Instagram, Insight Into My Path to My First 1,500 Followers.
OK, I usually don't become fixated with something in the way that I have with Instagram over the past few weeks, learning everything I can about it. When I say that, I am approaching it much differently than probably most people do. When I want to learn something, I usually become a user, an observer, and I will ask questions of those that have more experience than me so I can speed up my own learning process.
So that is what I did. I was able to limit my "usage" as well. And I was able to grow my following to 1,500 people, which is the start of my journey and commitment to Instagram moving forward.
My second week, I have learned a lot more though and I would like to share my insights with you. As I move forward through Instagram, I will be offering you my feedback based on my own insights that I have, but also discussions that I have with others in the "Insta" world.
Monitor Your Usage
You don't want to over invest in social. This has always been a fear of mine with anyone working on a business, including myself. But there is a time value trade off with everything you do, and most people have a percentage of their day or "fill minutes" dedicated to navigating through one or more of the many social platforms out there.
I used on average 1:30 minutes of social this week, which is pretty consistent of my daily social activity from weeks prior, I just decided to invest my energy into Instagram versus perusing on a variety of networks. It is paying off, but it does take some work and consistency, which I will explain next.
Again, Consistency is Key
I have spoken with people on both sides of the fence, those struggling to get followers, and those that are doing very well in terms of building and establishing their footprint within Instagram. The BIGGEST differentiating factor between the two is the fact that those that are growing on Instagram, are those that are posting with regularity and those that are updating their stories throughout the day.
Yes, they use automation tools for one or both of these, but they are on top of this and their interaction is absolutely authentic. Consistency in business is key, this also translates over to managing and growing your Instagram accounts.
Shadow Ban is the Google Panda Fear of Instagram
I keep hearing this word come up, "Shadow Ban". People within the Instagram space, or those that think they know it, are constantly touting this word as though it is some "secret" formula that Instagram has.
I agree with them in many respects, but it reminds me a lot of Google Panda and how search engines manage those that are trying to "game" (or abuse) their platforms. If you are operating on any platform like this that relies on algorithms to decide whether the display content, how to display it, and who to display, you are going to have people trying to beat the system through automation and trickery.
Instagram tackles this as one of their core problems. If you are operating there in a way that is not authentic or you are trying to completely automate your growth (ie, the follow and unfollow schemes), over tagging, tagging things that are not relevant, or behaving in a way that is obviously robotic, then you will not be rewarded for this activity.
Be logical about your approach to building your Instagram following, and you will be rewarded. Try to cheat the system, and eventually you will be put into a "red flag" bucket like the shadow ban one.
Utilizing Stories is Critical
People undervalue the importance of creating stories. They are "snippets" of activity throughout your day, they don't have to be real time, but often times they will be and the images used will be more time sensitive, and not as polished as your other content.
This is day to day stuff, that allow people to see what you are thinking and feeling, but when you are operating in a niche, it could be niche news, something that is niche specific, could be reminding people of a new post, or it could be a little video of your dog or cat playing around (or ostrich, I don't know what type of house pets you have lol).
Use markup within your posts (tags, mentions, gifs, location, time). These may seem simple, but they take a post that is seemingly uninteresting, and make it much more interesting and fun.
But just be consistent with it. Stories are critical to growth, anticipation, and building a community of followers that want to see what's up with YOU on a day in day out basis.
Influencers Know What They Are Doing, Celebrities Don't
If you are going to look at someone for success "clues", look at people that have ground their way to followings, not those that come by it naturally. You should seek out influencers, that in essence are people that became someone because of Instagram, not that were already someone and simply use Instagram (celebrities).
I have found that many celebrities and famous figures are using Instagram completely wrong, and are doing things so different from celeb to celeb, that you are going to end up chasing your tail if you try to follow them. They have a following because of their celebrity status, in most cases.
So follow people and behave like those that have established themselves from the ground up on Instagram.
Instagram Has a Lot of Algorithms Going On
Like any technology platform, it is built out of algorithms. When these platforms are "user content" driven, then there needs to be complex algorithms to decide which content gets shown and what content does not. Instagram has some intensive algorithms that are running behind the scenes to decide WHO and WHAT gets newfound exposure, and which content to show to what people, and when.
As with any platform like this, there are people that chase holes in these algorithms (conventionally deemed as black hat marketers), and there are those that chase what logic indicates is the RIGHT thing to do for your fellow audience (conventionally deemed as white hatters).
I have seen a lot of folks with a lot of large followings, with very little clout. As in 10-100K followers, and they get little to no exposure when they post. You see the same thing on Twitter and Facebook. If you build your following in an authentic matter, your account is going to be represented with more clout (and rightfully so).
People Run Out of Ideas
Sustainability on Instagram has a lot to do with consistency. Consistency becomes tough though, as many people feel as though they live mundane lives at the best of times. To be honest, I think the idea of posting with regularity is scary to every Instagrammer, even the most successful influencers.
Where do you pull ideas from, how do you maintain a consistent feed, and how to you appropriately deliver content to your audience that is going to captivate them?
All things that I a currently working out, but I am building my own internal systems for managing these based on my experience. One thing that I have started is getting a broad range of "posts" from different niches, to see what type of content people are posting. I can use those as influence for my own ideas.
Another thing that I have done is created an "idea board" with things that I can include throughout the year ahead within my Instagram. This reminds me that at a "birds eye" level, I have things going on that I can leverage going forward for content.
The same as building a website or building out a Youtube channel, you need to research and record your ideas in advance of building the content. This gives you a game plan, and if you are going to take Instagram seriously you will want to make sure you are considering your upcoming posts.
So this has been my second week findings. I am unlikely to be providing you an update every week, but I will certainly be filling you in as this journey continues. Carson and I have made a commitment to Instagram, it has been a long time coming, but for us now was the right time to do it.
Does Instagram have a fit for YOUR business? If so, I recommend you get in there...even if at first it is just to use it as a research platform, it can certainly lead to new-found reach, trust and success for your business.
As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please leave it below!