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#007 – Growing A Following From Scratch On Instagram

Not all that long ago growing on Instagram was easy.

You set up your account.

You post content consistently.

You add relevant hashtags.

You follow other relevant accounts.

You get good organic reach.

You grow.

And of course your audience sees your content so you get great visibility.

I’m writing this on 9 October 2020 and that doesn’t really happen for most accounts any more.

  • Organic reach sucks
  • It’s much harder to show up in hashtags
  • It’s much harder to grow

And the thing is that I’ve got a few accounts that I am in a position where I want to actually get authority and grow.

Here are your screenshots.

All the tiny following I’ve built has largely been from following other people and getting follow backs.

The only exception is Fitter Body Plan which I had actually started around 3 years ago then stopped posting for 2.5 years. Anyway one of the posts from way back then actually got reshared by a bigger page around that time and most of my followers came from there.

But it has minimal engagement and when I set it up I was posting about fat loss and calories but I’ve pivoted what I want the account to focus on to health and wellness more broadly so it doesn’t even really have the right audience of followers.

So What Am I Doing In Terms Of Tactics?

1 – I am posting daily without fail.

I’ve talked about content strategy briefly here and I am sticking to that structure.

It takes a ton of the time and energy out of needing to think ‘Oh god what should I post about now?’ and I just work within the framework I gave myself and adapt as and when I need to.

2 – I am pre-scheduling my content

I have no idea whether this restricts or kills reach but given Facebook allows you to pre-schedule content within it’s own business manager app on both Facebook and Instagram, I’m not over thinking it too much.

It also means I don’t have to interrupt my day when I could be in the middle of something that takes a bit more deep work to go and post on Instagram and end up getting sidetracked.

3 – I am using 30 hashtags per post

I use an app for pre-scheduling so I do it all from my desktop.

And I paste in 30 hashtags – the app I’m using allows me to post it in the first comment which keeps my captions tidier.

I’ll do a separate post on how I do hashtag research and what I based it off of but the basics:

  • Make sure they’re relevant to your post
  • Make sure they’re relevant to the person you’re trying to speak to (a persaonl trainer using the hashtag #personal trainer for example… no one looking for a PT is using that hashtag. The people using it are… other PTs!)
  • Avoid the ‘big’ hashtags until you’ve got like 10k followers or more

4 – I am following and following back

The quickest way to get someone’s attention is to follow them.

So I am going through the hashtags my audience are using, liking posts and following people using those hashtags.

I’m not unfollowing people who don’t follow back but I’ll come to that below.

I’m also not following celebrities or influencers or other authorities for now.

Although there is a benefit to that because a lot of people will go throw the followers of bigger accounts and start following them.

(I haven’t started doing that yet but it is a pretty good idea).

5 – I am engaging prolifically with the people I follow

I give them a boost, I connect with them and it builds rapport so they either follow me back or engage.

6 – I rinse and repeat everyday

I’m not doing this one consistently yet but I will. I need to block time and schedule it to make it a habit.

7 – Post 3-5 stories a day

I will usually reshare my new post to my stories and then 2 other random things like a meme or a quote my audience finds relevant or interesting.

Because I’m experimenting with Pinterest I’m spending a lot of time looking at content ideas so finding new things won’t be hard. Plus I’ll have them on my own boards to re-share too.

So What Am I NOT Doing In Terms Of Tactics?

Look you’re trying to build a business or a brand or a community.

Followers are just a vanity metric.

So there are some things you can do in terms of gaining followers that don’t really work for what I want to do or I’m just not keen on trying them out:

  • Paying influencers for shoutouts  – no thanks
  • Competitions and giveaways – you’ll mainly attract freebie seekers and they’ll drop off again and probably won’t engage
  • Boosted posts or ads – I’m not keen on throwing ad money at vanity metrics. Plus if you’re a small account (under 1k), a ton of people will click on the ad, look at your account and think there’s no value to be had from following – unless they massively resonate with your content which they might do.

And What’s The Strategy Behind All This?

Honestly it’s a slow, gritty process of creating a community of “super fans”.

Turn up consistently with relevant content that helps them.

Turn up consistently with advice, support and engagement for whatever problem you’re solving.

Show your authority and personality.

And focus on helping just 1 person.

That 1 person will become more connected to you.

Then from 1 person, we aim to do same thing for another and another and another.

Once you’ve reached somewhere between 50-100, they’ll be engaging with you, probably sharing your stuff and possibly buying from you.

Once you have your small army of people doing that, it can start to snowball.

It’s just that it can take weeks or months (or maybe even years) before you start to see momentum or pay off.

Which is why a lot of people don’t do it and take shortcuts.

Which is why I’m not doing that.

About Abhi

Hi, I'm Abhi. I'm a blogger, copywriter, marketer and coach. Super Simple Mode is my space where I document everything I try in marketing and conversion so you can learn from my screw ups. Thanks for being here.