One of my favorite social media platforms is still Instagram. Why? Probably because I am an artist, grew up in a family of artists so I am not only a visual personal, I thrive on beauty in everything I see. There is nothing better than going on Instagram, clicking on a profile and seeing a beautiful feed that is cohesive in look, feel and high quality pics. If you take a look at the profiles that have 10,000, 100,000 or more followers and have always wondered how they ever got there (and are not a celebrity), I am here to help!
So as you know, Instagram is the most visual of all platforms, with Pinterest being second. This distinguishes Instagram from other channels such as Snapchat, YouTube and Periscope who are all about video and Facebook and Twitter who are all about high quality posts and content and now favoring videos as well. With that being said, here are some tips to get you where you want to go, whether you are a business, brand or personality that wishes to increase your Instagram following and become an influencer – or even brand ambassador.
First of all, let me preface this by saying, I am not into going the easy route. I am about quality over quantity. So many people feel they don’t have the time or don’t want to spend the time doing what it takes to grow their following on Instagram so they decide to buy followers. I cannot express to you how detrimental this will be to your account in the long run. These so-called ‘followers’ you are purchasing are fake accounts. Yes, that is right – they are not real people. They are giving others the perception that you have a large following when in fact, it is all vanity followers. So how can this hurt your account? I am glad you asked. So…how would you feel about an account that has 10,000 followers and maybe 30-100 likes or comments? Wouldn’t that seem a bit strange to you? Most accounts with that many followers will have an engagement at least over 700 on each post. The average person may or may not be skeptical of this, however, guess who will be – and who really is the one that counts – Instagram.
You see, the goal of Instagram (or any other social media platform really) is not just about how many followers one has. It is also about engagement. It isn’t the number of followers that is going to get you noticed on Instagram. It is engagement. Let me repeat that one more time. Engagement is what is important, not the number of followers on your Instagram account. Why? Because when your engagement is up, Instagram brings you closer to the top of the feed in the search. When people search for a certain hashtag or just go to the search icon on Instagram in general, your posts will be seen if they have a higher number of engagement – or ratio of engagement to followers – than a high following. In order to be found by true, real people, you have to be easily found on Instagram. So absolutely yes, you are hurting your account when purchasing followers.
So, how can you build your following if you aren’t going to purchase followers?
Here are my favorite tips – things that I actually do myself for my account as well as the accounts of my clients.
- Decide on the look and feel before you begin posting. Decide on the vibe you want it to have, play around with difference editing recipes. Think of your Instagram feed as a brand. What is your message? Or is there even a message? For things to be cohesive, you have a theme, color, subject matter, message…one thing that can be found in every image.
- Post 1-3 times a day every single day. Consistency is key on Instagram just as it is with the success of anything in this life. Commit to posting at least once a day every day. There is a fantastic tool I use to help me with this. Grum is amazing and a game change – a way to schedule your Instagram posts from your desktop or laptop. You can also add emojis and even comments to your post right in this platform. If I know I am not going to be around when I need to get a post out to my feed, or my client’s feed, I simply upload to my Grum account and schedule what time I want it to go out. It is incredible and very easy to use!
- Post quality pictures – remember Instagram is visual. If your pictures are just okay, there are things you can do to increase their quality by editing the pictures and adding filters. My favorite tools that I use on every image I post are VSCO. Other tools to check out are Canva, PicMonkey, Snapseed, and A Color Story to name a few. There are really easily a couple dozen apps that offer really fun editing or effects. Find the one that works for you. The most important thing is to decide on the look and feel and stick to that. You don’t want one picture to have a cool feeling, the other to be warm, another to have a purple layer and the like. Think of your entire Instagram feed as one. Each image needs to be cohesive and flow with the others. When someone goes to your profile, their first impression is not going to be one post, it’s going to be your entire feed as a whole. If it’s sloppy, messy, seems to jump around all over the place, then chances are, that person is going to leave and not follow your account.
- Hashtag like you have never hashtag’d before. Yep, that’s right. I go on so many profiles each day, see some great content and then see that they have very few followers. The first thing I do in this case is look at their post writing and see if they included any hashtags. Most often someone in this situation has not. The way people find your posts is by searching hashtags. Instagram, unlike other platforms, is all about hashtags. Hashtags are actually almost as important as the quality of your content. If you don’t include hashtags, how can people find you? And here’s the thing…Instagram allows you to have 30 hashtags on each post. Here’s a clue to increase your chance of being found: Use them all! Yes, you heard right. Use all 30 hashtags on every single post.
- Engage, engage, engage. To increase your following, you have to engage and follow others. And you have to engage a lot. You have to be present and be active. I know this is time consuming, however, it is a necessity. This is one of the reasons why we, as social media managers, are sought after. Because not many have the time to give their social media platforms that is necessary to build your online presence. Follow accounts you really like, engage with their posts. This will catch their eye and then in return they will check out your profile. If your content is high quality and of interest to them, they will start following and engaging with you as well. One important note, don’t just give a smiley face or a one word comment. Be genuine. I can always tell when it’s a bot or a real person, when it’s a genuine comment or not and others will be able to tell the same as well. Take real interest in others and they will do the same for you. Remember, it’s not just about engagement for the sake of growing your account. It’s about building relationships…building the right relationships with your target audience. This is the difference between a successful account and one that is not.
- Let others know on your other social media platforms about your Instagram account. Invite them to your profile. Inside of Instagram there is a way to invite all of your Facebook friends. Utilize this…it’s a fantastic tool.
- And lastly, have fun. This shouldn’t be something that is torturous. It should be a great experience. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email or find us on our social media accounts. We are always happy to help and love seeing others succeed!