If you use Instagram for your business or blog, chances are you’ve experienced a massive decline in growth and engagement in the last six months. Thanks to a fancy little algorithm Instagram has implemented, it’s harder than ever to get your posts in front of the people you want to see them… and increasingly difficult to get them to engage!
Just over a year ago, Kama Jones appeared on Instagram as Ethigal. Touting socially conscious goods and musings on motherhood, she launched herself into the Instagram business community at a time when the big bad algorithm was seriously pissing in everyone’s cheerios.
While everyone else complained about engagement and agonized over losing and gaining the same 10 followers for months on end, Kama worked away in the background, steadily gaining momentum – and followers.
At time of writing, Ethigal has just broken the 9000 follower mark on Instagram, just 14 months after the account was created. She gains over 400 followers a week, which is hugely impressive for such a young account.
All of these followers are 100% real, and it shows- Kama’s engagement rate is through the roof as well. Now, we know that under 10k is not some astronomical insta-famous following, but it is absolutely noteworthy and impressive, given the challenges presented by Instagram’s new algorithm and the relatively short life span of the account.
Personally, I believe that engagement and growth rate are way better indicators of success than the number of followers an account has, so I sat down for a beer with Kama to get her best tips and tricks.
So, what are Ethigal’s keys to Instagram success?
1) Engage more than you post. A lot more.
What Ethigal Does: I first noticed Kama on Instagram when she began to comment daily on an account I was managing. I soon noticed her comments on almost every account I regularly looked at. Ultimately I followed her back because she was a constant positive voice of encouragement- her comments were never automatic, they were unique and specific to the post she was writing on. This is the real key- most of us post and wait for other people to find us and shower us with likes and comments… but let’s be honest, none of us are really that important, so that just doesn’t work! By focusing your energies on leaving meaningful, real comments on other people’s posts, you gain visibility and begin building a know-like-trust relationship with people that would never pay attention to you otherwise.
Real Mother Hustler Tip: Use Instagram’s new “Follow Hashtags” feature to follow relevant hashtags in your niche. Popular posts using these hashtags will automatically appear in your feed, so you can easily engage with them and find your tribe in the comments. You don’t have to follow the accounts that appear- but you may find smaller, more relatable insta friends among their followers!
2) Keep Your Feed Consistent
What Ethigal Does: Kama freely admits she hit a plateau at about 600 followers and didn’t really know what or where to go with her feed. Looking for some knowledge to give her a boost, she found an Instagram course provided by a local influencer and PR queen, and the rest is history. She took the learning and ran with it, adding her own authentic voice and go-getter attitude to the process. She began carefully curating her feed- adding the same filter or preset to every image and alternating posts between person and thing. Her feed quickly became much more cohesive, which attracted more followers and more brands interested in collaborating.
Real Mother Hustler Tip: As someone who struggles with “what to post” syndrome, I find it helpful to rotate between five or six “categories” of post. For example, my categories are: Me, my son, quotes, my workspace, and food. I cycle through these five things over and over again, which helps me not to get stumped when it comes to curating my feed.
3) Invest In Your Imagery
What Ethigal Does: Kama noticed a massive increase in her growth rate after she invested in a real camera and started to use Lightroom to edit her photos. Even with no photography knowledge, the improvement in quality pulled her feed together and attracted followers and businesses looking to work with an influencer. Kama plans to invest in her success by taking a photography course as well, so she can up her game even more!
Real Mother Hustler Tip: A real camera helps, but you don’t need a DSLR to take high quality imagery. With a camera or a phone, I recommend always taking pictures in natural light: close to a big window if you’re indoors, or on bright days where you can pose or shoot out of direct sunlight when you’re outside. Pictures taken inside using regular indoor lighting almost never look “instagram worthy,” so try to plan ahead if a curated feed is important to you. PS- VSCO is my favourite iPhone editing app, so you can find a “formula” of brightness, contrast, temperature, and clarity that works for you and stick with it!
4) Use Giveaways, Comment Pods, and Follow Loops When It Feels Right
What Ethigal Does: The primary purpose of the Ethigal account is to share socially conscious brands, promote stories of social good, and share the motherhood experience. To that end, Kama participates selectively in comment pods and follow loops, which she says have helped tremendously to boost her growth. She only participates when the other participants are her target following, and as a result she has seen great retention of these followers. In the same way, Kama only offers influencer services to businesses that fit her brand completely- she’s passionate about helping out the little guy and is careful to deliver on her promises for those she works with.
Real Mother Hustler Tip: This is a tricky subject, and the “right thing” is different for every single Instagrammer. You have to decide for yourself if you want to use comment pods to bump your posts into people’s feeds; so do your research and understand the pros and cons before you jump in. I don’t have a problem with follow loops, but they don’t fit my brand, so I refrain. And while I no longer participate in comment pods because I can’t keep up my end of the bargain, I am still friends with and actively engage with many of the ladies I met this way! My recommendation is to decide what you feel and stick to it- brand integrity is all about consistency and follow-through.
So there you have it, the four ways this new Instagrammer gets 400 new followers every week. If you have any questions for Kama, you can join the FREE Real Mother Hustlers Community and ask away- you can also check the Live interview over on the Real Mother Hustler Facebook Page, or check our her shiny new online home, Ethigal Blog.