In this episode we’re talking about how to get your first 10,000 followers on Instagram and also what you should be also focusing on instead.
So, let’s dive in!
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Wondering how to get your first – or your next – 10,000 followers on Instagram?
If so, you’re not alone.
‘How to get your first 10,000 followers on Instagram’ is one of the most Googled social media search queries out there.
We ALL want the answer.
Well, I have a couple of theories.
One: Because it’s staring us in the face.
It’s impossible to miss that little Instagram follower number that sits at the very top of our account.
It’s sitting there everytime we log in.
Two: Because Instagram has become to the social media equivalent of the popular kid at school.
There’s no denying that Instagram is where it’s at these days.
Although I’m wary of our obsession with this platform at the expense of all others – something I have spoken about before in a previous podcast episode – it’s impossible to ignore it’s exploding popularity.
The platform has gone from a few million to a BILLION users, and it is growing at an exponential rate without any sign of slowing down.
And, three: Because we like BEING on the platform.
The fact is that we’re all posting less on Facebook.
We’re spending more of our leisure time on Instagram.
We are ENJOYING the time we spend there, interacting with brands, getting inspiration and checking out what our friends and family are up to. And so, our business presence on Instagram has become a priority, too.
And when it comes to measuring our success, we perceive that little follower number to be the ultimate benchmark of success.
A word of warning, though.
It shouldn’t be.
In 2019, your follower numbers on Instagram count for nothing if you don’t have ENGAGEMENT.
Engagement refers to the level of interaction on your posts and stories.
No interaction equals reduced reach.
And at the end of the day, what’s the use of 10,000 followers if only a small percentage of them are actually SEEING your posts?
So, follower numbers are fine but engagement? She’s the queen, and she wears the pants.
(PS If you want 7 ways to increase your Instagram engagement in 2019, there’s a podcast episode on that too).
Now that’s out of the way, let’s go through how to get your first 10,000 Instagram followers – or at least, how I did it and some tips and tricks to help you get there too.
In the early days, the very best way to grow your Instagram following?
Is to find, and engage with, other like minded accounts.
To do this, you need to know who your ideal client is.
WHO are you trying to attract? And where are they already hanging out online?
What hashtags do they use? Which other, non-competing accounts are they already connected to. Who do they look up to and admire on Instagram?
Once you know that, you need to go to where they are, you need to engage and you need to get them to notice of you.
One thing NOT to do? Follow/unfollow. I’ve spoken about THIS popular and very shady Instagram tactic here, so if you want to know why NOT to use it, check that out.
2// Make Instagram friends
Many don’t know this, but Instagram is one of the VERY best B2B platforms out there – especially if you are a small business.
In the early days, I recommend jumping onto Instagram and making Insta friends.
Connect with like-minded businesses.
Chat. Support. Message.
This will grow your account with other businesses that will likely one day become referral sources for your own business.
It will start to develop relationships with people that you can collaborate with in the future to cross pollinate your audiences.
And it will give you those early follower runs on the board, because other businesses are much more likely to connect with you in the early days and be open to ‘socialising online’.
3// Manage your own account
This is a bit of a controversial one, but I do think that Instagram is one platform that you should consider owning and managing yourself. I genuinely credit much of the growth of my account to the fact that my posts are authentic and personal. People connect with the person behind the account. They know that if they direct message, I will be replying personally.
It’s very difficult for a social media manager to create the more personal digital storytelling content that is often what sets one Instagram account apart from another and which makes it succeed.
Of course, it’s not always possible – but if you are a small business, I think owning your own Instagram account can really help you with it’s growth. People ultimately want to connect with people, and there is no platform in which this is more correct than on Instagram.
4// Quality over quantity
There isn’t a single post on my Instagram account that I’m not proud of.
There’s so much competition on Instagram these days that if you aren’t putting out AMAZING content, you may as well not bother.
If you’re posting just to post something, don’t bother.
I mean that kindly. It just isn’t worth it because crap content will mean low engagement, and low engagement means that the Instagram algorithm will view your content as uninteresting and will show it to fewer people.
When someone lands on your account, you have a split second in which they decide whether to follow you or not. They’ll click into one or two of your recent posts, check out your general aesthetic and decide whether you’re valuable enough to them to give them a follow.
For that reason, I post just once a day and I make sure that every post is the very best that I could possibly put out at that moment. Again, the impact of doing this is largely intangible but I believe it’s had a huge impact on the growth of my account. I’s advice that I give to each and every one of my clients.
If you want to grow, less can absolutely be more. Consistent, high quality content wins over posting average stuff more regularly.
5// Invest in Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing involves investing in social media influencers with genuine influence as a way of exposing your account, products and services to an audience aligned with your own.
For a complete guide to influencer marketing, make sure you check out this and this.
A few tips around this, though.
One, I don’t think gifting works very well anymore.
That is, if you have say a scarf company and you approach influencers by gifting them with your product and asking them to share.
The best influencers – the ones that will give you good ROI – are worth more than the cost of a scarf and so I think it is worth allocating budget to the campaign and taking it seriously.
And two, I also think you need to be really set up before investing in such a campaign.
Sure, influencers can be a great way to grow your following but ultimately your end result should be sales, right? And so, before ever considering investing in it, make sure you have a well optimised website that you KNOW generates sales. Otherwise, you will be pouring money into a leaky bucket.
When you’re set up and you have the budget though, influencers with GENUINE influence with an aligned target audience is a great way to help you to get your first 10,000 Instagram followers.
6// Strategically collaborate
For service based businesses, the equivalent to influencer marketing is collaboration.
I achieved this by finding similar but non competing businesses and interviewing them on my blog and my podcast. I would then send my interviewee the links to the final blog along with images to make it super easy for them to share the content on their social media accounts.
On Instagram, they would tag my account, which resulted in a spike in my Instagram following every time a new piece of content went live. Because my interviews are weekly, I have consistently grown my Instagram following as a direct result of this tactic.
The best part? Because I strategically interviewed great people with similar audiences, these new followers would often, over time, turn into clients.
It’s a tactic I highly recommend to help you to get your first 10,000 Instagram followers – and in fact, it is the BIGGEST reason for my growth in the more difficult early days.
7// Don’t make captions an afterthought
I have zero data to back this up, but I have a really big hunch that a big reason that people follow along on Instagram has to do with my captions.
It’s kind of a given that your imagery on Instagram needs to be on point in order to really set yourself apart from your competition and get your first 10,000 followers on Instagram. It’s a visual medium and if you’re not using professional, original imagery – or at the VERY least ensuring that your images are bright and crisp, excellent quality and aesthetically pleasing – you’re setting yourself back fairly significantly. I’m really passionate about this.
Once that is sorted, what I think sets an account apart from a great one is killer captions.
Especially if they tell great stories (look at Humans of New York for a great example), provide OUTSTANDING educational value (look at Odette and Co for a great example that resonates with me) or they’re just goddamn funny (like Go To Skincare).
As a result, I’m OBSESSED with the captions that I post on Instagram.
I treat them like mini blog posts and in almost every one I make sure that I either provide MASSIVE value or tell a story to help like-minded people relate to me.
They are, in most instances, MORE important than the image.
I wholeheartedly believe that this has had a positive impact on the growth of my account.
It’s one of those intangible things that falls into ‘value’ bucket. It’s another way of giving people enough value for them to WANT to connect with and like your page (see point one!).
Do you struggle with your Instagram captions? If so, you need to check out the Caption Cure! in the Social Shop over at steviesayssocial.com/shop, with 48 done for you Instagram and Facebook captions guaranteed to cure acute cases of what-to-post-itis.
So, there you have it.
Seven tips to help you get your first 10,000 Instagram followers, based on the things that have worked for me and that I have seen work for others.
Want more? Well then you should head over to the Social Shop.
I have just dropped a new checklist in there.
It’s a checklist with a step-by-step list to check off everything you need to do in order to get your first 10,000 engaged followers.