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Instagram. One of my favorite social media platforms. Social media can be very difficult to manage. You have to make educated guesses about what platform will be most effective for your brand. Then you have to work your content to fit that platform. But you don’t want to ignore the other platforms, so you try to balance everything.
And even after you do all of that, you can sit and watch your follower count remain stagnant or tick up so slowly that reaching a plateau seems inevitable.
It can all be very frustrating.
Take Instagram for example. Some people say that you need to have 10,000 followers before you make a difference and see some growth. Other people put that number at 5,000 or lower. Regardless, getting to even 1,000 followers can be a challenge. But why is that?
I would say that the number one reason that the first 1,000 followers on Instagram are the most difficult is that you simply don’t have the voice to be heard.
When you consider establishing a social media presence, chances are that you may have a few “ready and waiting” followers. They might be friends, family, or coworkers. If you teach or coach, people who take your classes may be interested in joining you online.
Beyond that, who else do you have from the start?
You could have a unique message, or a new approach to an old problem, or the freshest content but if you don’t have the volume, who is going to hear it?
If you recognize this early enough, you can craft your profile in a way that can help you expand quickly.
If you are working across platforms, make sure that your brand name is front and center on each of them. You may not be able to use the exact same one each time but keep them as similar as possible. If one person finds you on Facebook (for example) you just made it easier for them to find you on Instagram as well.
Don’t try and do too many things at the beginning. Find one aspect of what you want to do and highlight that. If you try to jump around and cover too many subjects right away, you may send mixed messages to your followers about content, and they may go elsewhere to find what they’re looking for.
For example, if you want to establish a lifestyle website, pick an aspect of the lifestyle you are promoting to focus on for the first few months. Maybe it’s room décor or color palettes or “busy morning” tips. Whatever you choose, make your posts about that subject.
Be clear about whatever else you’re going to cover – you don’t want it to seem like you’ve done a bait and switch – but become the profile where people know they’ll get consistency. Once you start to grow, you can start cycling through other aspects of your main focus.
Capture their attention. Then get your points across.
If you only plan on posting once a week, it’s probably going to take you a long time to build your following. However, if you post every day and multiple times a day, you’re oversaturating your own market and you’ll tire people out.
Instagram is particularly fussy because people tend to only see things from the accounts that they interact with the most. So, it’s going to be a fine line between inundating people with too much but keeping their interest with just enough.
Find a reasonable schedule that works for you and then stick with it. (It won’t help to burn yourself out). As people can interact on a regular basis, their interest will probably increase. And that will improve the chances of succeeding in the next area.
Building off the last section, the more consistent you can be with content and timing, the more people can “rely” on your posts.
If your followers know that you are putting out a good product, they will be more likely to recommend you to others. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to grow your follower count because you are getting honest feedback (that people like what you’re producing) and you’re increasing your base.
Think of how likely you are to recommend a restaurant or a vacation spot to people you know. You want to be confident in your recommendation, right? The same theory applies here.
Look for other accounts that fit in with your focus. You don’t want to poach their audience or hijack their posts, but they are a perfect place to find people who will be receptive to what you’re promoting. Interact positively with those accounts.
Your game in this arena has to be strong. Hashtags are the SEO of Instagram. Not only do the right ones direct followers to your own account, but choosing hashtags that cover multiple aspects can spread your post to a wide range of interests.
For example, if you’re a nature lover, you can use “nature” as a hashtag. That’s obvious. But if you have a specific focus, like hiking trails, use the different types of trees as hashtags as well. Or use conservation group hashtags (but check them out to make sure they’re in line with what you want to discuss).
Once you have reached that 1,000 follower mark, your job can get a lot easier. You have more people to interact with who can in turn help share your profile to grow. Eventually, it could even become a self-perpetuating system where you simply provide the content and others get the word out.
From the beginning, reach people who may be interested in what you have to say by focusing on consistency and finding like-minded followers. If you’ve already started and are stuck at 500 followers, take a look at some of the suggestions and see where you can improve.
You may find yourself surpassing 1,000 followers in no time at all.
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