My mom has an Instagram account with over 54k followers*, and I’m torn on how to feel about it.
The account documents her interior design process of rooms in my parents’ house. She posts different parts of our house in the photos, and in the captions she talks about anything from going to the grocery store to what’s happening in her life. As a member of Gen-Z and a heavy TikTok and Instagram user, I have mixed feelings about this (one of which is jealousy). But as a social media professional, I know how hard it can be to grow a platform organically, especially for a Gen-Xer. Somehow she broke the code.
I have really never asked my mom about any sort of strategy that she had, so I thought it would be interesting to sit down and chat about what running her account has been like so far.
Olivia: When did you start your Instagram account, and when did you start taking it seriously?
Mom: In 2011, I started it for my wedding invite business because I had to showcase my work. I also was posting some home content at that point. After that was over and we moved houses, I started documenting the interior design process because people seemed to like my home content better.
Olivia: When did you start to notice that your content was doing well and you were gaining followers?
Mom: Another account that I follow did this “Friday Feature” series. I entered, and she featured me for my blue and white jar collection. I gained a ton of followers after that. I felt like I had to keep up with the momentum, but never really felt pressured to do so because my community is very nice and receptive. I started posting every day at 7:30AM and would stay on Instagram for a while, engaging with other accounts.
Olivia: Did you think of or seek out help for any sort of social media strategy?
Mom: I might have asked you a couple of questions, but I never really felt the need to have a huge plan together. I do use hashtags and do research on which ones I think I should be using. I also am in a few engagement groups with other people who have accounts like mine. Each of us lets the others know when we post and we all like and comment. I also will enter Charlotte Moss contests for a chance to be featured on her page. Those definitely create a lot of exposure.
Olivia: Since you have thousands of followers, have you been approached by any companies for any sort of influencer partnerships?
Mom: Yes, but I have turned them down because they weren’t the right fit for me. They’ve all been for products, not money or anything.
Olivia: Most of your content is based on the living room, do you ever feel like you’re going to run out of content?
Mom: Yes, most of the time my photos are all the living room, just from different angles. People have said to me before that they’re amazed that I have so many followers despite mostly posting only one room. When I do post the kitchen or the foyer, those posts do pretty well too.
Olivia: Sometimes you post photos of the family or something not related to the house. Does that make you anxious to mess up your grid?
Mom: No, I don’t really think that much about it, to be honest. But, those posts perform much worse than the other ones. I also use the same hashtags as my other posts, which I probably shouldn’t be doing, but I just don’t feel like changing them.
Olivia: How does it feel to have more followers than any of your kids?
Mom: Satisfying and hilarious.
Since I am a social media professional, after all, I thought I would do an audit of my mom’s Instagram and make suggestions about how she can grow her account even further. To be honest, I’m surprised (but impressed) she knew about researching hashtags and engagement groups.
Here are my tips for her, but you can apply them to almost any account!
- Always use geotags. Geotags are essentially a second hashtag. Use them on your posts if you’re looking to get more exposure.
- Always use content-appropriate hashtags. She has a perfect example here. Posting a photo of your family at the Phillies game and still using hashtags like #countryhomemagazine definitely won’t do the post justice. If you are going to step outside your account’s usual style, you should use appropriate hashtags to set those posts apart and put them on a path to success.
- When you feature products and you know where they’re from, tag the company! Brands on Instagram are always looking for user-generated content to share on their own accounts. With the amount of lamps and stuff my mom has in the living room, she could probably be featured on at least 7 different accounts.
- Take advantage of Instagram Reels. We all know Instagram Reels are taking over, and the algorithm favors them. Pro tip: If creating Reels seems a bit daunting, scroll through the Reels feed and choose a sound that you like that could fit in with your content. Tap “Use Template” and substitute the clips already in the Reel with your own. Bam—you created a Reel.
- Fill out your bio. Even if it’s just one sentence, fill out your bio with some keywords that relate to your content so that other users can find your channel if they’re searching for similar material. (Editor’s note: We can’t all be as enigmatic as Colleen.)
Overall, I was very surprised she knew a lot about Instagram. She runs her account like she has been taking advice from someone younger who knew what they were doing (like me). I do admire her keeping up with the effort and building the account into what it is now.
As for me, even though I’ve seen this work for her, I honestly don’t think I could do this for my own Instagram profile, since you have to be so consistent with posting. I’ve personally started to adopt the #keepinstagramcasual movement and try not to care too much about what I post. It just makes the app a bit less stressful.
And before you ask: Yes, I did show my mom the list I made. Who knows—if she starts to implement what I show her, maybe there will be a part two of this blog!