I’ve recently received a lot of questions about how I’ve been able to “grow my following” on Instagram. I’m not a huge fan of the term “followers” and I like to think of it more as my community. The truth is it happened in a very organic way over the past 4 years. I’m sharing 5 tips below that have been helpful for me.
- Find your TRIBE
When I first created @veggininthecity in January 2015, I started by searching through hashtags that I was interested in. When I found other healthy foodies that were posting great photos and recipes, I started commenting on their posts consistently and that led to creating relationships. This was key in helping me build an organic community that had similar interests and enjoyed my photos. My community has certainly changed a lot since 2015 but I still consistently support my favorite accounts. I’m also grateful that this has led to some awesome friendships and relationships. I recognize that Instagram has changed so much since then but I still believe that the root of creating a community is finding others with similar interests.
- LISTEN to your community
Take a look at your feed and see what photos are receiving the best engagement. What is your community asking for? While numbers aren’t everything, they are certainly a tool to consider. I check in frequently to review my most popular photos. I also love reading and responding to all of my comments and engaging with my community! This helps me to have direction moving forward. Of course, I still create recipes that I’m excited about but I also have a very genuine interest in hearing my community’s response. I will always take into consideration plating/styling/ingredients that my community will be excited about. If you aren’t sure what your community is going to be excited about, just ask – you can ask through IG stories, polls and questions! Get creative!
- LOVE what you share
Are you excited about what you are sharing? Do you love sharing healthy food, yoga, etc.? What lights you up? If you love what you are sharing it will shine through and your community will appreciate it. While it’s important to gather feedback from your audience and make adjustments, it’s equally important that you love what you are creating overall. If you’re going to be sharing consistently over the long run, it’s much more sustainable when you are interested in what you are posting.
- Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing (!!)
This. I’m so guilty of getting caught up in what other people are posting/creating – especially when it’s “performing” well. This comes with the territory of creating a community with similar interests. The problem with this is that if you’re heavily influenced by other accounts in your category, you are creating an audience based on other people’s ideas and influence. It’s not sustainable, in my opinion. I have to tell you – there is nothing worse than when I scroll through my feed and it’s literally the same exact recipe/plate/dessert/taco/trend everywhere… (YAWN). Don’t be afraid to take risks and get creative. When you feel vulnerable, you are being truly authentic. I love when I see a unique recipe or idea! It gets me so excited and energized! This is the best kind of content. I know from experience, when I create something unique and different my audience loves it. Be yourself and take risks.
- Don’t sell out on short term growth i.e. buying followers, etc.
Oh man, if I had a dollar for every time that I received an email or DM with “Are you interested in growing your following? CLICK HERE TO BUY 10,000 followers!” Tempting right? The problem is this is a SHORT-TERM play. These followers aren’t real. Therefore, they probably aren’t very interested in your content and your engagement isn’t going to match your # of followers. I’m sure you have seen this where an account has 500K followers but receives less than 100 likes/photo. If you are truly interested in growing an organic community this isn’t an option.
Overall, patience and consistency are key here. Building a community doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s so important that you are sharing what you love!