The Instagram floodgates have well and truly burst open.
If they weren’t already flooding our screens with content, the last 100 million monthly active users added to IG in just the past 8 months proves they damn well are now (please note the puns). It seems every person and their dog are jumping on the Insta-bandwagon and saturating our feeds with puppies, poké bowls and their latest pick-up from Kmart.
The expectation is now on us to pierce through the noise and miraculously develop a following to save us from being left in the stone age without an intentional Insta presence. It seems daunting, but my dear friends, take hope. Developing a loyal and engaged community on Instagram in 2018 is definitely not impossible.
When I started the account @achievetheimpossible in late 2013, there was very little competition and the IG market was largely untapped and super fresh. Almost 5,000 posts and more than 1M followers later, you kinda get a feel for what has worked in the past and what works now on Instagram.
“But Pete, aren’t the algorithms always changing…how do we keep up?!”
I hear ya – this is one on the most common concerns for my coaching clients; the people and brands I work with to develop their IG presence. Good ol’ Mr Zuckerberg and his buddies at FB HQ definitely get a kick out of keeping us on our toes and changing things up, but thats not necessarily a bad thing.
The good news is that you don’t need to be constantly worried about chasing that illusive algorithm! There are strategies and principles that seem so gosh darn obvious, but surprisingly, not as many people as you would think are using them effectively. This is where we come in.
Here are my Top Three Strategies and Principles to grow and develop an engaged and loyal following on IG in 2018;
1.Know your ideal follower
This truly does go without saying, but how many times do we consider this before deciding to post something? Knowing your ideal follower lays the foundation to be able to create a genuine and engaged relationship with yourself or your brand. The easiest way to build this is to be consistent and targeted in your content. Are your audience 14-18yrs surfin’ groms? Yeah maybe they’re not interested in your eight cats watching you paint your letterbox this weekend. Keep that stuff off IG and on the WhatsApp family chat with your kids.
Your followers are everything. They are the ones who have your back. Treasure them. Nurture them with consistent value, entertainment and inspiration. Give the people what they want!
Important side note, whilst on your quest to connect with new followers, make sure you don’t forget neglect the ones who are already following you. Know who they are and look after them!
2. Connect Deeper
Once we know who our ideal follower is, let’s connect with them a little deeper. I am intentionally using the word ‘connect’ because that’s what we’ve got to do. It’s not enough any more to post a photo, write a little rhyming caption and get annoyed when it’s not getting enough likes. The entire purpose of your Instagram presence is to build relationships with your audience.
And that relationship with your followers isn’t just built through posts. It’s built through basic, but extremely valuable little extras; commenting on their images (personalised comments people! If I see one more standard ‘OMG Great pic!’ robot comment, I’ll go mad!), replying to their comments on your account, answering Direct Messages with a personal touch and sharing a little bit more of your personal life through IG Stories. Invite your followers to start a conversation with you through DM (stories are also a great way to do this).
This connection is the thing we all seem to struggle with on IG. It’s the small things that make the big difference. Time and time again, for me personally, it’s those who I’ve gone that little bit further to engage and connect with, who are now my most loyal and engaged supporters. They become the followers who DM you before a product launch pleading with you if they can buy your newest release before the cart opens type of people. They are golden. Treasure them
3. Be Authentic, Real and Vulnerable
This is something that will truly set you apart in today’s Instagram world. Ask anyone I’ve coached in building their following and they will say I don’t shut up about this. That’s because it is one of the most important principles we can tap into for 2018.
IG started with filters. People began posting posed beach selfies, perfect avo on toast and swimming pool part-time model shots and it’s no surprise people are getting more and more wary of them.
The introduction of IG Stories in August 2016 gave license for people to produce content without the pressure of filtered perfection. Your followers want to see the nice, lovely, perfect, touched up images of you. But over and above this, they want to connect with the real, vulnerable and authentic side of you and your brand. There’s a big difference between what your followers want to see and what they connect with.
Late last year, I had my own Insta-epiphany and forced myself to start sharing more of my life and the lessons I’m learning on my journey. I began to focus on the writing in my captions as the bridge to connect my thoughts with my audience. At first, the captions would literally take up to an hour to write and I would pull my hair out trying to make them perfect.
Six months of consistently authentic, raw and vulnerable captions later proved to me the value of being genuine with my audience. In the same time my following increased 25%, the engagement on my quotes and captions increased by over 300%. I put this solely down to being authentic, raw and vulnerable in my captions.
Consider your brand and your own Instagram presence. Who is your ideal follower?
Find them and connect with them on a deeper level. Once that connection has been formed, develop a loyal and engaged relationship by sharing authentic, raw and vulnerable content.
Stop chasing the algorithm and start chasing genuine connections!
Peter J Bone is a specialist Instagram Consultant who began his Instagram journey 4 yrs ago to inspire himself and others when his Dad was diagnosed with terminal Pancreatic Cancer. Today, his messages inspire millions of people every week to achieve their impossible dream!