These days if you have a business or blog and you’re not on Instagram then you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity. 800 million people use Instagram so that means a huge chunk of your target demographic is on this app. What this number also means is that it has become harder to stand out and be seen on Instagram, which can leave any brand or blogger discouraged. But I promise you all is not lost and you shouldn’t throw in the towel when this frustrates you. I’m preaching to myself right now as I’ve been discouraged many time and hastily threatened to close up shop.
The Instagram app has brought me many connections, opportunities, friendships and helped me launch a podcast and business. It would be insane to leave it all because of comparison. Yes I’ve often compared myself to other accounts that seem to be growing faster and bypass my number of followers with ease. I’ve been on Instagram for 6 years now and have taken my account from personal and private to a full fledged business. It helps me promote my blog, podcast or any project I’m interested in for that matter. In this time I’ve seen accounts grow by the 10’s of 1,000’s seemingly overnight, but I’ve also seen these friends experience a set back in their growth on Instagram as well. We’re all in the same boat, whether you have 500, 5,000 or 500,000 followers. You’re worth should never be placed in the number of followers you have, but in the content of work you produce. If I’m speaking with complete truth you should be rooted in the knowledge that you have inherent worth as a human being. You were divinely created for a reason so let’s keep that in mind going forward while we figure out our business/social media strategies.
Here are my top reasons why slow growth is okay and dare I say GOOD:
~ There is no correlation between likes/views and quality of content… what does well on the internet doesn’t necessarily correlate to good content. For example there are videos of cats doing crazy things on YouTube that get more than 50 million views but then again it’s a cat plunging a toilet…it might make you laugh but is it really something of substance?
~ Influence does not always correlate to number of followers… you can have a million followers but not be influential. Influence is much harder to measure and can’t be correlated to just likes and views. I like to look at the quality of comments, direct messages and emails more than number of likes. Here’s a true story, one day I woke up to a decrease in followers which brought an onslaught of self doubt. That same day I received a direct message on Instagram from a follower in her early 20’s that blew away any negative thoughts of turning in my influencer card. This young woman told me that she had lost both her parents when she was child and that she felt like I gave her a bit of that parental advice and wisdom she has longed for. Insert bawling emoji face here. I realized that day that my “brand” or what I produce is bigger than me, it’s a calling to help others feel less alone in life.
~ Authenticity wins in the end…resist the need to go with the flow, compare yourself to trends or do something that is out of line with who you or your brand is. To grow an authentic following you must know your voice and speak in that voice in order to connect with your audience.
~ 1000 True Fans….Tim Ferriss (super influential podcaster) talks about this idea originated by Kevin Kelly in his book “Tools of Titans”.
“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.”
~ Viral comes from the word virus and generally a virus isn’t good… It seems lately that everyone wants to “go viral” to gain instant fame and recognition. Jenna Kutcher an influential podcaster, instagramer and creative entrepreneur recently posted a photo of her and her husband on a beach in their swimsuits that went viral. She posted this photo on a Thursday night, when to dinner with friends and within hours it was her most liked photo ever. The next morning she woke up to emails from Yahoo, People and MSN.com. She writes about her experience of going viral on her blog and while there was good that came from her viral experience there was some bad…. negative comments, dealing with trolls, and navigating the news with integrity. All this to say, don’t put your hopes in going viral; instead put your energy into what you can control, the quality of your work.
~ Building a brand takes time but time builds trust…Campbell’s soup is one of the most trusted brands in American. I have no doubt that this is largely due to the fact that they’ve been around for 149 years and have connected with their audience well through the span of that time. If you feel irrelevant on Instagram try channeling that energy into how you can connect better with your audience. You can do this by polling your followers through an online survey or simply by using the polling option on Instagram stories. Ask your followers what they like seeing and hearing from you. You can also look at your analytics to discover what posts did well and then take that into account when creating content. The tortoise and the hare…remember who wins in the end. Slow and steady wins the races so focus on making your content or product that much better as you go.
~ Algorithms are unable to measure a life changed, heart opened or wound healed. Consider your audience…maybe you’re appealing to a harder-to-reach demographic or asking more of your audience. Maybe the content or product you produce is deeply personal, spiritual or more of an investment. Often times something that has more meaning or substance asks more of the person digesting it, but when they do you have a lifelong customer or follower. In other words don’t compare yourself to cats on YouTube or toddlers on Instagram.
I hope some of these thoughts and insights were encouraging for you. I’ve been compiling more of these thoughts and stories from my own life and experience of growing a brand for my upcoming ecourse that will be available some time this summer! I’m so excited to produce more content that will help you in your own life, relationships, work and business.
*Featured image by photographer Arielle Vey.