Using IG is fun and can lead to income in the food niche — especially the burgeoning healthy food market — if you can gain enough of a audience, but it has changed radically since last year and the advent of its new algorithm.
Before the big A, for someone who was active and had quality content to share, it was relatively easy — in the healthy food community and lifestyle especially — to obtain steady growth. Now, it’s harder. Much harder and you have to make a real effort, so here are my top ten tips to help you bring your A game – these tips can be applied to any community or topic on IG, though I of course have a soft spot for my healthy foodie community. So without further ado, here is – in reverse order of importance – my:
Top Ten List Count-down to Faster Growth
on Instagram (updated 2018):
10. This rule merits repeating: you need awesome quality content and captions – recipes, information, camera work!
9. Use a photo of yourself in the profile, not logo, to create a human connection
8. Create a bio/profile that connects with your niche community, list your food recipe topics, food style, even quirky interests.
7. Leave an email in your bio to personify your account or switch to business IG (this will put an email button above your posts and allow you to LINK in your stories), AND use that profile link slot wisely – post new recipes or new content often. Do not use short URLS – Instagram is frowning because of lack of transparency.
6. Try to connect with your followers cross-platform, such as Facebook, a Food blog, Pinterest. Go visit them there, comment, like, become a part of their community there as well.
5. Post regularly, at least 4 times a week, but once every 1 day is best if you expect real growth.
4. Observe your community’s most active time and post then. (One of mine is at 2 am – uh oh!)
3. Interestingly, it is growing in popularity to add a few relevant hashtagged emoticons to your post! #? #? Yes, I said emoticons! See how @instagram is doing it. Although available emoticons are not always an exact topic match (where are you avocado emoticon?), things like stars, hearts, ice cream cones, leaves, are likely to introduce your page to new potential followers! Besides, it’s fun! Just keep somewhat relevant – veering off into very off-topic hashtags might gain you short-term followers but if they are there for a flash-in-the-pan post, they will leave you and they won’t contribute valuable comments anyway so you don’t want them.
2. Answer comments on your own posts right away at least for 30 minutes after posting – immediate response-time matters more than ever on pushing your post to top of your hashtags. (I have to work on that myself!) Then go visit your commenters’ pages and like and comment on their newest post. This may be obvious for someone who is established, but note that this is more important than ever because the new algorithm is supposed to eventually put more value on the number of likes per post — called engagement — than on followers. Some people in the healthy food community with quality content have really high engagement – in the thousands, and dozens of real-people comments yet are still have a slow-growing following. If that is you, pat your back, your situation is now going to grow in value even if you never reach 100K. However, it might take a while for brands to start thinking like that though so for now they will probably continue to value high follower numbers as well as high engagement.
1. The number one tip I can give you today is…drumroll…comment on others posts daily, they can be short comments but when possible use the poster’s name to personalize – this is more important than you know! And actually starting up a conversation with the poster or another commentor gives your engagement even more value. COMMENTING ON OTHER ACCOUNTS HAS SOARED IN NECESSITY TO GROW ON INSTAGRAM IN 2017. Sorry for the all-caps, haha! Also, randomly share accounts on your own IG, AND in stories..share, share, share is the going concern these days, kind of like the lesson we learned in kindergarten.
There are many many other tricks and more will unfold as we deal with these changes, but hopefully this will give you a few ideas. And yes, this all takes time, and do not feel bad if you can’t invest in every move. Do not stress about it. Just do your best, and you will probably grow anyway, albeit a bit more slowly. No one says you have to do this, and enjoying life should be your first priority. And if you are happy, that will show in your pictures and comments and that matters too, I don’t care what the Algorithm says.
Happy posting! And be sure to come on over to my IG page and say hi! I’m at @greensmoothiegourmet