Ask any blogger, YouTuber, or social media influencer, and they’ll agree—growing a following on Instagram is one of the most frustrating forms of marketing you’ll face. If you want an engaged audience? It will be even more difficult. However, that degree of challenge doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. With these simple steps, you can get your Insta posts to go viral, skyrocketing your following and engagement on the platform.
1. Do your research.
Sure, you put in a lot of time researching other pieces of your project, be it writing blog posts, creating videos, or chasing affiliates and sponsorships. But Instagram? All too often, people fail to put that same background effort into your social media feeds. To the casual user, an Instagram post is a simple post with a hastily written caption. Why would that need extra work, much less research? As top influencers can attest, each post takes quite a bit of hard work.
Consider, for example, if you’re a travel blogger making your way through India. You might embrace local culture by wearing a saree (or sari). However, if you don’t usually wear that sort of cultural attire or gown, you’ll want to be sure your post is appreciative and well-informed, avoiding cultural appropriation and giving the local people and this country the respect they deserve. As a result, you’ll have a post that will be well-received and avoid harming or insulting anyone in the process.
You don’t need to head across the globe to research an Instagram post, though. You can put some research behind every post, whatever the subject. By studying your competitors and best hashtags, you’ll grow your audience, improve your engagement, and get more eyes on your content. For instance, in the example of a saree, you might start with #saree or #sari, then uncover #sareelove, #embroidery, #sareefashion, #handloom, #lehenga, and #kurti. With those hashtags in your post, it will appear in feeds where the user is interested in Indian fashion, in particular. From there, you can search those same hashtags to find other content creators in this niche. Browse their posts and gather inspiration and ideas—though, of course, you never want to plagiarize their work.
2. Find your focus.
On a personal Instagram profile, you might post a little bit of everything, with little thought going into a post before sending it off to your friends and followers. This same method won’t pay off in building a professional following, though. When you’re working as an influencer, blogger, or vlogger, you need to put a little more thought into your posts, particularly the niche they fall into. As you plan out your content, choose the best types of posts you can share within that topic.
If you run a blog about spirituality, for instance, you’ll want to post photos and graphics revolving around these topics. You might post about zodiac signs personality traits on one day, then create a carousel of horoscopes by each element–water signs (Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer), fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius), air signs (Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra), and earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo)—the next. If you suddenly shared a post about your favorite party wear or special occasion attire, that might seem odd and alienate your target audience, unless that special event is one of the festivals within your beliefs.
3. Take your time.
Even with the best hashtags, the most profitable niche, and the most knowledgable advice available, you still need to have patience. Short of buying followers—a practice that’s frowned upon by Instagram, genuine viewers, and your fellow content creators—there’s no fast-track path to Instagram success. You might post about your favorite brand of stick on nail polish and suddenly see a spike in your stats, or you might post dozens of beautiful sarees with minimal engagement. High-quality content aside, a lot of luck still goes into a post going viral and an influencer skyrocketing the quality and quantity of their audience.
With the right content, niche, and hashtags, and a bit of luck, you might find yourself with 10,000 or more followers (and that coveted swipe up feature) in a matter of months. For others, that same goal could take a year or more, even with consistent content. The key here is to continue your consistency, keep up the good work, and know that your time will come.
With a social media platform like Instagram, it’s easy to get distracted by your friends, fellow content creators, or trending influencers. Seeing others succeed more quickly or with what seems to be a lot less work than you’re putting in can be discouraging. It even causes some would-be social media stars to spurn the platform altogether, abandoning their profile entirely when their efforts don’t appear to be paying off. But, in actuality, that’s the only surefire way to ensure you never get the Instagram success you’re dreaming of, whether that’s a post going viral or overall growth. So, instead, continue working hard, keep these tips in mind, and be patient—you might be even closer than you think.