Ask Dirty Boots & Messy Hair: How to Grow Your Instagram Followers, Manage Decreasing Engagement Rates & More

This month, the editor in chief and content manager of Dirty Boots & Messy Hair, the community for adventurous photographers, is answering your most pressing Instagram marketing questions all month long in our Ask An Expert series.

Your Instagram marketing questions answered

Hey guys, Gina here. I’m the editor in chief and content manager at Dirty Boots and Messy Hair, and I’ll be here all month answering your questions around Instagram marketing in HoneyBook’s Ask an Expert series. Your first questions have started to roll in. And so I say let’s just get into it.

Anna wants to know…

What are the top 3 things you did to grow your followers and engagement?

1. Post consistently, not necessarily constantly.

Great question, Anna. Very actionable and the first thing that came to mind immediately when I read your question was we posted consistently. Nils, one of the founders, posted all by himself for the first two and a half years of Dirty Boots and never missed a day of posting.

And when I say consistently, I don’t necessarily mean constantly.

Very different approaches work here for different brands. Dirty Boots obviously post a couple of images, a little more spread out with various captions, sometimes just a quote. Sometimes we talk about something that’s happening behind the scenes, but then other people choose to do one very elaborate post a day and that works really well for them, too.

So just figure out what is your personal schedule, what is your sweet spot? And then stick to it no matter what because it’s so crucial for trust building.

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2. Remember the social in social media.

And then the second thing is keep in mind that you don’t just build a following, you build a community. It’s very surprising how many people just sort of miss that there is the word social in social media and they put their work out there and expect a lot of feedback but aren’t actually taking the time to comment or reach out to other people in their industries. So yeah, make sure you share the love and you share it often.

3. Listen to your audience.

And then the last thing is listen to your audience. Consider feedback. That’s something we really try to do because ultimately the mission with Dirty Boots is to serve the photographers and to really help them build the businesses of their dreams, provide them with information and products that they can actually use and that they find helpful. And one big thing that we realized that whenever we didn’t know how to keep going or what would be the right approach for something, occasionally we would just reach out to our audience. And that has worked really well.

They’ve provided us with such valuable feedback and sometimes even came up with ideas that we wouldn’t necessarily have had on our own.

And then Dan asks…

My Instagram engagement is going down; should I be worried?

Dan, I feel you, but don’t be worried. There are plenty of things that you can do. I always think it’s funny how people talk about the algorithm as sort of like this entity out there out to get us all and ruin our days. But really ultimately we have to ask ourselves:

Why is Instagram constantly making these changes? They’re trying to figure out how to best keep people in the platform and have people engaged with the content.

If you keep that in mind and don’t necessarily ask yourself how can I please the algorithm, but ask yourself, how can I please the people? How can I please my audience? How can I please potential clients?

Then what’s going to happen is you’re going to write captions that people are going to comment on that they want to engage with. You’re going to post images that are going to really amaze people and then the Instagram algorithm is going to take note of that and chances are you’re going to have a much easier time.

So focus on what you can control. And Dan, you got this.

And then the last question is by Greg and he wants to know…

How do I tell my brand story on Instagram?

I think storytelling has become such a buzzword, right? Like everyone seems to use it, but if you ask people what does that mean for you? And how does that inform your action steps? A lot of people don’t really know what to say and that’s why I’m really excited to share one of my favorite books with you guys and with you, Greg. I hope it helps you.

To me it’s a real gem and it’s called Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. He basically talks about how businesses can really excel in taking on the role of the guide rather than the role of the hero. What does that mean? It ultimately means that while a lot of businesses try to show “oh, I’m such a big shot, look at me,” we should take our customer and put them in the role of the hero and focus on their mission. And our role is more that of Gandalf or Dumbledore, providing the hero with the information and the ideas and the inspiration they need to fulfill their mission.

All right guys, and now we’re at the end of this little Q&A. I hope there was something helpful in there for you and I’m very excited to see you guys here again next week.

Additional Instagram Marketing Resources

Want to learn more about Instagram marketing and turning followers into paying customers? Get our Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business here.

Thanks, Dirty Boots!

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    Sobrina Pies

    I’m a HoneyBooker—writing about small businesses, the people who run them, and tips and tricks to help them grow—and a lifestyle blogger at Quiet Like Horses, sharing stories, not small talk. HoneyBook helps you manage your business all in one place, from sending proposals, invoices and contracts to managing your projects and getting paid. Want to give it a try? Start a free HoneyBook trial here.  

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