5-Step Process for Growing Your Instagram Audience

Looking for ways to grow an authentic Instagram following?

You may have read an article I wrote years back,How to NOT Get Someone’s Attention in Social Media.” I bring this up, because recently I’ve been receiving requests, repetitively, on Instagram and thought it would be a good time to update my tips.

Tell me, would you do this at a cocktail party: Go up to someone (in real life) and ask that person to follow you when you have not had any prior engagements?

“Hi, I like your Instagram. How about you also visit mine and return the favor.” Such a buzz kill!

Tip #1: Engagement Building

I get a bit frustrated with people asking me to like and comment their IG pages. I typically refer them to my article noted above. It’s a beginner’s guide but, apparently, still applies.

How about working on building a relationship with the individual before aimlessly direct messaging them to follow you. Genuinely like their posts and make comments more than a few times. Why? The individual may not have seen your previous interactions. Have sincere conversations and develop a bond with the individual.

I don’t care for the pods either. What is an Instagram pod?  A private group of 10 to 15 members who like and comment on each other’s posts. Keep in mind, just because you join a pod, doesn’t necessarily mean the members will authentically like a photo. Why? Because your content may not be in line with everyone in the pod. Follow and genuinely like posts. Don’t do it out of obligation.

I am asked quite often to join IG pods in order to like and comment on the group’s IG. I do not have time, and it feels like a chore. By the same token, please realize a decline is not always personal.

Follower Fraud. Just as engagements should be authentic, so should metrics. In my book, buying followers or using robo-tech is fraudulent. Plain and simple. It doesn’t make you an influencer. It makes you untrustworthy and a thief. Follower Fraud negatively impacts you, consumers, and social media in its broadest context.

Tip #2: Content Creation

I’m always scanning for photo ops as I walk or drive. I saw this window of opportunity (literally) and asked the man watering this restaurant’s flowers if I could take over his pre-opening duties.

Speaking of chores, are you on Instagram for fun? I originally opened my account for a business reason, but over time, I have come to enjoy creating content from my travels. Whether you are on for business or fun, re-evaluate why you are spending so much time on your social media channels. If you are frustrated, either update a popular piece or look for inspiration for a new one.

Generating fresh content doesn’t have to be a weekly duty. The trick is always to be camera ready when you are out and about running your errands or having a meal. A photo op is always around the corner.

You know I can’t turn down a photo with flowers. Don’t be shy. The worse that can happen is the person says “no.” Most likely they won’t. I’ve asked security guards if I can take photos and they are usually happy to oblige.

Tip #3: Be Consistent and Show Up

Generally, I capture hundreds of photos and videos to use after returning from my trips. Try NOT to post the same image across your channels, or at least alternate them with useful captions for your fans.

Don’t just plop a photo up there. Tell a story. Provide substance. Create fun or useful storytelling with your images. Photos are nice to look at, however your followers also enjoy learning #howto on Instagram and fun trivia facts. Some folks are camera shy, nothing wrong with that. I suggest posting photos of yourself on Instastories until you are comfortable posting in your IG gallery.

Tip #4: Don’t Be a Copycatter

I visited Brooklyn, N.Y. recently because of all the cool photo ops. I went without any itinerary and visited the Brooklyn Bridge Park. To my surprise, I took photos that even New Yorkers wanted to know the coordinates of the photo location. I purposely took photos that were not typically highlighted on Instagram. Why showcase redundancy? People enjoy viewing images from a different angle, rather than another copycat.

Attractions await when you are ready to explore the world.

Tip #5: Follow/Un-Follow Game

Don’t play that game. If you want to grow your followings, just hit the follow button as often as possible. One click at a time. Did you know that there is an app to track down purchased followers? Now you do, so don’t do it.

I recently read the fascinating “The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet,” a report funded by MailChimp and conducted by the University of Baltimore on Fake Influencer Marketing in 2019. The report reveals that fake influencer marketing will cost advertisers 1.3 billion this year alone. Left unchecked, the problem will continue to grow.

As I mentioned earlier, influencers buying followers or using bots aren’t doing anyone a favor. The report specifies, “Still, influencers inflating their followers or bots pretending to be real may well comply with the FTC rule. This practice could be contrived as misleading consumers through inflated numbers about their genuine popularity.”

What are your thoughts on the five tips? They are basic and can be applied across your social channels. Remember, “There are No Shortcuts to Success in Social Media.” That’s the title of an article I wrote for entrepreneur.com. You can read it here.



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