How Instagram changed our game

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In May 2016 we decided to take our Instagram account seriously. At this stage, it was sitting at under 5000 followers. In less than 9 months we grew it to 75k and now it's sitting at about 94k+. We grew this organically - without paying influencers or buying followers.

Our mission for our Instagram account was to create a community of real women, being real - meaning we want to bring out the smiles, heart and imagination. Look who wouldn't want 1m followers? But our focus was really quality - we wanted to foster connections, ignite inspiration and encourage conversations. We used this online platform to extend it further than just our in-person meetups.

The result? We've found inspiring women all around the world that are doing incredible things. We've heard of stories of women meeting each other through our account. We've seen how people share their energy, supportive vibes and passion with each other that brings that little bit of hope and support when we've had a shit day. 

It's changed our game because we've been able to have such a great positive effect on the world, if you see our comments we've only ever had positive ray of sunshine convos which makes use feel like...yasss we're the light side of the internet. 

So once you figure out why you want to invest your time into Instagram to build your own personal brand or your business, here are seven ways to help increase your following:

  1. CONSISTENCY IS KEY – Have a look at your feed, does it look like a haphazard mess? Or does it look consistent? Go on, be honest with yourself.

    Whether you have a bunch of ugly meme’s (FYI it's pronounced meem, took me ages to learn that), as long as there’s a theme and it's consistent, that's the key.

    Have a look at our @theleaguewomen feed and you can see we have a colour scheme going. Images – pastels, clean, pretty, inspiring. Quotes – nice and clean. For those of you that are really serious, you can use an Instagram planner app so you can visualise what you're putting together before you post it live.
    Tools: Planoly (we use this), PlannThat, Unum
     
  2. THE 3 E’S – When posting content, ask yourself does your post either Enlighten, Educate or Entertain your followers? If there is no objective, your content and image will disappear into the background with the sea of thousands of images uploaded each second.

    We love to entertain and enlighten our audience with a mix of hilarious real-life quotes and inspirational quotes. This encourages our followers to tag their best friends which in turn grows our following: as like-minded people are often good friends that like the same things and have the same humour.
     
  3. SEEDING – One of the most effective strategies we ever executed to increase our following was to collaborate with complementary brands that have a similar audience to our brand. Once you identify these brands or personal accounts, usually those that have a substantial engaged following, you can approach them to collaborate.

    I call this “seeding”. Look, I’m not sure if it’s a real term and I probably made it up but it basically means: a strategy to planting seeds to attract and grow your following. Nowadays it’s not unusual to pay for these social media influencers to do posts for you and there’s a range of apps you can use including TribeHypetap.com and a bunch of others. 

    However, if you're like us with a limited budget to pay for influencers straight off the bat, you can start by finding more boutique IG accounts that have a smaller following but still have great engagement. Contact them to see if you can send them product, collaborate on a giveaway, regram each other's content, invite them to your launch or event. There's some finesse in doing this, but rule of thumb is be genuine and seek for win-win situations. 
     
  4. CAPTION IS YOUR CAPTAIN – Sure, Instagram is a visual platform and you need an awesome image to grab attention but once you’ve hooked them in, you need to keep them engaged with your words. This is another opportunity to communicate what your brand is about – if your brand is playful, make your caption playful too. As we like to keep it real, our captions have to pass the "Would you say it to your bestie?" test, if we read it out and it sounds way too formal or we sound like a sponsored ad, we trash it.
     
  5. #HASHTAGLYF – Look, we get it, hashtags don’t look cool. Firstly, find your own UNIQUE hashtag and use it so people feel part of your club (ours are #womenwhoconnect #extraordinaryAF #theleagwomen)

    When you use a lot of hashtags, you might feel like you look like a little bit of a desperado. Here’s the thing though – if you don’t use ‘em, you won’t get found. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Use them ALL. Put them in your first comment rather than your actual post so that most people won’t actually see them, and you can still maintain some dignity.
    Tools: IconosquareHashtagsForLikesTagBlender.
    More reading on hashtags here.
     
  6. GET PEOPLE TO DO SOMETHING, CTA – You might think at first that this sounds kind of annoying but sometimes the best way to get people to do things is to literally just ask them to do it. Want more of your followers to comment on your post? Ask them to comment on your post. Obviously we don’t mean you should go post something and say ‘please comment on this post’ and expect all the comments to start rolling in. You want to be clever about it and ask them to tag or comment for a reason. 

    On the right is an example of a call-to-action to get our followers engaging with each other. When we ask them to do something, we get 5 times as many comments. Comments equals engagement, which means more impressions and reach.
     
  7. INSTAGRAM PODS

    Well speaking of engagement, now that we know that IG are looking to cash in with ads, just like how Facebook has done, this means we either have to find clever ways to drive engagement or we can pay for it.

    Well, when IG launched their group message feature (DM's for more than two people), cluey brands on IG started these "pods" to share their posts with a group of IG accounts. The rules, simply put, once someone in the pod shares their latest post you must like and comment within the first 5 - 10 minutes. Theoretically, IG would reward posts that received great engagement early on and show these posts in more of your follower's feeds so they would stick around on IG longer. You can be in as little or as many pods as you can handle.

    Having setup some IG pods since from our last Let's Get Digital Workshops, we've found that we're still using them almost daily 2 months after and engagement has helped increase followers for some accounts as our engagement has increased.

    Be warned, it can be a bit of a time stealer as you find yourself on IG all the damn time but you do get out what you put in... also there's just so much to go into with pods and probably requires a post all on it's own but you can do more reading here. You can also check out Hey Engage to find some IG pods to join.

    If you're game, you can even set one up if you ask some of your friends to join your own pod to test it out! You just need to explain the rules to them.

Comment below if you have some great tips to share with others, oh and share your Instagram account with us too, it would be fun to follow more of you!

Stay Peachy,

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Sheryl Thai, CEO
League of Extraordinary Women

 
 
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