or How to gain your ‘first’ 10,000 followers on Instagram. I say ‘first’ because I only know how to get to 10,000 followers. Getting to 20,000 followers is a whole different ball game. I could explain why it’s different but that’s not what this page is about. It’s about the FIRST 10,000 followers which in itself is damn awesome, like nutella on oreos.
(this will only take about 7 mins to read which could be the most important 7 mins of your life! Ok not your life, but your Instagram life)
(as a quick side note, I wish I’d known what I know now and employed more of the tactics outlined below and I would have got to 10k a lot quicker!! As you will see from my feed, some of my photos didn’t really engage my followers enough and engage others to start following me. But anyway, I’ve found that the best way to find out if something works is to try it).
So how will getting 10k Instagram followers help you?
Well, don’t you find it really annoying and frustrating when you see an awesome rep search post for one of your favourite bookish accounts knowing that if you apply you will simply get overlooked because you don’t have enough engaged followers?
Want to increase your chances of ‘winning’ those rep searches?!
The honest truth is, when rep searches are done the account holder is purely looking for how many followers you have and how well you engage these followers. By engagement I mean how many likes and comments you are getting on each of your posts. It’s true that on the very odd occasion someone with less than 10,000 followers might win a rep search but only if they are getting a high number of likes and comments on their posts.
….want to know how I got to over 10,000 highly engaged bookstagram followers in less than 6 months? Well then I’ll tell you. You see it’s pretty easy once you know how. And I didn’t know how, to start with. Until of course, I read some books! It had to be books right. The reason we’re all on Instagram in the first place, to talk about, photo, read about and share our memories of……. BOOKS!!!
So, do you want to get more followers too? Ok, keep reading…
Here are the 4 steps you’ve got to take.
1. Post engaging photos
2. Follow people
3. Use hashtags on your posts
4. Write engaging captions
That’s it. Easy right! So I’ll explain what these mean and go through in exact detail how you do each of these 4 things below.
Let’s get started.
Number 1. Post engaging photos
What does this even mean? I already post engaging photos! Ok you might think that you do, as I did when I started out. It turned out that I was wrong. Massively. My first attempts were shit. Haha, I mean really shit. Some of you will have seen them before I quickly deleted them through shame!
So what you need to do is to entice your audience into liking or commenting on your posts. How do you do this? Well first you have to be ‘NATIVE’ to the bookstagram community. Native means that your photos have to essentially look like the photos of other book bloggers. People in the bookstagram community love to see flatlay photos of books surrounded by cosy objects like cushions, candles and fairy lights. This is setting the scene. These photos transport the viewer of them into a cosy setting where they would love to read. If you think about it, we all love reading in cosy places, be it in bed with blankets, candles and surrounded in flowers. The below is a great example of this type of post.
Now it is possible to achieve this look in a number of different ways, but some are a lot more successful than others. For a start you need to take into account lighting. Remember that we want our scene to be cosy. So slightly darker photos tend to have better engagement than stark light scenes. Again, if you think about it you want to read in a dimly lit cosy place, not a bright white minimalistic room. So the above has far better engagement with the bookstagram community than the below.
And what your posts shouldn’t look like is the below. These type of photos don’t set any scene or encourage our minds to imagine anything.
I don’t want to get too deep and physcological here but ultimately what we are trying to achieve is to remind peoples brains of a time when they are happy. People who love books and reading are at their happiest when reading. This makes sense right?! So when we are happy as humans our brains release a chemical called dopamine which gives us a natural high. So by reminding people of their happiest times, the brain will release dopamine even if they are just re-imagining their happiest times. Even looking at a photo of somewhere that looks like an awesome place to read makes us happy and releases dopamine. And as humans we are hugely addicted to dopamine!!!
What do you need to take photos like this?
You need to study closely the photos of the biggest book bloggers on Instagram. See what props they use in each of their posts. You will notice that they will all have a set of props that they use and then they use them over and over again. All they do is create slightly different scenes with the same props.
These props are a combination of the below.
- cups of coffee (who doesn’t love a nice coffee when reading)
- blankets and pillows
- maps of the world
- fairy lights
- and of course, books!
You don’t need all of these things but you need to keep re-arranging them to keep your scenes looking fresh.
Now if you want to really look professional and gain followers fast, you should stick to a colour scheme. Notice how the best bloggers have similar colours in all their posts.
By using the same props and also the same colours in every post you create consistency which keeps people coming back to view your posts time and again.
Ok so sometimes this isn’t quite possible, but what you want to create is a habit in people. If you post everyday, they will check your account everyday hoping to see your next post. Creating this anticipation is when you are really started to engage your followers.
You want to post at a similar time everyday to engage the most people as possible.
As a book blogger your biggest audience will 16-24 year old women who live in the U.S. This isn’t to say that you won’t attract many followers outside of these demographics, but most of your followers will be within these categories. And these people are mainly on Instagram between 6-9pm everyday. (I’m in the UK so this is GMT). What this means is that you will need to post between these times to maximise your reach. (Your reach is how many people get to see your post, and obviously you want as many people to see your posts as possible).
2. Follow people
This is very important!
(But it’s going to hurt and you won’t want to hear it, but here goes….)
PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT YOU EXIST.
Ok, there, I’ve said it and I know it’s a little hard to take but they don’t. And I’ll tell you something worse…they don’t really CARE that you exist either!!!! Aaaarrrgghhh. (only on Instagram mind, I mean your parents and friends still care you exist of course!)
So, how do we make them care?! Good question…
Well, firstly our content needs to be amazing, which it is going to be after you have followed the above tips in the ‘Post Engaging Photos’ section.
Ok, what else?
Right this is where we need to get our heads around following people. Now I know some people think that this is not what they want to do because we’ve all seen those accounts where the number of people they are following is massive and the number following them is tiny. These people look like spammers, there is no getting away from it. But that isn’t what we’re going to do. No, what we’re going to do is find the exact people who we think will be interested in our account and basically say to them,
“Hi there! Come look at my account, I think you’ll like it, but if not that’s fine too”
And when you follow the RIGHT people, that is essentially what you’re saying to them. Hold on, that’s not necessarily true because ‘The Follow’ says so much more than that. Now, I’m going to have to go a bit deep and physcological here and talk about how our brains work again.
So, this is what happens in our brains when someone follows us.
1. We are intrigued. “Oooh I wonder who has followed me?”
2. We look at their account name. Their name says they have something to do with books. “I like books, I’ll click on their account to see what it’s like.”
(by the way the bits in quotation marks is your brain talking)
3. You see some photo’s that you like
4. You look at how many followers they’ve got (this is called social proof. We want to do what other people are doing)
5. We double click on some photos to show our appreciation for them following us
6. And this is the really interesting bit. Because of how our brains are hard wired due to millions of years of evolution this is what happens. Because someone followed us, we think that they are interested in us and like us, and as humans, we like people who like us in the first place. And secondly something called the reciprocity rule also comes into play. Because you have followed them, they reciprocate this gesture and follow you back. Weird right?! (If you want to learn more about this read Robert Cialdini’s amazing book called ‘Influence – The psycology of persuasion’)
Right, who to follow and how to find them.
The amazing thing here is that there are already thousands of the right people nicely grouped together and all you have to do is go follow them. And where are they? Well, they’re following the same accounts that you are following. Go and check out your favourite book blogger on Instagram and click on their followers. Hi there! These are your potential followers….they just don’t know it yet.
These are the exact people that you are looking for. So, all you have to do is follow them. Hold on there though, because there is more. Not all followers are the same. You see people on Instagram can be categorized into the sections of followers, likers and commentors. So, everyone is a follower obviously. But not everyone is a liker or a commentor. The people who are likers and commentors are the people that you really want because they are the ones who will support you the most. Hey, you might even be a liker or commentor yourself. Kudos to you because you are the reason that we are all on instagram in the first place – the people that actually do stuff on there. I mean silent followers are good, but likers and commentors, you rock!!
Ok, so how do we get those awesome likers and commentors to follow us? Well go on one of your favourite book bloggers pages and click on their most recent post. Then click on the likes. There you will see a convenient list of your future followers. Go right ahead and follow them.
BUT BE CAREFUll!!
You gotta watch yourself when following mind, because Instagram does not want spammers! Remember we are not spammers. How spammers work is they follow anyone and everyone in the hope that they get your attention. We are not doing that. We are following selected people who we think are going to be interested in our account.
Now, what I would recommend is putting together some sort of log to record your following to make sure that you are not exceeding Instagram’s follow limits. No one knows what these limits are but you don’t want to get banned. Make sure you stop following when Instagram politely warns you by not letting you follow someone. You’ll notice that when you click on the follow button, it won’t change from ‘FOLLOW’ to ‘FOLLOWING’ or ‘REQUESTED’. After this has happened, do not follow anyone else that day. Leave it until the next day and then carry on.
Ultimately following people is the quickest way to gain the right audience that you want for your account. As your amount of followers grows you will start to gain followers through other means, but to kickstart your account this is the only way to begin your journey to 10,000 followers.
3. Include hashtags on your posts
Ok, so everyone probably knows what a hashtag is, but I’m pretty sure most of you aren’t maximising their potential! You see a hashtag is basically a group and what you want to do is start to get to the top of each hashtag, or group that you use. When I say get to the top of each hashtag, what I mean is you want to get your post featured in the top posts section for as long as possible. If you don’t know what the top posts section is, it’s the top 9 posts that you see at the top of any hashtag. Check it out for yourself now. Open up Instagram and seach for any hashtag. So the top posts section is where we want to be. Why? Because once you are in the top posts, your post gets seen so much more than any other post that is included in that hashtag. Every post that is submitted to that hashtag is shown in the section below the top posts, and as this section re-freshes, the posts not in the top posts get pushed further and further down the page and therefore have much less chance of being seen.
How to include hashtags on posts.
You are allowed to use up to 30 hashtags on each post on Instagram and I recommend that you use all 30 because this maximises your chances of being seen by more people. You’ll see that a lot of people who use hashtags write their caption for their post and include their list of hashtags within this caption section. Now I personally think this looks a bit spammy. So, what you want to do is just hide your hashtags a bit more. How you do this is, once you have shared your post, immediately comment on your own post with your hashtags. What this does is hide your hashtags in your comments. If you open the comments you will see your hashtags, but once people start leaving comments on your post, your comment with the hashtags on will soon become less visible.
Also, you want to present your hashtags as below. See how I’ve got 5 dots before the list of hashtags? This is so before anyone has even commented on my post, the list of hashtags still won’t be seen because you will just see a few dots.
When choosing which hashtags to use, we can’t go for hashtags which are too popular. Why? Because remember that we want to appear in the top posts section of each of the hashtags that we use so what we have to do is carefully select the hashtags that are popular enough that people are looking at them, but not too popular that your post doesn’t appear in the top posts section.
So, on your phone, open up your notes app and type in or copy and paste the following into a new page:
Which posts get featured in the Top Posts Section and why?
If I’m honest I’m not sure most people, including myself know exactly why and how posts get featured in the top posts section, but I’ve got a few theories which seem to work pretty well. It doesn’t seem to be the posts with the most number of likes or comments that get featured in the top posts. This is what you would assume would essentially be the ‘top posts.’ No It seems to be more about how quickly you get those likes and comments.
How to maximize your chances of appearing in the Top Posts section
So, once we have shared our post, we need it to get as many likes as possible, as quickly as possible. We achieve this by following these 3 steps:
- Posting at the right time of day so as many of your key audience sees your post. As I mentioned earlier, this is between 6-9pm(GMT)
- Follow 50 people or as many as Instagram will allow you before stopping you.
- Spend 10 mins liking the posts of people who you don’t follow and don’t follow you in the bookstagram community
4. Write engaging captions
This is the section that you’re already good at. You love reading and you love talking about books. So give your readers a lot to read. After all, readers love to read right?
To be engaging you need to firstly write like you are talking to a friend. Don’t write as if you are talking to an audience. Talk to 1 friend. And secondly ask questions. Questions that are going to entice your audience into answering. Not mundane questions like ‘what are you having for dinner’ but questions like ‘if you could only re-read 1 book again ever, what would it be?’
Also provide value in your captions. Give reviews on the books you are reading, providing useful information on whether it’s worth reading or not.
Finally include calls to action. Calls to action are basically suggestions on what you would like someone to do. People do what you tell them to do so when you include a call to action, people do what you say. For example, if you want people to tag a friend, tell them to. Or you want them to click a link, you need to tell them to do it.
So that’s it. Follow these tips and you will get to 10,000 followers in no time at all. Everything you need to know is above.
If there is anything that you want to ask, or something that I’ve said doesn’t make sense, just send me an email or DM me on Instagram and I will dfo my best to help you.
Thank you for reading this and for helping me get to 10,000 followers.