Hi everyone! Welcome to the next installment of my Sewing Blog 101 series: how to see organic Instagram growth.
Getting Instagram followers seems like a mystery endeavor, doesn’t it? You look at some people’s feed and you think, “Dang! I feel like I’m doing all the same things that they are. Why don’t I have 145k followers?” Some of it is just luck — getting reposted, Instagram’s algorithms deciding to feature you, someone deciding to link you in a newsletter. And that Instagram algorithm is an ever-changing beast. But we can control some of it, so let’s talk about what I think you should do!
See Organic Instagram Growth
Let me tell you right now – if there’s one thing I want you to take away from literally this entire Sewing Blog 101 series, it’s that you should not buy followers. Full stop, end of sentence. Organic Instagram growth takes longer, but it is worth it. It is so much better to have 100 followers who are engaged with you and your content than 100,000 followers who don’t really care about what you do.
Engaged followers a – are more appealing to brands you might want to partner with, and b – make you feel better. We post photos because we want interaction, whether it’s validation, help, or whatever. Likes and comments from my IG BFFs are so much more valuable to my brand and also my heart than a thousand likes from a bot. Let it also be said that I do not encourage the use of like for like or follow for follow hashtags, nor any of their cousins. Just… don’t.
1 – Good photos.
We’ve talked about this, guys. Take good photos. Make sure that they’re well-lit and interesting. Rinse. Repeat.
2 – Be yourself, bud.
I waffled back and forth between swapping this with number one. Personally, I don’t follow a ton of big brands on Instagram, and that’s because I just empathize so much more with accounts run by people. I want to know what really threw you on this new pattern! Or what you’re bringing on a trip, or to help you decide what the best fabric is for a new project, or to salivate over your gorgeous sewing space. Be you on Instagram, and you’ll find yourself connecting with people. Speaking of which…
3 – Connect with people.
I absolutely LOVE when I comment on someone’s post and they comment back. It makes me feel like they actually care that I follow them. I try to at least like every comment on my posts, if not respond directly. The friendlier you are, the more people want to engage with you. It makes you friends, and also helps you get enough interaction on your posts to hit the Instagram algorithm.
Instagram uses how much interaction your posts get, particularly in the first hour after they’re posted, to decide where those posts appear in your followers’ feeds and if it gets promoted to people who don’t follow you. Encouraging people to comment in your caption and replying to those comments will help you show up more!
4 – Use Instagram Stories
Stories are the last chronological thing on Instagram, so take advantage of them! They’re also a fun and casual way to engage with your followers. We can talk about this in a separate post if there’s interest, but two tips: keep it short, and vary between video and photo content.
5 – Tag wisely!
A big sewing account reposting your photo can be a great way to get reposted. But, you don’t want to annoy those accounts by coooooonnnnstantly tagging them. I use a pretty basic tagging system in my own posts. First, I always use the hashtags for whatever pattern or fabric I’m using. Most indie patterns have their own hashtags, and big four usually use the company name and then the pattern number, so like #simplicity1006. I know a lot of larger fabric stores have their own hashtags too, like JOANN’s #handmadewithjoann. Some places automatically repost or retweet anything that uses their hashtag. For example, did you know that Grainline Studio automatically posts anything tagged with one of their pattern hashtags to their board for that pattern? Free exposure! Using a hashtag allows that account to easily find your post without getting annoying notifications.
I don’t always tag the designer or store with their handle, though. If someone asks what pattern I’ve used in the comments, I’ll say “the #pattern from @designer, it’s great!” I’ll also tag them if it’s the finished product and I’m unveiling it or promoting a blog post using it. Combining good hashtag usage with wise handle tagging can bring you a lot of exposure without overloading another account.
6 – Use good hashtags.
Okay, this is such a big topic that it’s actually going to be next week’s post! You can use 30 hashtags in one comment, and if you’re not using those, you could really be missing out on great growth. Here’s a little homework: over the next couple of days, look closely at the accounts you love on Instagram. Do they use hashtags? Which ones? How do they format them — are they in the caption or in the comments? Something else?
Hashtags work best if you’re not just a taker, though. After I post, I scroll through one of the most relevant hashtags I’ve used and like some of the recent posts (that I actually do like!). I also do that when I have an awkwardly short amount of free time, like waiting in line or for the microwave to finish. It drives people to your account, and also might introduce you to someone new and amazing!
So there it is. Six tips to help you see real, organic Instagram growth. If you’re still looking for more, though, here are a few other resources I love. Head over to my Pinterest for even more!
- Quilter Emily Dennis on how she got to 10k followers.
- The women of Love To Sew podcast talk about places sewcialists hang out, including Instagram.
- This article mentions that comments with five or more really boost a post in the algorithm, which I found super interesting! Leave good comments, and people will be more encouraged to leave good comments on your own posts.