Let’s picture this. You had a meeting with a client in a beautiful hotel in the middle of Sandton city. Just after the meeting, you decide to take a picture of the city from a window. A beautiful aerial shot of the city. “Perfect for Instagram,” you say. You put your favourite preset on it and publish it on Instagram with a bunch of hashtags while going down to the lobby in the elevator.
You order your Uber back home or back to your office. Your Uber gets here, and you’re on your way to your new destination. You decide to capture a couple of stories on your way. Because a successful entrepreneur would take an Uber and not the train station right? So you better show off your fancy lifestyle!
Once you arrive at your destination, it’s the right time to see how your post performed. It has been 40 minutes. You must have a couple of hundred likes by now. Your post is probably trending. Maybe it’s on every Sandton Discover Page right now! People that don’t even know you will send you DMs so they can have the chance to work with you. Maybe an extraordinarily influential account reposted your content since it was so good and original.
But, when you open Instagram you still have 387 followers, just like the past two weeks. You have 18 likes on your picture, no comments, and no direct messages. Thirty-one people watched your story but didn’t reply or react. You’re feeling a mix of shame and disappointment. “Should I delete the post?”, “Is having that amount of likes socially acceptable?”
It’s not fair! Why is Instagram working for everyone else but not for you? You have this friend that has 4,000 followers, and his content isn’t even that good! You have that other friend that bought 15,000 followers so they can pretend to be an influencer and sometimes get a free coffee and a scone at the local coffee shop. It seems so easy for them, but you’re struggling!
You’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos about growing on Instagram, and you’re following all the tricks and techniques they’re teaching you. You’re posting daily, you’re using hashtags and locations, you’re posting great content, and you even bought an expensive iPhone and a VSCO subscription to be able to take and publish professional pictures from your phone.
So what is it? How do people make it on Instagram? How do these people get that many followers while you’re struggling?
Stop Receiving, Start Giving
If you relate to the story above, the reason why your account is not growing is probably that you’re only expecting to receive on Instagram, but you’re not giving anything.
Try to remember your last week on the platform. What have you been doing? Have you been posting daily, and that’s it? Have you just been scrolling?
Most people don’t understand the importance of interacting when you’re starting an account. When I say interacting, I’m not talking about liking your friends’ pictures. I’m talking about comments and DMs.
The first thing to do is identify users that fit in your niche and would like your content. Search through hashtags or locations. Once you’re seeing the content of these potentially interested people, start commenting on it. Give genuine and thoughtful comments. Give them your opinion and a different perspective. Come up with something that will bring value to them.
Start commenting every day, on 20 or 30 posts. Every day. These comments will drive conversations. Keep track of those comments and reply to them as long as the discussion can go on! Be social, be fun, be valuable!
Do that every day. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. You might not get results right away — it may take two or three days. But if your targeting is right, people that got engagement from you are very likely to go to your page, see your content, engage with it, and follow you.
The success rate of this method is quite high, and it gets you way more qualified followers than a follow-unfollow method. This method is exceptionally sustainable and allows you to reach a lot more people than what hashtags and location tags can do.
You’re Already Giving, but You Don’t See Results?
That could be lots of different things. Maybe your content isn’t that great. Perhaps your captions aren’t high value. Maybe they’re not relevant. Maybe your targeting isn’t on point, or maybe the people that you think might be interested in your content are not. Perhaps your potential audience is different from what you think. Perhaps you’re not giving enough, or not giving well enough. Maybe you need to bring more value in the comments you’re leaving.
Try experimenting a little. Try changing your content, being more authentic, more personal, less bragging, more descriptive, and more insightful. You can also try playing with other voices. Or, try targeting a more precise niche, or a broader one. If you’re not growing, that means there’s room for improvement somewhere.
If you’re still not growing with this method, either you need to change your content, or maybe Instagram is not ideal for you and your business. But any hack or bot will not help you solve the problem.