• Bree

7 Steps to Boost Your Following & Expand your Brand on IG

There are tons of resources that can help you expand your brand and grow your following on Instagram, but I wanted to share my personal experience and the tips I employed to grow my virtual tribe from a little over 10k at the beginning of 2020 to over 50k by the end of the year.

Within just a year, I've become both a brand ambassador but also a company partner with some of the most incredible spiritual wellness, jewelry, lifestyle, health and haircare brands in the country and around the globe!

The most important tip above all else is to BE PATIENT!

This is a slow and steady process but if you commit, stay consistent and invest in your own growth, you’ll see the results within months!

Ready to g(r)o(w)? Let's do it!

1. Determine your niche

Natural hair, spiritual wellness, beauty, home decor, sustainable fashion, DIY, and fitness are just a few of the different industries for you to tap into and use your voice and platform to really make an impression on your unique audience.

You have to remember that when you're embarking on this journey, what often prevents so many from expanding their reach is the feeling that since there are already so many well-established influencers on IG already, how can one stand out? While are definitely thousands of mega and large influencers out there, be mindful that even your favorite influencers, yes the one(s) with beautiful locs, the ones with a new fashion line, the ones with dope make up videos, the ones with hundreds of thousands of followers, and yes even the ones with the coveted "blue check”, all started exactly where you are.

So start!

There is an entire audience of people waiting to hear from you!

Remember: There's nothing holding you back but the limitations of your own mind.

2. Convert profile to a business profile & make it public.

If you’re looking to expand your following and potentially develop paid partnerships with well-established brands, one of the easiest ways to do that is by simply making your profile more accessible. Making your page public, converting to a business account and linking an email address are 3 immediate ways to allow potential brands to browse your photos freely to discover more about who you are, what you’re about and potentially, if they want to work with you in the future!

(To convert your page, go to your account homepage, tap the three(3) bars in the top right corner, select "Settings", scroll down and select "Switch to Business Account", et voila!)

What’s also really great about converting your profile into a business profile is that Instagram then provides you with specific insights about your followers, noting their age range, location (top cities & countries) and gender percentages so that you can create content that directly targets your unique audience in a meaningful way.

3. Consistency & Quality

Post consistency & the quality of your pictures are key to staying on your followers' feed (and on their mind, *wink*) and potentially landing your photo on the Explorer Page (a VERY successful way to gain followers).

Pro Tip: Smartphones these days take excellent photos and have great editing tools but I recommend downloading one of the popular photo editing apps like VSCO or Facetune to turn your photos up a notch. I also strongly recommend posting once a day every day with no more than a day or two-day break between posts when you're first starting out.

(Unedited vs. Edited with VSCO // Subtle yet distinctive)

I also suggest planning your content ahead of time. Scheduling your photos with their respective captions, tags and mentions will save you so much time in the long run, I promise. There are tons of content planners out there but it would be inauthentic for me to recommend any because I don’t personally use them. I save all of my scheduled posts as drafts on IG and simply post from there.

If you do use a scheduling app, please be sure to add your recommendation(s) in the comments!

4. Engagement

Whether your goal is simply to gain more followers or to achieve brand ambassadorships/sponsorships, one of the key factors in your expansion is your engagement with your audience.

Brands want to work with influencers (big & small) who have genuine & consistent interaction with their virtual communities because that demonstrates trust and reliability.

One way to engage with your audience is by using a caption that sparks their interest, ignites curiosity, and/or asks a question!

Ex: You create a post about your haircare routine. End the post asking your followers what some of their favorite products are.

As your comments come in, certainly within the first hour of sharing your post, enhance your engagement by responding to comments and/or questions that you may receive. I LOVE engaging with my tribe in the comments and via DM and I think that has significantly contributed to the camaraderie I've built with my virtual community.

Pro Tip(s):

- Don't avoid opportunities to show your investment in your community because your response may just make someone's day!

- Go live about a topic that your community may enjoy discussing.

- Diversify your platform by taking not just photos, but videos (reviews are always popular) and reels.

- "How-to" videos demonstrate your creativity & proficiency in different branding tools so share your creativity by doing a "how-to" video related to your community's interests.

5. Hashtags

Whether they’re considered "cliche" or not, I personally believe that hashtags make a huge difference in the number of views, likes, shares and comments one picture can garner. Including your profile among those associated with a popular/trending hashtag is one of the easiest and quickest ways to be seen, so include a few relevant tags at the end of your posts and you’ll soon notice the difference!