A year ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and came across a post by a fashion account, soon realising it featured someone that I knew. I looked up her profile and gasped. She had thousands of followers. Now her followers stand at almost 2m. Yes, m stands for MILLION.
This means she has more followers than the likes of Australian celebrities such as Jennifer Hawkins, Delta Goodrem, Lara Bingle and Hamish and Andy. Since initially seeing her profile I've been following her progress, intrigued as to how she has become insta-famous.
Like some of you, I was asking myself questions: has she bought followers, did she use some sort of social media marketing technique, or do people actually like her? While it's hard to say, I believe most of the growth has been organic. She may have bought some followers, but there were other ways that she gained exposure.
Here are the four reasons why I think her Instagram growth has been organic:
She plays on trends.
She focuses on trends that are happening in fitness, fashion and motherhood. Whether its nail glamour, pom-pom key rings, prams or protein shakes - she flaunts it. It is obvious she is being paid (and paid well) to promote these objects due to her large following. This is evident when people tag a brand or mention a brand in the tagline.
She has a strategy.
Her image has evolved over time. Perhaps this is the key to becoming insta-famous. She's kept her followers hooked and have gained more on the way. She appeals to a number of target audiences and produces content that is of interest to them. At first, she focused on targeting fitness junkies, then she became pregnant and began targeting this group of people. When she became pregnant she started posting on fashion and trends, and then once the child was born she began posting more about motherhood and fitness. While in the meantime she has been able to maintain posting about all of these things (spaced out). It's also worthwhile noting that she doesn't use hashtags often, although she might have at the beginning. Sometimes over-using hashtags can come across as too 'salesy'. Once she gained a few thousand followers, other accounts began to repost her photos, tagging her and consequently she gained exposure without the need to use hashtags.
Her strategy might not work for everyone, but maybe this is a sign that a well-planned strategy, an evolving image and self-confidence could get you on the right track.
Here are some of my tips if you are looking to increase your Instagram following and engagement:
- Know which audience you are targeting and do your research on them. If you think you can offer something or appeal to that audience, then focus on posting relevant content for them. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Be consistent in what you are posting.
- Stay on top of trends. For example, if you are posting on fashion and are targeting an audience group of young women aged 18-24 who follow fashion accounts and influencers like Kim Kardashian, then a trend like 'hair braiding' might be something you might want to consider posting about.
- Engage with your target audience by following, liking or commenting on their photos. Usually, this grabs people's interest and they may return the favour.
- Use relevant hashtags to what you are posting about. You can find trending hashtags by using an app like Webstagram. And you can find the most relevant hashtags for you with an app like Iconosquare.
- Give yourself a lesson in photography and design. It's recommended to post visually stimulating or aesthetically pleasing photos of good quality. Try not to use filters, but if you do, use popular ones like Valencia or Mayfair.
- Post photos at the time your target audience are most active. You can find out the best times to post by using an app like Iconosquare. As a general rule the most effective times to post during work hours is between 3:00 -4:00PM.
- Consider posting on Sundays, as this is when fewer images are posted. This may give you more opportunity for exposure.
- Decide how you'll manage all the activity so that it doesn't become overwhelming. Free apps like 'Followers' can help you track new followers, people who have unfollowed you, people who are not following you back and users who have blocked you.
- Keep content fresh and varied by taking videos or producing GIFs. There are trending apps such as Hyperlapse.
Goodluck on your Instagram journey! I hope these tips have been helpful. Just remember, Instagram is a great platform for building your personal brand however when it comes down to it, the number of followers or likes that you have does not reflect real life so be kind to each other out there.