So you've been stuck at home for months, playing around on Instagram. Watching all these influencers and thinking "I can do that too". Or maybe you've thought about it for a long time, maybe you've even dabbled in it for some time... Whatever your story, you've finally decided you want to grow your Instagram and take this influencer thing more seriously! Now what?
I want to start off with saying that growing your social media following isnt an easy feat these days. Everyone wants to be an influencer and it can be hard to cut through the noise. Its a LOT of work. It takes blood, sweat and tears. And you'll have days when you want to give up! I'd recommend you come up with your WHY. Why do you want this? Whats your vision? Whats your purpose? Without that, you'll have a hard time putting in all the work. And trust me, its A LOT of work.
BUT that being said, its also an amazing opportunity! To be your own boss, to spend your days engaging with your community and come up with fun content?? Sign me up! So if you're ready to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, I'm listing a few of my best tips below. Hopefully these can help you get started right! These are things I've learned through years of building my brand on social media, and things I wish someone would have told me when I got started. I'd say they're pretty universal, regardless of what topic you're focusing on!
Decide what you're about and who you're talking to. What are you passionate about? Fitness, fashion, dogs, knitting? Coffee? Lifestyle? Whatever it is, find what makes you YOU, and what value you want to put out to the world. Be a multifaceted human! For me this would be: I'm a wife, a Doberman mom, I'm a yogi and Barre addict, I have an autoimmune disease, I'm a wellness coach, I love long hair and skincare, and I just moved from the city to the country! I'm a kind person who tries to always see the silver lining in everything. When you watch my stories or my feed, you'll see a lot of that - its my brand. Also make sure to share your life and behind the scenes (especially on stories). People want to see who is really behind the pretty feed. Show the good, the bad, and the ugly. The awkward, the funny. People want the REAL thing. Be unapologetically you! Also realize that you won't be everyones cup of tea - and THATS OK! Those are not your people. And you want your people! To find your people, they're usually similar to you. For me, I have tons of fitness babes, doberman moms, yogis, autoimmune warriors, and beauty loving 30-something women in my audience!
Add value. Whether its inspiration, enterntainment or education, you need to add value in one way or another. Otherwise people won't have a reason to follow you. People want to be entertained, educated, or made to feel something (a simple rule: either make them laugh or cry!). I try to mix entertaining content with tips and tutorials. And of course a constant sneak peek into my life as per point one.
Avoid the comparison trap. This is a tough one! We all fall into it from time to time (I do, more often than I'd care to admit). But please please, try to stay in your lane! Look at other accounts for inspiration but dont try to mimic it. You're YOU, and that's what people want. If you try to mimic what someone else does, yo won't be able to keep it up because you're not true to yourself and people can sense that. Plus, you can't ever actually be someone else so you'll just end up in a weird mood that will translate through IG.
Make sure to have GOOD LIGHTING! This is one of the things I see so often on Instagram, poorly lit photos that are almost blurry. No one wants to see that. No. One. Not on your feed and also not in your stories. You HAVE TO have good lighting! Thats a non-negotiable! Buy a ring light. Stand in front of a window. Go outside. Whatever you have to do! Do NOT post dark, fuzzy photos/stories. Now if your whole IG look is dark, that's great - but there is a difference between "purposefully dark" and just bad-lighting-dark. Even a feed that has that darker look has been shot with good lighting. Everything else is done in editing.
Play around with different types of content and test it out! Play with video, carousels, outfit posts, recipes, tips, recommendations, reviews, landscape shots, YouTube, reposting content from other accounts, blogs, etc. Just try it out and see what works! Make sure to look at your numbers. Not just the likes, but saves, comments, and overall sentiment!
Engage with your audience, and others. Its called "social" media for a reason, right? Dont just put out content, you have to engage with your followers. Respond to your DMs and comments, and also go engage on your followers posts - and other accounts! I'd recommend actually building relationships vs just a "love this outfit babe" although the latter will do as well. But long term, having an actual community of people who care about you and what you put out there is way more valuable than having a bunch of "love your outfit babe" comments on your posts. You want genuine connections, just as in real life!
Build a community, not just followers. There is no point in having lots of followers if they dont care about what you're posting. I made that mistake a few years ago, and I fell for the follow/unfollow thing. It really hurt me in the long run because now I have a whole slew of random people who follow me, ONLY because I followed them first and then unfollowed them. They dont care about what I post, because they're not my target audience, and they certainly dont add any value to my community. I try to remove them but I have to go through almost 40k people now, so its not that easy. Quality is WAY more important than quantity. Its easy to get caught up in numbers, but having a smaller super engaged following is better than a large following that doesn't care about you.
Should you do giveaways?? This is a good question and I'd say... it depends. I know some giveaways that cost $1500 to do. I also know some that cost $20. I also do some for free as a sponsor. Whatever your budget, giveaways can be a good way to get more followers but please consider my previous point. You'll get a lot of followers that won't really care about your content, they're just following you because they wanted to win. I'm not saying not to do giveaways, they can be good and you can get some engaged followers from them! Sometimes its also helpful to get a foot in the door for certain brands if you have a large following BUT if they're not engaged it doesn't matter. A tip to make sure you get more out of giveaways is to try to engage with your new followers if they seem to fit your target audience. Go love on their posts, shoot them a DM (it can look something like this: "thank you so much for the follow, I loooove your Doberman! Is it a boy or a girl? We have a 3 year old male, Achilles! They're the best dogs, aren't they??"), and follow them back. Now you've created a connection with them and when they start unfollowing every one else from the giveaway, they won't delete you because you're basically friends now!
I hope that helps! Building a true community takes time so just keep showing up, be consistent, and keep shining your light into the world!