How to Grow an Engaged Following on Instagram
On today’s podcast episode, I interview Ray Calloway, the owner and creator of @blkgirldaily, @blkmendaily, @raycalloway_, and @melaninpunchbowl. During her time as a Social Media Strategist and Podcast host, she has grown her following from 1k to over 12k in less than a year through organic Instagram growth.
Ray wasn’t always an online entrepreneur, in fact, she got started when her career shifted to that of being a full-time mother. She wanted to flexibility to be able to work on her time and schedule and now she edits podcasts and provides other women with strategies to grow their online business. I was excited to learn how she was able to grow such an incredible engagement with her Instagram and what motivated her to be so passionate.
Make your platform less about you
Ray says that one of the best decisions she made in growing her platform was to create content that centered around her follower’s lives and made her account less about her. She features other aspiring entrepreneurs, business leaders, and women of color on her Instagram and podcast. She also reposts posts of followers that are highly engaged to encourage and share about what others in the community are doing.
Engage with followers on similar accounts
Ray discussed that one of her strategies to grow her following was to interact with other engaged users on Instagram on similar accounts or pages. She discussed that commenting on someone’s post on a similar page will allow you to connect with people who are on the platform consistently. Someone that won’t follow you back because they are inactive, won’t really help your level of engagement nor provide you with the inspiring posts you want either.
Do market research
One of the most important topics Ray discusses is to do an in depth analysis of your niche and see what topics are trending. The whole concept is “build it and they will come,” isn’t really a great strategy, according to Calloway. Ray discusses that you have to see a need and fill the need through identifying the main topics and gauge the interest of your listeners, followers, and subscribers. This is a step that many entrepreneurs often forget.
Create a clear bio and CTA
Your bio is one of the best places to brand your business, but it is also a great way to generate more leads by having a clear call to action in your Instagram bio. Ray uses clear directions by sharing with the user to follow certain accounts, use a specific hashtag, or to click on a recent link in her bio. Having a call to action can increase engagement.
Repost other people’s content
Following and engaging with other people is a great way to start, but Ray advises that she makes time to repost her follower’s content to help people get more visibility to their brand and also to create a level of trust with potential partners and clients. She advises that she always tags the person in the post to give credit and that it may be wise to analyze whether or not to use a photo if it was taken by a professional photographer. She only posts content from other engaged followers and not anyone else that she is not following or engaged with online.
Create a visual aesthetic
It’s important to note that Ray had a clear picture of who her ideal followers were and what content would perform well on the platform. Ray utilizes several different apps that help her keep consistent on her platform and creates visually appealing content for her Instagram. She reminds the listeners that understanding that beautiful and visual content on Instagram will always do better because Instagram is primarily a visual platform, unlike Twitter and other related platforms. She uses Planoly to plan out her content, Unfold, and PicMonkey to create different images for her Instagram page.
It was a pleasure to have Ray on the podcast. Ray recommends that even if you are still working your 9-5 career, you can start practicing telling yourself that you are an author, blogger, or whatever it is that you are trying to be so when you tell people it won’t be weird.
You can follow Ray and Blkgirldaily on the following links.
BlkGirlDaily Instagram: https://instagram.com/blkgirldaily/
Ray Calloway Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raycalloway__/
BlkGirlDaily Website: https://blkgirldaily.com/
Business Strategy Website: https://raycalloway.com/