Teachergram Growth Strategies I'm Leaving Behind
The culture and algorithm on Instagram are always changing, and sometimes strategies that used to work need to be changed. You can always find recommendations for strategies that are currently working, some that used to work, and some that were really popular and are still used, but have never really been effective. So, first thing… check the publication date of your Instagram strategy sources!
And since I so often share about new strategies, I thought it would be fun, and informative, to take a look back and see a few mistakes I've made and strategies I used to use that weren’t always helpful.
Because, yes, my approach to Instagram has not been 100 perfect. We're all learning and growing and trying new things! Not a lot of people talk about their mistakes and what they used to do, but I think it can be so valuable!
So, if you hear any of these strategies as the hot new thing to try, now you know that they’ve been tried and we’ve moved on.
Let’s get started:
#1 Writing Super Long Captions for Every Single Post
For a while, the prevailing wisdom on Instagram was to write really, really long heartfelt captions that provided value and gave an insight into your life for EVERY single post. This can be a good thing to do once in a while. Providing value and insight is validly a great way to connect with your audience and share a little bit more of yourself.
And when you only have 15 seconds to maybe a minute to hold someone’s attention, it makes sense to think that you need to provide as much value and information as you can.
However, I found myself feeling like I had to up the ante for every post. Share something more valuable, more intimate. And writing those really long essays every time was exhausting for me, and I think also for my audience! When every post is a major commitment to write AND to read, it stops being a good way to connect. I know I felt that “not today!” reaction to some of the creators I love to follow who write long captions every single time.
And sometimes that “not today!” can turn into “not anymore!”
Do this instead…
Use this method sparingly. It is a good way to connect and when you sprinkle it throughout your strategy, it can create the connection you’re looking for, without tiring you or your audience.
Choose to be a little more lighthearted, use funny one-liners and a bit of quick wit (as it fits your voice) to generate engagement. People are more likely to comment or like if the first sentence is enough to be intriguing to make them engage right away.
Trying to switch it up a little bit more often is something I have tried to bring onto my Instagram strategy which has been effective for me. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and if people see too much of the same thing over and over and over again then they'll become less engaged
#2 Worrying About Vanity Metrics
Vanity metrics though are something that a lot of us are really really attached to! We often have this emotional attachment to that number of likes or comments that accidentally drowns out the more important information.
I used to be so stressed about all of the metrics associated with each and every single one of my posts. My focus was to keep a certain engagement rate every single time. I wanted to have a certain number of followers, a certain number of likes or comments.
The number I used was over 100 likes and then I'd feel good about a post. It was kind of an arbitrary number. Now, of course, metrics are important to a certain extent for us to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of our content, know what to repeat and what to improve. But, it's not helpful when you kind of define your success or your worth from it
Honestly, think about how many times you’ve been impacted by someone’s post, but didn’t take action to let the poster know. You may have still just scrolled by without hitting that like button. I know I do that all the time. Just because the action isn’t there doesn’t mean your content isn’t valuable. And you will always have silent supporters.
In reality, what we're doing with our Instagram is building a business, which includes those silent supporters. Likes and comments don't put food on the table. You've got to actually convert your followers into customers (the running a business part!). So worrying about vanity metrics does nothing for you, but reviewing the hard data on the success of your business shows you what you need to do.
Where engagement rates can help is in recognizing what's performing well and what's performing not so well when it comes to your content strategy. This can help you learn what works with your audience and continue to improve your content.
Do this instead…
No more worrying.
I'm doing this by detaching myself from that number of likes, and focusing more on creating the content that I know is helpful and focusing on the human impact more than the numbers.
Know the right facts to prioritize. Think about conversions and sales above engagement because that's what really matters when it comes to the sustainability of a business. You also want to be sure that you are directing your followers from Instagram to your TpT Store.
For some help in optimizing your Instagram bio, including links to get attention on your offers, be sure you check out 3 EASY Ways to Attract Your Ideal Audience on Instagram.
And remember...getting a certain number of likes does not make you successful!
#3 Engagement Pods
If you are unfamiliar with engagement pods (or groups), these are essentially a dm group chat on Instagram where a group of people, usually in a similar niche, all commit to liking and commenting on each other's posts as soon as that post goes live.
The idea behind this strategy is that the first 30-60 minutes your post is live are going to determine how far it ends up going with the rest of your audience. The pod or group guarantees that you have that initial engagement which will theoretically get your content in front of more people
The Instagram Creator account has said that the first 30 minutes do not actually determine the performance of your post, so that part of the strategy is a no-go. The general idea that more engagement equals more reach may have some validity, because the algorithm does give more reach to posts that have more engagement.
The problem with engagement pods, and the reason I don’t use them anymore, is really that it's not a genuine or authentic way to get engagement. Generally you end up in comment pods or engagement groups with your peers. Then you’re essentially engaging with your competition or peers rather than spending time engaging with people who might actually end up wanting to follow you or be those potential customers.
And that kind of engagement also tells Instagram that the kind of content you're interested in is from your peers in your industry. You, of course, actually want to engage with your ideal customers which is ultimately what's going to be most effective at growing your audience.
Do this instead…
Spend time building real relationships with your ideal followers! Use that 30-60 minutes to comment on their content or connect directly by sending and responding to dms.
#4 Doing Random Giveaways
Now here’s the thing, random giveaways will grow your following. If you give away an iPad, you will gain followers who are interested in free iPads. They may or may not actually be interested in your content though.
This can actually really hurt your engagement! When Instagram goes to show your content to these new followers and they don’t interact with you, your content will not be seen as valuable and won’t be pushed out further. You want to be trying to organically grow your audience, not spending money on giveaways for followers who are just going to sit there and do nothing for you.
Do this instead...
Use giveaways strategically. Be sure the giveaway is niche-related and valuable to your ideal audience. You won’t gain numbers as quickly, but the people you do add will be the ones interested in your content!
I recently did a giveaway to promote this blog and podcast. The item given away was fairly general, but the actions to be eligible for the giveaway were very niche specific. While I didn’t add a lot of followers to my IG account, it did help introduce this valuable resource to my existing followers, and got them excited to share it with other people in the same niche. Win for my audience and win for their friends!😀
#5 Trying to Present Myself Perfectly All the Time
Has this ever been you? You sit there taking a photo, think “don't love that one”, take another five or six images before finally posting it. The two minute post ends up taking 20 minutes. I cannot tell you how many times that has been me, and I am just personally over that!
A lot of us feel this pressure to always be in the best lighting and look our best if we're going to post something on Instagram.
But, the beauty of Instagram is that it doesn't have to be perfect. Instagram is just about being there and being real and sharing stuff that is relatable or engaging to people. I have talked to so many people that feel intimidated to even post their face, especially on stories at all and I think it's because we have this perception that we have to appear all perfect and put together.
And there are some people who definitely keep that up, but more and more we're seeing people be more casual. Perhaps it’s the influence of TikTok or the last couple years we’ve all been through. I think that we should all embrace that a little bit more. It’s proving more effective in connecting with your audience anyway.
Do This Instead...
Join me in separating ourselves from that need to appear perfect all the time! Be ok with good lighting instead of perfect. Leave your hair up and a bit messy. Take a brave step into showing the you that was OK before you thought about pushing record 😉
Now that you know the strategies I’m leaving behind for Instagram growth, I’m interested in any other strategies you’ve found to be less helpful or out of date. Come share them in the Teacher Instagram Boss Facebook group. We always grow better together!