To Grow Your Instagram Followers, You Need To Think Outside The Box! We Look At Ways To Gain More Followers Besides Just Posting And Commenting On Instagram!
If you’re looking for additional ways to grow your Instagram account besides all the same old ‘secret tricks’ or ‘expert advice’ from gurus on social media, then I have some actionable advice that can help you.
I’m going to list out my five additional steps to grow your Instagram and your overall digital presence. Beware, these aren’t quick tips or overnight miracles. If you’re serious about expanding your Instagram reach and aren’t afraid of a little hard work, then welcome aboard!
If you aren’t interested in the nitty gritty of why you may want to use other digital assets to grow your Instagram, you can skip ahead to the Five Strategies To Grow Your Instagram section below. If you want to know not only why you may want to do this, but how the Instagram algorithm is affecting EDC accounts, just keep reading.
The following info is geared specifically to Everyday Carry accounts: those that post knives, guns and pictures of tools. They have been the most affected by the Instagram shift. If that doesn’t describe your account, then my strategies will have a much greater effect on your growth and reach.
Over the course of the last twelve months or so, Instagram has changed not only their algrothium but also their internal guidelines when it comes to posting knife, gun and other weapon pictures.
By now you know Instagram doesn’t really share their rules or guidelines and just regurgitates a blanket policy statement about accounts that violate community guidelines. In this article, I am specifically talking about the change in the Instagram guidelines, the so-called shadowban, and how not to put all your eggs in one basket.
If you have seen your followers fall away and your engagement severely drop, you are not alone. Before I go any further, you must remember rule number one of all these different platforms…..you can not rely (solely) upon them to grow your brand or a business. You must control your own content. This is true for facebook, Youtube and of course Twitter.
One day, you can wake up and the platform you thought was your home no longer wants you. If you do not have a plan B or your foothold on other platforms, you could be left in a lurch.
This very situation has happened on Instagram several times, but most recently around mid-November 2019. Instagram made a huge shift in their algrothium or guidelines and many EDC and knife accounts were virtually stopped dead. In my own experience, I can pin-point the day exactly where I saw my own account affected, that was November 17, 2019.
Thankfully, for myself, I had started expanding my Tech Writer EDC brand beyond Instagram prior to November. I built a website, spent more time using Facebook and really did a deep dive into Pinterest. Doing these things has helped me stave off the follower slide so many other accounts have experienced. I have even been able to grow new followers by attracting them from other platforms.
Most likely, you know what a shadowban is so I am not going into that or even how to fix it, because despite countless videos and blogs, you can’t fix a shadowban anymore. Also, I can tell you without a doubt that 90% of the idiots on Youtube who offer Instagram and marketing advice, don’t know what they are talking about or never actually put any of their preachings into practice.
How do I know? Because in the real world I am a search engine specialist and have been ranking websites for many years in very competitive industries…I have actual street knowledge of how this stuff works.
A quick note about the shadowban. Some say it’s not a “real thing.” I think you have to stop thinking of it as something they “do in the shadows” and realize Instagram openly doesn’t like you posting knife pictures.
They don’t really want it on Instagram and it’s only a matter of time before all types of knife, sword, gun and weapon pictures are completely eliminated. They are not doing this in secret and have made it quite obvious. So it’s not a ban, but a program written to hide your account from new followers.
So, what can be done? In one way, not much, since as I stated above, we don’t control the platform. Also, by now you know that the major players don’t like knives, guns or fun.
However, even with the deck stacked against us, there are some steps you can take to counteract the censorship and actually grow not only your Instagram but your overall brand or personality across all the digital platforms.
In this post, I am going to talk about five things you can do outside of Instagram to grow your followers.
Five Strategies To Grow Your Instagram
I’m starting with Facebook not because it’s the number one strategy, but because it’s just a small extra step. If you didn’t know, Facebook owns Instagram, so the ban and muted reach will still carry over here. However, Facebook is still a valuable tool to get people to Instagram. The main reason is because it is much easier to reach someone on a desktop, laptop, or Ipad who is surfing the internet and drag them to Instagram. Again, we are trying to reach new people who might not even be on Instagram or who don’t venture into the Instagram app as much.
You will want to make sure you have created a facebook page for your Instagram account and then link them together. Then, everytime you post on Instagram, you want to also post that image on Facebook via the IG app.
You may be doing this already and thinking this is nothing new. You need to take FB a step further. Just like you can tag users on IG, you can tag FB users in your comment sections by using the “@” sign. After you auto post to FB from IG, go into your facebook account and tag other people and companies just like on IG. Some companies don’t pay as much attention to Instagram as they do to facebook and sometimes they don’t log in for days.
You have a better chance to reach a manufacturer via FB sometimes. This is true for a lot of location based businesses such as restaurants, stores and tourist spots. Just like on IG, you are going for the re-post here, too.
Maybe you don’t want friends, family and co-workers to know that you’re a knife nut….or maybe you do! Requesting your FB friends to follow your page is super easy using the built in tools. The other thing you will want to do is post original pics on Facebook that are not on Instagram.
The key to expanding your reach is to produce more content than the competitors. How many awesome pics do you have on your phone that never see the light of day because they are just variations of another image? Facebook gives you another home for these shots.
Of all the things you can do to increase your reach, having your own website is the most important. Other than in very, very extreme situations, all of your content is safe here and beyond the stifling reach of censorship. Just like any other business in the world, your website is the cornerstone of your entire digital presence. All roads need to lead back to your website and your website can be an extremely valuable tool, especially in how you present yourself to gear makers when you are looking to collaborate….cough, cough….I mean hit them up for free stuff.
A website shows that you take your brand and job as an influencer seriously. It also shows manufacturers that by working with you, you have other valuable avenues for them to get exposure.
If you never built a website, now is a great time to learn a new skill. Normally, as a web designer myself, I would never, ever tell someone to use Squarespace or Wix. However, they do make it very easy to throw up a quick website. However, beware….just like Instagram, Squarespace, WIX, Weebly, Shopify, and Godaddy are actual platforms and they have their own rules.
You should spend the extra time to build a stand alone website using something like WordPress that is hosted with a server company. This keeps you out of big tech hands for the most part.
Now, what are you going to do with a website? First, you always said you wanted to write some knife reviews, now is your chance. At the very least, you can start using your website as an online photo gallery to show off your pictures. Maybe down the road you can even start building affiliate links to make a few bucks.
Having your own site creates a platform that is entirely yours outside the bounds of traditional social media platforms. The possibilities are really endless. Maybe you have other interests that don’t fit into your curated IG feed that you want to show off. Maybe you would like to do some type of adventure freelance work.
Your own website gives you a chance to tell your story and put a face with the name of your IG account. Afterall, your website gives way more room than the one sentence that fits in your bio.
A well executed website will give you a foothold in the digital landscape if someone searches for you or your brand. I did not start my IG account to get freebies and really, as you may see one day, free stuff is not all it’s cracked up to be. But, when your watch review can rank in the search engines, companies are more apt to want to work with you. A perfect example of this is my Orient MAKO USA III review, just google that phrase and you will see what I mean. Same goes for the Phoibos Great Wall.
When it comes to your website, start with something easy. Just use it as a place to showcase your pictures. Do a quick search about search engine optimization and apply some basic steps and you might just surprise yourself.
When it comes to driving people back to your Instagram account, I don’t think there is any more powerful platform than Pinterest. I have spoken at length why you need to be on Pinterest, the least of all is to protect your account from photo thieves, but that’s not the only reason.
When it comes to website traffic in general, Pinterest usually is always in the top three referral sources to most lifestyle, hobby, and DIY websites….and with good reason.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is it’s own platform that gives users the ability to escape, find unique content and build a community.
My own personal preference is to split your Pins into two main types: repinning your pics directly from Instagram and pinning pics from your website. If you’re new to Pinterest or don’t know all the little details, I wrote a guide specifically for EDC folks to get started on Pinterest here.
Since Pinterest is both an app on a phone or tablet and accessible as a website, you have a huge audience to pull from. It is my belief that a little part of the Instagram algorithm sees where visitors come from outside of the app itself.
You can see how this works if you just go to the homepage of Yahoo and many other sites where they embed Instagram posts directly into their web articles. Another signaling factor is the prevalence of “top Instagram Accounts You Need To Follow” type of articles. Like this one I wrote for a decorating website here.
Since setting up and getting started on Pinterest is so easy, it’s an absolute no-brainer to carve out your foothold and start pinning your pics!
If you don’t know it already, YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. Think about the last time you searched for something, I bet a set of videos were at the top of the results. Using YouTube to promote your Instagram is super easy. Just look how many folks try to promote their Youtube from inside of Instagram.
You just need to flip around the effort. You can start with a basic video setup using your phone and less than $100 in gear (even $75 in some cases). So instead of buying another Spyderco or Benchmade, pick up a tripod, a mic, a few lights….and have at it! You don’t need to be perfect. Focus on being genuine and original, that’s how you will grow followers.
Remember, if your main goal is Instagram, make sure your videos are focused on bringing your viewers to your account.
If you got a new knife or watch, even if 1,000 people reviewed it already, do a quick video from your own personal perspective and then have people go to your Instagram to see your awesome pictures.
Of all the steps on this list, outreach will be the hardest, most time consuming, and have the least amount of results. However, if you can pull off a few quality shout-outs or backlinks, it’s worth the effort. So, what is outreach? In this case, outreach is where you attempt to make a connection with someone in the EDC or your focus sphere and see if they will link, tag, or (in some way) promote you.
“However, if you can pull off a few quality shout-outs or backlinks, it’s worth the effort.“
This is not leaving a crappy comment on someone’s pic in Instagram saying “great shot, follow me for awesome content.” Guys that do that are fools and look shallow.
Rather, can you send an email, DM, or even call someone who is more influential than you on Instagram and social media and ask them to promote you. Let’s say you are really trying to up your photo game and you are inspired by Rave The Pirate or one of the other amazing EDC photographers.
You can try to recreate a picture of theirs, give them credit and ask for a tag. Better yet, can you get another website to embed one of your Instagram posts in their blog.
“How do you do that?” you ask. Maybe you read a knife review, blog or gear journal website. They recently had a story or review on a watch or knife you have AND you have a killer pic.
You can reach out and see if they would like to embed your post on their page/website as a way to add some nicer pictures or quality content. You can see an example of a photo link to Instagram in this review of the Steinhart GMT I did here.
Reaching out to manufacturers and gear companies when you take pictures of their products is another good way. You can email or DM asking how to be featured, tagged, etc.
When you make contact with anybody in this way, always be polite and try to give them value in exchange for the link, etc. You are asking the favor, not the other way around.
If you have made it this far and feel inspired, great! It all may seem overwhelming, but if you are going to take this seriously, then hard work will be involved. Also, if you have made it this far, I hope you see how all of these things actually work together to not just grow your Instagram, but your entire digital presence.
You can see how Instagram can be the cornerstone, but a website, YouTube and Pinterest can all drive traffic and also become another platform you can be successful on.
Once you set up a website, the ongoing maintenance and updates are easy. The only challenging platform will be YouTube because you will need to create consistent content. I will say this about creating content consistently: if you can only do one video a week or one video a month, keep a schedule and stick to it.
The algorithm on YouTube will give you extra points for being both consistent and long term. Throwing up five videos in a week and then nothing for 6 months is actually worse than doing one upload a month for five months.
The key here is not to stop too soon! It’s definitely additional work to be successful with EDC online and on Instagram, but so many people stop short of their big break-through because they don’t see immediate results. You have to stick with it!
I am a good example of this. Go back through my feed and look at my first 100 or so EDC pictures….they were horrible! Same for big YouTube guys, go back to their first few videos and you will see, we all start off on rocky ground and improve over time.
Have you thought about doing a YouTube channel for a while? Maybe you have said to yourself, “I should start a channel.” Well, if you’ve been saying that for a year or two, imagine where you would be today if you just started! Don’t delay, start small, be consistent and learn along the way!
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.