Why Your Instagram Might Be Struggling
Welcome to my 12 days of BLOG TIPS series! I’ll be bringing you blog tips everyday up until Christmas! This is Day ONE & today we will be discussing everyone’s love to hate – INSTAGRAM.
It’s no surprise that Instagram has really dropped the ball lately. I want you to know that it’s not JUST YOU! Everyone has felt the effects of Instagram’s sh*tty algorithm. From losing many followers per day, and struggling to receive engagement on any of your posts. I have been working hard at my Instagram for about 8 months now. I won’t lie, this past month I haven’t given it as much attention as i’d like to. I think that’s because the algorithm made me SO mad. BUT Instagram just rolled out a new feature – You can search for a hashtag and actually FOLLOW the hashtag. THIS IS GOING TO BE HUGE. It makes hashtags even more relevant than they were before.
SO – Today I am going to share with you what I learned about Instagram, how to get the best engagement, what to do to get noticed + MORE!
*Contains affiliate links
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
I think this is the most important part about growing your Instagram. You have to know who your audience is, what they enjoy seeing, and how to get them to engage.
*SECRET TIP* – As bloggers we are very active in Facebook groups which means you probably take part in A LOT of the Instagram follow threads. WELL here’s a tip. DON’T.
Why shouldn’t you? Well .. is your target audience bloggers? If NOT then you shouldn’t be participating in those threads because you will end up with all bloggers following you rather than your target audience.
Don’t get me wrong I really do love other bloggers, they can be extremely supportive BUT they are also very competitive. Other bloggers are more likely to UNFOLLOW, they are more likely to NOT FOLLOW BACK, and they are more like to NOT ENGAGE.
Many bloggers are in comment/instagram pods and focus deeply on those who are a part of their pods and lose track of engaging with others they follow who AREN’T in those pods.
Reasons why I have a love/hate relationship with engagement pods.
SO HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE & NON BLOGGERS?
This is a popular question that I find asked often in Boss Girl Bloggers. Some ways that I have figured out how to find a target audience who aren’t bloggers:
- Use Geotags + Search Through Them: Geotags is when you tag your location. For example: I will geotag Boston because it’s the nearest city to me. Many non bloggers are more likely to TAG their location than use hashtags. I notice that hashtags are more of a BLOGGER thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, definitely still use hash tags BUT if you are looking for a lot of “non bloggers”, I would utilize and look through geo tags too.
- Check Out Popular Bloggers In Your Niche: In your niche there are probably bloggers who are “insta famous” SO check out their Instagram and see who engages with their photos. If they are engaging with other bloggers in your niche then chances are they’d probably engage with your content too!
- Look At the RIGHT Hashtags: Like I said before, hashtags aren’t always a “non blogger/biz thing” BUT some non bloggers DO use hashtags. It’s all about what hashtags do they use? I have seen many use things like #Supermom #momlife #collegelife #goodlife JUST do some hashtag research.
HASH TAGS ARE BACK
For a while we were wondering if hash tags were going to be relevant anymore. WELL with the new feature that Instagram rolled out where you can FOLLOW hash tags, i’d say hashtags are relevant!
I was actually posting in my Boss Girl Bloggers group that we have #BossGirlBloggers and a way to support one another is by using it and following the hashtag to help support other bloggers!
ANYWAYS – Definitely use hash tags in your photos to try and get your engagement up. I would use hashtags that have been used around 30,000 – 700,000 times. If you use hashtags that have been used over a million times, the chances of your photo being seen start to go down because the hash tags is too popular. & if you are using a hashtag that haven’t really been used much, it’s probably not being searched enough – again, making your chances of being seen slim too. Find groups like Boss Girl Bloggers + Style Collective who have their own community where you use a hash tag to connect with other bloggers.
Tag Brands + Feature Accounts
If you used a product in your photo (like example your makeup look) be sure to tag the brand you are using etc. Some brands will feature photos that they are tagged in which is a great way to get your account exposure! People also search brands/feature accounts tagged photos too! @BossGirlBloggers is an example of a feature account!
Related: How to Work & Collaborate with Brands
Now I think this is where the HUGE issue is for many. Instagram is a visual platform, meaning that if you don’t have visually appealing photos or YOUR OWN photos, you probably won’t get much engagement on Instagram.
I’m not trying to be rude at all, just telling it how it is. If you have grainy, dark images that don’t really appeal to the eyes, you will have a much harder time growing your following. I know we may not always have the funds to purchase high quality equipment. So try to always have natural lighting whether it be taking your photos facing a window or having white, bright lighting.
Ways To Increase Your Photo Quality
- Invest in lighting and/or a quality camera: I was having difficulty growing my following until I invested in lighting. It made my photo quality MUCH better than before. Especially being a beauty blogger, I like to show off my make up looks which was hard to do without proper lighting. I use the Neewer Ring Light & LimoStudio Box Lighting. It’s also great to invest in a quality camera if you can! The one I love is on the more affordable side of fancy cameras, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR.
- Create an overall Instagram theme: This can be a huge struggle. I am still trying to work on an overall theme for my Instagram BUT I do notice that those who have a “theme” grow a following better than those who do not. How do you create a “theme” on Instagram? You need to make your photos “match”. Use similar filters for all of your photos. I also DO NOT recommend using the filters that Instagram gives you. Instead – download photo editors and edit your photos that way. One of my all time favorites is LIGHTROOM. I love this app and you can also download VSCO too. If you use the same editing for each photo it will flow a lot better. When it comes to flat lays, you want to use similar backgrounds. I get my flat lay materials from Home depot (marble tile) or craft stores (card stock/poster board/ and decals like flowers etc.) Also check your local Home Goods for white fur rugs or blankets. PERFECT for flat lays. AND UNUM is a great app to use to plan you Instagram feed. It let’s you see what it will look like before you post it! Examples of THEMES on Instagram:
- Less WORD Art MORE Imagery: As much as I LOVE word graphics, they will most of the time get you less engagement on Instagram. UNLESS your Instagram is specifically a “quote” Instagram account, you need to focus on your Imagery. I know many may not agree with me BUT Instagram is again, a visual platform. POST IMAGES!!! They get SO much more attention than word art. Especially if your niche is beauty, fashion, mom blogger, health and wellness, fitness, create some images! If you want to incorporate word art, make it at least every 3 or 4 images. AGAIN depending on your niche but I can assure you that images will bring you more engagement.
- Become the Face of Your Brand/Blog: I know many who are afraid to show their face or personal side. I’m not saying air your life to the world but once I shared my face, my audience could make a better connection! They felt more connected and began to engage more. Personal connections go far in the blog/biz world! If your audience feels more connected with you, they will be around a lot more. Personal connection is KEY.
- Use Your Own Images: Unless you are a feature account or a brand sharing others wearing or using your product, you should REALLY be using your own images. Instagram is to really show off your creativity. Don’t be afraid to go for it! I know we aren’t all photographers BUT that’s okay! You can still share your own images. If it’s YOURS, you created it, your audience will love it! If I see an account that has none of their own images or mostly images that they didn’t create, I usually won’t follow.
DON’T INVEST IN BOTS OR FOLLOWERS
One of the biggest things NOT to do on Instagram is pay for followers. DON’T DO IT. When you buy your followers you receive followers that are spam accounts or accounts that no one uses! You will receive no benefits from this. Your following will never engage with your content and everyone will be able to see right through your “numbers”. ALWAYS grow your following ORGANICALLY.
UTILIZE YOUR INSTA STORIES
I notice way more engagement when I am utilizing my insta stories as opposed to when I don’t utilize my stories. Again, my audience will feel more of a connection if you interact with them via insta stories too! You can also use your insta stories to let your following know when you have uploaded a new instagram post or blog post!
What can you post to your Insta Story?
Mini hauls, mini tutorials, quick updates/chats, let them know about a new post or blog post, feature promotions, tease a sale or new product, let them know about any other social medias of yours, announce a giveaway, daily vlogs, feature affiliate link products.
You can also use hashtags in your stories too! **
**note: to be able to add links to your stories (swipe up feature) you need to be a business account with 10k + followers. **
Some Insta Story Apps
Storeo: Use it to record your Insta Stories – It will automatically clip your pre recorded videos into 10 sec clips. So you can upload it to your stories without manually clipping your videos into 10 sec clips.
Over: Comes with presets and templates, a design tool to take your insta stories to the next level.
You can also search Creative Market for beautiful Instagram Story Packs to purchase. There are so many beautiful designs to choose from!
LOVE/HATE Engagement Pods
What is an engagement pod? A very popular question!
An engagment pod is a “group chat” you can join with other bloggers. Each time you upload on Instagram you share the post in the engagement pod and all members will go like and/or comment on it. Each pod has it’s own rules. I only recommend joining pods on telegram as opposed to those via Instagram messenger, only because I hear Instagram cracks down on those pods via insta messenger.
Why I love them: I love them because it DOES bring engagement to your photos! If you join the right pods that are related to your niche and what you enjoy looking/ and hearing about, they can be really helpful and enjoyable! I have been a part of some that I have loved and grew connections with. AND there have been some I couldn’t relate to at all that I had to leave.
Why I hate them: As much as it helps with engagement it also takes away from the time I could be putting into creating valuable content. Engagement pods are so much work because not only are you sharing your content but you have to also engage with ALL of the other bloggers in the groups’ content too. Depending on how many you are a part of. It takes time.
There are some bloggers that hire people to do this for them BECAUSE it takes so much time. It also stops you from interacting with all of your other followers. You put so much time and effort into your engagement pods that essentially you forget or don’t have the time to interact with your other followers. This can result in loss of followers etc.
Keep in mind that the engagement you are getting from those in your engagement pods aren’t always authentic. The comments sometimes don’t relate at all to the image or caption. They are less likely to actually go and read your new blog post as opposed to someone who doesn’t comment on your photo out of force. I don’t know if this is making much sense. BASICALLY, a lot of the comments from engagement pods can seem “forced” and not as genuine.
It’s up to you if you want to join engagement pods or not but I am starting to realize they are doing more damage than good.
I’d rather comments from those who actually care than those who are “pretending” to care.
Don’t get me wrong there are some pods that are genuine and filled with ladies who do really have an interest in all members content that’s part of the pod. BUT there are some who really could care less and are just doing it because it’s required.
Business or Personal?
This can be tough because I believe there are negatives and positives to both!
A business account will allow you to:
- Share your content directly from Instagram to your business Facebook profile.
- Set up “sponsored” posts (ads) where you can pay to promote an Instagram post. ( I promoted one of mine for 5$ and got about 70 impressions but no real engagement. Don’t think it’s too worth it when it comes to promoting posts on Instagram)
- Check your analytics and figure out when your following is MOST active. This will help you know when you should post on Instagram. You can also track your following.
- Add links to your Instagram stories if you are a business account with 10k + followers which can be so helpful with your affiliate marketing! + growing your blog traffic.
Downsides of a business account:
- Instagram tends to drop your reach if you are a business account because they want you to pay for promoting your Instagram posts to get the reach. They are all about making that monaaaay.
For me I always thought having a personal account until you reach 10,000 followers is the way to go! BUT being able to track your engagement and see when your audience is most active is a great plus. So it’s all up to you!
Make Sure to POST Consistently
It’s always important with any social media or blog you are trying to grow, to post consistently! In the beginning of growing my Instagram I would post daily and noticed new followers each time I posted. Some days I even posted twice a day! Now I try to post every other day and notice that my following isn’t growing as fast as it did the more often I posted.
I definitely think the more you post the more you grow. HOWEVER there is such thing as “too often”. If you post more than two times a day I believe it can come off as spammy.
How to Have MORE Content?
I know that it can be really difficult to come up with daily content for Instagram, especially when it comes to having the TIME to create the content.
What I like to do is have ONE day a week where I set aside time to shoot. Meaning that I dedicate at least an hour to taking photos for my Instagram that week. I will come up with at least 7 photos (one for each day). That way I won’t struggle with creating content each day. I will already have the content created.
Related: How to Create a Successful Blog
I love being a part of communities that have focus on helping each other grow. & Groups that provide support when it comes to growing success.
Boss Girl Bloggers is a group that I created where female bloggers & entrepreneurs come together to get support in growing their success & get any questions answered about their blog/biz.
Style Collective is a group that I love being a part of that focuses on *mostly (fashion/beauty) female bloggers that are trying to grow their success. Style Collective offers so much valuable information and resources and you can also connect with others in the fashion/beauty niche on Instagram which is a great plus!
JoinPALM is another favorite of mine that actually works with influencers. Once you join and get accepted you are put into a telegram insta pod where you can connect with other bloggers and get your Instagram engagement up. They also have a store you can shop products at discounted prices!
I hope that some of these tips and tricks help or even inspire you! Don’t give up on Instagram just yet!!
Connect with my on Instagram: @EllDuclos
Follow @BossGirlBloggers on Instagram and use #bossgirlbloggers for a chance to be featured!
Until Next Time,