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How I Grew my Instagram to Over 10K

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I started my IG account as @melanin.in.premed in February 2020 as a lonely premed to connect with other students as I studied for the MCAT. I had no idea that I would end up as @melanin.in.med with over 12K followers and have the platform to educate and inspire premed students like I once was. When 2022 started, I had 3,686 followers. In March, I hit 5K, and I celebrated 10K at the beginning of June. So, here's how I more than doubled my IG audience in roughly 3 months...


Be consistent with posting

I didn't start my IG account to be an "influencer" or "content creator." I just wanted to find other people who were studying for the MCAT like me. So, I posted very sporadically. Some weeks, I would post 3 times a week, and other weeks, I would only post once. As a full-time student with two part-time jobs, I just felt like I didn't have the time to dedicate to social media. Entering 2022, I was already accepted to medical school (yay!) and just finishing up electives before graduation. I took advantage of my free time to PLAN out my content. I never wanted my account to become scripted, and I like to adapt based on what is happening in my life - so I didn't create a day-by-day plan of what I wanted to post. Instead, for each month, I tried to create about 15-25 post ideas (a mix of reels and static posts). As I felt creative and inspired, I batch recorded and drafted the content; this provided me with lots of options of what to post, and I was able to start posting daily. Since I had my content drafted, I consistently posted around 9 am (which worked best for my audience based on my insights), and that is when I saw the most engagement.


Now that I am starting medical school and expanding to other platforms (like Tiktok and YouTube), I plan to post in-feed 3x a week but continue posting daily on my story. Maybe posting every day is not sustainable for you, but give it a try for a month and see how it goes. I found that IG is a fun, creative outlet for me, so I enjoy creating content.


Mix up your content

I have the most non-aesthetic feed ever. I tried doing all infographics or all photos, but now I do a mix - I found that prioritizing valuable content is more important to me (and my audience) than aesthetics. I think that you have to figure out a balance to keep your current audience and connect with new followers. For me, I find that my infographics get a lot of engagement. Those are carousel posts where I share detailed information on premed life (MCAT, coursework, application resources, etc.) I have found that these are amazing for my current audience, but I also get a lot of engagement (via saves and shares) which causes IG to share them on the explore page - so, this is where I get to connect with a lot of new followers.


Although I love my infographic posts, I am a human, too. That's why I like to share random life update posts. I create authentic relationships with my audience (keep reading to find out how!), so these posts are a great way for me to be vulnerable and stay connected with my existing audience.


I think that finding the balance between different types of content requires trial and error and consistency. The first time I posted an infographic, it didn't get a lot of engagement because my audience wasn't used to it. Now, they are my highest performing post-type. Don't get discouraged!


Create authentic relationships

I am a human - I never just want to hide behind my phone screen. I create authentic relationships with my audience by interacting with them. I try to respond to every comment and/or DM that I receive. Try this - the next time someone comments on your IG post, respond with a question - not only will this increase your engagement when they respond, but you can also learn about them and build a relationship. I also like to share stories. Since I create a lot of premed content, the content I share is based on my experience. Rather than trying to present the information as facts, I share my personal experiences (including the highs, lows, and everything in between). Don't be afraid to get vulnerable with your audience - we are ALL human. Personally, I love interacting more with people who are authentic on social media rather than those that try to portray themselves as perfect.


Take advantage of IG tools

My last tip is to take advantage of IG tools - they are there for a reason. For example, if you have a Creator or Business account (which you absolutely should), check out your insights to see when your followers are most active. This can help you figure out the best time to post. While you have general insights, you can also see insights for individual posts - this helps me figure out what works, what doesn't work, and where my audience is coming from on each post. For example, if I see that I am getting engagement from hashtags, I will try to re-use those hashtags. I definitely could use a crash course in hashtags; I have heard that you should use a mix of small and large hashtags and mix them up every so often. Personally, I don't do this as much as I should, but it is worth a try.


Lastly, hop on TRENDS! IG loves reels, so guess what? I started creating more reels. While I feel that my static posts only get engagement for a few days, my reels will start getting more engagement weeks or even months after I initially posted them. I initially felt awkward recording reels, but I have just learned to hop on trending sounds and have fun in the process.



 

Now that I have over 10K followers, I get DMs and emails about how I grew on Instagram. Just remember that in my first two years, I only grew to 3,686 followers. There is no magic formula (that I know of), and it will take time. Remember - everyone has to start somewhere. Start building authentic relationships whether you have 1 or 1 million followers, and everything else will fall into place. How have you grown your IG audience?


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