Instagram Strategies: How I Gained 5k Followers

It was March of 2011 when I first downloaded Instagram App in my iPhone. I was totally unaware about the app beforehand. All thanks to THE Celebrity Lifestyle Blogger I have always look up to none other than Daphne Osena Paez (whom I had the privilege to interview here at Sweet Memoirs). I follow her blog religiously and read a post where she mentioned about the awesome app she has grown to love: Instagram no less!

I was pregnant with G at that time, hence if you dig all the way down my Instagram feed, you'll see lots of preggy and subsequently, baby photos.

  • On the left was me, very preggy and wearing a maxi dress whilst shooting with my other baby, my Canon EOS550D at Changi Beach Park.
  • On the right were K and G "talking" to each other at bedtime.

  • Our precious (then) newborn baby G, the gracious gift of God to our blissfully chaotic slash perfectly imperfect family.

  • On the left was K reading bedtime nursery rhymes and fairy tales to her baby brother.
  • On the right was G on his baby walker.

I was overcome with nostalgia for my newbie Instagram days when I only have 10 (or maybe even less) followers and zero to 1 like per post. Take a second look again at the photos above and tell me you'd go all mushy and automatically turn into a senti-mode too if you were in my shoes. Instagram just took me down the memory lane when the kids are still so little. Sigh!

Before I digress far, far away from my topic, let's talk about how I eventually turned my Instagram into a "serious business". My pathetic 0-1 like per post grew to an average of 5-10 likes from 2011 to 2012. All my followers are either family or friends.

The quality of the photos I posted during those two years were all mediocre. My photos started to look just a little more decent in 2013 when I started having followers outside my family/friends circle. Those were the days when I started joining food tasting sessions and other events hosted by Open Rice SG and OMYSG.

From 2011 to 2014, I played on different Instagram filters hence my feed is in a total mess all those years. It was only in 2015 when I decided to take the Instagram game seriously and came up with the idea of posting in 3s so that my feed will look neater.

On the very same year, I also started to create food and product flatlays to prettify my feed. On the days that I am not lazy, I use my trusty DLSR to shoot but most of the time, I use my ever-reliable iPhone camera and just play with Instagram photo editor to make the photos look nicer.

December last year (2016), I had an Instagram audit done by a professional marketing strategist for free (she ran 12-days of Christmas giveaway and I participated). She concluded that my Instagram feed looked too cluttered and busy and suggested that I balance my feed with occasional black and white scripts or photos with more white spaces. I took the suggestion seriously and even did themed best nine posts.

Here are some of my favourites:

Ultimately, I have come at peace with the way my feed looks in general. It was when I realized I have an OCD, Instagram OCD to be precise. Lol. Kidding aside, do know that I am not the only one doing this. There are far more pretty Instagram accounts out there that I utterly envy admire. There are times when I am not pleased with the photos I posted and end up deleting it. Some I regretted, some I breath a sigh of relief.

Tidying my feed has gained me more followers and eventually, fantastic collaborations with brands I have never dreamed of working with in my entire blogging career. I am convinced, Instagram is the new blog although I am not going to give up blogging for Instagram. At least not yet. I did have thoughts of retiring early but I think I am going to miss writing blah-berring about my thoughts here. Sorry, you have no choice but to stick with me! Haha!

Before I get carried away, let's proceed with the other Instagram strategies I applied to grow my following, apart from taking an effort to create better content. Here are my top 5:

  • Be active - I try to post regularly but my growth was considered very slow because when I feel overwhelmed with the noise of the digital world, I try to stay away from social media and take a break as and when I wanted to.
  • Be responsive - I try to respond to comments albeit pretty slow too because let's face it, I am a full time working mom and I only have at most 2 hours a day to spend on Instagram (that's during my train rides to and fro my workplace).
  • Be real - all thanks to Instagram stories and the new multiple photo in one post Instagram feature, I still get to post unedited, non-prettified photos/videos that might not look so great and end up messing in my feed. Tip: Use your IG stories/multiple photo feature to post your not so Instagram-worthy behind-the-scenes. It sort of balances your curated feed, if you have one like I do.
  • Be generous - try your best to return likes and comments in appreciation of your followers spending time to like and comment on your photos. Apart from reciprocating, be generous with your likes and comments without expecting anything in return. 
  • Be likeable - and find a tribe that you feel most comfortable with. They will likely support most, if not all the photos you post.

There are still so much you can do to grow your Instagram but I have to admit I just don't have all the time in the world to follow all. Here're more tips from other IGers which I haven't got time to incorporate in my current strategies yet:

  • Post during peak hours - when most of your followers are awake and likely browsing Instagram. As of this writing, I still post randomly, as and when I have the luxury to do so.
  • Plan and schedule your post ahead of time and use an app to see how your upcoming posts look like. I do plan ahead of time but I haven't ventured into using both preview and scheduling app yet. I also "preview" my feed with my photographic memory. 
  • Engage with people in your niche. Oh well, like I said earlier, I don't have all the time to spend on Instagram. Although I occasionally spam IGers in my niche, I get easily tired and just give up at times. 
I hope you learned a thing or two in my journey to 5k. Here's wishing you all the best in your Instagram quest and join me in my journey to 10k club! Do follow us @sweetmemoirs, okay? TIA!


  1. Hey! I'm one of your followers, good job on your photos, congrats and cheers to a happy life! - Joy Felizardo of

  2. I really love the authenticity of this post. Belonging to and growing an IG community takes a lot of work, and sometimes it could get tiring. But the key is to always stay true to curating beautiful photos because you just really love expressing and spreading art and beauty and positivity.

    I also relate with the part where you just like and comment not expecting anything in return but just because you simply love to support accounts in your niche.

    Keep blogging and posting on IG! <3

  3. Congrats! I love the tidy feed and noticed the inclusion of inspirational messages too.. which are very motivating and brightens up my day :)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka