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 25 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:


My Instagram gallery overview


  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.
  1. 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.
  2. Implement these learnings and keep looking for new hashtags and try out new relevant ones all the time.
  3. 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.
  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  2. Tag big accounts in your pics to get features, here are again 6 good ones.

Good accounts to tag for features:

@Dametraveler@Darlingescapes, @Matadornetwork, @Earth.landscape, @Awesome.photographers and @Wonderful.world.pic.

  1. 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 blogpost!


  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!

My Instagram gallery overview


  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:

Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Bloglovin and Stumbleupon.

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…

About Authentic Chica

Traveler, wanderer and explorer from the Netherlands, with a special love for authenticity, while keeping it chic. With a passion for traveling, lust for exploring, heart for holidays and an eye for beautiful things. Find out about my tips on how to find the perfect traveling combination of authentic chicness.
Gallery | This entry was posted in blogposts, personal, social media & travel tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to 9 Top tips for Instagram growth, engagement & brand collaborations

  1. Andrea says:

    Awesome tips! You’re such an inspiration!


  2. Ray says:

    That’s interesting (RE: getting five comments within the first 15 minutes after posting). I always wondered why IG users do that all the time. Thought it was more to keep the caption of their photos clean with only using 3 – 5 significant hashtags to their photo. Then they used the comment section to add more hashtags to attract more viewers/likes.


    • Yeah funny huh Ray and interesting indeed As a marketer I love things like that and analyzing and implementing strategies, but I also like genuine engagement, I hope I was able to convey both in this blog post! xx Naomi


  3. Mark says:

    Wow great article! Your tips (and instagram posts) really inspires me. Keep it up!


  4. Mark says:

    Really inpiring artice! Thanks for sharing these great tips! Keep it up!


  5. Brilliant Naomi!! Very informative and spot on with the new algorithm rules


  6. Great tips Naomi. I need to start working on the media stuff and up my game. Always appreciate your feedback. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.


  7. Niels Tichelaar says:

    Mooi stuk vol goede tips Naomi! Bij 5 wil ik nog even opmerken dat het niet altijd uitmaakt hoeveel een # is gebruikt en dat je tienduizend+ volgers hebt . Het kan ook handig zijn te kijken hoeveel likes de foto’s hebben die bovenaan staan onder die desbetreffende hashtag. Soms is dit aantal laag en kun je bovenaan komen in een hastag die al honderdduizenden of zelfs miljoenen keren is gebruikt. Dit is tenminste mijn ervaring 🙂
    Goed en informatief leesvoer voor de beginnende IG-er die z’n account wil laten groeien (zoals ik 😀 )

    Groet, Niels ( Instagram: traveljunkie_xl )


    • Hi Niels,
      Thanx voor je feedback en hoop dat je wat aan m’n tips hebt, je foto’s zijn in ieder geval al top! Wat betreft je aanvulling, je kan idd ook bovenaan bij de top 9 van een ”grote” hashtag komen om andere redenen, zoals bij jou wellicht het geval was met een aantal features van jouw bijzondere foto’s. Er zijn nl heel veel factoren van invloed hierop, echter is wat ik noemde de algemene regel:)
      Succes en see you on IG! xx


  8. Maya says:

    Really great post Naomi – informative and to the point (not like most of the vague posts that promise to make you a millionaire overnight….yawn!!). Can you recommend any good PR companies that are affordable for people just starting out? Thanks so much!
    Maya I @caribbeansnowflake


    • Hi Maya,
      So nice to hear your feedback and that you think this article brings something different to the table! Can you tel me what your ig name is so we can connect there as well?
      About the PR agency, you shouldn’t pay anything for that as the good ones are free and just an intermediary for you and the brand! I can not recommend any good ones internationally, I am based in Holland but if you Google it I am sure you can find some in your country as well, good luck 🙂 xx


  9. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.


  10. This is a super helpful article! Thanks for posting it! I find that I have the followers but I’m trying to up my engagement. I think that I need to spend more time on Instagram 🙂 You can find me at @justinpluslauren 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lauren,
      Thanx for the feedback and just followed you too! Great pics and hope this article and my previous IG posts can help you boost your engagement indeed! If not you know where to find me:) xx


  11. dorie says:

    Really nice and detailed description and I really can use this! Thank you very much for your work and sharing this with us!
    Love, Dorie


  12. estherjulee says:

    These were all great tips, Naomi! I loved how specific you were about hashtags. I need to start looking mine over now. 🙂 i feel like I’ve already learned so much by seeing how you even interact on instagram and I think people know that you are authentic. ❤️


    • Ooo thnx Esther, you know I love your account and this comment is so nice, really appreciate it!! And yes # are really important indeed so happy you can benefit from it! Your pics deserve way more attention👌xxx


  13. marianmeggio says:

    Thank you Naomi! Your post is really helpful and I’m just starting to implement it. I hope I do as well as you 😉


  14. lunarbella says:

    I’ve been following (and enjoying!) your Instagram for a while now and am loving your blog. Very helpful stuff and interesting to read too!


  15. Nathalie says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Well written and useful article. I need to implement this to my Instagram account in order to increase my following and engament 🙂


  16. Sher says:

    Great tips! Really funny but as I was scrolling I noticed you posted one of superchinois’ pics of Raja Ampat… was on the same trip with him! ha. brought back good memories



  17. José says:

    Wat een goede tips allemaal! Die kan ik wel gebruiken. Ben er direct mee aan de slag gegaan en kijk al naar je volgende blogposts uit.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. José says:

    Wat een goed artikel en een fijne tips. Die kan ik heel goed gebruiken 🙂 Ben er gelijk mee aan de slag gegaan en kijk naar je volgende blogposts uit 🙂 Fijne zondag!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dankje wel Jose, hoop dat je er wat aan hebt!! Hoor graag of het voor je werkt over een paar weken, altijd leuk om te horen👌 en als je mijn voorgaande 2 Instageam blogs ook leest en opvolgt weet ik zeker dat je sneller zal gasn groeien, succes!! X Naomi


  19. These are fabulous tips and hints. i’ve followed you on Instagram and will put into practice what you say to do. So thank you for sharing and here’s to meeting you on IG and other platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Selena says:

    Great article! loving your tips and advice – keep it coming!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s