I thought I would start a new year with the best I can give you. I get tons of questions about engagement and growth on Instagram. How did I get “so many” followers, how do I collect so “many” likes and how do I “make” people comment on my photos. Although all those number are quite relative, it is one way how to measure your online success. So I decided to share with you my ultimate secret, that one thing, one strategy which worked for me and helped me grow 15k followers in 9 months but most importantly helped me build amazing community of people which I love to spend time with online. I know there is a lot of Instagram advice out there, but I feel like this one, my advice, is the one not so many people speak about. But I got a gut feeling that it is and will be the most important one in the future. So what is my number one Instagram advice?
Be a kind human being and give before you want to get something back.
That is it. I was very tempted to end the article here, since I made a point, but let’s chat a bit more, shall we?
To take it from the beginning, I spend a lot of time online. I am a real introvert, or as Sara Tasker calls us, webtrovert. I love to communicate and make friends online and I am almost asocial offline. I just don’t like to hang out much. I met my best friend and most of my friends on Instagram and some of them later in real life. I love that Instagram connects us first thought the pretty squares, so we already have something in common, love for the same aesthetics, which I reckon makes the connections much more pleasant compared to other social media. But that won’t cut it if you want to grow and build the audience. I will also mention as always, that Instagram is a visual platform and photo quality will always matter, but that is not enough either.
To be more practical and make it as easy as possible to understand for advanced Instagrammers but also beginners, I will just tell you what I personally do in a simple bullet points. And please, remember, that as kind as I try to be, I am only an imperfect human which sometimes forget to answer. But I thought I would sharing my experience as I get in average 2000 likes and 50 comments per post.
So what do I do?
I try to answer every message (at least those which include more then emoji. Often not straight away, but I like to have time to put some meaningful sentence together)
I try to answer every comment (same here, I try to remember people, their names and profiles, so I can have more of a real conversation)
I share a lot of behind the scenes so people can create what I do (I am not afraid of people copying what I do or revealing my secrets. I believe that we are not a competition and there is space for everyones creativity)
I share a lot of what I know (Same here. Everything I know I often share except the basic stuff people ask me instead of using google, because that just annoy me, sorry not sorry)
I always try to help people if I can (often people would share their project, hashtag they started and I try to remember and use it next time or share on Stories, Newsletter etc.)
I share others work and profiles without expecting anything back (I started #sharesomesaturday, so when I remember, I share selflessly some profiles I enjoy and are just starting out, we all know how hard is first 1k)
I try to give love back to those who follow me and are true followers (meaning when I see someone often comments or send messages I try to go over their profile, like, comment and somehow support and appreciate what they do. That being said, I don’t like what I don’t like, no fake here).
I listen what people say and want and try to reflect on that (not always, but if I know they are interested in some pictures more or some topic more, I try to keep it in my mind)
Does it sound like a lot of work to you? Hell yes, it is! Do I do all this to get to 100k followers and eternal fame? Of course not, that is way too much work. I just genuinely care, I love to chat with people online about pretty much anything. Social media relationships are as any other. They are hard work but once you are honest and nice, it feels natural and it is all worth it. You invest your energy and time but get so much more back. I have had 30 years of shit relationships including partners and family and it seems like in age 31 I finally cracked the code! And at the end of the day, when everything goes wrong, you took the most beautiful picture but it is “bombing” because Instagram doesn’t show it to pretty much anyone, having friends out there which will come by no matter what is just about the best thing!
It just seems to me that we often in a battlefield of likes and algorithm forget that Instagram is also and mainly a social media platforms. You are supposed to be social, talk to people, have conversations. Of course, as I always remind everyone, Instagram is all about pretty pictures, so interesting and beautiful photography matter. But after that, it is not about any secret combination of hashtags, timing it right, and hacking the algorithm (although, maybe a little). At least for me, the trick is to be a nice human being and treat people as an actual people.