I get a lot of requests for tips and tricks on how to grow an Instagram account.
Now mind you I'm not a social media coach or expert but I've been here for some time now and I believe there are some tips and tricks I've learned along the way that I can definitely share with you.
You have to remember Instagram algorithm is changing all the time and goal of this blog post is not to crack it, it's to help you grow engagement.
That's what Insta is all about right? Connecting with people and making sure you yourself grow as an artist thanks to that.
Tip 1: Change your account to creators account
This is vital. If you're still on personal account, change it to the Creators one straight away. This will unlock metrics for your account and metrics are everything in growing engagement for your account. It's also completely free.
Go to Settings -> Account and scroll to the very bottom. You should see 'Switch to creators account' there.
Metrics are called Insights on Instagram and you can access them from the hamburger menu or your profile. Insights will show you how many accounts you have reached in a week, compare it to last week, show you engagement for your recent posts / stories / IGTV etc. It will also show you when your followers are most active and who your followers are. You will see what countries and cities engage most, what age groups and so on.
Try posting your content when your followers are most active, so they are more likely to see it.
Tip 2: Make sure your profile is up to date
First of all use a profile pic, doesn't have to be your own face if you're not comfortable posting it for privacy reasons etc, It could be your fav art pieces. Just make sure it doesn't stay the general Instagram grey. The default Insta pic makes it look like a fake or bot account.
You can add a link to your bio so make sure to link to your store, blog or any other pages you might have. If you want to include multiple links you can either build and host a page yourself with a list of all your pages, or if you don't have the time / skills to do it yourself, you can use existing online services like lnk.bio.
Use this space to also tell your followers who you are, maybe include your real name if you're comfortable with that. Don't forget you can use emoji here too, make it fun! You want to show them you're a human being ;)
Tip 3: Stories stories stories!
Make sure stories are always rolling. Stories are great way to show your followers backstage, maybe share some stories which not necessarily go with your regular content. I LOVE stories and love engaging with stories of others. You can add gifs and stickers to your stories! What's not to love?? Just give me a cat gif and I'm hooked lol.
From stories you can also go live, share your adventure on the go! Going live is super beneficial because Instagram displays accounts that are live at the very beginning of the stories on your followers page.
Stories are only live for 24 hours but you can save your past stories as highlights on your profile so they can be accessible to your followers forever (or until you remove them from highlights). You can add them to highlights at any point, story doesn't have to be live to do it, you can access an archive of all stories you have ever created when adding highlights.
To add a story or story highlight go to your profile and click the "+" at the very top of your profile page (on the left). Other way to do it is to go to your homepage and then swipe right. Easy! You can either take photo and post it or post one from your library.
You can add up to 10 hashtags to your stories so make sure you do that (doesn't always need to be 10 but at least 1 ;)). You can also tag other accounts in your stories which then they can repost to their own stories.
Tip 4: Make sure to use all the new fancy features
Instagram likes it when you use all it's features so make sure your content is diverse. If you have access to reels which were recently rolled almost everywhere (not in Poland sadly ;( I'm still waiting...) make sure you post a reel from time to time. Photo, video, IGTV, reels... mix it up. Not only Instagram will like you more, but your followers are more likely to engage if you mix it up for them :) It's also much more fun to create diverse content, keeps you engage with your own art more too :D
Tip 5: Post regularly
And I mean it. Posting regularly and posting during times your audience is the most active (check Insights for that) is sooo important.
You will want to post every day or every second day but make sure your content is not something you posted because you felt like you needed to. If you don't have quality content to post, don't. Quality over quantity.
It helps to create content in advance, I always have 3-4 posts prepared in advance in case I'm too busy to write descriptions / think of what would be best to post or if I'm really uninspired on that day.
Add description to your posts too, at least one sentence. Give tips, ask questions... look at your description and think... would you engage with it if it was posted by someone else? If not, you need to change it ;)
Tip 6: Make sure your audience can understand you
If English is not your native language, post content in 2 languages for majority of your content. I start with English description and mark it clearly by English flag and then follow it with Polish translation marked by Polish flag. If I was posting in Polish only I would be limiting my posts very much, most of my followers would not know what I'm trying to say so how could they engage? I also want to make sure my Polish followers can read my descriptions without clunky automatic translation.
Don't feel forced to always do it but at least do it for majority of your content.
I often find myself not able to respond to someone else's posts because only their native language is included in the description. I love their art and I want to know more... but I can't cause google translate makes it really weird sometimes. Please make it easier for people like me :D
Tip 7: Don't miss out on hashtags
You can post up to 30 hashtags for each of your posts. I try to make it between 20-25. If you're struggling with figuring out what hashtags to use try free online hashtag generators, they will help you figure out what hashtags might be good for you.
I also have an app on my phone called Hashtags Manager: AI, look up for it, it's super useful. You type a hashtag, for example '#resinart' and it generates up to 30 hashtags for you. Never follow these creators blindly though, they are only supposed to help you. Choose 5-6 hashtags generated that way with different post pools - let's say 2 big hashtags and 3 smaller ones (under 500k posts). You are less likely to get noticed in the big hashtag pools since there are soooo many photos posted there hence mixing it up is important. Now choose a second hashtag for example '#abstractart', generate hashtags from that and again choose 5-6 from that pool making sure they are mixed. This will help your post reach a wider audience, people who might not have seen your art before and you want more people to engage with your art :)
It's important not to overdo it with hashtags and not to post content with same hashtags over and over again. I have around 10 sets of hashtags prepared on my phone, each with 20-25 hashtags in it and I switch them around for my posts. Some tags I use too much and I know it, but in general I try not to post same ones on consequent days :) It's a bit of work in the beginning but it's worth it!
Tip 8: Engage with your audience
Posting content is important but even more important is building relationship with your audience. If they engage with your content make sure to spread some love for their content too! If they ask you questions or ask for opinion via messages, don't ignore them :) Always check your spam folder, if someone who you don't follow back sends you a message, it always lands there... which is super annoying.
Engaging with others is my fav part of Instagram, I met so many amazing and inspiring people and build so many friendships thanks to it. Instagram community is honestly amazing if you give it a chance. And yes, you might get some... inappropriate messages too, don't feel like you need to respond to those of course ;)
Tip 9: Make sure your photos look nice
Think of your photo composition, think about the light and make sure your photos are not blurry. While taking photos of your art, try different compositions and take plenty of pictures, sit down with a mug of tea later and choose best ones. It helps me to take few hours break between taking photos and choosing ones I will use in the end. Fresh perspective ;)
I usually spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings on taking photos near the balcony where light is most natural, that way colors are shown closest to true.
If you can, add watermark to your photos. Sadly there are account that will steal your photos and post as their own. While watermarks might not not stop all the photo thieves it will stop at least some of them. Check hashtags regularly to see if your photos were not misused by someone and if they were - report them. I believe it's ok to post someone else's content if you clearly call out who the author behind it is but just taking them and posting as your own... please don't do that.
Tip 10: Drive traffic to your instagram account
Instagram might be your main social media account but don't completely ignore other platforms.
My top easy to manage and important platforms are:
Pinterest. Super easy to add pins and get noticed. Make sure to always link back to Instagram, to add clear titles and descriptions.
Reddit. Super easy to manage, just join a group for your specific content type and post there. It's a massive source of info too, I spend way too much time on Reddit, I know that but I learn so much from it too ;O make sure to throw some upvotes (likes) to other people there as well if you like their content :) Share the love, always.
Facebook. I post some of my content on FB as well but not all, just selected pieces and I link back to Instagram. Facebook is a great tool if you host your own offline and online workshops since you can schedule Events that your followers can sign up for.
I hope the above will help you with growing your Instagram engagement, remember those are only recommendations. Don't force yourself to do or post something you're not comfortable posting just to get the engagement. It's your account, your art and your choice. Make sure it's fun for you :)
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post,