We all want it. There are some tried and true methods to grow your account: consistency with what you’re posting in terms of both style and contact as well as how frequently you post, using relevant hashtags and posting high-quality photos. From what I’ve personally experienced, these are still solid ways to organically grow your account, even with all of the algorithm changes. There are also these suggested methods as well – they include utilizing IGTV, using longer captions and posting selfies.
Now that we’ve covered how to grow your account, there is on single Instagram habit that can totally kill both your growth and your engagement. I went from gaining between 375 – 500 followers month to 50 followers per month. This was despite posting daily. I also went from getting between 100-200 likes per post to barely cracking 75 likes per post. Ouch. Now, before we go any further, I know this is just Instagram. It’s not real life. However, when you’re wanting to grow your account so you can work with larger brands, this is a real hit. Let’s talk about how you can avoid it!
How I killed my Instagram Growth
In mid-September and October I started following a few new accounts that were outside of the food and photography realm. Macy McNeely and my Guide Culture group girls as well as a few fitness accounts – specifically Emily Duncan and Katy Hearn. (Oh hey ladies!) Previously, I had been really strict with myself. I only followed and engaged with food bloggers and food photographers. I had heard that this was important for growth and not confusing the algorithm, turns out, that’s absolutely correct.
Now here was the killer. It wasn’t that I was just following those accounts. Simply following unrelated accounts won’t do anything to your growth. I engaged with them. Heavily. I watched all of their IG stories. Every single day, I also occasionally left comments and I was apart of group DM’s.
It took about 3-4 weeks for the algorithm to catch on so my growth decline was slow, but steady. I think because this was so gradual, it took me a while to pick up on it and of course, I blamed what I was posting. It finally dawned on me right before the new year. It finally occurred to me when I looked at my explore page (the page that pops up when you click on the magnifying glass). I had fitness accounts, personal development, fashion, and social media marketing pages come up. Uh oh.
Explore Page & Followers
In my experience, the explore page is a fantastic litmus test for who the algorithm is showing your photos to and what the algorithm thinks you want to see. If you look at your explore page and see accounts other than food? It’s time to make a change if growth is your goal. The second indicator is who is following you? In the time of my slowest growth, it went from fellow food bloggers and food photographers to seemingly random people. 9/10 these people would follow, only to unfollow a day or so later.
Time for the good news
It’s fixable! I’m still in the midst of making repairs, so to speak but I’ve already seen my account start to grow steadily again! I unfollowed the accounts I was engaging with daily (and made a separate account so I could still follow along) and muted the other accounts. That’s it! Easy fix. The second thing I did was purposefully engage with the food accounts that came up on my explore page. I would like, comment and follow these accounts to help speed things along and make it really clear to the algorithm that I wanted to see more food accounts! It took about 2-3 weeks, but my explore page is back to only food AND the people following me are food photographers and food bloggers. All great signs! I’ll keep you posted but we’re off to the races! have you had a similar experience? Tell me in the comments!