So let me preface this post by acknowledging that I am FAR from Instagram famous! In the grand scheme of things my following is tiny, but I am so proud to have grown it to what it is and am celebrating crossing the coveted 10k threshold on Instagram!
I've put a lot of effort in and learned a lot along the way and I wanted to share it with my blog family. Hopefully it helps you on your road to social media stardom, or something like that.
Be a storyteller
I found that engagement on my posts increased significantly when my captions got longer- giving insight, inspiration, background to the photo or my mood that day. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a beautiful caption can only enrich the story. Give people a reason to be interested, and they will be.
My most watched Instastory of all time was one of my showing my aloe vera and coconut oil pre-shampoo treatment. Most of the pics on my feed are of my hair styled super polished, and I had been long-term protective styling so that was the first time many people had even seen my natural hair. I think that viewers appreciated little sneak peek into my all natural, undone self. And while that will probably not become a regular trend, being more open only make you more human. I know there is so much pressure to curate the perfect feed, but nothing beats showing off who you are and what you stand for.
Diversify Your Platforms
Instagram may be a big, wildly popular social network, but it's not the only one! As much as I love the gram, I split my time between Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and my blog, the only platform that is truly mine. Remember, a platform as popular as Vine can disappear overnight, crushing the careers of tens of thousands of influencers. No matter how big your Instagram following is, you don't own that audience. Think about your website, your email list, and other ways to build your brand, outside of one social network.
Don't Sweat the Algorithm
Yes there is an algorithm. Yes it changes whenever Facebook or Instagram feel like it, often dealing a crippling blow to engagement. It's a widespread problem that everyone in the industry is aware of. Instead of going crazy over the thing you can't beat, focus on the things that you can. You can always create high quality original content. You can always find a way to engage with your audience and potential new followers. And you can find brand partners that will evaluate you as an overall package, not just how many likes you average on each post.
Know the Rules (and follow them)
Shortcuts may be tempting, but taking them will only hurt you in the long run! Every aspiring influencer can get frustrated with growing at what seems like a snail's pace, while you see and hear stories of other people skyrocketing overnight. And you never know what tricks someone may have up their sleeve, so you really can't compare. But stuff like buying likes and followers is never kosher, and will come back to haunt you the second you start trying to pitch brands for sponsored work. Most companies use analytic tools like Hypr, or Fohr Card to get the scoop on an influencer's following and how authentic it is, so if you cheat you will get caught at some point. Your reputation is all you have and it can be destroyed in seconds if you are caught buying likes or followers, so just don't do it!
Keep it Up!
When I did my first shoot with a pro for my blog he asked me my goals and what I planned to do. I just said I was going to give it a try for a year and see what happened. His response was, "why only a year"? And if I would have stopped after a year I would have just given up thinking it was impossible to get past 500 followers! Yes it's a different ball game than it was a few years ago before all the platform changes, but that doesn't mean you can't do well with hard work, patience, and the right strategy!