Instagram is perhaps the most fickle of social media beasts. Even talented photographers who spend days choosing a subject and hours lighting, framing and Photoshopping their images can find themselves stuck on 15 followers for months. Meanwhile, some chancer’s blurred snap of their dog chewing an old sock goes viral. Yes, even a dedicated social media consultant can be vexed by the Instagram puzzle…
Luckily, if you are prepared to put the work in, there is a clear three step process you can follow to gather an organic following on Instagram. I say organic, because there are plenty of (paid) ways to accrue 11,000 followers incredibly quickly (if you’re that way inclined). As always, I’m an organic content marketing gal only – so here’s the lowdown on how to build real followers, and keep them…
1. Take at least 20 great (and I mean great) photos
When it comes to Instagram, appearances are everything. Users looking for somebody to follow will want to be wowed when they click on your profile, so be sure that, before you start putting yourself out there, you have a world-class homepage.
For this, a good 20 or so high quality images will be a necessity. Resist the temptation to just post everything you snap, limiting yourself to only the best of the best. Be your harshest critic – posting nothing at all is preferable to posting a low quality pic. Don’t have anything you think is good enough to post? Then keep snapping until your skills improve.
From now on, when you post something new, users will follow it to your profile and see that you are well worth a second look.
2. Make some noise
Now you’ve got a profile to be proud of, it’s time to get noticed. Start with your other social sites: get existing followers to sign up for your Instagram by posting a few of your best pictures to whet their appetite.
Next up, it’s hashtag time. There’s two ways to approach this. You can either see what’s hot on Twitter and then take some images that are relevant to these trends, or you can look through your existing images and see if there are any pictures that can be made relevant to the popular hashtags. Either way, make sure that you are marking all your best images with a relevant, popular hashtag, to give them the best chance of meeting a wide, interested audience.
Knowing what images will be hits is not always easy, but sunsets and reflections have a tendency to strike a chord.
Don’t just worry about getting new followers. It is essential that you are equally interested in maintaining a strong relationship with your current followers. To do this, be sure you are positing consistently and replying to questions and comments. Even a simple ‘thank you’ here and there can make a big difference when it comes to user engagement.
The status of Instagram hero is not an easy one to attain! Yet, with some hard work, a strong self-editing system and plenty of socialising, it is within your grasp. My final bit of advice on this is if you’re managing a business account, think about the filters you’re using. I tend to use one particular filter exclusively, just to keep the overall presentation of my Instagram account consistent. I do this because although I showcase 99% personal pics only(!), the account is linked to my business and the pinky hue applied to pictures of my kid, amusing snippets of copywriting, a nice cocktail etc etc, blends well with the tones of my Lucy Lettersmith branding.
Anyone else got any tips for Instagram? It’s become HUGE in recent months and definitely taken over as my favourite social media platform these days. Starting from August 1st, I’ll be joining a number of other users worldwide and doing a daily update which is hash-tagged #augustbreak2015. This one’s been organised by the writer Susannah Conway and she’s given us a post theme for each and every day. If you’re in charge of telling a brand story via content marketing and you’re NOT on the Instagram bandwagon, you need to be. If you’re already a user but are lacking a little inspiration, refresh your approach and join in with us!