Sunday, March 19, 2017

Authentic Engagement: Connecting with Your Instagram Community and Doubling Your Followers


You know the importance of connecting with your community in order to keep yourself engaged and inspired, grow your platform, and connect organically with opportunities that networking provides. But if you've ever wanted more connections, but don't feel like you have time to search for great accounts to follow and recruit your own followers as well; you will be thrilled to know there is an approach that is authentic, enjoyable, and time efficient. (And I'm not talking about robots or follow/unfollow or any of those scammy ways to increase your following--we don't want mere numbers, we want engaged community because that's what will translate into real results.)

Here are the basics to get you going:

1. Optimize your profile to help your followers find you.

On your profile, make sure your picture is your own photo and if it is not, make sure it is in line with what your account is about (ie. a pen for writing, makeup brushes for makeup, food for cooking, etc)
When people spot you on another account, you want them to gravitate to your profile instead of waiting for the opportunity to be a featured instagram account. Adding a tagline to your profile that indicates the theme is the second step. You will see this strong move in action once you start looking for your own great accounts to follow.

2. Analyze and adjust your content to keep it consistent.

Look at your landing page to see how your images work together. Are they coherent or are you all over the place thematically? It is ok to have more than one interest. Just add them all into the tagline and try to combine them into images when you can. Then use hashtags to attract your target audience. For example, if you are a mother who writes and is interested in feeding your kids healthy food, you could present all of those interests with a kiddie food plate, notebook and pen. Check out the accounts that inspire you to get ideas. If your interests don't align well, it is also ok to separate them into separate accounts or focus on one on Instagram.

3. Find great accounts to follow.

Once you have a couple of rows of posts that look coherent on your landing page (which only takes a week or so of daily posting), start looking on the following lists of those accounts that are similar to yours or are what you aspire to be with yours. Use the profile images and taglines to determine if their accounts are aligned with yours (for instance, I look for words like writing, reading, author, editing). Then, follow those accounts. Once those accounts start following you, visit their pages to comment and like the images that speak to you.

4. Engage with those you're following.

All you have to do to maintain the connection is like the images you like and comment on them as you go through your feed a couple of times a day. Community will grow as you see your shared interests, experiences, and sometimes even locations. There is nothing to be gained by being a stalker. Participate and engage. Don't like things you don't like just to be a people pleaser. On each account, (unless it is one that truly offends you and then it's just best to unfollow it), there is going to be something you can agree on, like, or find visually appealing. Connect there.

5. Have pictures ready so you can post every day.

As you go about your day, you will spot photo opportunities. Take pictures from several angles so you have something to choose from. If you haven't posted by evening, make sure to do so and connect with new accounts before bed. Worldwide time changes will mean you are gaining extra followers, likes, and comments as you are sleeping. Acknowledge them in the morning. That's it! A simple approach that gains you interesting contacts, engaged followers, and a wider community without leaving your usual routine. Let me know how it helps you.

If you have any questions or additional ideas, feel free to comment on this post or email everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com .

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