In 2022, I gained 75,000 followers on instagram organically. It was the biggest growth spurt my instagram had ever experienced in its 11 years of existence. I'm going to share all the things I did that worked for me and allowed me to grow.
I stopped participating in all Instagram bonuses and incentive programs
I was invited to participate in Instagram's reels bonus in 2021. Initially, I was ecstatic. I was going to get paid for posting my usual content and for a while I was content. I noticed my engagement was no longer as high as it once was and then I noticed that the payout from the bonus was also dwindling.
In March 2022, I mistakenly opted out of the bonus and within 48 hours two reels that were over a month old had gone viral over night. While I was opted out of the bonus, the engagement on my posts were astronomical. In April, I joined the bonus again and again my engagement tanked. Once I rejoined the bonus, the engagement on my viral posts came to a screeching halt.
In May 2022, I opted out of all Instagram bonuses for good. Soon after, I once again had reels going viral with some reels reaching 15 MILLION views.
I stopped posting static images and carousels
The last time I posted a static image or carousel on my Instagram was May 2022. Since then, I have pivoted to only posting reels. All of my research has shown that Instagram is favoring reels in an attempt to compete with TikTok. Additionally, when I did post a static image the engagement was often less than 0.25%
I started using trending sounds
When I first started posting reels, I just posted whatever song was popular at the moment. I never gave much thought to what song I was slapping onto my video.
These days, I no longer use popular songs. I scroll through Instagram and look for funny food related sounds that have less that 5,000 uses. Ideally, I'm looking for sounds that have under 2,000 uses. This can be some funny anecdote, joke or someone proclaiming their love of carbs. I want a sound that has not flooded the timeline yet and if it does become popular I have used it early enough to ride the wave of the sound's popularity.
I engaged with other people's reels
I try to dedicate about 30 minutes to an hour scrolling through the Instagram reels explore page and engage with similar creators in my niche. That means liking and commenting on their content. I do this while simultaneously searching for audios to use.
I posted 6-7 times a week
My goal is to post one reel a day, every day. I post 4-5 stories daily. Whether I'm repurposing footage from a year ago or it's new content, I aim to post every single day.
I use a maximum of 5 hashtags per post
My days of using 30 hashtags on every single post are long behind me. This year I shifted from using the maximum amount of hashtags to only using 4-5 in the caption of each post. Many times, I would only use 1 or 2.
Stayed in my niche
Sure, I'd love to share my beauty hacks or my outfits of the day but my page is about food and I stay tightly within my niche. I want my followers to know what to expect on my page.
Whether it's restaurant recommendations in south Florida or recipes for home cooked meals. People know to expect good food from my page and I don't deviate from that. Same goes for my stories, in my stories people can expect recipes I'm working on, food memes and restaurants I'm dining at. I try not to deviate from that so people can find my page reliable and consistent.
Understood my audience
This year I became very familiar with my analytics. Weekly I'd look at my analytics and see what's working and what's not. This year I noticed my coffee and cocktail videos were doing consistently better than other videos, so I leaned into cocktails and coffee.
For a while, my home cooked recipes were doing much better than my restaurant content so I leaned into my home cooked meals.
I noticed that my audience was more engaged with funny audios that were under 15 seconds long, so I've started adjusting my content to use funny jokes or food puns. I've shortened my content and try to keep posts under 15 seconds.
I made it a point to better understand my audience and started working towards sharing more content that my audience responded better to.
Post only clear and brightly lit content
I've talked about the importance of sharing sharp, colorful and well lit content before. The same holds true for video content. Blurry, dark and out of focus video will not do well (in my experience). I make sure to hold my camera steady while recording video and make sure my lighting is where I need it to be. I also take it a step further and take photos on my DSLR that I edit and use as the cover image for my reel. This way, my feed always has a crisp look.
Always geotag your content
Whether you're posting from a local cafe or the privacy of your home, always geotag your posts. For posts I created at home, I like to use the geotag for the city I'm in.
Adding a geotag means allowing your content to be viewed by more people. Whether its people looking for what the dishes at a restaurant look like or things to do in a city, you have more chances of reaching a wider audience when you add a geotag to your posts.
These are the things I did in 2022 that resulted in over 70,000 new organic followers. Hopefully, they yield great results for you as well.