10 Instagram Growth Hacks Bloggers Swear By (2018 edition!)


2018 instagram growth hacks by fashionlush, san diego style blogger

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Okay, so I got a lot of QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/CONCERNS on my latest post regarding the 2018 algorithm. I was right when I said I wasn’t the only one pulling my hair out over this algorithm shift, & I was so happy to help, but also felt so bad because a lot of small brands have been messaging me on how this is effecting their business terribly.

IT SUCKS for people, which is why I wanted to take this conversation a step further.

We discussed some strategies to kinda outsmart the algorithm to help boost your content’s visibility & increase engagement (2018 is all about ENGAGEMENT), & although all of these tips will bring in more followers organically, I feel like I need to get a little more specific in growing your instagram account in 2018.

The Instagram pond is a large one & getting larger by the day, which makes being creative in the ways you grow your audience MAJOR key. Blogger’s are sneaky, in the best way possible, & today I wanted to share some of my personal fave crafty ways blogger’s (myself included) GROWTH HACK the shit out their Instagram to help up your chances of potential viral content & as always- increase that engagement!!!

All of which are compliant with the new new 2018 Instagram algorithm, of course!

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10 Creative Instagram Growth Hacks for Bloggers in 2018

1. Mixing up Hashtags

I talked a little bit about how to avoid spammy hashtags & getting shadow banned in my last post, because those two things will push you down when it comes to the algorithm- but there is another trick to GAINING followers using hashtags.

You are allowed to use 30 hashtags on Instagram. I think you can use more by putting them in a bunch of comments- but DON’T DO THIS. Anything over 30 just won’t show up at all. That’s my first tip.

The big one though, is to do hashtag research & split your hashtags up. One day I spent three hours & made hashtag lists for each category. I did TONS of research during this time & here is the trick to choosing hashtags: do 10 super big hashtags (in the millions range), 10 medium sized hashtags (six figure range), & 10 smaller ones (5 figure range).

I don’t think I need to explain the reasoning in this very much cause it’s pretty self-explanatory- the bigger the hashtag the more potential to reach millions, but also can get lost in the shuffle. The smaller you get, the less reach but more targeted. Hitting these three groups gives you MAX potential to make it to the explore page & capture more people.

For hashtag research you can use a site like this to search hashtags & find related ones or you can look at the hashtags some other blogger’s in your niche are using! When you come up with some solid hashtags, paste them into your notes on your phone so you can easily copy & paste in the future.

2. Tags in Photo

You know how you tag the shoes you are wearing in your photo (versus in the caption), well this feature needs to be utilized to it’s fullest IMO. You can tag up to 20 people in your photos, so why not do it? BUT- don’t do it in a spammy way, again, DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Just like for hashtags, I have a tag list too broken up by category. These things are time consuming- but SO worth it!!

For this, I started with a spreadsheet in Google Sheets (which is synced with my phone!) called “Feature Accounts”. I split it up by category of things I post regularly (i.e. outfit, DIY, nails, weed related content, beauty, travel) & researched each category to see which accounts regram this type of content.

So, when I post a photo- I first tag all the brands featured, then I hit up my list & see which one the ones I have on there are relevant the photo & start tagging. This works for two reasons: it puts your photo on the tagged page of the accounts & since you tagged RELEVANT accounts, it is more likely their followers will find & follow up from that page. Secondly, it  increased your chances of being regrammed by some of these larger accounts.

3. Follow Your Regrams

Following up on the above, if you get regrammed- bookmark that post & keep checking back. Interact with the people who commented on that photo. Chances are, since they commented, they like your vibe- so if they didn’t follow you already, converse with them in the comment section of that photo in hopes of driving them to your account!

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4. Engage w/ Existing Followers

The point is to get new followers, but keeping your current followers happy can help you grow big time.

The followers who are seeking you out daily don’t care about the algorithm, they are going to your account daily by searching your name & checking your newest content- these people are your greatest advocates & by showing them appreciation, they will continue to share your content with their friends. It is so important to develop relationships with these followers, & some of them I honestly consider friends of mine at this point.

For example: I just had pop sockets made for an event & had 50 left over that I could giveaway, the first people who got some in the mail were my most loyal followers. It is important to me that they know I appreciate them for their continued support, engagement, & for all of the times they tagged friends in my comments! That word of mouth is priceless for my growth. 

5. Engaging w/ Not Yet Followers

This is another time consuming one that I wish I had time to do more of, because a lot of blogger’s swear by this practice.

Simply like other peoples photos who you think would be interested in your content. Find a blogger with great AUTHENTIC engagement, hit up their comments section, go to some of the best commenters account & like their last 5 photos. They will get a notification, & since you found them from blogger X who has a similar vibe to you, chances are you will gain yourself a new, very ENGAGED, follower.

Some blogger’s use bots for this- which I DON’T reccomend. I don’t trust bots. trust. If you can put aside 20 minutes a day to this, you’ll be good OR if you have an intern this is a great task for them to try out for you!

6. The Follow/Unfollow Hack

Okay, this is similar to the above, but taking it a step further. I have yet to try this, mainly because I am a little undecided on how KOSHER this method is. It feels semi-wrong/controversial to follow & unfollow someone just to get them to notice you- but in the name of research, I will most likely try it because this is supposedly a SURE FIRE way to get tons of new followers. I am definitely interested to see if it is as effective as people say?

Basically all you do is find a large influencer with an account similar to yours, & follow a hundred of their followers. In a few days, you can then unfollow & repeat with another influencer.

7. Cross Promotion

This is one of the more FUN ways to grow your followers, & a great way to network with other blogger’s. Reach out to a few blogger’s who has a similar vibe to you & see if they want to do some sort of collab with you! Basically, the two of you are sharing each other’s audience & it can be extremely effective.

A few ways to cross promote: do a west coast/east coast style challenge with another blogger, do an insta-stories swap (you share & tag them, they share & tag you), or offer to do a regram trade (you each regram each other!). This will help each of you get more engaged & quality followers in your niche.

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8. Loop Giveaways

AHH GIVEAWAYS. Blogger’s love a good giveaway!

Not only is it a great way to give back to your loyal followers, but also a sure fire way to get yourself some more followers (& by some, I mean TONS!). There are tons of different ways to run giveaways, but my favorites are loop giveaways or tag a friend giveaways.

A loop giveaway is EXTREMELY effective. It basically involves a loop of blogger’s who all pitched money to buy a HUGE prize (i.e. a Macbook, iPhone, makeup, designer bag, etc.). Each blogger in the loop will post the giveaway on their account & the caption will move you through the loop- rules being to follow each account. In past loops I have gotten upwards of 6,000 followers! To find loops to enter, keep an eye out for other bloggers who post them & send a DM to ask who invited them to be a part of it. There is always a leader or person behind the loop, so reach out & ask them if you can be in the next one they run! Also, make sure the other influencers in the loop are similar to you- this will help ensure more of the followers you gain actually stick.

*UPDATE: some people are saying loop giveaways don’t help the new 2018 algorithm, but I have read they do- so 50/50 on this one… time will tell (but I am still down with a loop!!)**

9. Tag a Friend Giveaways

Tag a friend giveaways are great too- you can do this by posting a photo of the giveaway on Instagram & the rules be they tag three friends in the caption OR you can post the giveaway on Insta-stories & have the rules be that they tag 3 friends in your LATEST instagram post! The hope is, those three people will find your account & follow it!


I AM NOT ON POINT W/ MY LIVE GAME, but I need to be, cause it’s a great way to get more site traffic. Getting to the explore page is like hitting the lotto, but these days- that’s pretty damn hard to do.

Now that Instagram LIVE has it’s own explore section, & that’s where you should aim to be! With the 2018 algorithm shift, Instagram is favoring people who utilize all of the Instagram features- so the chances of them putting your live on the explore page if you use LIVE a lot are much higher. The amount of exposure you can get from the explore page is amazing. THE GOAL = explore page!

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what I’m wearing:

I.AM.GIA ‘Cobain’ pants in black | black lace body suit (sold out- similar) | glen plaid blazer | studded ankle boots (sold out- similar) | Elizabeth & James black oval sunglasses | cross hoop earrings | Louis Vuitton ‘Palm Springs mini’ backpack (more affordable style’s here & here)

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