A guest post by Lori DeFinis and Natalie Guarna
Among our most frequently asked questions is “How did you get so many followers?” Although we would like to say that we’ve found success simply by posting quality content, we have picked up some tips on our journey to Insta-fame.
We started our account, @music2mymouth, when we decided to turn our favorite, guilty-pleasure hobby — looking at and taking pictures of food — into an Instagram account. There we serenade junk food, fast food, and street food with sappy love song lyrics.
Two years and over 21,000 followers later, we know all too well that Instagram popularity is complicated. You want followers, but you don’t want to look like you try too hard. Should you try to be funnier? Maybe prettier? Are you doing too much? Not enough? Come to think of it, Instagram is a lot like high school. Although we couldn’t be there to walk you through the social turmoil of your teen years, we are here to hold your hand as you make your grab at Instagram popularity.
Here are 5 ways to grow your Instagram following:
1. Compliment people often. Your mom probably told you this one as she dropped you off on your first day of 9th grade. Her wisdom still holds true. The first step to gaining audience visibility is to make yourself visible. In other words, comment, comment, comment. It’s as easy as commenting a simple “epic cheese pull” or a sweet “omg this looks so yummy.” The more you interact with other pages, the more likely you are to be seen by both them and their audience.
2. Stay trendy. Among the endless pearls of wisdom in the classic high school drama, Mean Girls, is the famous quote about what girls do: “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.” On Instagram, where alliteration reigns queen, similar rules apply. Tuesdays, we post tacos. Wednesdays, we post waffles. Fridays, we post French fries. Week after week, the same food is trending on Instagram. Why not join in?
The endless stream of “national holidays” is also a source of trending food topics. Although we often find ourselves wondering who invented these holidays and why, we follow the Instagram account @itsadayreally to find out which arbitrary holiday we should be celebrating. You won’t find us running to the bakery on National Cupcake Day. But we do rummage through our camera rolls to find fitting pictures to hop on these hashtag bandwagons.
3. Establish your clique. Teenage popularity is not just about how you’re seen, but who you’re seen with. Whether engagement groups, comment pods, or growth groups, Instagram cliques go by many names and you may not even know they’re happening. These groups, essentially on-going DMs with up to 15 accounts, are now a popular way to organically grow your audience.
Here’s how they work: Every time you post something, you send the post to the group. Each member is then supposed to like and comment on your picture as quickly as possible. Some groups are lenient, letting you participated as much as you please. Other groups, however, have strict rules about timing, the number of followers you need to join, and even how many words you must comment on each picture. Just like in high school, we recommend having several groups of friends and bouncing around from group to group.
Haven’t been invited to join one? Start your own. Send a DM to a few pages you frequently engage with to gauge interest. They may know some other Instagrammers interested in joining, or invite you to join an exsiting group.
4. Be unique. No, this isn’t the motivational poster in the guidance counselor’s office. Let’s be real: there are thousands of foodie Instagram pages posting drool-worthy content and restaurant reviews. The competition is in the caption. Here is where you can be funny, punny, witty, and weird. For us, love song lyrics were the perfect way to convey our dramatic love of food and relate to our followers. We find ourselves following pages with personality and peaks into the admin’s personal life.
Need inspiration? A strong personality we love is @missnewfoodie, who takes on a self-deprecating voice and uses the backdrop of her life in NYC to convey her love of food. We also love @imdatingalinecook, who refers to her anonymous line-cook boyfriend as “LC” and shares their culinary adventures as they dine out and cook at home. The cheesy, cliché point is: be you! Find something that sets you apart in real life and have fun incorporating it into your posts.
5. Go to parties. It’s time to party like someone’s parents are out of town. This is the most fun part of food-gramming (besides the eating, of course). Although we’ve had our account for just over two years, we just recently started socializing with other food accounts in our city in real life. Once we put ourselves out there, we realized there was a whole community of people like us getting together for drinks, swapping advice, taking pictures and promoting each other’s pages.
It all starts with a friendly DM and an invite to try a new restaurant in town. New friends are out there waiting for you, and they aren’t the kind of friends who roll their eyes when you take pictures of your food. Through these connections, people have invited us to launch parties, restaurant openings, and menu tastings.
Above all else, remember that, like high school, Instagram should not be taken too seriously. Whatever you choose to do, always have fun with it! We hope you’ve found these tips useful and we hope someone cute asks you to the prom.
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If you’d like to tag along with Lori DeFinis and Natalie Guarna to find the most Instagramable foods in Philadelphia, NYC, and beyond (all while getting catchy love songs stuck in your head), follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook . They also share funny stories, tips for taking and editing food pictures, and glimpses into our lives as food-grammers on their blog.