How to Grow your Instagram to Advocate for the Ocean

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As a scuba diver, one of my personal mission is to advocate for our oceans. Since I love taking pictures and videos while diving, Instagram has been my favorite social media sharing platform as an ocean advocate. It’s a great way to get my messages across to my audience.

As of this posting, my @diverbliss Instagram has more than 2200+ followers. All have been organically acquired without pay for a single advertisement!

This is probably small compared to other diving Instagram accounts out there, and even smaller compared to the 1 BILLION users in Instagram! But I am quite happy with this number since I know that these followers are real and are really interested in my content.

My diving instagram account of Diver Bliss
My bio includes details on what I post about.

Instagram has been an effective marketing platform for me to promote my scuba diving website. It is a great way to connect with other ocean-lovers from across the globe.

If you’re like me who wants to promote diving, show the beauty of our oceans, and let others know why we need to care for it, here are some tips on how you can grow your Instagram.

TIP 1: Identify your niche.

Determine your area of expertise

Niche. I know this term might sound scary especially if you don’t have a marketing background. But to simplify it, it is identifying a specific topic or theme you want to share about.

You can identify your niche by looking at your interests and passion. What message do you want to communicate and to whom are you speaking to? The more specific, the better.

Are you a scuba instructor and get more people to dive with you? Or maybe a marine biologist and want to show people all the cool stuff you see? How about an aspiring underwater photographer wanting to showcase your work?

Once you’ve identified the area of expertise and the people you are serving, it will be easier to get followers who might be interested in what you have to show and say.

Be clear with your audience.

It is important to identify your niche and audience so that there is consistency in the things that you post about. Try not to deviate from your niche to avoid confusing your followers.

A lot of Instagrammers actually have multiple accounts to create a distinction between the different niches they serve. For instance, I have a personal life IG account and Diver Bliss IG account.

@arajuan instagram account focuses on personal life geared towards sharing content for family and friends
My personal IG serves as a diary of my life and a creative outlet where I share my life moments to family and friends.

@diverbliss diving instagram account focuses on sustainable travels, scuba diving and marine conservation
On the other hand, my Diver Bliss account focuses on a specific passion of mine which is sustainable travels, scuba diving and marine conservation.

I’ve separated them because the things I post, my tone and audience on each are not the same. I have some followers who follow both. But some only follow one or the other.

A follower is most likely to remain a follower if the content you share is consistent with why they followed you in the first place. I once unfollowed a diving Instagram account because he started posting some artsy nude photography. It was not what I signed up for.

TIP 2: Consistently Posting Relevant Content

Post content related to your niche

Instagram is all about creating beautiful visuals and engaging content. And the most successful accounts are those that stick to their niche and those who share content on a regular basis.

In Instagram, you can share your pictures and videos via IG stories and posts. The main distinction is that stories are only visible for 24 hours and can show up in your “highlights” feature on your profile. While posts go into your IG grid or feed and stay there forever or until you delete them.

It is important to keep sharing on both as I have found some people prefer looking at IG stories while others like scrolling through their feeds.

One of my favorite things to do is to share my Free Instagram Story Games Templates for Scuba Diver. These templates are great especially on days where I am not diving or traveling and I have nothing to share. And most importantly they’re great conversation starters and keeps my account active.

Post often and stay active

If your goal is to grow your ocean-inspired or diving Instagram account, I would suggest to post as often as you can. Refrain from keeping your account idle for long periods of time.

I have noticed that when I leave my account stagnant I hardly get new followers. And some even unfollow me.

In my experience, IG stories are helpful to engage and keep your already existing followers interested. So just keep posting and sharing relevant content.

TIP 3: Follow and Engage with Relevant Accounts

Do not mass-follow

You’ve probably seen accounts that go on a mass-follow in hopes that at least one will follow back. These accounts are the ones that follow thousands and only have a few followers. Do not be one of those.

Why? Because one, Instagram may penalize you and can limit your use. And the other is you’ll end up getting shitty content on your feed.

I must admit that I am guilty of doing this when I started my Diver Bliss account. This is why I am advising against it.

I regretted it as soon as my feed got filled with posts that I didn’t care about. It was very annoying and I soon realized it was a waste of time.

Authentically engage with people you follow

I quickly learned that Instagram is all about authentic connections and engagement. I know it sounds cliche but I’ve observed this to be true.

After doing a mass-follow strategy, thinking it was a quick way to get followers, I soon unfollowed the accounts that I had no interest in. I decided to be more selective and just spend more time following and engaging with accounts that I actually liked and enjoyed looking at.

When I did this, I spent less time on Instagram and when I did go online, I used it engaging with people who actually mattered to me. Instagram is a great way to meet people who have the same interest and I’ve actually made online friends because of it.

It’s so important to create relationships with people with the same values as yours. So find accounts that you like and give them a follow. Don’t be shy to give your hearts (in IG) and show your appreciation by leaving comments.

If they follow you back, then great! If they don’t reciprocate, do not get hurt. Remember why you followed them in the first place and continue to engage with them.

Read these posts to find out some of the divers I follow and engage with on Instagram:
15 Amazing Women Underwater Photographers You Should Follow on Instagram
12 Best Women Scuba Diving Blogs You Should Read in 2021

Read, like and comment

Take time to actually read the captions and react accordingly to the post. Don’t be one of those accounts who “engage” by copy-pasting the same comment to 100 different posts!

People can actually tell if you’re commenting just for attention and if you’re only there hoping to get a follow back.

Coral Reef Dying with instagram comments from different ocean advocates
I once posted a picture of a coral bleaching compete with captions and explanations. Several people commented with sad faces and broken hearts emojis which was the emotion I was trying to evoke. But several commented “nice!” and sent emoji hearts indicating that it was a good thing when it obviously wasn’t. I concluded that they were probably leaving comments without reading.

TIP 4: Edit your photos and videos

Edit your content before publishing

Give your photos or videos a bit of oomph by editing them. I actually spend a lot of time post-processing my photos because I want them to stand out from the millions of content that are shared on Instagram.

If you are new to underwater photography or videography you will most likely have a bunch of “bad photos”. Wrong exposure, out of focus, color is all blue/green and the list can go on. You will need to learn how to use editing tools to give your photos or videos a facelift.

Even the most professional photographers and videographers edit their photos, so why shouldn’t you?

Use editing software and apps

Luckily technology has made it easy for us to edit photos and videos even while on the go. For underwater photography and videography, I personally recommend using the Dive+ app. It has a good underwater color-correcting feature that is free and easy to use on your mobile.

Scuba Diving photo color corrected with Dive+ app
Original photo on the left and edited by Dive+ app on the right. Which do you prefer?

My other favorite editing app is Adobe Lightroom. A free-version can be downloaded on your mobile but if you prefer working on your computer you can also get a Lightroom monthly license plan.

I like using Adobe Lightroom because of the availability of pre-sets. Pre-sets are basically edit settings you can save and apply to all your photos. This gives your photos the same look or mood with a single click of a button. Similar to how “filters” work, but cooler because you can customize it completely to your own liking.

Scuba Diving photo color corrected with Lightroom
Original photo on the left and Lightroom edited photo using a pre-set I made.

Find a signature look

The way your photos and videos look is also a part of your identity- your brand. You want this look to be distinctly yours so that a person visiting your profile will want to follow you because of how awesome your Instagram looks and feels.

@lena.on.the.move uses a teal and orange pantone on her images
@lena.on.the.move uses a teal and orange pantone on her images
@mads_ocean use hues of blue for her diving instagram account
@mads_ocean use hues of blue for her diving instagram account

Do you want your Instagram to look dark and moody? Bright and happy? Pastel and Dreamy? There are many ways to go about it and it’s really up to you. But based on my experience, successful Instagram accounts have a consistent look and feel about them.

Have you ever scrolled on your feed and without looking at the username you immediately know who made that post? If yes, that goes to show how strong their branding is.

You can check out these Lightroom Pre-sets from Girls That Scuba to help you achieve a consistent look in your photos.

TIP 5: Always Write Captions

Make an effort to write captions

Sometimes it’s so tempting to just leave the captions blank but if you want more followers and effectively advocate for the ocean, then you have to make an effort to write.

Instagram is about storytelling, not just with pictures or videos, but with words as well. The captions are there to tell an even better story and create a more lasting impact.

Writing captions also gives you a chance to show your voice and personality, making you stand out from a very crowded market. So take advantage of the 2200-character limit Instagram is giving you to talk about how much you love our oceans. This is your chance to inspire your followers to do the same.

Creative Instagram Captions using fish puns and call to action for ocean advocates
I like using puns and being witty when it comes to my captions! And I include a “call to action” also known as CTA at the end of my post to get reactions or start conversatons.

Include quotes from a scuba diver or ocean conservationist. Give a background story to the photos. Educate your viewers on what you are showing them. Share fish facts and other cool information. Give your perspective on certain issues. This is your time to be creative when it comes to writing for your diving Instagram account.

If you are struggling to come up with captions for instagram check out my previous posts for ideas:

As a user, I actually like reading captions and I’ve actually discovered that a lot of my followers do too! I’ve had posts where I’ve only put a word and emoji. And I’ve also published some with really long messages. Surprisingly, even the long-captioned posts get a good number of comments and reactions!

Lengthy instagram captions work as well for engagement with other ocean advocates
This lengthy post received a good number of likes and comments

TIP 6: Use hashtags

Use relevant hashtags

Using hashtags is probably one of the easiest things you can do to help increase exposure, and therefore engagement to your diving Instagram account.

If you’re new to Instagram, hashtags are basically when you combine the pound sign (#)+ keyword related to your content. Instagram and other social media platforms use hashtags as a search tool. By using hashtags, users can discover your content simply by searching the specific hashtag you’ve used for your photo.

get more followers for your ocean-inspired instagram account by using relevant hashtags
For example, if you used the hashtag #philippinedives on your photo, potential followers who search “#philippinedives” will get a chance to see your photo on the search results.

When coming up with hashtags, think about what exactly can be seen in the photo or video. What are you showing? Who might be interested in seeing it? Where was it taken? What emotions or ideas are you are trying to convey?

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags on your posts so I would recommend using all of them to maximize your exposure. Make sure that the hashtags you are using are relevant and connected to the photo or video you are tagging. Use a variety so it shows up in different searches that users make.

Not sure of what hashtags to use? Check out my Most Comprehensive List of the Best Diving Hashtags to Use on Instagram.

Follow hashtags

Aside from following users, you can also follow hashtags on Instagram. Following hashtags allows you to find new content and new followers. This is also a great way to engage with other potential new followers that’s interested in your niche.

If your niche is about scuba diving, follow similar hashtags like #scubadiving or #scubadiver. People who are using these tags will show up on your feed and this will allow you to easily engage with them.

TIP 7: Use proper geotags

Geotagging is basically indicating in your posts or stories where your content was taken.

grow your ocean-inspired instagram account as an ocean advocate by using the correct geo-tag locations
Indicating the locations on your post allow users who are interested about the place to also see your photo when they are making searches.

A potential follower might be interested in diving activities in a specific location for instance: Verde Island. By tagging your photo with the correct location, that follower will see your photo or video when he visits the geo-tag “Verde Island” If they like your work, they might potentially follow you.

TIP 8: Tag other users

Tagging users are also helpful in growing your Instagram account. There are two ways to do this. One way is by mentioning them when you are creating captions. And the other way is by tagging them on the actual photo.

The main difference is that the former will simply inform the person tagged that they were mentioned in the post. You can mention someone by using “@” + “username ” and including them in your captions.

On the other hand, when you tag someone on the actual photo, the user has the option to display your photo on their “Tagged” list in their account profile.

Don’t go on a tagging frenzy and just tag random accounts. I recommend only tagging brands that are relevant to you and that are applicable to you. I never tag individual accounts as it might be considered as spamming and you’ll get reported.

grow your ocean-inspired instagram account by tagging brands and other ocean advocates
As an owner of a scuba diving Instagram account, I only tag brands that I am using and only when the photo obviously shows I am using their brand. I also tag tourism-related accounts, dive shops I was with when diving.

I also tag other diving Instagram accounts for a chance to be featured in their account. But I only do this as I don’t mind that my work is re-shared as long as I am given proper credit. If you’re the type who does not want your content to be re-shared, then I would not recommend this strategy.

TIP 9: Look at your analytics

If you’re seriously wanting to grow your ocean-inspired Instagram account then you have to look at your numbers to see your progress. Instagram has its own analytics and you can find this in under “View Insights” of each post and also under your settings.

I previously owned a “personal account” but halfway through decided to change it to a “creator” account primarily for the analytics. The analytics helps me see how a post or my account is performing.

growing your ocean-inspired instagram account tips: look at your numbers and analytics
Here you can see that 513 accounts liked my post, there were 8 comments, 13 users saved this photo, 19 accounts visited my profile. I also got 4 new followers because of this post.
This also shows that I received a good number of views from my hashtags.

When I see that I am getting fewer views, I am reminded to post or and modify my strategy. If a post is doing well, I get a sense of accomplishment and try to replicate what I did. Looking at my numbers keeps me motivated in my efforts as an ocean advocate,

TIP 10: Put in the hours

If you want to see the results then you’re going to have to spend a lot of time on Instagram. Be ready to put in a lot of hours if you want to grow your Instagram organically.

Figure out what rhythm works for you. I’ve known some accounts who post once a day, three times a day or even more! I try to post at least 3x a week. When I’m not able to post, I check out other accounts and engage instead.

Just like when you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t expect it to happen overnight. You have to show up every day, follow a certain routine, do each step of the process before you see the results.

Yes, there might be shortcuts out there and you can easily “buy” followers but why would you want a bunch of fake accounts following you?

And besides Instagram frowns upon this practice and they’ve been known to delete fake accounts. They might also suspend your account for buying followers as this is violating Instagram’s terms of service.

So be patient. Put in the time and effort to building your audience. It will be worth it!

Use this Getting Started with Instagram Worksheet and Best Practices Checklist to grow your ocean-inspired Instagram

I hope that these tips on how to grow your diving Instagram account has been helpful to you.

Because I really want you to succeed, I’ve created a Getting Started with Instagram Worksheet and Best Practices Checklist to help you on your journey towards being an awesome ocean ambassador.

Just enter your details below to get your copy!

How to grow your instagram to advocate for the ocean
A scuba diver and ocean advocate's guide to growing your Instagram account. Free download on getting started with instagram and best practices checklist.

Was this article helpful for you? Do you have your own Instagram tips on how you grew your Instagram account to successfully advocate for the ocean? Leave a comment below!

The links above may be affiliate links. If you shop through them, I’ll earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

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