This is how I significantly increased my Instagram followers in just a week

And some tips on how you can do it too

instagram, virtual assistant, nocturnal animals, amy adams
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

And some tips on how you can do it too

'Your Instagram is looking amazing this week' a colleague said to me yesterday, before adding 'your Instagram following has shot up!'

So I let her in on a secret... 'Well, I haven't done a thing this week, it's all down to my virtual assistant...'

You'll probably have heard of social media virtual assistants, and how they can basically manage your virtual social life, by posting for you and engaging with others.

Well, it was all a bit new to me, and I must admit I was dubious. Could you really increase your following by hundreds just by letting someone loose on your account? I thought I'd put it to the test and hire my very own virtual assistant, who wished to remain anonymous.

I asked her to look after my Instagram account for one week, doing one hour a day. I mainly share outfit pictures on my feed, so I planned these in advance and sent them across so she could post one a day, and apart from that she had free reign, as long as it was fashion-themed and didn't look off brand.

What did the virtual assistant do?

She researched popular and relevant hashtags to go alongside my outfit pictures, which she uploaded and edited in the Insta app. She posted three times a day (between 11am and 9pm), which tended to be one or two outfit/accessories pics of my own, and one regram, usually a quote or fashion flatlay (searched from relevant hashtags and 'explore' section on phone).

Then she focused on engagement, liking and commenting on other fashion photos under hashtags such as #fbloggersuk #ootd #stylediaries and more. Finally, she like and replied to comments on my photos.

How much does a virtual assistant cost?

My virtual assistant charged a reasonable £15 an hour, which is quite competitive from other quotes I have been given.

How many followers I gained in one week

I gained 55 followers in seven days, and now have a grand total of 841. While that may not seem like a huge amount, it's at least double the amount I usually get in the same amount of time, so when you think of it as an 50% increase, then it's pretty positive.

What is the best day to post on Instagram?

For me, Mondays were the best performance day, while Sundays were the worst, but this may vary per account.

These are the best hashtags to use for fashion according to my VA: #ootd #fashion #style #streetstyle #fashiondiaries #fbloggers #stylediaries #wiwt #inspo #stylegram

What I learned from having a virtual assistant for a week

There were some interesting insights in the results. For example, I learned that overall, original outfit and accessories pics performed the best, while regramming other people's content didn't go down as well. Interestingly, my VA found that three posts a day is a bit excessive, so recommends I stick to one or two posts per day going forward.

Would I do it again?

I will admit I found it weird not having control of my own feed, and felt a bit like a fraud having someone impersonate me while replying to comments and engaging with other users. I also missed the interaction and writing my own posts.

However, I was really pleased with the results, and did learn things that I wouldn't normally have had time to look into, like what type of content users enjoy more, and what the best times to post are.

Plus, it was nice to have a bit of a break and not think about social, all the while knowing it was still being looked after. So if I ever want to go on a digital detox, without letting my social feeds go to waste, I know exactly what to do.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.