How to Boost Your Instagram Following Beyond 10k

Esther has generously offered to share some the key principles she's put in place since taking over their Instagram account about a year and a half ago. At that point they had about 400 followers and they've been able to grow it to 10.3K as of August 2016. If you're wondering how to grow your Instagram followers from the hundreds to the thousands, read on!

Esther Holden, founder of The Bakers Party Shop, is sharing her tips on how she’s grown her Instagram following and keeps them engaged. Here’s more about the business, in Esther & Shauna’s words:

With the introduction of our blog, you can find amazing recipes and party ideas all while shopping for fabulous baking and party supplies, some are even made by us. Our mission is to help you Bake Life Sweet™ through sharing our knowledge of baking and entertaining along with providing great products to help you bring your sweet recipes to life.

It began in the historic Old Port in Portland, Maine when we met while working at LeRoux Kitchen, a local specialty kitchen store. We had each started our own dessert catering business so it was only natural to join forces. While we no longer bake professionally, our many years of experience helps us source the best baking and party supplies to offer you and we love to share our recipes and baking tips on our blog.

Esther has generously offered to share some the key principles she’s put in place since taking over their Instagram account about a year and a half ago. At that point they had about 400 followers and they’ve been able to grow it to 10.3K as of August 2016. If you’re wondering how to grow your Instagram followers from the hundreds to the thousands, read on!

Ice cream cups designed by Esther. Get the ice cream recipe. Buy the adorable cups.

Ice cream cups designed by Esther. Get the ice cream recipe. Buy the adorable cups.

Heart cookies from The Bakers Party Shop. See tutorial. Buy pink box.

Heart cookies from The Bakers Party Shop. Get recipe. Buy pink box.

Key principles to grow your Instagram followers – for a product-based business

1. CREATE:

Focus on creating and sharing appealing content (I’m pretty sure most business owners have heard this before). Just like you hear people say you “buy” with your eyes, people do that too when they are scrolling through Instagram. Your photo has to grab them, make them stop to notice and then hopefully give a {heart} or comment.

Not everything has to be picture perfect, but many do like that and there should be some consistency to what you are posting or else you may have a hard time getting engagement.

2. EDUCATE:

Are you teaching your followers something, providing a tip they can apply to their life? Ask yourself “why” would someone stop to notice your feed and posts. Adding value through teaching can help others learn more about you and your business and create an emotional connection that could lead to them becoming a customer.

Not all posts have to be done this way but we’ve found that sharing tips and teaching people how to do something helps with engagement.

3. COLLABORATE:

Work with other creatives – businesses that are similar to yours. Collaborate on a themed post or giveaway. This helps everyone involved by sharing their followers within a similar target market. We’ve done this a few times over the last year and a half and not only is it fun for everyone’s followers, it also gives the business owners content to share. It’s a great way to expand your follower base authentically.

4. TARGET:

Think of your ideal follower and post things that will draw them in. Target your posts to attract them. Just as they say you should know your ideal customer for your businesses, it is important to know your ideal follower so you can adjust the content you share to nurture them. Don’t get me wrong, not every post has to be perfectly targeted. We still post some random things – but we try to keep them related to our business somehow, and if there’s no relation, those posts get shared to our personal Instagram accounts.

Also, people will get sick of your posts if all you post is basically an ad for your business. Share posts from other Instagram feeds that relate to your business. We love to share other beautiful confections people make. Be sure to tag the creator in the photo and comment to give credit – so people know it is not your photo. We find that the re-shares of others are some of our highest traffic posts.

5. VALUE:

There should be value in what you post or something your followers should take away. Step outside your business and look at your Instagram feed and think about why someone would – should – follow you. Do you provide value in the content you share? Are you helping them in some way? What are some of the strengths you can share that relate to your brand?

Take our business for example. We sell baking and party supplies. Yes, we have an online shop and would we love you to shop with us? Of course! Supporting our business provides our income. However, we are much more than just a shop. I’ve always kind of thought of our shop as a means to earning a living through the goods we sell but that is just a small piece.

Shauna and I have both been baking since we were knee high to our Moms in the kitchen. We have a love for baking and a passion for sharing it. We hope through our blog (that is right in our online shop) and some of the posts we share on Instagram that we can teach people how to bake, decorate, or put together a party display.

Share the reasons of why you do what you do with your followers. We all have our strengths and gifts and letting your followers know your “why” may also help them connect to your business and brand better.

6. CELEBRATE:

When someone engages with you on your posts and takes the time to comment, acknowledge them back! Just like you are posting… let’s be honest, to get noticed, your followers might enjoy getting a response back. It lets them know you noticed them.

We love connecting with people. We are still working on trying to get more engagement through comments, so when we catch a comment we do our best to say thanks or respond to someone’s question. Now, if you have a very active or large account it can be hard to see people’s comments and sometimes they get missed, but if you catch them giving a “Thanks!” could really make someone’s day and make them feel more connected to your business or brand.

TIP: CONTESTS

Another great way to get engagement is to run contests. For example, when I come up with new sprinkle mixes I often post on Instagram and ask our followers to help name the new mix. In return, the person who helps name it gets sent a free jar of the new sprinkles. We get ideas on what a consumer would think of naming a product, get engagement by asking them to leave a comment on our post, get to introduce people to a new product in a fun way + get the product in the hands of a potential customer or customer! It’s a win, win for everyone!

Many who have won something from one of our giveaways have turned into repeat customers. Thinking of a way you can do something like that with your business might help create more engagement in a fun way.

Cranberry cheesecake from the Bakers Party Shop. See tutorial. Buy adorable tart pans.

Cranberry cheesecake from the Bakers Party Shop. Get recipe. Buy adorable tart pans.

Ice cream chocolates by Bakers Party Shop. See tutorial. Buy chocolate molds.

Ice cream chocolates by Bakers Party Shop. See tutorial. Buy chocolate molds.

The Instagram game is still a work in progress, just like any social media and just when you think you’ve figured it out, they change something! Being intentional about the content you share and figuring out who your target follower is and then nurturing them will help your account grow, and hopefully your business, too.

Those are the top principles I’ve tried to put in place to help grow an authentic following who generally seem interested in our business or what we have to share. We’d rather have a small following that cares than a huge following for just the sake of the number.

I’ve enjoyed the launch of the Instagram “stories,” as the last thing we needed as a busy small business is one more social media platform to build. We look at this as a new fun way to share the spontaneous behind the scenes, not so picture perfect things (that still relate to our business) with our followers to create a new kind of engagement. Having a new way to connect with our followers throughout the days we have time is great, as we are not on Snapchat.

Thanks for inspiring me to put this in writing, Aeolidia!


Thank you so much, Esther! You can follow @bakerspartyshop on Instagram to see how this is all done (and drool over the desserts). And visit The Bakers Party Shop site to read the blog and get the goodies!

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