There are a million resources on how to grow your Instagram following—some of the resources are helpful, while others not so much. In the past year I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and so will you as you attempt to grow your profile. I am by no means an Instagram expert. I wouldn’t even call myself proficient at times. However, within a year I’m just brushing against the edge of 10,000 followers. It’s been a lot of work; it’s taken a lot of time. It’s taken organization and imagination…but it’s been so much fun! The following are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along my journey in growing my Instagram platform.
Tip 1: Consistency is Key to Growing on Instagram
Consistency with posting and content is key to growing your presence on Instagram, and I can’t emphasize this enough. When I say consistency, I’m referring to consistency in three categories: posting, content, and engagement.
Posting: In trying to grow an initial following, posting every day will only help to grow your platform that much faster. I wouldn’t recommend skipping posting for more than three days in a row. After three days you are at risk of losing a few followers. You want to keep your content relevant and the less you post, the less attention your page will get. Life can really get in the way sometimes, so I learned early on that batch creating content ahead of time is the best way to go for my profile.
As I prepared to launch my Instagram page, I read numerous resources on the frequency in which you should post. Some said a few times a week, others said every day. I set out with the goal to post every single day. The more content you create, the more people will see your work. I quickly found that creating quality content every single day of the week was exhausting. Despite the effort it takes, I found taking several photos one day instead of trying to take a photo every single day worked best for me. I began batch creating 3-4 photos in a single day that took several hours, and would then schedule those posts throughout the week.
Content: The content you create on your profile should have a clear, running theme throughout that ties all your posts together. When I first created my Instagram page, I had a specific vision for what I wanted my page to become. I wanted to share books I was reading and my thoughts on them. I wanted my page to be a culmination of all the things I love. On my page, you’ll see books, paired with fashion, paired with my coffee drink of the day. You’ll see all the things that make me happy, but the central focus of my profile is evident—books. Every single photo I post has a book in it, if not several hundred books!
I learned from other Instagram profiles in my niche, taking note of the dos and don’ts. Several people launched their “bookstagram” pages around the same time I did, for example, and I noticed keys to success and points where growth diminished. Some profiles started out posting nothing but books, but then they ended up shifting into more scattered content about food and recipes. Gone were the books. Some profiles would shift into posting personal updates such as announcements about their new home purchase, for example. Gone were the books. I noticed a dramatic decrease in the following for these accounts because they weren’t staying consistent with their content. The profiles that remained consistent with their original themes, however, seemed to thrive and grow consistently.
On my Instagram profile, I’ve made a strong effort to remain consistent and it has served my page quite well! My recommendation for you is to determine your niche and focus early on and don’t deviate from it. Make sure you know what kind of content you want to create and stick to it. I’m not saying you can’t mix it up—you definitely should keep content spontaneous in that way—but make sure your central theme stays the same throughout your feed!
Engagement: You have to engage with other pages to see engagement on your own, which is a lesson I learned within the first 6 months of starting on Instagram. 95 percent of the accounts I follow on my bookstagram page are also bookstagram accounts. We are a like-minded community. I noticed when I didn’t engage with these other accounts, but simply posted my photo and logged off the app, I didn’t get nearly as much engagement with my posts. People notice who comments on their photos and who doesn’t. Social media is truly a give and receive, rather than a take and take.
If you want people to share your photos and videos, you need to share the content of others in your niche as well. If you want comments, you need to comment on other pages. Once I started engaging with other Instagram accounts, I noticed a dramatic increase in engagement on my posts. Sharing engagement amongst other pages within your niche will not only build your audience and reach but will create a healthy camaraderie with fellow bookstagrammers or with those within your niche. It’s an unspoken bond: “I will support your work and you will support mine.” With this unspoken bond, I have the confidence that even if I post a horrible photo, my friends will still engage, comment, like, and share my post because they support me and my efforts just as I do theirs.
Tip 2: Determine Your Niche on Instagram
The best advice I ever got while working as a nurse practitioner, was to find a niche. Make yourself indispensable. Be the only person who can do, or is doing what you do. This advice can be applied to any venture, including Instagram. Once you decide what you want your page to be about, decide what is going to make you different from all the other pages from books to fashion to taxidermy! Why should people choose to follow your bookstagram page over another? I noticed my growth increased exponentially once I began creating “book art,” which is creating scenes or objects out of books. Sure, sometimes I felt silly trying to squash my body into a bicycle made of books, but I’ve had a heck of a lot of fun doing it and people love the result. Who else have you seen riding a book bicycle? Find a way to make what you are creating or promoting unique. Despite there being tons of successful bookstagram pages on the Instagram platform, you can still find ways to differentiate your profile from others. Study other pages and take some time to find your unique vibe!
Tip 3: Research Other Instagram Profiles Within Your Niche
When I decided I would create a bookstagram, I read countless articles on how to create a successful page. I read everything I could about hashtags to determine how many and which ones I should use, for example. I read about diversifying my content feed, and how to avoid repetitive posts. I read about the best times and the worst times to post on Instagram, as well as how often I should post. As much time as I spent reading, I realized that there’s nothing quite like hands-on experience when it comes to Instagram growth. Despite the onslaught of Instagram tips floating around out there, there’s truly no one-size-fits-all plan for growth on the platform.
Every audience within every niche is different. The Insights section within your Instagram settings will reveal a lot of information about your unique audience, providing key data about the best times to post and what content is most popular amongst your fans. I check this frequently to guide what times I will post and what days to post my best content. You can also see where most of your followers are from as well as their demographics. This is vital information to understand as you’re growing your bookstagram or author profile on Instagram.
As you post content, take notice of what people enjoy most! Do they love covers of books or spines? Do they like seeing just one book or several? Do they like “book art” or book reviews more? Which of your posts gets the most attention? Follow these trends and try to give the people what they want! I could spend hours writing a riveting review, but thousands of people loved my book flower more than my review. What does that tell me? Do more book flowers!
Don’t copy other profiles but, instead, learn to glean inspiration from other accounts and create your own unique content. What do you like about other people’s feeds? What aesthetics are you drawn to? Determine what aspects of other pages draw your attention the most and learn to tweak and make these elements your own. I studied many bookstagram feeds before I started my own.
Lastly, follow the Instagram trends. Instagram is a social media platform that changes often. Currently, Instagram is moving towards more videos than photos. Many are resistant to this change, but if Instagram is showing more videos than photos, it may be beneficial to lean into the changes and go with the flow. It takes a lot of time to create content, so don’t get lost in dated practices by not shifting with the latest trends. Learn to go with the flow of social media trends so that your profile can have the greatest impact!
Tip 4: Do You and Have Fun on Instagram
Yes, DO YOU. If you’re creating an Instagram platform, make sure it brings you joy. It takes time and energy to grow a successful Instagram platform, so make sure what you’re building is fun to create. If it’s just another chore, people will quickly see it shine through your images. I’ve been told so many times that my photos make people laugh and they can tell I’m having fun. Sure, I’m certainly sweating my butt off and often starting over after knocking over a row of books, but I’m having a blast! People are perceptive. If you enjoy the content you create, people will love it, and you’ll continue to create it. Be authentically you and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you find you aren’t having fun, change things up.
When I started my page, I had many goals and achievements in mind. As the page grew, I developed relationships with thousands of like-minded people. I can truly say the community I’ve found on Instagram is amazing. These are people who will laugh with you, cry with you, and support you through thick and thin. If you lean into the community Instagram offers, you may be surprised to find yourself with not just “followers” but true friends.