Want to be Instagram famous? You’re not alone! However, growing your account can be tricky and it’s understandable if you get frustrated from time to time.
Growing your account is not unachievable, and if you are interested in finding out how to truly find audience attraction, read the article on Attractive Content: Value Over Growth to gain a better idea of how to change your social game.
Here are the 5 things you should NOT do to grow your Instagram account – regardless of how tempted you are to try them. These methods may lead to what we will call “imitation growth” but will almost never give you true growth and organic engagement.
1. Buying Followers And Likes
There is only one benefit of receiving fake followers and likes, and it’s quite obvious why, because it simply appears like you have instant IG clout! You obviously will look like you have a platform, and if you buy likes, it will look like they are real. This obviously is not sustainable unless you have an unlimited budget to continue to buy likes on your images. If you do have an unlimited budget to buy likes, you could potentially gain real engagement via the whole “fake it until you make it” idea, but this result is highly unlikely. Further, as soon as it is unsustainable for you to keep the likes high on all your photos, it will be very clear to your real followers that your follower ratio is inflated. Be mindful that in general, an account with real followers will have a like to follower rate of at least 10%. This means that if you have 1,000 real followers, you will have generally at least 100 natural likes on average per timeline post. Calculate your real ratio by multiplying your follower count by 10% and let me know in the comments if this rate accurately applies to you – if it is higher you are quite lucky to have incredible engagement!
2. Engagement Groups
Engagement groups are groups of people that join together on some platform such as Facebook Groups or GroupMe, etc. to essentially make a deal to engage on each others’ content in hopes to reach a higher following. This can be both a positive and negative interaction for various reasons. Positively, you will surely see a spike in your engagement at first and potentially for as long as the group is active. This is great because you will probably enjoy the impact this has on your social media, and you could potentially increase your organic following as well by tricking the algorithm into thinking more people are interested in your content. Negatively, you may see a spike and then rapid decline in engagement, which could be greatly disappointing especially if others in the group are doing great. As mentioned at first, engagement groups can be hit or miss.
Another consideration of engagement groups is the diversity of the group to begin with. If your group is from the same area and generally has similar audiences, you may see little to no improvement at all on your posts and engagements because your audience overlap is essentially the same followers. However, if you join a group with a variety of audiences then this could be beneficial to your following. Again, engagement groups can be hit or miss and are often extremely unattainable because they are reliant upon the consistency of the group members who are typically in the group for their own self-growth.
3. Excessive Hashtags
A common social media myth is that using 30 hashtags (the maximum on Instagram) can help diversify the audience that receives your content – this is usually not true. Hashtags are a powerful tool and can be used to reach a target audience. For example, if you are a fitness blogger, then you may use hashtags such as #musclegrowth and #girlswhoexercise, which may be highly important to help find leads for your business and social growth. However, if you are a photographer who continues to use the hashtag #art, then you may not experience the best growth because you’re not targeting your audience well enough. Further, if you continue to use hashtags on your posts and are experiencing little to no growth, you may want to consider that your hashtags are off-base for your audience and refrain from using them because overuse can lead to saturation of your hashtags which is not helpful to your growth. Saturation is when a hashtag becomes so overused that the posts that use the hashtag get almost immediately buried.
If you do want to try out hashtags, I suggest using the free template attached below. This is a way to organize your thoughts and find a diverse set of hashtags to use occasionally and individually as well (as they apply). Be intentional with your use of hashtags, and try not to oversaturate them with posts that are irrelevant to their meaning. Download is FREE!
4. Excessive Tagging
This is another Instagram myth of growth by intentionally tagging other influencers, celebrities, and brands so that you show up on their tagged sections and get more audience views. Again, just like the hashtags, this rarely works, but can ALSO be a powerful tool if you are truly in touch with your target audience. Marketing comes down to one specific idea – how well do you know your audience? If you know your audience is exactly like another influencer’s audience, then tagging them occasionally could benefit you, but be mindful that other people also do this too and over-using this tool can negatively impact your engagement.
Instagram is touchy when it comes to over using the tools it gives you to gain growth, so be extremely cautious and intentional with the way you explore and experiment with them. Spend more time getting to know your niche and your audience than you spend finding ways to reach your audience.
5. Large Giveaways
Have you ever seen one of your acquaintances skyrocket from 3,000 followers to 25,000 overnight? They either bought their follows or they joined a large giveaway. There are multiple companies that run giveaways and what they do is reach out to striving influencers to join in or even “pay to play”. The benefit is that you will be apart of the giveaway, so users will be asked to follow you right away to enter the enticing giveaway. This, just like buying followers, will instantly seem like you have a very large platform and could potentially be the jump you need to really get going. However, the majority of people that participate in these types of giveaways will actually see a huge decline in engagement after gaining the followers. Why? Because Instagram can tell when you are cheating the algorithm.
You will also see a large chunk of followers you gain dissipate as the users realize what your content is and decide whether they want to continue to follow you or not. If you decide to participate in a large giveaway such as this, it’s recommended to find one that is very closely acquainted to your target audience otherwise your results will be extremely inconsistent.
So What Now?
These growing tools are not complete busts, but if used the WRONG way then you can experience negative effects. Be intentional, and be real! Remember, nothing worth gaining ever comes easy.
So what now? How do I grow my account?
Focus on your target audience and building exactly what your brand does. Start by reading the 5 Brand Foundation Blocks to understand your brand better.
Already know your brand? Then try the Attractive Content Strategy, built on values and real follower connection rather than growth tactics.
Good luck and happy content creating!
By, Delaney Lawrence