grow Instagram followers organically, without also mentioning the importance of moving those followers over to your blog. Conversion is the alpha & omega of social media for bloggers, and don't you forget it!
- If you want to find out why it's dangerous to build your following on third-party social media sites, you can read my post: "10 Mistakes Commonly Made By Bloggers & Why They Will Kill Both You And Your Blog!"
PAID VERSUS ORGANIC INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT
So, how can you actually create this conversion? How can you improve your Instagram engagement enough to spark an actual interest in your blog?
First of all, let me point out that there are two main types of engagement that you can create on Instagram; organic engagement and paid engagement.
- You may have noticed posts in your feed marked "sponsored". These types of posts are more and more prevalent, and they are a direct result of Facebook acquiring Instagram and applying their monetisation strategy. This strategy is there to increase corporate earnings and pay their shareholders. Plain and simple.
Social media used to be a "free lunch" system for bloggers to spike their blog traffic, but just like any great party, the blinking lights and peppy music must eventually fade out. Facebook has pretty much already become a deserted dance floor with dirty confetti and the odd confused latecomer trying to squeeze a last dance out of the tired band. Facebook is more or less completely monetised.
Instagram, however, still has a few more hours before close, and there's ample time for us all to drink the fizzy punch and take some extra turns about the floor!
Paid posts are no longer few and far between on Instagram, but you can still create fantastic engagement and build a huge following through organic growth.
And here's how to do it:
HOW TO GROW INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS ORGANICALLY
Organic Instagram growth is valuable, not least because it doesn't cost a dime. If you want to grow your Instagram following fast, you want to create fun and engaging ways to peak people’s interest. The more inventive and unusual your approach is, the more likely you are to attract people's attention!
Here are my top 5 FUN ways to spark interest and boost organic Instagram engagement:
LAUNCH A PHOTO-A-DAY CHALLENGE
Many people have jumped on the a-photo-a-day hype in the last year, and it's become such a popular way to spark general engagement on Instagram. It's not, however, as commonly used to direct traffic to one specific account, which is exactly what I want you to do!
The idea behind the a-photo-a-day challenge, is that you create a monthly list of prompts which challenge other Instagram users to post an image each day representing each prompt.
For example, your list may include words like "gratitude", "joy", and "excitement", or even "goals", "journey", or "dinner" for that matter. Pretty much anything goes.
For you to use this tool to direct engagement towards your own Instagram account, you can choose prompts that directly resonate with your followers or your target niche. Make sure you add a unique hashtag for people to use.
Tip: To really spike engagement for your Instagram challenge, announce that you will feature the top 4 photos each week on your own account!
Tip: Take the incentive to participate to the next level by forming a sharing pod for your weekly winners! For example; the top 4 photos each week will be shared to 5 participating accounts instead of just yours.
START AN INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT POD
Engagement pods are just an absolutely brilliant way to create organic Instagram engagement!
Instagram uses algorithms, much like Facebook, to determine what posts will be seen by whom, and in what order. These algorithms favour certain patterns of engagement, and your posts may or may not even be visible in your followers' newsfeed if they don't fulfil Instagram's algorithm requirements.
In other words, it's not coincidental which posts get shown in the Instagram newsfeed.
One way to influence how visible your posts are going to be on Instagram is, as Instagram wants, for you to pay them. However, bloggers and Instagrammers around the globe have found a fantastic way to sidestep these complex algorithms by supporting each other!
An Instagram engagement pod is simply a group of people who join up and decide to comment, like and share each other’s content.
You can make your own list of people within your niche who you'd like to collaborate with, and then ask them nicely (in a private message, not on their profile!) whether they might like to start a pod with you. Each time anyone in your pod publishes a new post, they notify the group via private message, and everyone helps out with a comment, a like or a share.
Pods are a lovely show of solidarity as well as an actual tool for engagement!
You can also request to join one of the Blog it Better engagement pods if you like.
RUN AN INSTAGRAM CONTEST
Contests are always popular in social media, and Instagram is no exception.
Instagram contests are fun and engaging because they are fast-paced and easy to take part in, and, of course, because there's a price up for grabs.
To run a contest on Instagram, you need to offer an item or a service, or even something so simple and effective as a shout-out, to the winner or winners.
You can offer this prize in return for engagement, either in the form of likes, comments, reposts or other types of interaction.
Beware that Instagram requires you to follow a simple set of ground rules for a contest to be in accordance with their regulations!
You need to clearly state the terms and conditions of your contest, you can not ask people to tag you or others in photos where you/they aren't actually represented, and you have to impress upon your readers that your contest isn't in any way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram.
TRY A DIFFERENT CAPTION LENGTH
This approach to Instagram engagement is unconventional, and you won't hear a lot of people talking about it yet, but it can have an incredible effect and I bet my cat it will become a "thing" in not too long!
- Just like Pinterest went from an image-only platform to having great success with Rich Pins and full recipes, Instagram too allows for far more text than the average quick-caption.
In fact, Instagram allows for a whopping 2000 characters in the captions of any image! That leaves room for anything from full recipes to in-depth tips and almost a whole blog post.
Large businesses are already catching on, and are beginning to experiment with detailed descriptions and text-heavy posts. Personally, I find that any post I share with quality blogging tips and considerably more text than the average image, almost without fail receives vastly more engagement. Just look at this:
Don't underestimate quality content! Words can make an impact on Instagram just as on your blog, and I believe that people start looking for substance on any platform where they otherwise drown in similarity and quick-fixes day in and day out.
As always, the success of an approach will depend on your niche, so experiment with different length caption -from short to long, and find out what works for your specific following!
ENGAGE INSTAGRAM THROUGH VIDEO
Once again, social media proves a sucker for moving images. Videos are consistently receiving higher engagement throughout social media platforms, and people who capitalise are reaping the benefits!
Sometimes, you can say just as much in half the time and with twice the splash, through a well-timed and engaging video!
Videos are all the rage on Instagram right now, and you should claim your piece of the engagement pie by jumping in head first.
No, you don't need a fancy camera, a "halo light" or a beautifully crafted background. Nor do you need editing skills or flashy graphics. All you need is a bloody good message, plenty of enthusiasm and a big, hearty smile!
Just put yourself out there, keep it interesting, keep it high-quality, and keep it brief. And, if it can't be said in a few sentences, it doesn't belong on Instagram (just yet). Accompany your video with some killer captions, and you've got a stellar tool for organic engagement on Instagram!
GET STARTED TODAY!
There's no time to waste if you want to build a large Instagram following! Start planning your approach today, and download my FREE Instagram Engagement Planner to get the ball rolling!
This Instagram Planner is no run-of-the-mill freebie, but rather a valuable tool that will help you create a systematic activity schedule throughout a full year. It will help you maximise your efforts and reap the benefits of the 5 engagement tips I’ve explained in this post.
- Brainstorm, plan and launch your activities, pitch collaborators and track your progress throughout, using the handy prompts and planning sheets within the free download.
The Instagram Engagement Planner download is exclusively available through this blog post!
Tag your project #BlogitBetter for a chance to feature on the @blogitbetter Instagram account!
See you on Instagram!