Ok, so we’ve talked hashtags, posting times, networking and more, but you all showed up with some more great questions this week. There is one thing, however, that I would like to say about Instagram. It’s something that hasn’t come up in the questions, yet I feel as though it’s the most important thing to understand when you’re starting off on IG. It’s two things, really, but they are related.
- Followings should never, ever be bought or coerced. Ask yourself why you are on this app? Is it for fun? Is it to promote your business and make sales? Is it to become an Influencer? Well, friends can’t be bought, fake people do not buy product, and brands will see STRAIGHT THROUGH a fake following. How? Well, your engagement rate is more important to brands anyway, but any smart brand will head straight to your comment section and look at not only how MANY comments you are receiving, but making sure they aren’t “bot-like” (eg. just emojis, or lots of short and generic comments). PLUS, you risk having Instagram shut down your account entirely.
- Building a following takes TIME. Lots and lots and lots of TIME. My friend Bari recently hit 70k followers and storied about how she has no tricks to beating algorithms, or to quick growth, because it took her FIVE YEARS to get to where she is. And not even five years of busting butt EVERY DAY on this app will guarantee you 70k followers. I’ve been on this app for 2.5 years and one thing I can tell you is that I’ve personally seen just two accounts (authentically) go from 0 to 50k in a year. It’s possible. But highly, highly unlikely, even if you’re playing all your cards right.
Ok, let’s get to your questions:
I see this as my job. When I first started Instagram, I was only dealing vintage. I started my account to promote my vintage shop, and spent hardly ANY time on the app and didn’t even make an effort to grow my account. I didn’t know ANYTHING about Instagram. To keep things short, about a year in on IG, Apartment Therapy took notice of my home and asked if they could write an article on me and my home. This was a pivotal moment, and it came around the same time I realized home decor Influencers were actually making a living through their blogs/IG/social media. I decided to change directions and commit full time to IG/selling vintage. Then in October 2019 I decided to largely ditch vintage sales and go full force into IG/blogging. So, when you see it as your job, you do what you have to do just as you would by showing up at the office each day.
I don’t think anyone truly understands the algorithm. I suspect it changes CONSTANTLY, and I suspect, also, that it cycles. I notice the stuff Instagram shares with me changes every week or two, and to me, that means they changed the algorithm again (but then it will cycle back). My advice is to not get too caught up in trying to predict it. It will just drive you nuts. Just show up, work hard, be smart about hashtags and the other advice I’m offering in this series and you will do fine.
It’s funny because, as I alluded to in the first question, I spent the first YEAR I was on this app hardly even noticing that I was on it. I would post listings I was trying to sell on my Etsy shop, not really interact with anyone, etc. So by the time I decided to take Instagram seriously, I had already been on here about a year (and with only about 1k followers). But, the moment I decided I wanted to grow my account, I started building relationships. I would never ask a stranger to do me a favor or to collaborate in real life, nor would I do that on Instagram. So, I networked and made friends. And friends help friends. That’s the biggest advice I can offer. Work on building those genuine relationships – and ALWAYS comment back on an account that comments on yours. Really, IG is a lot like real life. And networking is they key to success in any business.
This is something you have to experiment with on your own account. But when you find that time, post at that time every day. And always make sure you have time to engage with the post for that first hour of posting. That’s the most important hour for a post as far as the algorithm is concerned. I get about 40-50% of my total likes for a post within the first hour.
I guess that depends on what version of the IPhone, but generally, yes! I think lots of people shoot with just their IPhone. I shoot on a pretty cheap Canon camera, shoot on automatic, and am largely clueless when it comes to photography, but I do notice a difference between the quality of my IPhone and the Canon. So, if you are serious about IG, it may not be a bad idea to invest in a camera, but I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity either.
Ok, keeping it a little shorter this week since I had to run my mouth at the start. I will only be doing this series for another one or two weeks, so please be sure to send your questions over via IG stories. I will post a question sticker for you to drop your questions on Sunday.