I want to share my experience here with you on how I got 18,500 Instagram followers, including some surprising sections that might help you feel absolutely great about whatever you’re doing on Instagram today. It will help you see that you don’t need to build up a bunch of followers to fully enjoy and benefit from using Instagram.
What is the number one thing I learned in building 18,500 Instagram followers?
The number one thing I learned is that simply building Instagram followers for social proof, simply trying to get as many people follow you as possible, doing things like follow and follow back, these things I think are a big waste of time. Why? Because the people you build up doing this, the followers I have now, don’t have a big genuine interest in what I’m doing and what I’m posting.
Now, sure, I do have 18,500 Instagram followers most of which I built doing a follow-follow back method that anyone can do. You make an Instagram profile, you follow people, and you hope they follow back. And that’s how I built 18,500 Instagram followers. What does that do for me? I’ll show you a recent post. Now, sure, I got 51 likes on my most recent image. However, what does this do for me? Does it sell shirts? No, not one person bought this shirt. Does it get people taking my classes on Skillshares? Not that I ever noticed.
In other words, just building Instagram followers for the sake of trying to impress people, for trying to look good, for trying to demonstrate some kind of power with social media to get clients, I see that there are better things to do instead of doing this. I’ve done this building a lot of followers on Twitter. I’ve built up tons of likes on Facebook and YouTube, and the consistent lesson is the quality of followers is much more important than the quantity. In fact, doing things to build quantity can often do things to reduce quality or reduce the management of the Instagram followers you already have.
Out of my 18,500 Instagram followers, it’s hard to even keep track of anyone in particular who’s interacting with my photos and who watches any videos I post. If I had a few hundred, it would be easier to just interact with each individual follower and build deeper relationships.
What I’ve discovered as the key is building those deep relationships. You want Instagram followers who really care about what you are and what you’re doing. You want people who are passionate about interacting with you. You ultimately want relationships. To me, relationships, is what I go after online. The main thing I want when I create is loyalty. I want you to keep coming back and watching class after class I make. If you’re following me on Instagram, I want you to enjoy every single photo I make. I want you to have some kind of a connection. I want to make our lives together.
Doing a lot of the techniques that you see in other places and in many of my old courses of just trying to build social proof, I’ve learned that that’s not worth doing. What you don’t see is that I was following thousands of people at one point. What you don’t see is the hours that I spent following people, the hours I spent unfollowing people, and still I have hundreds of more people to unfollow. I can’t use my Instagram the way it’s supposed to be used now. In the sense that when someone posts a picture, when I’m following someone I genuinely want to follow, like my friend Robert, I actually know him and keep up with him, and if he posts something, all these other people I’m following have a chance to get noticed before him in my newsfeed.
So a lot of these techniques that you might see in my old courses or other courses from other people suggesting to do these follow-follow back methods, these ruin the ability to use the very thing you’re trying to build up. The main lesson I’ve learned is to not trash your social media accounts by just trying to build as many followers as possible. Better to build deeper meaningful relationships focused on what you’re posting and giving to your followers instead of how many followers you’re getting.
What is the most valuable thing I see that I can do on Instagram?
The most valuable thing I see that I can do is spend more time and energy posting good pictures and mainly just pictures of me and the things I’m doing. I’ve posted things like this with quotes. I’ve got some likes on it, sure.
The main thing people seem to like on Instagram are just pictures of me. I just need to put pictures of me like this one where I have the most likes on, a picture of me and my daughter on the couch. This is the kind of picture, this is what Instagram is for, this is what people want to see.
I’ve also put an inspirational poster I bought. I put a picture of that there and that’s what people want to see.
Now, a lot of these little marketing tricks that I’ve been so fascinated with the whole time I’ve taught online and had my business online, a lot of these marketing tricks, sure, they may get some likes, but how many people went and enrolled and took my courses on this?
How many people unfollowed me because of the series of marketing photos I’ve posted on here? How many times did I waste the limited time and energy I had putting up things like Dash masternode pictures, or putting things like little inspirational quotes? What difference does it make if I get people I don’t know liking generic things I’ve posted. Am I building a deeper relationship doing that?
What I’m working to do now is just post pictures of me wearing the shirts I’m designing. Show what kind of shoes I’m wearing. Things that every human being can connect to. We all wear shirts. I like what my friend Robert does, he posts a lot of the food he eats. This is what he’s really passionate about. When he posts a picture of celery and his smoothies, these are things we can relate to. These are eating and foods, and this is just honestly inside his life. He’s not trying to be someone or do some things, or convert Instagram followers. He’s just sharing the inside of his life.
The most valuable thing I see to do on Instagram is just focus on creating, thinking about what kind of picture I put up there that people would enjoy. Think about what I can give to others. What can I give by sharing a new shirt I’m wearing that talks about prayer? What can I give to others by sharing a picture of me with my daughter? Or what can I give by sharing of a poster that has all my values on it? That’s well done and not something just kind of like a little marketing quote.
I know there are other people who post lots of things like this and they have millions of Instagram followers and there are plenty of people that are interacting, the question is for me today, what can I do that’s the very most valuable to make a contribution on Instagram? What can I do today to give the very best photos, give the very best videos that I uniquely can contribute?
If I would’ve started out with that, I bet I would have a lot more in terms of deeper relationships than what I’ve done instead. You see when I’ve spent all these hours and hours trying to build followers and following people, and then unfollowing them, what I wasn’t doing was posting very many photos. I didn’t take much time to put much thought into the photos I was posting, why? Because I was so busy following other people.
What I’ve noticed is that a lot of other people are trying to build their Instagram followers by following people and unfollowing people. That means you go find someone, for example, you go follow me, and then as soon as I follow you back, you either unfollow me back or you just keep following me and build up a whole bunch of people that you’re following and followers.
A ton of the people following me are doing exactly that. And I would suggest, based on my experience, that if you spend the time into thinking about a strategy to consistently post photos, and put the time into just posting the photos instead of doing the game to get more Instagram followers, I’d say you will get a much higher return. After going to the point of getting 18,500 Instagram followers, I now am just focusing on posting photos. If I had to start from zero, I would just start with adding my friends and family members from Facebook.
If I had to start from zero Instagram followers, where would I begin?
If I had to start from zero again, where would I begin after learning what I’ve learned building all these followers up on Instagram and making a bunch of mistakes and wasting my time?
If I had to start from zero again, I would do more like my friend Robert. I would just from the beginning follow my friends and family members from Facebook. Instagram gives you the options to follow people and connect with people who are already on Facebook. I would just follow my existing friends on Facebook and I would think about what I would be able to uniquely contribute to them.
If I had to start over again, I would not focus on getting any number of Instagram followers. I would make no effort to get my first thousand Instagram followers. I would make no effort to duplicate getting 18,500 followers again. I would only focus on exactly what I can do more like this. In fact, just talking about this right now, I’m grateful to have the chance. I have a new post I’m about to make that I will show you now.
My most recent Instagram post
Here’s a new post I just made on Instagram just less than a minute ago. I just posted this 21 seconds ago, as a matter of fact, and what I’m doing on Instagram now is I’m figuring out where I can take little screenshots of my life on a daily basis and share something that others can relate to. Just to honestly share inside my life.
It’s as simple as this. I just bought a new pair of shoes. I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in a year or a year and a half, I think I put about a thousand miles on my last pair of shoes because I walk about two to four miles a day. I take about an hour walk every night with my dogs, and I’m so grateful I have a new pair of shoes. I just posted this up here and look, what do you think of my new pair of shoes?
This is what I’m looking to do more of on Instagram. If I had to start over from zero Instagram followers again, this is all I would do on Instagram; add my friends and family and figure out little posts like this to share the inside of my life to connect with people, to have someone look and say, “Yes. I have a pair of shoes just like those.” What I’m doing now, going forward, no more of these kind of quotes even if people like them, even if people do visit the website.
I like what Robert does, and while you might say Robert is just a regular Instagram user, he’s made 601 posts. He goes and posts things in his life. He doesn’t post a bunch of inspirational quotes and I find myself liking a lot of the things that Robert posts. Robert has been my inspiration to just be a normal user on Instagram. Don’t try to use Instagram to convert people to website visitors. Why? Because if I build a deep enough relationship with someone, they’ll come to my profile, they’ll learn more about me, they’ll go to my website. I don’t need to spam their Instagram news feed.
This is what I’m looking to do to build deeper relationships with people to say, “Look, these are the pair of shoes that I’m wearing.” Then go one day at a time sharing. I’m designing shirts right now. These shirts I’m designing present a perfect opportunity to just keep sharing new pictures of my shirts. Like I said, no one actually has bought this shirt, but people might enjoy actually seeing it. I might get some good feedback that way. When I shared the picture of this shirt, I also shared it on Facebook. I often, even though I teach social media, I often don’t put much on my actual Facebook profile. Isn’t that amazing? On my own Facebook profile, just my personal profile, I often don’t put much on there.
I’m using Instagram as a way to start to putting more on my Facebook profile as well. I have had a challenging time with this because of the desire to always use my Instagram followers. How can I use my Instagram followers to get more traffic to my website to try to get more money? It’s been a big adventure for me to stop thinking about how I can use my Instagram followers and start thinking about what I can give to my followers.
I hope this is a part of what I may be able to give, to give you some experience that says, “Look, your Instagram profile is good enough.” If you have no one following you, that’s fine, you don’t need anyone following you. If you’ve got a few of your fiends following you, that’s good enough. That having 18,500 Instagram followers on your profile actually makes your profile a bit of a mess. I’m grateful today that I have the chance to share this with you so that, maybe, you can do a better job on Instagram than I have.
Do some people have it easy on Instagram?
Do some people have an unfair advantage on Instagram or as you might think of this, especially if you’re a guy and you’re trying to build Instagram followers, you might look at girls on Instagram and say, “Well, they’ve got it so easy. They can just share pictures of what they’re doing, and they get so many more Instagram followers.”
This is my personal trainer. I follow her on Instagram, and I think she does a great job of sharing what her followers want to see. She shares pictures of her life, she shares videos, she shares what she’s doing, and she has what looks to me a legitimate 2,000 Instagram followers. Not my 18,500 where I followed and followed back, but she has 2,000 or so followers that have a genuine interest in what she posts.
I’ll go through some of her pictures. She just posts up what she’s doing. You can see even though she has a ninth of the Instagram followers I have, you’ll see on this photo she posted 21 hours ago, she has 91 likes on it. Even though she has a lot less in terms of the total number than I have, she has a lot more people genuinely interested in anything she posts. She posts pictures up here of what she’s doing. She posts selfies in the mirror, she posts videos of her dancing that are getting hundreds of views.
She posts pictures of her daughter, videos of her daughter with hundreds of people that have watched them, a video of her doing a core workout, a picture of her daughter at the beach, a photo from her wedding here. She posts pictures and videos of what she’s doing, and she gets a lot of people that are interacting with them, a lot of people who are liking them. This is the purpose of Instagram, to just honestly share the inside of your life.
Now, you might say, “Well, it’s not fair if you’re a good looking person or if you’re famous. You just get all these Instagram followers.” In my opinion, you can use whatever advantages you have. If you are an attractive person, post some selfies out there, if you are an unattractive person, you might do the same thing and say, “Look, I want to be an attractive person. Help me.” You can use Instagram, then, to get some advice from people to be exactly what you want to be.
I remember I had a friend talking about how these attractive girls where he lived just would build up all these Instagram followers. I remember thinking that it’s not fair. That is so easy for girls on social media to just post pictures, and then guys all want to look at the photos, and all their girlfriends want to look at all the photos too. If I take a picture with my shirt off, I doubt it’s going to be the same result. Maybe I should try doing a picture of myself in a bathing suit, though.
You see the point is that you use whatever you have. You use the gifts. Every one has a gift to give. You see Jocelyn here has made 600 or so posts. She’s been posting on Instagram for a while. She has a lot of people interested. If you just look through all these photos, you can see a story as her child, Eva, gets younger and younger, as she gets younger and younger going back in time, you can see there’s a story here. This is how you do a great job on Instagram.
Robert is just posting pretty much all food pictures on his Instagram. He posts pictures with his family as well. You can do like Robert, you can just post food. You see, Robert is not posting a lot of pictures of himself and yet Robert has a lot of people interested in what he’s posting too. Even though Robert has 377 Instagram followers, which if you do the math, I have something like 40 times that many followers. Robert is getting about the same level of interaction I am because people are genuinely interested in what he posts.
With Jocelyn, that’s the same thing. She’s just posting about her life. She’s sharing what she thinks her Instagram followers want to see. She’s sharing what she’s doing in her life.
I think that my personal trainer — I’m not working with her anymore because I moved away. She was in Sarasota. Robert was in Sarasota too, but I still work with him online. I think these two profiles are great examples of how to do a good job on Instagram. Jocelyn’s got almost a thousand posts on here. She posts pictures of her life and what she’s doing. Robert posts pictures of the food in his life. I’m learning from these two what I can do to do better on Instagram instead of doing things like these quotes and these marketing tricks. I try now to just post my life on Instagram and not go about demanding that I get a whole bunch of likes on this.
You can see what happens when you’ve got 18,500 Instagram followers, in 10 minutes I have got just a few likes on my newest post. I think these are great examples, Robert and Jocelyn don’t worry about unfair advantages. Focus on using your gifts. I read in some book recently that everyone of us has a gift to give in life and if you criticize other people’s gifts, for example, if you criticize that my personal trainer is able to or is willing to post pictures of herself in lots of different situations, if you are jealous and say, “Well, I can’t do that because I’m a guy,” or “Because I’m fat,” or whatever, you’re likely to miss out on your unique gifts.
If you spend too much time criticizing, you’re likely to miss out on something. Like Robert here who doesn’t hardly ever take a picture of himself and yet lots of people care. Here’s one picture of Robert right there, there’s one.
Robert uniquely shares exactly what he has to offer to the world. What I’ve learned is to give my unique gift on Instagram and to just focus on giving what it is I have to give, sharing what it is I have to share, and I look around and I learn. I looked around and I learned from all of Robert’s and Jocelyn’s posts.
I ask myself, “What is the unique gift I have to contribute on Instagram?” Then, I’m able to go forward. I don’t have to worry about how many likes I get on every photo. I’m able to build relationships with my Instagram followers instead of trying to use my followers to build up some self-image of me.
You may be interested to read my second blog post about Instagram here: Using Instagram: Videos, Hashtags and Finding New Followers