May 9th, 2017
This is the one secret to growing on Instagram...
When I first started shooting photos almost 7 years ago, I was obsessed with two things:
1. Creating a new photo every day, and
2. Growing my social media following.
The first one, as I am about to explain, begot the second one - although I thought it was supposed to be the other way around - and I thought, without a big account, my work would never be seen.
I was wrong.
I thought there was some sort of trick. I thought it was the universe pushing me or pulling me. I thought it was “the secret,” luck, good vs. bad shots, text length, algorithms. In reality, it’s not really any of those. Of course, some of them are true some of the time, but they really only lent a hand to me that was negative and caused me to see social media as a game I had to win through luck and chance - not what I see it as now, which is a tool to carry out my vision and build my business.
In reality, there is no secret, at all. In fact, it’s not that there isn’t a secret - it’s that the secret is so damn simple that I overlooked it for years, obsessing over my rising and falling numbers any time I interacted with my audience, any time I posted content, any time I looked at the clock or spent too long getting back to someone on an Instagram message and every time I ignored the “Boost This Post for $20” badge.
I spent years in this place, thinking I was playing some sort of losing game and feeling like I was the laughing stock of content producers and artists around the world.
This couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The secret to growing on Instagram is by posting high-quality, engaging content on a regular basis and connecting with other people like you, who do similar things to you or enjoy the things you do/ sell/ serve/ post.
That is it. That’s all.
Now, obviously there is mechanics to this very simple idea - you have to have good content, you have to be organized enough to post that content regularly, you have to be able to interact with your audience, you have to stay consistent and high-frequency, and you have to seek out others who would be interested in what you post. The process remains very simple, however.
Post good content regularly and connect with people who would like what you post.
It’s so funny that this idea can be so simple and yet so broad at the same time, but this works for literally everyone and everything.
It works for my business clients at Talley Media, who we help with the entire process, from content to post to growth.
It worked for me when I was a young photographer shooting a photo-a-day project for a year.
It works for products.
It works for services.
It works for bloggers, musicians, and entrepreneurs.
Painters and writers and anyone with a dream.
Why does this work?
Because trust is built through consistency. And when people trust you, they want to invest in to what you are doing.
It’s why I feel like I know Casey Neistat, but I’ve never even met him. Casey, if you ever see this, I want to hang out with you. Casey posts daily to his vlog, he’s consistent. When I was 18, I started a project where I shot fine-art photos every day for a year. I was consistent, I engaged with the community following my work, and I quickly grew my social following. In fact, over the course of a few years, I was able to grow my Facebook page to over 200,000 followers of my work, simply through consistent posting and interaction.
I even remember staying up for 3-4 hours a night in 2010, following people on flickr.com who I thought would like my photos, leaving authentic comments on their photos about what I liked and didn’t like. I grew that account to 20,000 in a year.
I’ve already covered why I think social media is just a tool, and that many people get too wrapped up in the game. From my perspective, social media is to be used as a vessel - just like your business or your artwork or your music or whatever - to carry out a bigger vision. The most important thing to realize when you’re doing this - when you have a desire to grow your social account - is that there is actually no secret to growing your Instagram other than truly caring about being there and regularly posting high-quality, engaging content and interacting with your followers and commenters.
If you look at businesses who are doing it right, you’ll see that they are posting consistent, high-quality content and regularly engaging with their followers. Some examples I have had the pleasure of interacting with online are;
https://www.instagram.com/pipsoriginal/, a Donut Shop in Portland.
https://www.instagram.com/ioegreer/, a Photographer in Portland.
https://www.instagram.com/bangbangpie/, a Pie Shop in Chicago.
An even bigger thing to think about that each of the people listed above do well is that they all carry an underlying theme or “WHY” in their accounts. When you couple that “why” with the consistency of posting high-quality content, you have a recipe for success, social growth, and impact for your vision, your business, your product and your services.
Here's the formula:
These are the steps I've taken that have had the most impact on my social media growth to-date.
1. Hash out your WHY
Get your WHY clear in your head before you decide to start posting anything and everything.
2. Create some high-quality visual content.
Without good or relevant photos and videos, it will be hard for an account to seem attractive and worthy of a follow. Don’t we all like to follow accounts with awesome pictures?
3. Post your content consistently and frequently.
Find a time of day every day that you know people will interact with your posts. Usually the morning and evening are really good times for this, with most people being stuck at work during the day.
4. Regularly interact.
This one is huge. Regularly interact with other people in your industry or people who you think would be a good fit to follow your account. Give those people value in the form of a like or a comment on their page. If you REALLY like their content, follow them, too! In my experience, this has been the best tactic for genuine, authentic growth. A good way to do this is by adding relevant hashtags to your posts on social media, and looking for others who post to those same tags.
5. Get outside yourself and make it about the community.
This has been a big one for me - I used to be so obsessed with the way I appeared on social media and I used to be so wrapped up in the numbers game that I lost sight of the point of social media - to carry out my vision and build a community of people who feel the same.
If we can do all of these things, we can all grow, together. Remember, it’s never about the numbers - it’s always about building a true and genuine community that we can share our vision with. If we can be consistent in carrying out our vision by regularly creating and posting high-quality content, then we can all expect to see growth - and, in time, achieve all of our goals.
If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, come let me know on my latest Instagram post at @_davidtalley.
If you're a business owner or a marketer and this post helped you, and you want to learn more about our service at Talley Media, please send an e-mail to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.talleymedia.com. We’re currently offering a free 7-day trial of our content and social growth service for you to see the power of our system - and you get FREE photos for your business!
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.