growing your account
When we talk about growth on Instagram, we are usually referring to three key metrics; followers, engagement, and reach. Before we start, let's just take a moment to define these three metrics to understand them better:
Followers: the amount of other profiles that follow your account. This growth metric is important as it is the first thing brands and other potential followers will see, and helps to establish your name on the platform.
Engagement: Is how many individual accounts actively engage with your account. This could be in terms of any of the following actions; liking, sharing, commenting, direct messaging, saving.
Reach: Is how individual different account see your post.
In this section we will be talking about growing your following and engagement! In the lesson after this, we will be looking at reach! Ready to learn how to grow? Let's go!
is follower count important?
Before we start learning about ways of increasing your follower count, I want you to keep in mind that the number of followers isn't everything! You do not need a certain amount of followers to be an influencer, an expert, or a profitable business. Many brands in fact, prefer smaller 'micro-influencers' - with a highly engaged niche following. That being said, a higher follower count can insinuate to some a higher authority in that niche, and there's no argument that the top dogs in each of their field will have achieved this! So in this section we're going to talk about a few different ways you can increase your following!
a smaller following can be a really good thing!
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear from aspiring influencers, is that you 'have to have a lot of followers' to work work brands. This is entirely not true - and in fact can work to your advantage!
Here are a few reasons why brands love working with nano and micro influencers!
Their Engagement is often MUCH higher
Smaller influencers are far more likely to have a stronger bond with their audience
smaller influencers give an opportunity to smaller or newer brands who don't have the finance or resources to work with larger influencers just yet to gain exposure and content!
can work with many smaller influencers - and achieve the same results as working with one big influencer, without the high cost
An introduction of working with influencers - for some brands, working with influencers is still a new and scary concept - working with smaller influencers is a great way to 'test the waters' to see what type of influencer marketing works for them!
introduction to 'scroller psychology'
introduction to 'scroller psychology'
In this section we're going to give you a brief introduction to 'scroller psychology'. Scroller psychology is the phrase I like to use, to describe the psychological thought patterns behind social media users (potential followers!) If you can understand this, then you will be able to understand the process all users go through when deciding to follow and engage with, new accounts! Understanding scroller psychology is the only thing you need to take complete strangers, to followers, to super fans! The expert in this chapter is only an introduction - and we go into this a lot more in our follow-on course - 'Expert Influencer'!
why we follow people
Think back for a moment, to the last time you purposely and organically followed someone. I don't mean following someone you met in a group for engagement, or a follow loop. I mean somebody who's content you came across naturally on the platform. Whether that be through the explore page, a reel, a hashtag or by someone else sharing their post to your story.
What was it that made you click follow?
Odds are, it's because the provided you with some sort of value.
As humans, we pretty much only ever do things because they benefit ourselves, our tribes, or society in general. In short - we follow people because we want something. which is why you always have to make sure you're creating value! if you're not giving anything away, how do you expect people to come and take (engage with) it? Here's a few specific reasons people may follow a person:
they provide educational posts and knowledge they can use (e.g. coaches)
the account can help them get from A to B (e.g. weight loss accounts)
they provide entertainment (e.g. meme accounts)
they feed inspired or motivated by them (travel accounts)
This relates back a little bit to last week's lesson - CEEMII. If a post is controversial, educational, entertaining, motivational, instructional or inspirational - it is very likely we will engage with it. We may also even take it one step further, and check out the page to see what else this account has to offer, and if we like what we see - go on to follow them!
This brings us to our next section on scroller psychology that we absolutely must understand, how people follow people. Let's discuss on the next page!
how we follow people
Every time a human being makes a decision, no matter how big, or small - it is as a result of a longer pathway of actions that came before it.
In this section I will be telling you all about the exact process a person will go through on the journey to discovering, following, getting to know, and ultimately trusting an influencer!
I've called this process the 'SFF Model' this stands for 'stranger-follower-fan' - and encompasses the entire pathway a user will travel through on this process!
the SFF model
Here's a really brief overview of how the SFF model works, aka how Instagram users go from stranger, to follower, to fan.
The first stage is interest browsing. This pretty much encompasses our general being on Social Media. Scrolling through social media aimlessly, wondering through the explore and hashtag pages, stopping if we see something we like.
The next stage is discovery. this stage is very simple - they come across your post for whatever reason. perhaps it came up as a suggested post, perhaps a friend of theirs re-posted you. whatever it is. you are now on their radar.
Next is evaluation of content. If a post has fulfilled a need for us, it is likely we will want to see more! this is where having a lot of valuable content on your profile comes in!
If a user clicks through to our profile - we want them to follow us. they will be looking for similar posts to they first post they saw that was useful to them. if your profile doesn't have a niche, and therefore doesn't have more similar content to browse, or your post does have more similar content - but none of it provides value, then this user will click off your profile, and go back to browsing.
Don't lose potential followers by not having enough substance for them to stick around for!
If the value is consistent - then this user may start following us. This stage is pretty simple - if they like what they see, and want to see more from you in the future, then they will take the first action that we really want them to take, hitting that big blue follow button.
The next stage is gaining a user's trust. Your new follower has now discovered you, liked what they've seen, and hit follow. but in order to stay following, and take an action with you, when you ask them to (whether it be engagement, following you on another platform, reading your blog, using your discount code, or any matter of other actions), then they need to trust you!
Now they know you, they like you, and they trust you! All you have to do now, is ask them to take the action you want them to take in a good way - and they will do it! Having this power, is what makes you an influencer. Watch the video below to learn about the S-F-F process in much more detail!
growing your following
After reading the previous section - it should be pretty clear that in order to grow our following, we should be creating consistent value for our niche audience! That is the only true way of growing organically, naturally and consistently.
That being said - there are other things that can help you along the way. One thing I will say before we go on, is that if you do choose to use any of these options - please do not rely on them. These can be a good addition to a value-lead growth strategy, and are a good way of getting more eyes on your page - but if you do not have a consistent wealth of valuable content on your page, they are next to useless. Anyway. Let's discuss a few of these 'growth hack' options!
Engagement groups are small pods, or 'groups' of influencers, that commit to engage with each other. They will will follow you and engage with your posts, in return for engagement on theirs. It is important to note that your value to these other influencers in most cases here, is just your engagement. The value they see in you will not be in your content, or value lead - unless you make it so.
It is important to also note that instagram state in their community guidelines - that coordinated inauthentic behaviour can result in getting your account action blocked, shadow banned or even removed. This rule is in place to ensure all users of the app are authentic, in order to prevent false authority on the app (through fake or over-enhanced following or engagement), and spam accounts. It is far more likely that Instagram is referring to buying followers and engagement, or running coordinated 'fake news' campaigns as 'coordinated inauthentic behaviour' - but does not confirm this. As a result, when partaking in any activity that enhances your engagement or following in a group - please only use it sparingly. Stick to one, or max. two groups. Get to know the other people in the group - and use these groups more as a community than a group purely for engagement. By doing this, your behaviour within the group is less likely to be seen as inauthentic by Instagram's algorithms.
Community lead engagement groups can be a great way of making new friends, if you take the time to - like previously stated - this will get new eyes on your profile. Just remember, if you are in an engagement group - keep it niche so that the people engaging with you actually stand a chance of being interested in your content outside of the group, don't over use it, and do not rely on this as your main form of growth or engagement.
A better way to grow: is to create find a group of like-minded accounts in your niche who all have the same goal, and turn on each other's post notifications! This way you can build your community and engagement - without damaging your account health or risking punishment from IG!
A 'Follow loop', or 'loop group' are posts run by certain Instagram accounts that help influencers to grow their audience in a similar way to engagement groups.
Here's how they work: the admin of the account will put up a post and give you a set of rules. These rules are usually something along the lines of 'tag 5 friends, follow admins (tagged), and leave a particular comment (for example 'IFB' - meaning 'I follow back'), once done, follow other commenters'. Pretty simple right?
The main aim is that those participating will both follow other people, and get followers themselves, thus increasing their audience. There are two ways to participate in these groups - as a regular participant, following the aforementioned rules, gaining some followers in return for following some yourself - or as a 'guest admin' or 'ghost host'. This is where you pay ££ for the main admin of the page will feature your account as someone the participants must follow in order to partake (or risk getting blocked), in this role you gain more followers - and are not obliged to follow anyone back, allowing you to grow significantly more whilst enhancing your followers:following ratio count. If you are to partake in 'loops' like these, I would recommend going for a ghost position, as I believe it is less likely to be flagged as inauthentic activity by Instagram's algorithms, but again, be careful.
The other catch with these 'loops' is very much the same as with engagement groups. The followers you get might not be interested in your content (unless you are specifically doing a 'niche' loop - which I would always recommend if you do use this tactic), your only 'value' is in your follow back, or their participation in the loop, and there's no guarantee they'll stick around once it's over. My top tips if you do use this tactic, would be to engage with every follower you gain in a meaningful way (leave at least 2x meaningful and conversation starting comments, and introduce yourself in the DMS, make sure the loop you join is niche, make sure you have enough valuable content so that they might stick around and engage after!
Giveaways are a good to grow your following quickly. Many people run giveaways to celebrate reaching different milestones (e.g. 10k followers!) To make sure your new audience will stick around after they've followed, liked, and tagged three friends, make sure to run your giveaway for at least two weeks, engage with the people who enter, be super active in the weeks your giveaway is up, and produce great content in this time! To up the chances, try making sure that your prize is in the niche that your account is, this way you know people who enter will have the same hobbies and interests as you!
Instagram is no longer allowing giveaways to be advertised, which strikes reason to believe that perhaps these too could be seen as 'coordinated inauthentic behaviour'. Again, there is no solid proof of this, but again, be careful. Keep it niche.
Whilst the aforementioned models for growth are absolutely great for increasing vanity metrics such as follows in the short term you can not make these your main growth strategy!! The only way to grow organically is through creating value and niche content for your specific audience! If you use the previously mentioned methods - you must also have value on your page, and engage with them after - so that they do not disappear! In the next section we will talk about a few other 'growth hacks' which are a slightly more 'organic' way of growing (but again, nothing beats value and niche, meaningful, engagement!)
shoutouts and promotion from niche accounts
Getting a shoutout or promotion from a page that specialises in promoting content like yours can also be a good way of getting noticed by new people. Their following will already be interested in the type of content you have to offer which is great, but again - you must have a consistent bank of content that they would be interested in already on your page! Think back to the niche's you chose for yourself earlier, and research whether there are any niche accounts that focus on this. Some accounts will should you out and repost you for free if they like your content, this is usually done through using their niche hashtag, or tagging them in your posts, some others (especially large brands) you may have to pay a small fee to get on their page (usually around £10-£15 per post). One thing to take note of when you're thinking of paying an account, is whether or not their followers are actually real. This is relatively easy to do, just use your initiative. Check their followers, do they all look like real accounts? Check their engagement, does it match their follower ratio? Check their comments, are they from real engaged fans of the page?
reposts from brands
A good *free* way of getting more new eyes on your account, is to ask your peers to 'shout you out'. This is normally done by a peer sharing your page to their Instagram story, and urging other people to follow you. To convince other people to help you out - often you can offer the same by shouting them out on your story in return. Remember to make sure they shout you out in a meaningful way, that their niche is the same as yours, and that their followers match your ideal followers!
everything up until this point
Lastly, I must honourably mention that EVERYTHING that has mentioned and recommended over the past three weeks will contribute towards growth in all three important areas; followers; engagement; AND, reach.
By having a defined niche, knowing your audience, engaging with purpose and value, and creating helpful, and valuable content (think CEEMII) - you will naturally attract the followers who love you for you!
This is the best way to grow. Always keep this in mind.
should I buy fake followers?
To finish off this section on growing your follower count - I just wanted to talk a little bit about 'fake followers'. 'Fake followers' are general 'bot' like accounts, they may have names, profile pictures and a few uploads to seem more realistic, but ultimately they are not real people. You can buy these fake followers from other accounts that specialise in selling them, and various apps and websites! Although the prospect of purchasing these fake accounts to up your following may seem like a 'get rich (with followers) quick scheme', and that there definitely are a few pros, you may want to double think before you go for it. Here's why:
Can make it appear as though you have a bigger following
Will mess up your organic demographic insights (i.e. average age, gender, location) - which many brands look for
Your engagement rate most likely will not match the amount of followers you have (brands usually want to see good engagement rate
It can de-credit you as an influencer if someone works it out
It can be quite obvious to the trained eye
Can get you banned, action blocked or even deleted
Dramatic follower count decrease every time Instagram has a mass clear our of 'fake'/'bot' followers
The best way to make sure you grow in an effective way, is to set goals and use trackers to make sure that you are hitting them. The easiest way to set goals is to break them down by yearly, monthly, and weekly goals! For example, if you'd like to get from 3000 followers, to 15,000 in a year, then you could break it down like this:
One Year = 12,000 followers
One Month (yearly goal divided by 12 aka months in the year) = 1,000 followers
One Week (monthly goal divided by 4 aka weeks in the month) = 250 followers
One Day (weekly goal divided by 7 aka days in the week) = 36 followers
Not only does this give you an physical number to work towards, but it can make a seemingly big goal (12,000 followers in a year), seem far more manageable and achievable (36 followers in a day). Now of course, that may sound like an ambitious number to you, so just remember, you can set your targets however you want.
Why not download our digital and printable goals tracker sheets to make it even easier to see whether not you re on track to your goals. THIS IS FREE WITH THIS COURSE - CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO DOWNLOAD.