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9 Top tips for Instagram growth, engagement & brand collaborations

As you might know by now I am a fulltime social media manager and travel blogger and started my Instagram account @AuthenticChica together with several other social media platforms and this travel website 17 months ago. I started off with the goal to inspire others with my travel pics and tips, to connect with like minded and passionate people around the world and create real engagement.

And that is exactly what I was able to do for almost 38,000 people so far on social media, with the main focus on Instagram. Here I currently get 1,400 likes and 166 comments per post on average, which makes an engagement rate of almost 5% and am gaining about 4,500 new followers per month.

But Instagram has brought me so much more; lots of friends around the world, made me reconnect with my passion for photography and even made it possible for me to work with over 50 brands and hotels this year alone already! You can read more about this in my earlier post: The Positive Power of Instagram and you can see who I have worked with so far and will be working with here: Work with me

So why do I want to share my Instagram tips with you?

I have done several courses to educate myself about this inspiring platform, social media and online marketing in general, and love to help others have more fun and success with it and share my experiences and lessons learnt with fellow IGers!

If you want to grow your account in a genuine way, want to step up your game and maybe even work with your favourite brands and hotels as well, this is the right post for you!

I will help you to avoid making all the mistakes I did in the beginning and get the same results or even more than I have now if you follow all my tips carefully, here goes:


1. Follow all tips in my previous blogs: here and here to set up your account right and find your own style and rhythm.

2. Make sure to be active and interact on Instagram on a daily basis. A few reasons why you should be more active are:

  • It will give Instagram a sign that you are a valuable member of the IG community and that will get favoured by the algorithm,

  • By liking and following people on a daily basis you will get them to notice you, but will also create more exposure in the like section of Instagram,

  • It is researched that 65% of people feel flattered when you follow them and in general at least 20-30% will follow back,

  • Also following the right niche accounts for your target group and big status accounts will give you Instagram points.

3. Analyze and test for the right posting times, hashtags and which kind of pics are the most liked and commented, with for example Iconosquare. But you can also keep track of your scores yourself to learn what works best.

4. Implement these learnings and keep looking for new hashtags and try out new relevant ones all the time.

5. General rule for # search, look at the nr. of times the # has been used already, in general the more they have been used, the less they will work for you. Try to keep to the following nrs. relating to your own account size:

  • If you have less than 10K followers use # which are used less than 100K times,

  • 10-50K followers use # with less than 500K,

  • 50-100K use # with 1 million or less.

6. I said it before but will say it again: be REALLY critical about the pics you post and only post the best ones! You want to stand out between 500 million other accounts? Then only post really inspiring and spectacular pics, which show something out of the ordinary or the ones that have captured the moment well. Just think of the following before posting each picture:

  • Am I adding value with this pic?

  • Does it really represent me and the way I want my ‘’brand’’ to look?

  • Is it a unique location, sight or viewpoint?

  • Will I really be inspiring others with it?

7. Find your own style and niche by being consistent. People resonate with consistency! By thinking of a concept for your account first, like mine: collecting unique lifestyle, travel moments and spectacular views, it will be easier to select your pics and keep the look of your gallery’s overview more consistent and target audience more focused.

8. Tag big accounts in your pics to get features, here are again 6 good ones.

Good accounts to tag for features:

9. Follow at least 20 new accounts per day which really match your account and niche, especially important to do before you reach 10-15k followers in order to accelerate your account growth.

Here are a few of the bigger inspiring accounts I follow:

And many more to come in my next blogposts!


  1. Ask a question in your caption.

  2. Make sure to get at least 5 comments in your first 15 minutes after posting, this will help to get favoured by the algorithm and get in the top 9 posts of the # section. If you put all your # in the first comment you will already have 1..:)

  3. Clear your schedule for at least 30 minutes after posting to react immediately on all comments after posting, and get attention to your post by liking and commenting on other people’s posts as well.

  4. Try to answer every one separately and be appreciative.

  5. Answer all questions and be genuine, or better yet ask a question back.

  6. Try to comment back on posts of other people’s accounts in return and interact more with new accounts regularly, make sure to be outgoing and generous in your comments!

  7. You can keep track of your favourites and top commenters by making a list and try to interact daily/weekly with them, form a comment group with them, or turn on their post notifications.

  8. Give what you would wish to get in return. You don’t like 1 word comments? Then don’t give them yourself either…

  9. Read captions and show interest in the pic and person behind the account!


  1. Make your account stand out, find your unique style, create good content and a beautiful gallery overview.

  2. Make it clear on your Instagram account and website that you are open to collabs.

  3. Sign up with a PR company representing bloggers and brands.

  4. Reach out to companies and brands you really like, and make them notice you.

  5. Make sure to find the right match for your account and target group to keep it genuine, and look for companies/brands who are active on social media, but are not too big yet. Follow them on all (social media) platforms and interact with them first.

  6. Try to get in touch with them via DM or through comments on their IG accounts to see if they’re open to collabs and ask for the right contact person and mail address.

  7. Convince them of the value of working with bloggers and influencers for their company.

  8. Set up a media kit (overview of your personal brand, blog and social platforms, services and previous collabs) for a professional look and good representation of yourself when pitching to brands. More about setting up a media kit coming up in my next IG post..

  9. Set up a killer pitching mail with a small introduction which includes:

  • Who you are and what your platforms are,

  • Why you want to work with them,

  • Why you are the right match for them (your strengths),

  • And add some previous blog links, picture examples or relevant and representative past work to convince them,

  • Besides adding your media kit as an attachment of course.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Are we Insta friends already? Just click on the pic below, follow and make sure to leave a comment, always happy to hear your feedback and connect!

Or find me on:

What do you think of my tips, can you apply them and get better results with these? I am very interested to hear how this went and if you need any more tips!

You can always contact me directly by mail:

Or leave a comment below…

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