7 Instagram Hacks Every Blogger Should Know

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Hey blogger friends!

…Okay, so maybe you are relatively new to blogging and now that you’ve launched your site, you’re learning how you can use social media platforms, like Instagram, to start driving readers to your blog.

…Or maybe you’re a long time blogger and you’ve got the whole social media marketing thing down, but your Instagram is lagging a bit behind the other platforms.

…Or maybe you’ve heard the inside scoop that being an influencer on Instagram can be a pretty lucrative gig and you want in on the secret.

Whatever your story may be, you’ve come to the right place to find answers. Instagram is becoming an incredibly popular and powerful social media tool (2nd to Facebook) for influencers, brands, and businesses… and if you’re a blogger in the market for sponsored posts, there are tons of companies out there looking solely for Instagram collaborations. So blog and other social platforms aside, there’s money to be made via Instagram alone.

But in order to leverage Instagram to get sponsored post opportunities or drive traffic to your blog or both, you first have to grow your following. If you’re like I was, you’ve probably tried for awhile and not seen a ton of success (hence why you opened this post), and you’re wondering, “But how?’

This post is going to help you with just that!


So, before we get into all the tips and tricks, we need a quick Instagram history lesson.

You might be aware that the latest version of Instagram’s algorithm has been a bit of a dousy for all of us entry level influences and small shop owners. Up until recently, Instagram feeds were sequential and chronological–meaning, regardless of your popularity or hashtags or engagement, your post was tossed in line with everyone else’s. For us little guys, that was great! We got the same access and exposure as the big dogs.

But now, everything has changed. Instagram prioritizes posts based on engagement and popularity. Obviously having more followers helps. The more followers you have, the more people who automatically see your post in their feed because they’ve basically said, “Yep, I like their content and want to make sure I don’t miss any of it!” Big initial benchmarks in the Instagram world as far as followers go are:

  • 1K– you’re starting to get noticed! Or you’ve followed the max allowed 7500 people and 1/7th of them were nice and followed you back… 😉 jk. Kind of. If you are looking to collaborate with brands, when you hit this mark, some will be open to begin working with you, but typically just on a trade basis (product for promotion). You probably aren’t quite ready to charge money for sponsored posts, but definitely take advantage of reviewing free products your niche would love!
  • 2.5K– Brands are starting to take you seriously as someone to work with. You will still be getting some trades, but smaller brands might be willing to start paying you to promote their products or services, especially if you have more followers than they do!
  • 5K- This is a big stepping stone. At this point, if you are in the business of doing sponsored posts, feel fee to request payment… unless of course it’s a product you really want and love and don’t mind reviewing it for free 😉 
  • 10K+ The world is your oyster! Congrats, you’ve made it. You can probably slow down on all the hustle and bustle to gain followers. Some upkeep will be key, but you’re following will likely continue to grow organically. (Note, the most popular account on IG, is Selena Gomez, with 101M followers!)

Another piece of the puzzle that Instagram really values in their algorithm (and thus helps lead to more followers) is post comments, particularly ones over 4 words long.  So basically, if person A has has a post with 1 comment and person B has a post with 20 comments that are a minimum of 5 words, person B’s post will get far more exposure and priority on Instagram.

Post “likes” also play a role in the algorithm, but to be honest, it’s a little unclear to me how important they are as far as exposure goes. But, regardless of their role, lots of “likes” on your photos definitely indicates that people like your content! And in the world of sponsored posts and product reviews, that can be a huge plus as brands and businesses search for influencers!


Okay, so all that Instagram algorithm information is great. But you’re probably thinking, “So now what? How in the world do I get people to follow me, like and comment on my posts, let alone comment use 5+ words?!” Yes, it’s a tall order. But the 7 hacks below will help make that goal a reality:


#1: Join an Instagram Pod (or 7)

In the fall of 2016, I was stuck at about 1200 followers for what seemed like forever. I’d gain a few one day if I posted something people loved… I’d lose a few the next if I posted something people didn’t love. It was stressful and discouraging and I nearly gave up. But just in the nick of time, I discovered Instagram Pods.

Briefly, Instagram Pods are groups of up to 15 bloggers & influencers that join together in a message group on Instagram (or elsewhere if they want, but for the sake of this explanation, I’m using Instagram direct messages). When any member of the group posts a new photo, they send the post to the group in a direct message. Each member of the group then is responsible for clicking on the post, liking the post, and adding a genuine, authentic comment. This helps the post quickly gain popularity, according to Instagram’s algorithm, and gets the post more traffic!

Also note that Instagram doesn’t recognize the difference between other people commenting on your post and you commenting on your own post. So responding to all the folks who take the time to comment on your posts is beneficial for you as well! And remember to use 5+ words in your reply.

To read more on Instagram pods and how to set them up, check out this post!

Also, here’s a Facebook group where you can find open Instagram pods if you don’t want to start one yourself!

Btw- I’m joking about joining 7 pods. Well, I did… but it’s hard to keep up. I’d start with 1 or 2 and see how it goes!


#2 Use Niche Specific Hashtags

Hashtags are another really key way to gain exposure and engagement on Instagram. If you are an avid Pinterest user, think of these the same way you think of keywords.  They are short words or phrases (without spaces) prefaced by a # symbol as a way to “tag” your photo to indicate what it is about.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, but I’d suggest only putting the 1-3 most relevant ones in your post caption. The rest can be hidden in your first comment (more about that HERE).

One key thing to note with hashtags is that generic/popular isn’t always better. For instance, say you have a post about your favorite baby products. While #mom has been used over 22 million times on Instagram (which may seem like a positive) and #motherhoodunplugged has only been used 484,691 times, there is a whole community of folks out in Insta-land who actively engage with the second hashtag. So while #mom is much more popular, it also means your image will be saturated by LOTS and LOTS of other images using that same hashtag. I’ve found much better engagement with more specific, community driven hashtags.  Sometimes the accounts that originally created the hashtag will even feature your image on their feed!

Below are a few of my go-to resources to find popular hashtags, but another great way to find the best hashtags in your niche is to spend some time looking through other popular blogger’s content and take note of ones they use often!


#3 Participate in Facebook Social Media Promotion Groups

Facebook groups where bloggers and social media influencers join together to promote each other’s posts are a life-saver! And can help grow your Instagram really fast.  There are daily threads you can join and essentially everyone is responsible for completing the thread by a certain time. Some posts require 100% reciprocation (i.e. commenting on every single Instagram post shared). Some posts ask you to choose 5 others to engage with. It just depends. And many of the groups are also a spot to ask questions and get help from fellow bloggers!

But beware… there are some bad blogger groups out there too. I shouldn’t say bad… just ones where they are REALLY stringent on rules and call you out if you miss a deadline by even a few minutes. (I learned the hard way). So with that in mind, below are my recommended groups to join. The atmosphere in each of these groups is positive and supportive and the rules are clear but allow for flexibility if and when other more pressing life issues arise. I posted a little description of each group below so you know what you’re signing up for!

**BTW- The majority of the bloggers in these groups are female and generally fall into the categories of parenting/lifestyle/food/beauty/health & wellness/travel etc.  If you have a really specific niche outside general blogging categories (i.e. mental illness), I’d suggest searching for more specific Facebook support groups!

  • Growing Social Media for Bloggers: (this is my favorite group!) This group is for: Bloggers who want to actively participate, bloggers who want to ask questions and learn from others, bloggers who want to grow their community and social media presence, bloggers who will follow through without being reminded (when participating in a thread), bloggers who treat others with kindness, and bloggers who are encouragers. There are daily Instagram engagement threads in this group, and you only have to choose 5 to reciprocate, so you can pick ones you’re genuinely interested in!
  • Girl Boss Bloggers, for Babes Who Blog: This group is a place for blogging babes to find clarity, confidence, and community. On Thursdays, this group has a Social Thursday Thread where you can leave a link to your favorite social media account so everyone can connect.
  • Bloggers Supporting Bloggers: This group is a place to ask questions, share knowledge, make connections, and pass along opportunities that may not be the right fit for you. There’s a different social promo thread every day, but Instagram’s is on Saturday!
  • Bloggers Get Social: This is a group of creative women bloggers in the following categories: FOOD // CRAFTY DIY // FITNESS // BEAUTY // PARENTING // LIFESTYLE // ENTERTAINMENT // TRAVEL There’s an Instagram thread nearly every day! This group is pretty popular and it does require 100% participation, so sometimes these threads can take a little longer to complete.
  • Rockstar Bloggers: This is a smaller group, but they have pretty good engagement and it seems to be growing fast. Instagram days are Tuesdays!
  • The Blogging Squad: The Blogging Squad is an online community for bloggers and influencers. You can share your latest blog/social media posts in our daily threads. You can also post threads if you need any help, looking for collabs, etc.
  • Bloggers 2 Brands: This group supports bloggers from ALL niches who are starting out, want to showcase their work or want to grow their blog(s). There are daily engagement threads for: Blog Comments (10 & 15), Stumble, Facebook like & comment, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. There are also Weekly Follow threads (alternates weekly): Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google plus, Youtube, Stumble and Instagram. Each thread has rules, read carefully as this group is pretty stringent!

*Also, side note suggestion: when you first start, don’t overdo it. Start by only entering 3-5 threads in any given day. Get a feel for what groups you like best. If you feel like you have the time to handle more threads, great! But for me, if I go beyond 5 and it starts to eat up my evening, I get really cranky!


#4 Engage with Instagrammers that are Popular in Your Niche

Say you are a food blogger with 200 followers and you’re trying to get your tiny little Instagram account seen by the world. Well, what food blogger comes to mind that has (cough cough) 318K followers on Instagram? Oh, that’s right. A sweet girl named Lindsay at Pinch of Yum. So if I were you, one thing I might try is regularly engaging with Lindsay’s posts. This isn’t to get her attention… but given 318 THOUSAND people see each of her posts the moment they go live, if your account name is regularly on the “like” or “comment” list of her posts, there’s a pretty darn good chance somebody might click on it and check you out.

Some key notes: being the first one to like or comment is beneficial (because more eyes see you earlier), but the most recent one to comment is beneficial too because the last comment is the one that currently shows on Instagram posts. And because popular accounts like Pinch of Yum get people scrolling through their photos regularly, even if they aren’t new posts, if your name is commonly the last comment, you’re likely to gain some traction!

Quick Hack: In order to be the first to like or comment on a popular account, I typically Turn On Post Notifications for the account so that I get a ping on my phone any time they post a new photo. If I have time, I’ll quickly “like” it and then open it up for a comment. Don’t stress yourself out over this though. If you see the ping and have a moment, great. If not, you can always catch it later or next time.


#5 Engage Authentically with Brands & Other Instagrammers in Your Niche

One thing I try to do every few days is head to my favorite hashtags in Instagram (#motherhoodunplugged #darlingdaily #letthekids) and check out all the popular and recent posts using those same hashtags. I find photos I’m genuinely interested in, regardless of their popularity, and I comment and/or like the photos. And more often than not, especially if the Instagrammer doesn’t yet get a ton of traffic, they engage right back! It’s a great way to a) support others and b) get a little support in return. Don’t expect the return of course… expectations have a way of ruining nice gestures. But don’t be surprised by it either. It happens a lot!


#6 Collaborate with Other Brands or Bloggers in Your Niche

There are LOTS of options here, but my three favorites are: Follow Fridays, Q & A’s, and Giveaways.

  • Follow Fridays basically consist of teaming up with a few other bloggers in your niche, creating a collage with each of the other member’s photos, and posting the collage on a Friday (with #followfriday), and encouraging your followers to check out their accounts. Here’s an entire article dedicated to explaining the process in more detail!
  • For Instagram Q & A’s, you just need a couple other bloggers or influencers to team up with. Each week, at the same time, you post a Q & A themed loop. Readers then click through and answer a slightly different (but thematic) question at each loop member’s post. You can grow the group by offering out a loop spot to a new participant each week!
  • And finally, giveaways are always a fun way to reward your followers! I typically team up with brands for these (though it’s possible to team up with other bloggers who might have a product or service of some sort).  One of the ways readers can enter is to follow all the accounts participating in the giveway. So if you team up with a brand, for instance, and both you and the brand advertise the giveaway, you both should gain quite a few new followers in the process! Sometimes, these newbies will unfollow right when the giveaway ends (which is lame), but you can mitigate that by only doing giveaways that fit in your niche… that way, any followers you gain are more likely to be interested in your regular day-to-day content as well, and thus, are less likely to unfollow!

#7 Post Quality Photos and Captions in a Narrow Niche & Have a Clear Account Description

I would be amiss not to mention this final and very key component to growing your Instagram following. If you do follow all six hacks listed above, your account will definitely grow, but in order for it to really take off, you must post clear, quality, and consistent photos.

Instagram is all about the visual. The more visually appealing your posts, the more engagement they will drive. Your followers are also likely to follow because they like the content of a particular post. It’s okay to vary your content a bit, but try to avoid posts in radically different categories (i.e. recipes one day, snowboarding tips the next). You’ll lose followers that way.

Another way to help your followers understand what you post about is to have a clear description of your account bio. Mine says, “mom life, natural living, blogging” (along with some other blog and contact details). While pretty brief in comparison to some, my hope is that this simple note communicates to my followers that all my posts are about my life as a mother, and that one of the important things to me is to live as naturally as possible.

For consistency’s sake, I usually try to include a family member (usually me, my daughter, or both of us) in every photo, even if it’s about a healthy recipe we ate the night before. I mix this up occasionally, which is good, but I try to avoid having every picture look drastically different. If I have lots of things to share that I don’t feel like fit in my feed, I use my Instagram Stories! Your followers will love that more intimate view into your life, so be sure to take advantage 🙂 

Check out some of the Instagram accounts below to see examples of quality photos, captions, and account descriptions!


Alright, that’s a wrap! If you start using the 7 hacks listed above, I promise you your Instagram will begin to grow, and quickly! Also, if you want the condensed and bulleted version of this looooong post, snag a free printable below:

Instagram | Social Media | Social Media Growth | Social Media Marketing | Bloggers | Blogging | Social Media Tips | Grow Your Instagram | Instagram Followers | Influencers | Sponsored Posts

 

Best of insta-luck, friends!

xoxo

Abby

PS- You can follow me on my Abby Fereday Blog account here. And if you want to leave your profile URL in the comments, I’ll be sure to follow back!

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Abby

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26 Comments on "7 Instagram Hacks Every Blogger Should Know"

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This is such a great post and your tips are spot on! Thanks for featuring my account! I’m honored! xo

Great post! Thanks so much for the tips! I’m on Instagram at FrugalFloridaMom

I love this article. It is the first one I have read that talks about the pods and engagements. Although I go back and forth with my opinion on these, I realize they are essential to help your blog grow. Great informative post!

Thank you!! Been trying to grow my Insta!

Loved your post Abby! I have seen several Instagram related posts lately and this one quite thorough, honest, and with great intention. As a new blogger I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and helpful tips. Have a good one!

Abby,

These tips are so great! I really appreciate them and had not thought of some of them!

Xo,

Kelsey

http://kelseyatfirstglance.com

I’m so glad we have connected! Loved this post and can’t wait to learn more from you!

These are great hacks! I gave up on the comment pods though, it gets really stressful to keep up with. But that’s just me.

Great advice! My insta is @gingy.love and I’m slowly growing 🙂

Thanks for all of the tips! My Instagram is such a baby account compared to everyone else. It boggles my mind how bloggers have 20k+ YOU GO GIRL!

So much great info! I’m def going to have to set aside time to work on this part of marketing for my blog! Here’s my insta link https://www.instagram.com/court.kramer07/ (:

This is such a good post!! Not the same tips you see everywhere!

Awesome post!!! Thank you for all the tips! I am stuck at 1,300 followers and don’t know what to do… I want to do Follow Friday so I’ll check out the linked article on that! And I want to do a collab giveaway and work with brands more but don’t know gow to go about it! But I look forward to learning more!

This post is so informative and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this thru Pinterest! My goal this year is to grow my Instagram and you’ve really given an in depth way of how to start. Cheers.

Abby, thank you for being so clear and thorough. It’s always nice to read something and not have any lingering questions afterwards. It’s more helpful.

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