After the first couple times, I was asked about how I have such good engagement on social media, I disregarded the questions because I didn’t feel like my social media following was that big of a deal. Many other’s have much more followers and engagement, or so I thought. When one of my friends who runs several Instagram accounts with thousands of followers asked me how my engagement was so high, I literally looked at her confused. I admired her following. Then when my followers started asking me advice on what I do, I actually ignored their questions. Finally, when I received a text message from a friend asking how I attract followers and I started giving him the things I do, it dawned on me that I needed to write an article.

I’m not claiming to have an amazing amount of followers because clearly others have much more. I can say that my percentage of likes and “real” comments for the number of followers I do have on Instagram is a fairly high percentage. What I can tell you is what I do to make sure to the best of my ability that my engagement is genuine. I don’t care about a lot of followers but I do care about the quality. My Instagram has allowed me to find clients both big and small or I should say allowed clients to find me. I choose to post both business and a little about me. Some choose to post just business. I find my clients like getting to know me as well.

The key is consistency. I took over the Instagram for the company I was working for in the summer of 2016. At the time, they only had 1100 followers. Not even a year later it’s about 26+K. All I did was be consistent with posts, have certain like-minded hashtags, and up the game in the quality of pictures.

I can say with absolute certainty that these three things are the start to growing your followers.

  1. Be consistent. Work on posting 3-4 times a week or more. EVERY week. This allows your followers to know what kind of content and stories they are going to get from you. The more consistent you are, the more likely people who are of your interest are going to hit that follow button.
  2. Hashtags. Hashtags used to be considered spam. Now it’s a way to connect with like-minded users and it’s a fun way to find interesting posts, stories, and images. The key is to be genuine in the type of hashtags you use. I have a few versions of a list of hashtags saved in my notes on my phone. For example, if I’m posting a picture of me snowboarding, I’m going to use hashtags that reflect that. Things like #snowboarding which is a given and also hashtags like #igutah #galsthatboard #utahisrad #utahgram and other relevant tags that have created a following. In fact, when I look up the #igutah or #utahgram hashtags, there are thousands of images. These are the type of images I’m very much interested in. If I’m interested in those, then others also posting that hashtag are probably going to be interested in what I tag. If you don’t know where to begin on hashtags, start noticing what others are using. Start off generic and build up. Once you understand how they work, it gets easier finding the right hashtags that will fit your image. Please only use hashtags that are appropriate for the story you are posting. You want to build a genuine base of followers. Instagram only allows up to thirty hashtags. You don’t need that many. Anywhere from 10-15 is pretty ideal.
  3. Quality. Be mindful of the quality of images you are posting. This is where I’m currently focusing my attention. What I’ve found is that just making sure I’m posting better quality images is making my professional work better. Look at the quality of some of your favorite people you follow. I’m getting better at my lighting, my composition, and even my captions.

If you want to dive deeper into the world of followers and engagement there are a few tools online to help you make that happen. I personally haven’t used them yet but they are intriguing and I can see how they can help. Just please DO NOT have bots that post comments. I hate fake comments and you can tell they are fake because they are either super generic or doesn’t apply to the posted image. It makes the account that posted it obvious they aren’t genuine. Clearly, I’m not going to follow that account. Thankfully, Instagram has shut down most auto bots and continues to shut down companies and apps that offer this service.

https://www.agorapulse.com/ is a newer company that I’ve been looking into. I like how I can research and keep track of local hashtags and specific locations. I can include Twitter and monitor how ad engagement is working in my favor. I like seeing local interests and relevant hashtags to add to my stories.

hootsuite.com will allow you to search and monitor hashtags in a dashboard setting. It can help you manage, schedule posts and have your social media organized. I know many of my fellow artists use Hootsuite. It simplifies their overwhelming social media life in an easy to manage and user-friendly site.

https://pro.iconosquare.com/ is one I’ve seen used recently. What I like about them is that you can see your statistics. This allows you to judge how your consistency is working. There are reports out there that help you know the best time a day is to post. I can tell you that on the weekdays it’s mid-morning and the weekends even earlier. This is just based off of my observations from my posts. Of course, when Instagram changes its algorithm, most of that goes out the window. However, I’m still seeing my mid-morning posts still do better in terms of likes overall.

https://sproutsocial.com/ is another one that I’ve heard good things about. It’s pricey though. It also manages all your social media, not just Instagram. I imagine this is a nice solution to bigger companies who don’t want to hire something specifically for social media. It dives deep into all aspects, algorithms, and analytics on how you are using and growing your business using social media.

Gaining a genuine following doesn’t happen overnight. I didn’t care or know how important gaining such a following was going to be to me until I realized it’s become an important part of my business and that I was making money. Once I realized how this is could be a game changer, I started rethinking how I use and interact on social media.