A fashion and lifestyle blog by Serena Tomalis

How I Gained 1,000 Instagram Followers in Less Than a Month

The algorithm on Instagram can be the most frustrating thing when it comes to a new blogger. Whether you're new to Instagram, or have been here for awhile, growing and attaining real, authentic followers can be a huge challenge. It's not as easy anymore as it used to be, but hopefully these few tips and tricks can help!

I am in no way a social media expert, or know what I'm doing by any means. These tips and trips I'm sharing with ya'll are a bunch of tips and tricks I've learned from other bloggers which were all different, so now I'm just combining them all for you.

I quit my job on October 4, 2018 with only about 5,012 followers. I had 5,200 and lost a bunch due to some depression I was feeling, and not engaging as much anymore. I decided that quitting my job would allow me to have more time to create content and engage with others and live out a dream. Monday the 8th was my first day to start re-vamping this blog, and really starting marketing myself. As of today, 10/31/2018 I now have 6,190 followers. Here is what I find works for me:

#1) Engage as much as you can!

This is probably the #1 thing I can recommend to anyone. And it all depends on HOW you engage. Do not just comment on everyone and anyone's photo. Your commenting/engagement needs to have a strategy. Also make sure when you're commenting that the comments are genuine. Instagram suggests using 3-4 words per comment. Make sure they are genuine and don't use basic comments like "cute!". Those will get you nowhere. I take 4 specific time slots out of my day to engage with people on Instagram. This is just pure commenting.

Let me explain on how I engage. Each and every time I take that time slot, I always pick 5 hashtags in my niche to comment on. I actually prefer to comment on hashtags now with 1 million posts or less because those will be the types of followers I want to target. Then, I always comment on the top 9 photos of each of those hashtags that I picked. Depending on the season, I use different hashtags. Examples of some hashtags I possibly comment on at this moment in Fall: (#targetstyle, #pumpkinpatch #fallootd #ltkunder50, #nordygirl). Those are just some examples. But sometimes I get more specific and will specifically comment on the "#blanketscarf" hashtag to narrow down my target market even more. This is huge, and I promise you will see a difference! Now this part probably only takes me 10 minutes or so. So then what do I do?

So after I'm done commenting on the top 9 photos of five different hashtags, I'll pick another niche related hashtag, and go through and like some photos. This takes me a minute or so, but it will catch other accounts attention in hopes they will either like your photo back, or follow you!

Other times I go through an account's followers that is very similar to my account. I will go through their most recent Instagram followers of those with public accounts, and like 2 photos on their feed and comment on one of photos. At least one of three things will happen. 1) nothing 2) they will like/comment back on your photos 3) they follow you. I never go above 2 because I don't want to seem spammy.

Of course I always engage by responding to all my followers comments. This shows those people you care about them, and is helping your engagement as well. I hate when people don't respond to comments that I make. I took the time out of my day to be genuine and you don't thank anyone. I just feel as though it's rude unless you're getting hundreds and hundreds of comments.

This all may sound like a lot, but it really doesn't take me much time at all! I just do it until I get bored and want to put my phone down for awhile.

#2) Use the location feature, and geotag your posts

This will help you get noticed by people even in your area! For example, I went to a pumpkin patch and a corn maze a few weeks ago, and tagged the location of that farm. This can enable me to hopefully get my photo to a top post for that location and anyone checking that location will be able to see my photo and follow me. I would do this for any popular location you go to where people will actually look at the geotag. If you know there's huge event coming to your city, tag your post with that location. All those people at that event will be able to see your post! Normally for posts I either just use the city I live in, or just the state of "Pennsylvania" geotag. Using just "Pennsylvania" allows everyone in the state of PA to see my posts.

#3) Post good, quality content

Would you follow your own account? Is it something you would want to see while scrolling on Instagram? If not, then maybe it's time to re-consider how you are executing your content. I take most of my photos with an I-phone 7. Actually Nick takes them. I have also trained him how to frame myself, and what angles to use. My photos are clear, bright, and attractive looking. Personally, this is why I like to take most of them outside, and I rarely ever post mirror selfie outfits because the quality becomes very grainy and dark. I may start using my old Nikon DSLR again for inside shots during the holidays to get the best quality indoor content that I can. Posting great content enables brands to want to collaborate with you as well because they can see what kind of photos they will be getting. They are also more likely to repost your content if you're posting quality images.

Also, investing in a preset has been a game changer for me. Just 2 weeks ago I read that a preset attracts more people due to all your photos looking the same and having a theme. If you don't know what a preset is, a preset allows you to apply a set of edits and effects to a photo with just one click. I bought my preset from @DreamyPresets, which I didn't even know until last night that they were also being used by Emily Herren (@champagneandchanel). Just since using my preset, I've gained much more rapidly.

#4) Be consistent with posting

I know, everyone says this. But there's a good point. To be honest, you will not grow if you only post once a week or less. People will lost interest and unfollow you. I would LOVE to post everyday because I want to continue to grow. But I even think every other day is perfect too. There's also times when I just don't have content to post which is understandable. But uploading everyday with hashtags allows other users to come to your profile. It also allows your posts to be seen more and accrue more people coming to your account. So make sure you're staying consistent and post the same type of content as well! Do not make your feed look cluttered!

#5) Join Facebook Engagement Groups or Instagram Pods

A Facebook engagement group is where thousands of influencers are on a page and post questions, show off new content, and allows you to network with other influencers in the industry. It's basically like one big support group, and you can accrue followers this way by follow threads and networking. It's not necessary to participate once you're a member, but I do learn things from these groups. Example: Like what a preset is. I had no idea until I saw other influencers talking about them and what kinds they use, and then looked into it more.

I also am apart of 2 Instagram engagement pods. This is where influencers come together (maybe between 5 and 30: I like around 10 people in mine to keep track of posts) and every time someone in the pod posts, they send a notification to the group that they posted. Then everyone in the group when they can go to your new post and comments on it. This can help boost your photo to the explore page, and allow other accounts who don't follow you to see your posts by bumping it up to top posts on hashtags. I find these fun and helpful! I've made a good group of friends in my one Instagram pod :)

#6) Use strategic hashtags

I feel like besides using a preset lately, finding niche specific hashtags has been a huge game changer for me. I used to use all of my hashtags with popular ones with 20 million posts+ like "#fashion" "#style" "#instafashion" "#fashionblogger" etc. These was great to use when I had a lower amount of followers to gain a few. But now I realize how hard it would ever be to get into a top post on one of those. Merely impossible unless you had like 60k+. So I started strategically changing my hashtags to words that really applied to my posts. Hashtags like I mentioned above in tip #1. I use around 5 hashtags still that are the popular ones. But other than that, the rest are more detailed. For example, if I'm wearing Francesca's clothing, I'll use the tag "#franlove". Or for Nordstrom I use "#Nordstrom" and "#nordygirl". Like I said before, I'm currently using a bunch of smaller hashtags so it's easier to get noticed. I'd say use hashtags that have about 5,000 posts to about 1 million. I've been bumped to a lot of top posts for maybe a day, so this has really helped! You can view some of my Instagram hashtags in the comments of my posts if you want to see all of the ones I use.

To conclude:

These tips and tricks may not work for everyone. This is just what had worked for me. Sometimes I participate in giveaway as well to help followers accrue, but I only like to do it 4 times a year or so, that way I'm not too spammy. All in all, I think these are some great tricks, and I hope you can try them out and see how they work for you!

If you found this post helpful, let me know by commenting below, or telling me on Instagram! Please share this post, and don't forget to subscribe by entering your email address in the subscription box near the top of my homepage.

Thank you so much for reading!



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    Such a great post.

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