We recently reached 10K followers on Instagram, which was pretty cool! It took us almost a year and a half and we certainly didn’t ever think we’d have so many people following Sami’s adventures 🙂
We started his account for fun, when Sami was a puppy, thinking it would be cool to have like a time capsule of photos of him that we can look back on (our phones are overwhelmed with thousands of photos of him by now, so that’s not an option).
In time, we gained more and more followers and so we started taking the account more seriously, since we had also started Sami’s blog, Westie Vibes, where we share all the things we learn about having a Westie puppy. We knew Instagram helps with getting people to read our blog, so we started putting more effort into growing it.
At some point people started messaging us, asking for tips for growing their Instagram accounts, which we always answered and tried to help. We were always repeating the same things.
So we thought, why not share this on our blog as well, for everybody to read?
So here are a few things we learned and applied to our Instagram account that helped us reach 10k followers. And for those of you who don’t know yet, 10k is a big deal because once you reach it, Instagram allows you to add links to other web pages in stories, which you aren’t allowed to do normally.
I’m not saying you have to do all these things, but if you’re wondering how to get your account to having more followers, maybe you will get some ideas from what we did. And even if you just do one thing you read here, on a regular basis, it’s a plus and it will help your account in the long run.
IMPORTANT thing to mention before we start: We DON’t do spam.
This is not meant to teach you how to “get followers fast”, so please don’t expect that. What it means is we don’t spam people with copy-paste messages, we don’t leave comments asking people to “check out our profile” or follow us, we don’t do the follow-unfollow dance. We never paid for fake followers (I have nothing against that, but I just don’t see the point to do this for us).
We are doing this for fun and aren’t motivated by getting followers, so what we are sharing here is just consistent, real work with some tips you can use to get better results. So let’s start!
We post everyday.We schedule 2-3 posts daily, usually one in the morning, one around noon and one in the evenings. This matters a lot because this way people know what to expect and they get used to seeing our posts daily. It also helps attract new followers who see our posts in Explore, so it’s important to be consistent.
We try to post one video every few photos.Because who doesn’t love watching videos? Especially of puppies?
We use hashtags on every post.It helps a lot because it makes our account easy to find for people who are passionate about westie puppers, in our case.
How to choose the right hashtags? At first, we didn’t know either, so we just looked for the most popular ones relevant for us, meaning westie hashtags. Some examples would be #westhighlandwhiteterrier, #westiesofinstagram, #westiesofig, #westiegram.
We also looked at some westie dog accounts we admired and checked out what hashtags they use, for inspiration. So if you look at our instagram, we always use a combination of hashtags: a few that are targeted for westies, a few general ones for dogs and a few that are very specific to the context of the photo (like if Sami is eating, or begging, or doing tricks, or doing something specific which would have its own hashtag).
We joined a few challenges.From the weekly #tongueouttuesday, #westiebuttwednesday, to trendy challenges that appear every now and then, like the toilet paper challenge, or the invisible challenge.
There are many more like that. We only did a few, because who has the time? 😀 But it’s fun, Sami loves it, we always bond a lot when we do stuff together, and joining such challenges also helped us get more exposure on instagram.
Discovering new friends.Every few days we look for similar accounts and we follow them, like their posts and we sometimes comment. We use Explore for this or we research the most popular hashtags and discover new accounts there.
This is important because it’s a proactive way to help people discover you. Plus it’s lots of fun virtually making new friends and seeing what they post, finding things we have in common and bonding over that.
We post daily stories.Sometimes because we have something great that day we want to share. Other times, we have nothing exciting, so we just post the mundane, everyday things Sami does (like eating an egg, which wow, people loved that one!) 🙂
Sometimes we have nothing to share, so we look in Archived Stories and share a “one year ago, on this day” pic. We get tons of messages everyday and most of them are reactions to our daily stories.
Having new stories everyday is important because you know that little circle you see in stories? If you always post something fresh, people who follow you see you there all the time.
They are reminded of you whenever they check their feed. They get more familiar with you as time goes by which leads to having a strong community.
We get creative!We designed some IG templates that are like “challenges” that people can share in their stories. See them all here! It’s a fun way to make stories more interesting and involve other people, too!
We also made a fun game, “Catch Sami!” which people loved and kept sharing (and which was fun for me on a creative level, since it involved animation and it was a nice challenge) 😀
Bonding with other pet parents.We try to engage with people on each post. With every photo we post, we try to say something interesting that people will enjoy.
Some funny or quirky thing Sami does that people don’t know, some anecdote about him or us. Most of the time people love it and they also share in comments something similar, thus starting some great conversations! Other times we just ask them things we’d like to know too. It’s amazing how many things we learned from the people who follow us.
Visually attractive content
We only post quality photos.It may seem harsh, but truth is there are many many pet accounts on instagram and the ones that differentiate themselves are those with good quality pics. That doesn’t mean you need an expensive professional camera, I just use my smartphone camera (but of course, it helps if it’s a good phone camera).
So what does this mean for us? This means no pics taken at night, outdoors or in our living room, with the yellow light (because usually this means fuzzy photos with lots of noise and just bad quality overall).
Natural lighting is always best. No blurry photos or with the dog out of shot, even if it seems like the perfect shot! (example: Sami just caught a treat in the air and I got it on camera, but only half of it in the shot. I won’t post that).
Also, in every photo we take, we put Sami as the main element, so that when you scroll through your feed you will instantly see him and won’t have to look for him in the photo 🙂
We also edit our photos. I use the editing function on my phone a lot, so I play with brightness, correcting tone and all that and I also use a filter app for our photos.
I need to mention here that even if this means hours of work a week probably, I enjoy this process a lot, so for me this is something I can do daily when I’m on a break.
We try to have a consistent visual theme.I noticed this is something all the big instagrammers do, they create an overall “vibe” that is theirs (it can be visual – like using certain colors or filters, or certain light, or conceptual – like certain activities or places they always photograph). And it makes sense, because once everything you post is consistent, people will start to recognize YOUR posts in their feed.
Our concept was “Sami, the traveling Westie puppy” from the start, because we were always traveling a lot and we knew we’d take Sami with us whenever possible. Also, we are ocean lovers, so most of our travels are on a beach somewhere, with palm trees around, blue skies and sunny. So it wasn’t hard for us to create a theme and the visuals followed too, naturally (many of our photos have blue in them and lots of light).
And when we’re not traveling and we’re at home, we always try to take pics with either some color in the background, or with natural tones and lots of light.
So there you have it! These are the 10 things we did (and still do, consistently) on our Instagram for the past year and a half, which got us over the 10K followers milestone.
Hope you got some inspiration from here and it will help you get your puppy out there for more dog lovers to see!
Are you already doing some of these things? Let us know in comments!
And if you’re not already following us on instagram, make sure you do, Sami is very happy whenever he gets new followers! 😜