In today’s world, people are obsessed with their follower count. I hear everyone from the middle school girl across the hall to the entrepreneur turned CEO obsess about their follower-to-following ratio. I’m here to tell you that this number means nothing. NOTHING! Growing an Instagram page can be painstakingly slow, so it can be tempting to take the easy way out and give yourself a boost by buying some followers. However, if you hear one thing I say today let it be this: DO NOT BUY INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS! Fake followers are like fake friends…who needs them? Keep reading and I’ll explain why buying followers is a detriment to your company.
Take a Look Behind The Screen…
You might be shocked by what you see. The truth is, there’s no screen to look behind. Many of these followers are bots. Bots are automated accounts created with fake pictures or stolen identities. The thing about these kinds of followers is that they increase your follower count but they most likely won’t engage with your content. They also won’t practice word-of-mouth influence to their social circle about your products (which by the way is one of the most trusted and reliable forms of marketing).
Build Credibility – Don’t Destroy it
As I said above, word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. People are more likely to buy if a product or service is recommended by their inner circle. To earn this kind of “free” exposure, you must be credible and trusted. Building trust and intimacy with your customers takes time and effort – you never want to do something that could jeopardize that relationship. If someone visits your page and sees 10K followers that believe in your mission then you probably built up some credibility in their mind. This might encourage them to explore your posts. Here’s where it gets messy: the second they leave your bio your facade comes crumbling down. Most recent post: five likes. 10K followers and all you can get is five likes? Doubt it. Consumers are smart and they see right through this behavior. This discovery would definitely turn off most people visiting your page. You want quality followers. Every time someone visits your page, your goal should be for them to hit the follow button.
All About the Algorithm
Part of growing your Instagram page is about getting exposure. In order to optimize your chances of being at the top of peoples’ feeds and suggested content lists you must understand how Instagram chooses the pages that it features. The algorithm puts more weight on interaction and engagement than it does on follower count. You are better off with fewer followers but more likes, comments, and shares from your audience. If you’re lucky, bot accounts might engage with your content in the beginning, but this interaction will go dormant very quickly. Short-term gains are not worth the long-run pain. It is also important to note that when buying followers you may buy a real account not a bot; however, accounts like these are run by people who have their own goals and Instagram dreams. Unfortunately, they will probably use your account to comment their own ads on your posts and bother your loyal customers. Ultimately, they are just as bad (if not worse) as bot accounts.
Buying followers is a BIG no, but there are other ways that you can create a strong community-first mindset on your Instagram page.
Make it Personal and Welcoming
One of the latest Instagram trends is the move away from photoshop and heavy editing to authentic and raw posts. Make your content real. Followers don’t want to see perfection. They want to see the beauty in genuine life. Don’t be afraid to show who you are, what you stand for, and moments that aren’t quite picture perfect. Another way to welcome followers is to send a personalized message to each new follower you gain. This can be very helpful to build emotional connections with your audience. Plus if you show that you are human and accessible your customers will feel more comfortable reaching out to you. These customer touchpoints are an invaluable tool.
Don’t just wait for your followers to interact – make it easy for them! You can post polls on your Instagram story, you go live and answer any questions your followers might have, or you can host a contest! Many companies have found great success by enacting a user-generated content strategy. This can take on many different forms, but one of the easiest ways is to ask followers to post with your product using a specific hashtag. At the end of the week you can explore the hashtag and find the best submissions. It’s a win-win. The follower gets featured on your account and you are off the hook for creating content for that day!
Steward Your Followers
Treat your followers like friends – it should be a two-way relationship. You can offer promo codes, incentives, limited edition merch, donations to social causes of their choice or you can simply say thank you. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you acknowledge the contributions of your audience. Your page wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without their help.
With these tips you are on your way to creating an Instagram page that is well worth the work. It will take time to build your loyal following, but the returns are astronomical. Remember: focus on genuine community and ditch all things fake!
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