How to grow your Instagram following and engagement

In this post you will find out why you need to show you and your face on social media as well as for your brand and how to get out of your comfort zone and get started.

This blog post is a little more personal than usual and contains a lot of open thoughts where I am still trying to find answers to. Please let me know if you can relate and any comments or tips you might have!

The other day I listened to a podcast by Jenna Kutcher about an experiment she did on Instagram for one month and how it doubled her Instagram growth. She did not say what she had tested but even before listening to the podcast I already knew what the test was: she had posted a picture of herself for almost every post for one month. And people loved it!

I have been saying this for a while - also for branding: people want real people! Customers, clients and followers want to know who the person behind the brand is. Whether you make your brand about you or not but to show on your website and on social media who you are is essential for most businesses these days.  

In this post I want to share with you why you need to show who you are on Instagram (and your brand) and how to do it!

How to increase engagement on Instagram | MNFL Design

People want to get to know you

I know it is hard to post about yourself and be so personal on Instagram! Many of my clients cringe when I mention the option of posting a picture of them. (I have been there as well!) But people want to see who it is behind a brand and if they can relate and trust that person.

Obviously my brand and also my Instagram is by far not as huge and well known as the one from Jenna Kutcher for example but that doesn’t matter. I have noticed the same things she has when I post about myself.

My Instagram story

I started my business slowly about three years ago. And I did not even consider making it about me in the beginning. I wanted it to be about my customers and the brands and websites I was creating! I did not think it was important who I really was other than my portfolio and my credentials. I also started my Facebook business page immediately and in 2016 I started with Instagram. I checked and I did not post a picture of me for a very long time!

I was beginning to realize that it was essential but I didn’t do it until I met one of my neighbors who knew about my business but she didn't know that it was actually me behind it!! She said she had scrolled through my feed but never seen a picture of the person behind the brand and wished she had. She said she would have engaged more and she actually had some graphic design jobs that she would have given to me if she had known it was me behind this feed...

She was miles ahead of me in terms of confidence on this subject as she posted a lot of images of herself and her family, so I knew exactly who she was and what she was doing. I realized I had a lot to learn AND I had to step out of my comfort zone to make MNFL Design more human and essentially more accessable and likeable.

I am no different - and my guess is you aren’t either: I also always scroll through the feed to see who is the person behind the business and if there are “only” beautiful images and not a single picture of the creator of these images I would find it less interesting and intriguing than other people who post less styled images but more human ones. I encourage you to be honest to yourself right now and think about what you are looking for when scrolling through an Instagram feed!!

I actually know a lot of people who just have an Instagram account to look at other people and to follow and take part in their lives even though they never post anything! This is the modern way of soap operas or big brother ;-)

So I decided to change this and post more images of myself and to start Instagram stories. It took me a while to get more comfortable with it but it is totally doable.

Followers want to follow people

Besides my neighbors feedback, my own learnings and my own preferences, I notice all the time that Instagram accounts where the creator is only posting pictures of herself or himself get so much more engagement than accounts with 'just' beautiful pictures and great content!

For example I was researching a little bit and realized that my cousin, an actor, who is only posting images with himself in it and is not really promoting his page or using many hashtags (sometimes none) has more overall followers than me and more likes on one picture!

My friend @akemihoshiphotography hardly ever posts a picture with herself in it, but again when she does they get the best engagement. And this is the same for me.

Also have a look at bands or actors or any other public people. They post a lot of images of themselves and their families as well as behind the scenes Instagram stories. And the engagement there is huge!

Your account - and mine - might not be as big as theirs but the result will be the same on a smaller level.

Have a look yourself and go and analyze a few Instagram accounts. The pattern is quite obvious.

Again, people want to get to know the people behind the brands! People like to buy from people! We used to go to stores or the office of a company and talk to people when buying a product or booking a service. Now we do everything online. The internet is making everything a lot more anonymous. So it is nice to “interact” with humans again - nowadays through social media!

Being more personal on Instagram

Do you want to share more of your personal life on Instagram? Do I want to do that? Do I find it admirable? I don’t know to be honest! I am still struggling to find a consistent flow with sharing me and my personal life on social media. There are days when I am more happy to do so and there are days I am struggling. Also a constant question is, shall I show the kids? I still don’t have an answer to this. I have a business with is directed at mums with a business and I want mums to relate to me but I hardly actually show that I am a mum myself…

I know what I should do in order to get more engagement but here I have to decide for myself what is more important to me. The privacy of my kids or my marketing. Everyone has to make that decision for themselves.

However if you do want to post more about yourself, I want to share how you can get used to being more visible on Instagram and how to get started.

How to start sharing your face on Instagram

This is how I started and it was a slow and steady shift which did not make it as overwhelming. Hopefully this strategy will help you as well!

  1. Change your profile image to an image of yourself

  2. Show a Friday introduction image
    Have you seen these Friday Introduction Hashtags? #fridayintroduction
    They are a great way to show the first image of yourself and write a personal caption. And they always get good engagement.

  3. Posting an image of yourself once every nine days (or six)
    Once you have taken this first hurdle, you get your friend or a photographer to take a few images of yourself in your home, working, outside or anything that fits to your company. And then you plan one image of yourself every week. Or at least one image for every 9 image grid. (You should plan your feed by planning for 9 images as one bunch or theme. Which is roughly what is shown on a phone when opened.)

  4. Start IG stories with your voice in
    I did that, I walked my followers through my blog posts by showing my computer and talking about it. It was an easy way to get used to video and my own voice. You can do the same by talking about your blog posts or by showing your city or anything else relevant to your life and/or business.

  5. Then you can start doing some IG stories where you are recording videos of yourself
    You can practice this by just recording videos of yourself when waiting in the car for school pick up for example. And you will get more used to your own face and voice on video. Give yourself some time and you will be more relaxed. Once you started and stop thinking about all the people who might see you :-)) you will forget your initial anxiety about it - I promise!

  6. Post more images with more personal captions
    Now that you got more confident with sharing your face more, you can start to post more images with yourself in it and start writing longer and more personal captions.

  7. And finally: you are ready to do a live video!

As I said I have taken this strategy and I was not used to videos of myself!!! But after going through this process I am now enjoying to share my videos and help other women do the same and build their businesses!

Deciding on a posting strategy

It is also always good to have a strategy behind your Instagram posts. So I urge you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often do you want to post?

  • How often to you want to post about yourself?

  • Why is it you are posting?

  • What is it you are sharing?

  • How can you incorporate yourself and your face in it?

  • Who will take nice images of yourself?

  • What will be your photography style?

  • How can you post about your business?

  • How can you post to help your ideal customers and clients?

  • Which tool do you want to use to schedule and plan your posts?

  • What types of Instagram stories do you want to share?

  • How often do you want to post a story? (it is recommended to always have at least one story up and they disappear after 24 hours.)

  • How much of your family and private life do you want to share?

General Tips

Yes, overall your personal images and stories need to be polished as well but not as styled as product shoots!

Don’t think about it too much! Have fun and experiment! Talk to your friends and experiment together!

And finally: step out of your comfort zone!

great things happen outside of your comfort zone | MNFL Design

Let me know any comments and thoughts you have! I am still learning with you :-) And let me know if you have any questions!

And if you are interested you can listen to Jenna Kutcher’s Podcast here.

Have a great week

xx Emilia

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