How I've Grown My Instagram by 500% - Beating The Algorithm

Instagram is a bit of a brutal game these days. I can't go on Twitter without seeing all us bloggers moaning endlessly about it, and rightly so. Our beloved chronological feed has been whipped from under our feet, we don't even get to see the pictures of half the people we follow and when we do, you can bet your ass that it was from 4 days ago and you look like a right Creepy McCreepster for liking it now. Ahhh the struggles.

That being said, and lord knows which flying pig allowed this to happen, but I have actually been getting on quite well with Instagram since starting this blog in March. At that point, I had 138 followers and now after 4 months of love and labour (and I really mean that) I have just hit 900. Now I'm definitely not an expert (it took me like a year to get the first 138...) and let's be real, the way Instagram is at the moment I could wake up tomorrow and have lost 300 of them.

Right now though, I'm relishing it and I thought I would talk you guys through how I have been using and growing my account.

1. I improved the quality of my pictures.

It is said about blogging and the same is true for Instagram that content really is king. Now I haven't gone out and spent an arm and a leg on a DSLR (although I really hope I can soon) but I have been doing my best to really utilise what I do have. I've read 101 posts on iPhone photography and have been doing my best to put into practice what I've read.

Here are a few of my favourite iPhone photography tips that I have been using: 

  • Bright, natural lighting is your best friend for taking top quality iPhone pictures.
  • I switched the 'grid' on in my photo settings so I can place things in photos better, ie I can make sure the main subject of a photo is right in the centre.
  • Get comfortable playing around with a few different editing apps - my favourites are Photoshop Express, VSCO and Colorstory.

2. I chose a dreaded 'theme'.

I got pretty lucky and went into Primark one day and they had one roll of this 90p marble wallpaper left - it was a total blogger dream moment and I nearly squealed. I've been using it as the background for all my flat lays and product pictures as well as editing all my pictures the exact same way to make sure my feed looks as seamless as possible. I use an app called Colourstory where you can save editing steps after finishing with a photo so I just add the same 'steps' on to every photo. It also means that if I post any outfit pics or photos that don't have the marble background then they will look in place on my feed.

I think people think 'theme' and think it's going to be limiting and make things harder but I think you can find a consistent look that will still allow you flexibility, even if it's always adding the same filter to your photos or even just having a colour that is consistently in every single picture.

3. I started interacting more with other accounts.

Even when I was posting photos before I wasn't spending any time reaching out to other accounts and liking and commenting on their photos.

Now, I check my feed regularly and make sure I'm engaging on the photos I like. Primarily because it's always good to support other bloggers, secondly because it means the accounts I actually really like will come up in my feed and thirdly, they're likely to give you a bit of love in return.

4. I joined blogger comment pods.

I know not everyone likes the idea of these but I've found that pods work really well for me and I'm a member of 5 or 6 of them. A pod is basically an Instagram group that people with similar accounts join and everyone likes and comments on each other's photos. They rose in popularity after the algorithm changed because having lot's of people engage with your photo means it's more likely to come up in your followers feeds.

SO, not only do you get additional engagement from the actual members but it also means your existing followers are more likely to see your pictures. Now I have fallen behind a couple of times and generally the girls in the pods have been totally okay but some of them are really strict and may have rules to follow so if you are going to get involved in pods then do make sure you're aware of any catch-up rules!

5. I started using Instagram stories every day.

I don't know if this has made an overall difference but it's a part of Instagram I've really come to love. Also, I have this theory that if people are constantly seeing your face and what you're up to then they will be less likely to unfollow. There's probably some really smart psychology there somewhere. It's also a great place to promote blog posts, chat about what's going on with your blog and share content that isn't quite 'blog post' polished like you can talk people through your skin care routine, give an instant reaction to a product etc.

6. I made my captions as engaging as possible.

Use your photo captions as best as you can to chat to your followers and encourage them to interact with you on it. Give your opinion on something, ask questions, tell everyone about your day, anything, just use it!

7. I used Twitter to help my Instagram.

I put out a tweet every other day or so just giving people the link to my Instagram account, and asking fellow bloggers to give me a follow and I also usually include a screenshot of my feed at that time. I've found this to be really effective and is a great way to engage with your Twitter followers even more on another platform. Even share your Instagram post to Twitter every time you post a picture to give your Twitter followers a chance to see your profile.

I really hope some of the things I've talked about here will help you out a bit, Instagram is a total labour of love these days but I really do think if you try not to become to bunged down with it and just take a fresh look, and start to actually use and enjoy the app again then you should see results!

I would love to hear in the comments how you are getting on with Instagram at the moment - maybe we can help each other out!

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Allanah xxx