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How to grow an Instagram account from SCRATCH (With ZERO Followers!)

What is up everyone? Welcome back to my channel. In today’s video, I’m going to answer a question that I surprisingly get a lot and that is Vanessa, what would you do with an account that was starting from scratch, so literally zero followers? Now, if you are someone that has either asked yourself this question, me this question or someone else this question, well you’re in luck because I’m going to be covering that today. So if you want to learn how I would grow an account from scratch, then keep on watching.

Now, the first thing that I would do before even starting this account is really brainstorming what exactly is my niche or what is the direction that I really want to take this account? Now keep in mind for the purpose of this video, the account that we’re trying to build here is something that is going to become a business in the future. If you’re familiar with my channel, I’m very much so business oriented. So if you’re trying to think about doing an account that’s more so for a hobby or super personal, then this might not be the best tip for you. However, if you are trying to start an account with a goal of potentially creating income later on, then you definitely want to actually narrow down what your niche will be. Now, I’ve given this piece of advice multiple times in my channel and the reason why I still stand by this is because when you are first starting out, you really need to give someone a reason on why they want to follow you.

Even think about your own following habits. Unless it’s someone that you actually know and is a friend of yours, you’re generally following accounts for a specific reason. Maybe they’re humor accounts and they have a lot of means that make you laugh. Maybe they post a lot of beautiful selfies and you want to get inspo from them. Maybe it’s a fashion account and that’s why you follow them, or maybe they’re a travel account that really opens your eyes to what is out there in the world. As you can see, it truly does pay to have a niche, especially when you are starting out. Now obviously when you look at the other influencers out there, they kind of post whatever they want, but I promise you when they first started out, they were probably quite niched down. Now as you grow and as you develop an audience who truly loves you and your personality, you’re eventually going to have more flexibility to really post whatever you want.

However, if you want to be strategic and smart about it, it is quite quite advised to have a niche right from the get go. The second thing that I would do after I’ve narrowed down at least the direction of where I want to take this account and the value that I want to give is I would actually think about my personal brand. Now, if you are starting an account that has nothing to do with you, nothing to do with a personal brand, then you can skip this step. But in my case and how I see it is that if this is an account that I’m going to be managing and I’m going to be potentially hopping on stories and showing my face, I would really want to get some clarity on what exactly is my own personal brand. Now, I’ve mentioned this piece of advice in this video right here, so if you want to check it out, definitely watch it to get the full picture. However, something that I would recommend you doing is considering the three by three method.

Now, if you have never watched my personal branding video, that is totally okay. In a nutshell, what the three by three method means is that as a personal brand, I personally believe that it’s always nice to have three pillars and three values. Now in my own niche, the three pillars that I have is social media, personal branding and entrepreneurship. What you’ll notice is that in my account, in my social media platforms, in terms of content, these are the three pillars that I constantly rotate around. Now let’s say you’re in fitness. Maybe your three pillars is mindset, nutrition, and exercising. Those can be really great pillars that you can rotate between in your content. On the other hand and what the three values mean is that these are the three values that internally, as a content creator as a personal brand, you will always uphold to your audience. So in my case, my three values are transparency, generosity and high energy. You’ll notice that in a lot of my videos I have these three values that I always portray regardless if it’s explicit or not.

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By remembering the three by three method, as a content creator, as a business owner, as the face of a certain brand, you’re constantly always going to be very consistent to your audience and you’re going to have a lot more clarity when you are producing content for your account. Now as I’m thinking of starting this account from scratch, I already have my niche pat down. I also have an idea of what my personal brand is going to be like. The next thing that I will probably do is actually optimize my bio. Within my Instagram bio, these are the three main things that I would do. The first is I would make sure that my name has a keyword that would make me searchable. So instead of just putting Vanessa Lau, I would put business coach or some sort of keyword that I feel people would be typing into Instagram that would lead them to my page. So if you are a hairstylist, then put hairstylist, if you are a fitness coach, put fitness coach. By having these keywords in your name, it’s going to increase the chances of someone finding you, especially if they’re typing those keywords in the search bar on Instagram. The second thing that I would do within my Instagram bio is actually having a sort of sentence that kind of really tells them what exactly what I can help them with, the value that I give, or anything that will really mention what people can expect from my account. As you know, your Instagram bio is really the first thing that people might be looking at when they search for your account. So if you aren’t clear of terms of the value that you’re going to provide or what people can expect, then they have a higher chances of not really understanding the direction that you want to head with your account and that will increase the chances of them not following you. Then lastly, the third thing that I would do within my Instagram bio is add an external link. By adding an external link generally people will click on it and maybe get to know you a little bit better. In my case, I have a link to my free resources, which would then link to my YouTube channel and also link to my website and all these other things so that people can really understand who I am. As you know, because we’re starting from scratch, you can only really share so much in a short amount of time on Instagram, so that’s why by having that external link, maybe it links to your about me page or something that will really show someone who exactly you are. It would really help them to really get to know you better and potentially follow your account. All right, so the fourth thing that I would do when starting this account from scratch is having a profile photo that pops. Now we all know that Instagram is quite a competitive platform. There are millions and millions and millions of people on that platform fighting for attention all the time. Now, what you’ve noticed in my account is I was really intentional with a profile photo that I chose. I specifically chose a profile photo that would show my face, but not only this would have a bright blue background. This compared to the other profile photos that exist on Instagram is something that is a little bit more eye catching, meaning that when I’m commenting on someone’s work or I’m putting up a story, it might increase the chances of someone actually clicking on my account because my profile photo is so eye-catching. Another cool thing to consider when you’re choosing a profile picture that will really catch the attention of other people is considering to actually add a bright border around it. I’ll put some pictures up here to give you an example, but I find that in my own personal scrolling habits I always tend to click on profiles that have a lot more of an eye catching picture. And just so you know a pictures that actually have your face in it or a lot more captivating than those that don’t. So really keep this in mind when you’re thinking about your profile photo on Instagram. The fifth thing that I would do if I was starting this account from scratch is before I post anything, I would actually preplan the first 12 photos on the feed. This means that I would use apps like Later, Planoly, Unum or Preview to actually aesthetically plan the first 12 photos on my feed. And the reason why I’m suggesting this is because it really does take 12 photos to have a full feed. When you are starting out and you’re starting to count from scratch, you really want to give people a reason to follow you by having this feed already there when they reach your account. How many of you actually follow accounts that only have one photo? Probably not many of you. That’s why it’s really important to at least really plan out the first 12 photos. And not only this, I would actually also front load the posting of those first 12 photos, meaning that I would actually post at least once a day to kind of accelerate that feed to be fuller. Now once those first 12 photos are on your feet and you look like you have a full feed at that point, then I would resume doing the regular posting schedule that you want. Be it once a week, twice a week, three times a week, there’s no need to post once a day if that doesn’t match your lifestyle or it doesn’t suit your preferences. But I do recommend that if you are starting an account from scratch, really make an effort to at least be intentional with the first 12 photos because that’s kind of what really will set the tone for your feet when someone goes on it. The sixth thing that I would do starting this account from scratch is I would actually compile at least five different hashtag groups within my niche. Now, the reason why I’m recommending this tip is for multiple reasons, some reasons of which I’ve mentioned in this video right here. The first reason is for convenience. I don’t want to be scrambling last minute, finding hashtags and not being intentional. I would rather preplan this in advance and have five hashtag groups that I constantly rotate between. Not only this in terms of Instagram boosting algorithm purposes or whatever you want to call it, I also want to do some major hashtag research to ensure that my hashtags are within my niche and I’m reaching the right audiences. Now if you want to learn more about hashtag strategy and all of that, make sure you download my free Instagram guide right here so that you can learn more specifically about this topic. Now the seventh thing that I would do to really jumpstart this account is I would actually make an effort to follow people within my niche. The reason why I’m doing this is because I’m trying to train Instagram to understand my preferences. If I associate myself with other people that are within my niche, then Instagram will show me more things within my niche, on my explore page, on my recommended, so on and so forth, which will increase the chances of me finding my ideal audience. Not only this over time as I use niche hashtags and as I post targeted content, Instagram will also increase the chances of me showing up in recommended. So for instance, when my ideal audience is let’s say at my competitor’s profile and follows them, I might show up in suggested because I have now associated myself with that category or with that niche.Now obviously this isn’t guaranteed because it’s really dependent on your audience’s preferences when they’re scrolling on Instagram, but it will increase your chances the more you associate yourself with a certain category so that Instagram can really categorize you properly within the algorithm. The eighth step that I would take now is to follow niche hashtags. At this point in the game, you would have already done your hashtag research and now you are more knowledgeable in terms of which hashtags are within your niche. Now, why not just take that extra step and use Instagram’s function to actually follow those hashtags? This will make community engagement a lot easier. The reason why this will make community engagement a lot easier is because by following these hashtags, posts will naturally go onto your homepage and your home feed so you don’t have to waste time actually looking for new people to engage with. It will naturally show up on your feed and if you like the content, you’ll like it, you’ll comment on it, you’ll engage with that person and that will increase the chances of them potentially following you. At the end of the day, if you really want to grow an account, you got to put that sweat equity in and you really got to put in the work and engage with your community within your niche. Now obviously you can do follow and follow. You can by bots and you can automate everything, but personally, if you want to grow your account organically and you really want to grow something that is real, this is the way to do it. All right, so if you’re still here and you’re still following these steps, the ninth thing that I would do is leverage Instagram story and not only just showing up on story. I would actually also leverage hashtags and locations. Now personally in my own account, I don’t do this just because I already have an established account, but definitely if I was starting from zero and really trying to grow this account, I will hop on Instagram story a little bit more and also incorporate hashtags and locations and the reason for this is that this is really going to expand your reach to new audiences. Not only this, when you show up on Instagram stories a lot more, you become a lot more visible to other people. Instagram stories is the only thing within Instagram that is still in a chronological order, so you’re not fighting against any algorithm. That’s going to increase the chances of someone actually recognizing you because they’re constantly watching your stories, which will then help them feel a sort of relatability with you and therefore will increase the chances of them actually liking your content or following you a bit more because you are a lot more familiar to them. Not only this, the reason why being on Instagram story is so powerful and a really good technique for the Instagram algorithm is because they will increase the chances of people actually DMing you and you really want to have those one on one conversations through the DM because based on Instagram’s algorithm, the way that posts show up on your feet is truly based on your preferences. So if you are DMing people privately through the DM, that’s signaling to Instagram that that person enjoys interacting with your account and therefore when you post something on Instagram, it’s going to increase the chances of you actually showing up on their feed because Instagram now knows that you are a content creator or you are an account that they already like to interact with. All right, so now the 10th and last step that I would take in order to grow this account from scratch is actually to get off Instagram. What I mean by this is that my personal philosophy on how to grow accounts on social media is that it takes a platform to grow a platform. That’s why if my intention is to really grow this, what I would do is to make sure all my other social media platforms are optimized and that I’m mentioning that I do have an Instagram account. For starters on Facebook, I would make sure that my cover banner has my Instagram account, my links will have my Instagram account, my bio section will have my Instagram account. If I had a YouTube channel, I would make sure that all my links are optimized and includes my Instagram account. If I wanted to, even in my email signature, I would include my Instagram account as well. There is no such thing as shameless plugging. This is something that if you want to grow, you need to make sure that you’re increasing the visibility of it and increasing the chances of external traffic to go to your account on Instagram. Not only this, if my other social media platforms are optimized and are giving visibility to my new Instagram account, what I’d also do is really increase my activity on other platforms. So for instance, I would be way more active in other people’s Facebook groups. I would be really active on YouTube comments, anything that will really get my name out there to increase the chances of someone visiting my profile and then finding my Instagram account and then going to my Instagram account and then following me. This is the last step that I would do if I was growing an account from scratch. Now if you like this video and you want to learn a little bit more about me in terms of how I think when it comes to Instagram strategy, then make sure you hit the notification bell because in my next video I’m going to walk through the five things I believe most people are doing wrong when they’re writing Instagram captions. So if you don’t want to miss it and make sure you hit the notification bell and not only this, while you’re waiting for that next video, make sure you also check out these two videos, which are also super awesome because I guarantee you’re going to learn a little bit more about social media business and just life in general. So with that being said, as always, guys, thank you so, so much for watching. I hope you guys have a great day, a great week, and a great life, and I’ll see you in the next one. Bye guys.

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