Growing your Instagram account from the ground up is a steady process, but it’s so important to do it well, because the first 500 followers are a key foundation. Think literally of it as a foundation! When you build a home, you (obviously) want a solid foundation, or you won’t have a roof over your house for a long time to come. When you increase your presence in social media and build up your audience, not just 500 people will do it. 500 of the right people are going to accelerate your growth and set you up for success. 500 of the wrong people are just going to throw your name around in all the wrong circles, get you nowhere! You ‘re too lawful to leave, but you’re picky.

Before I break down the way I went from 0-500, I want to give you a little glimmer of hope. A justification not to give up when you feel like you’re not going anywhere! Your audience / fans / friends / followers (whatever you want to call them … I prefer “friends” because it reminds me that we’re talking about humans and not robots!) will grow exponentially over time. Imagine that you’ve got 10 followers, and one of them is a “mega fan” who’s asking everyone about you. Now imagine that you’ve got 100 followers, and 10 of them are “star followers” who tell everyone about you. Eventually, you ‘re going to have 1,000 followers … and 100 of them might be “star followers” who tell everyone about you. See where I’m going to be with this? Once your foundation is in place, as you make consistent efforts and deliver value, your growth rate will accelerate! That’s when it’s going to be fun!

0. Set your own up correctly

I’m not going to go in-depth here because you can find more set-up related tips by scrolling through my Instagram feed, but basically: fill out your profile completely, use your profile photo (preferably with your beautiful mug and not an impersonal logo), link up your website, and pre-populate your feed with 5-10 posts. Yeah, I know you don’t have any friends (yet), but you wouldn’t invite people to an empty house, right? So don’t try to win people over with one of the photos in your feed. If you only have 0 fans, ask your mom and a couple of friends to join you. You can also go through and follow a few accounts that are interesting to you.

On the real side …

1. Go Next With Your Material

When I first started, I kept hearing to “niche down” and “hyperfocus” my content only to share a very specific topic in my Instagram account. I looked around at other social media influencers, and it seemed like everyone had chosen a social network to talk about. Everything else was a Twitter specialist, a Facebook specialist, or an Instagram expert. I didn’t really feel like I was qualified to put my stakes on the ground and say, “I’m an expert on the X platform.” But what I realized later was, sharing one social media tip every day, I was hyper-focused. I don’t post my fitness outing, or my lunch, or my new wardrobe, or my family … every single day, I offer actionable social media tips to support small businesses. This is it.

ACTION ITEM: Get crystal clear about your purpose, figure out what it’s like you’re going to focus on, and don’t share random life facts. Last month i tried to get more Instagram likes and it worked pretty well for me.

2. Post Daily (but don’t just post to post)

The Post Errrrryday. In the past, I said stuff like, “length isn’t as relevant, as long as you’re reliable,” but I don’t agree with myself. Frequency is creating momentum. Consistency is crucial … because if you just post 2 days a week, or 4 times a week (or whatever), progress is much slower and it’s hard to see results and get enthusiastic about them.

It’s like if I’m trying to lose weight, I ‘m better off losing a pound in my first week, or I’m going to think it doesn’t work. (Things are probably working, but … I’m who I am, so there’s that!)

One caveat … while posting on a regular basis is necessary, if you haven’t prepared a quality picture or post-titles, I ‘d skip it. There is no better post than a bad post! People are not going to miss you for a day, but they’re going to be annoyed if you waste space on their feed.

ACTION ITEM: Uh … Post every single day. Bonus Action Item: get 7-10 images / tapes going at a time so you don’t do everything on the fly.

3. Use the Hashtags like #massgress

Your development depends on your wise use of the hashtag! Don’t ever post without them, particularly when you start. Hashtags are what people are using to find things on Instagram, so use hashtags to describe what you’re doing. You can use up to 30 hashtags for each post, and I use every one of them. If you can’t think of 30 at the moment, use at least 10-15! Several studies have shown that engagement really peaks at 11 hashtags, so at least get there.

ACTION ITEM: Make a list of 30 hashtags representing your company. Think of the vocabulary and search phrases a future client will use to identify you.

4. Put the Commitment to The Graphics

Instagram is a forum for Instagram Videos. It’s all about sharing pictures … so don’t post crap. Just think about this scenario: someone is looking for one of the hashtags you ‘re using, and you’re showing up in their results. There are hundreds or perhaps even thousands of other images that use the same hashtag. Why is someone supposed to click on your image? If it happens that they click on your icon and then on your page, why would they follow you? If they take a few seconds to scroll down your feed, do they like what they see? Will it sound coherent? We don’t all have to be graphic designers, but on Instagram, visuals matter a lot. If you can’t pull it out of the park with stunning, creative photography or stunning graphic design, at least keep it clean and simple. That’s just going to do fine, too!

ACTION ITEM: Take a good look at your feed. Are you proud of what you’re seeing here? If not, think about how you can begin to visually “bind all of it together” and take steps to move forward.

5. Share Your Best Contents

It could be tempting to “save it for later.” I totally felt that way, too! Like I was trying to rescue the super-dup ninja trick because I had “more buddies” … but that’s not the best plan. You are small and unknown right now. You really have to wow people! So wow them with your best content … and when you start growing … feel free to share it again! People forget what you said, and it’s okay to remind them and share your best content over and over at an appropriate timeframe that isn’t annoying.

ACTION ITEM: Don’t keep it off! Get your best content out there so people know you’ve got some serious chops.

6. Take the time to get involved

Comment on other people’s photos in a real way. Watch other popular accounts that are in your room to see what they’re doing that seems to work. When people comment on your photos, make sure you answer them! Have a 2-way conversation. Demonstrate that you’re actually spending time on Instagram, and that you’re not just posting your photo and peace until tomorrow.

ACTION ITEM: comment on a fixed number of images every day, and always, always, always respond to comments.

Topics #Instagram