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How to grow your Instagram following

Get some social media know-how from the experts at PHA Media

hellomagazine.com

With some 800 million active users, it's safe to say Instagram has transformed the world of social media. What was once a platform to share photos with close family and friends has changed to become a carefully-curated collage of all the 'best' snapshots of your life. But how can you stand out from the crowd?

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Many people assume that having an Instagram with a large following is a no-go unless you're a celebrity, or have deep enough pockets to hire a professional photographer. But this is certainly not the case. Here, the social media experts at PHA Media (pha-media.com), a leading London PR Agency, have shared some tips on how to improve your Instagram and 'up' your followers:

1. BE CREATIVE

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"Instagram is a platform that welcomes creativity more than any other, but it's also becoming increasingly necessary to get your voice heard. With the change of Instagram's algorithm (from chronical to engagement-driven), almost all accounts have seen a significant drop in the number of likes and comments that they receive. The old chronical algorithm allowed you to see everyone's posts in the order that they were shared, whereas now, users will only see your posts if they engage with your account frequently. For this reason, being creative and standing out is essential if you want your followers to stop endlessly scrolling through their feeds, and focus on your posts.

Being creative will catch people's attention and encourage them to engage with you. From there it's about maintaining their interest, by making sure you sustain the momentum."

2. FIND YOUR NICHE

"Many people are led to believe that sharing a mixture of posts which appeal to everyone, will result in more followers. Therefore, they start taking on new hobbies and activities and posting about them. While it's great to have a lot of interests and talents, this isn't necessarily going to get you more followers. Ultimately, all this will do is create more work for you and make you seem unauthentic. So, find a 'niche'!

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Your niche could be anything - outdoor fitness, healthy eating, brunch spots in London, travelling, home décor. It should represent your tone of voice, your visual identity, or something you're really passionate about. Having a niche doesn't mean that you can only share posts surrounding that topic. Just share a post every now and again which encompasses this niche, and your page will start to attract other Instagrammers with similar interests to you."  

3. HASHTAGS = POWER

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"Never underestimate the power of the hashtag - they are the most immediate way to extend your reach, and build a community. By putting up to 30 relevant hashtags underneath an Instagram post you can make yourself visible to millions of daily users who are searching for, or engaging with, content like yours. Be tactical with your hashtags. Don’t bother including simple, everyday hashtags such as #breakfast, #gym or #weekend, as these are far too frequently used and will get lost amongst all the noise– not to mention, they're boring!

Try using a trending or localised hashtag, like #ManchesterPRIDE, #GlastonburyFestival or #InternationalWomensDay. By using hashtags like these, you will be tapping into a new audience who are likely to be interested in your content and want to follow you because you have similar interests."

4. TALK BACK

"Many people treat social media as a one-way street, by posting pictures every now and again and expecting likes back – but that's not going to get you very far. Communicating with other Instagrammers is a clever (and sociable) way to spread the reach of your posts and generate more followers.

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How? Responding to comments, asking people questions, and liking or commenting on posts, will mean that your name is 'out there' and more noticeable. Starting conversations will also drive people to your page, and establish yourself as a prominent member in the community. This is what we call 'community managing'. It may seem like a lot of effort, but taking the time to interact with others, especially your own audience, like other's posts and initiate conversations, will generate noticeable interest and activity around your account."

5. USE THE WHOLE TOOLBOX

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"Just because Instagram first started as an image sharing platform, doesn't mean you should be confined to this. These days, there's a plethora of tools on Instagram that you can use to tell your story – think videos, GIFs, and Boomerangs! The newest tool on Instagram, which is already a big hit with users, is Instagram Stories. This is a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours, much like Snapchat. Using this instant tool regularly, is a fantastic way to keep your account fresh, increase engagement and keep people interested in you.

Once your Instagram Story has been posted you will be able to see how many times it has been viewed and who has viewed it - which is a great way to monitor how many people are engaging with you, and what posts are working better than others."

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6. BE CONSISTENT

"If you carry out all of the above tips then you should start to see your follower numbers pile up – however, you must be consistent. Don't try and do everything all at once, and then nothing for a month. Regularity and consistency are key to growing an account.

Posting frequently (every day if you can) is crucial for boosting your following, as it will ensure that there is enough content out there for your existing followers, and potential followers, to engage with you on. Although this might sound tiresome, regular social updates are key!"

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