Instagram is my favourite social media platform and has been for the past six years. Fact.
I remember being one of the first in my group of friends to download the app on my trusty iPhone 4 back in early 2012, and immediately loved the fact that you could use it as a nifty tool to document your life through picture perfect filters and tools. If I’m honest, at the age of 20, my personal Instagram feed was pretty much dominated by pictures of drunken university nights out and pictures of my classmates looking bored in lecture halls, so back then there were VERY few people who would’ve been interested in what I had to share and talk about on the platform.
Fast forward a couple of years and now, at the grand old age of 26, I am currently 7 months pregnant with my first child and using an Instagram page (@growingoutandup if you want to have a nosy) to document the crazy up and down journey of preparing to welcome a baby into the world for the first time.
I’ll be honest, I initially started the account a couple of years ago under a different username as a weight loss account and gathered around 2.5k followers before giving up on it after my healthy eating plan fell off the wagon (somewhat). Then, once I discovered I was pregnant last year, I decided to rebrand the account in order to make sure every step of our journey was documented, plus I love the idea that one day I might be able to show my daughter the images I take and how I prepared for her to enter the world.
Whilst I decided to keep the food optimisation and healthy eating aspect of the account intact to make sure my pregnancy weight gain doesn’t spiral too badly out of control, the main focus of the account has been engaging with other pregnant women; mums, dads and parenting brands.
Bearing that in mind, here are 5 of the most important things I’ve learnt over the past few months whilst growing my page to more than 6.5k followers.
1.It’s ALL About Engagement
It’s so easy to get carried away with the amount of likes a post gets, or the number of new followers you gain in the hours following a post, and don’t get me wrong I am always keen to repeat the results I see after something garners a spike on my account. Having said that, I’ve quickly learnt that the most popular content I can post on my account are posts that get my followers talking and, often, debating a parenting subject.
2.Don't get too caught up in your follower numbers
After rebranding my account back in September, I was initially shocked and disheartened to see how quickly I was losing followers, sometimes as many as 100 or more a day, and it almost made me want to give up running the page on more than a few occasions. I quickly realised, however, that this was an inevitable part of reigniting a stagnant account after a lengthy period and totally transforming content, and once the numbers started to all point upwards once again, I got my mojo back!
3.Build & maintain strong online relationships
It’s actually crazy how strangers on social media that you’ve never met, and probably will never meet, can have such a positive and beneficial impact on your life. As someone who’s pretty much the first in my group of friends to fall pregnant, being able to ask other new mothers their advice on pregnancy symptoms, the best baby items to invest in and how to budget on maternity pay has been invaluable to me and I look forward to being able to pass on that advice to others some day!
4.Experiment with new content and ways of posting
Whilst I like to post pictures of healthy meals I’ve been preparing throughout my pregnancy, something that resulted in follower growth was introducing step-by-step recipe guides showing followers how to recreate the food I’m eating. The best feeling EVER was seeing a follower recreate my recipe for chicken pesto and vegetable tagliatelle and tag me in his post as a thank-you.
5.Work out the best times of the day to post content
This might seem a bit of an obvious one, but after a month or so of posting content, you really come to understand and appreciate the peak times that your audience and followers are engaging with your content and scrolling through their Instagram feeds.
As a huge percentage of my followers are new mothers up at all hours feeding their babies, I often post content in the middle of the night if I’m being kept awake with my little lady kicking or suffering with painful hip pain. After doing so I immediately receive DMs or comments from those in similar predicaments, and it’s lovely that we can all share that common bond in what could often be deemed as an isolating or lonely time.