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I know a lot of people who follow me would like more followers. On Instagram, on TikTok, wherever; we know it’s important to understand social media. Why? Because there is no “social media” anymore, there’s just “media” and social is a part of that. 

If “media” is the content and the culture we all consume, then “social” is community; it’s connections and insight. With this in mind, it is so necessary for brands and marketers to understand Instagram. It’s one of the largest social media platforms to date. It’s a source of great learnings and offers an immense opportunity to build community and legacy, both for an individual’s personal brand and a large company. Keep reading to learn how to navigate this social media platform–and how to get more followers. 

1. Have a strategy

First of all, it’s necessary to understand that building a community is more important than the amount of followers you have. Your community should be the foundation of every piece of creative you produce, it should be the cornerstone of your entire strategy. Remember: if you want to win, you have to make it about “them” because business is a “them” game. Now, taking that aside, here are some tactical things you can do to grow your Instagram presence.

The $1.80 Strategy

  • Familiarize yourself with the $1.80 strategy. I’ve written about this, in depth, a few years back. To summarize, this is all about finding hashtags/content that’s relevant to your business, and commenting on that content. If you leave thoughtful comments, aka your .02 cents, on 9 posts for 10 hashtags–that’ll add up to $1.80. 

Your .02 cents should never be spam. Rather, they should be small drops you make into each “bucket” of karma, community, and your own personal brand. 

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you have a strategy in place, it’s time to think about who you want to target. Start with the macro, the basic psychology of your target audience, then add layers. What is your brand, who do you represent? Study the slang they use, their style, and (of course) the hashtags they use. The last piece is important because hashtags can help you narrow down your audience. They can also help you identify communities and gain insights into the behaviors of that audience.

3. Be Authentic

Authenticity is important. I’ve spoken it about it a few times, but to summarize everything: don’t put on a show. Be authentic and real in categories you’re willing to be authentic and real in. What I think many people are missing is, you don’t have to be in every conversation. There are people who don’t even do social media because they say ‘Gary, I don’t want my business out there’–okay, so don’t.   

Personally, I don’t go into convos where I feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about or I don’t want to share with the world. I stay very narrow and that’s it. 

Your content should be about what you want, and you should be honest about your experiences and expertise. It’s possible to get away with being inauthentic for a while, but it’s no fun, and you could lose the community you’ve built.

4. Content, Content, Content (that’s relevant and consistent)

Now it’s time to put out content. Your content should be relevant and consistent. It should speak to your community. A good way to do that is to follow the 79/21 rule and look at how your community behaves on other platforms. Once you have that down, you’re ready to post.

Something to keep in mind, don’t worry if the content is “good” or not. Good is subjective. Just post it!

5. If Content Is King, Context is Country

As important as content is, context is even more important. Just think about it, you wouldn’t post something for LinkedIn on TikTok. Everything you post has to be contextual to that platform. People forget that great content is predicated on context. If you want a more tactical overview, check out a blog post I wrote about this topic.

6. Promote Your Instagram Account

There are two ways to promote your Instagram page. One of the best ways is through organic reach. This is where the $1.80 strategy comes in. If you’re posting thoughtful comments under relevant hashtags and content, your content is more likely to come generate likes, views, and appear in search. 

Another way to promote your account is to pay for it. There are tons of ways to partner with influencers and community groups–just reach out. Sponsor some of their content and ask what their rates are if they were to promote your page/products. Some influencers are underpriced and some influencers are overpriced, so it’s important to do your research.

As always, avoid fake followers. They offer no value to your brand. Although it might seem easier to buy followers, the new bots only lower your page’s credibility–who wants to visit an inactive page with tens of thousands of followers? Bots don’t like, share, or engage with your content and they’ll likely get cleaned up when Instagram does a sweep. Just avoid them. 

7. Pay Attention To The Numbers

Even if they’re not the most important thing, follower counts and likes matter. They are an important metric, especially for those of you who are growing your business. Still, you know what’s even more important?

The comments. The shares. The amount of people who save your post. In a world of fake followers and inflated likes, your actual engagement rate matters so much. If you want people to engage with your posts, thoughtful content matters.

8. Build Community and Give Value

I know it’s easy to say “build community” but what does this look like in practice? You can start by following relevant accounts and influencers. Think about how they add value and what gaps aren’t being served within the community you want to reach.  Reach out and ask if they’d like to collaborate or partner on a project.

Use the comments to figure out what your community wants. When you do choose to run a contest or start a series on Instagram–make sure it’s something that provides value to them. 

9. Use one platform to inform the other

This is another gem from the 79/21 strategy. It’s clear that someone who follows you on Facebook may act differently than someone who follows you on LinkedIn. However, if the same person follows you on both platforms look at how they behave. Your Instagram followers may be unlikely to ask you for resume tips–but if you know a lot of your followers are about to enter the workforce, and you’ve seen many of them ask for resume tips on LinkedIn, use that to inform your Instagram content.

Maybe host a Live Q&A, where you take questions from your followers and video chat with them in real-tip about resumes? This feature is unavailable on LinkedIn, so you could also drive some of your followers from there to your Instagram. Overall, listen to your community, no matter what platform they choose to speak on.

10. Enjoy the process

Arguably the most important part, you have to enjoy the process.  Instagram, and social media in general, can be a long game. It’s important to remember that and not be discouraged when you have less followers than someone else. Also, never ever compare yourself, your progress, and your process to anyone else.

Try some of these tips and let me know what worked for you. As always, if you liked this article, be sure to share it on Twitter.