Struggling to get your numbers up on Instagram? Here are 3 ways to reach your first 1000 followers, without having to pay for them.
I recently reached 1k (highly engaged) followers on my personal Instagram account, wooooot 🎉
I work on Instagram every day – for other people, including e-commerce companies, event organisers, and personal brands.
Personally, I prefer to use Instagram primarily as a connection tool; a way to build relationships with both my own audience and influencers in my industry. But since it’s a pretty good way to build my email list, I’ve started putting more effort into my own personal account.
I essentially adopted the strategies I use for other businesses, and applied them to my own.
Here are my top 3 tips to help you grow an engaged Instagram following from scratch and attract your first 1000 followers – without bots or shady tactics (just smart strategy) 🙏
1. Like content your “ideal customer” is posting
The way this strategy works is that you ‘like’ somebody’s content, then they get curious, check out your profile, and follow you.
First things first, we have to know who our ideal customer actually is, and why they’re on Instagram.
Your ideal customer
Creating a “persona” for our target audience is always a fantastic idea – not just for strategy, but for content creation too.
When we have a person (real or imaginary) that we’re creating for, it just helps things to run more smoothly.
Here’s a quick exercise to help you figure out who you’re trying to attract to your business.
- How does my ideal customer spend their time every day?
- What job, interests, or hobbies do they have?
- Do they have a family? Who else might they hang out with?
Find their content, and ‘like’ it
Based on your answers to the above questions, think about what type of content your ideal customer might be posting on a regular basis.
For example, my audience is into personal development, and will often use a hashtag such as #personaldevelopmentjunkie.
Brainstorm as many topics as you can, then use a tool such as All Hashtag to curate the most popular hashtags used on Instagram related to each topic.
Then follow as many of thsse hashtags as you can, and use this strategy daily:
- Choose one hashtag to focus on, search for it, and see what content appears.
- Go on a ‘liking’ frenzy – but set yourself a time limit (e.g. 30 minutes).
- Rinse and repeat, every dang day.
For sure, this is a time-consuming strategy.
But if you’re committed to growing your following, you gotta invest some time. It works.
2. Post content your ideal customer actually wants to see
…not what you think they’ll want to see. There’s a difference.
The way this strategy works is that when the person whose content you’ve liked comes to check out your profile, it has content on there that they actually wanna see (so they follow you).
Why are they on Instagram?
Now you’ve got an idea of who your ideal customer is and how they spend their time, think about why they’re on Instagram in the first place.
Hint: it’s usually because they want to be inspired, entertained, or informed.
Think about why your ideal customer is choosing to spend time on Instagram, when they could be doing anything else.
Do they want to:
- Kill time because they’re bored?
- Escape into another world for a while?
- Feel inspired and hopeful?
- Learn something new?
- Cheer themselves up?
Give them a taster
We’re speculating about what they might want, of course, but the aim is to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes, and imagine what it’s like to be on the receiving end of our posts.
Once we have an idea of why our ideal customer is on Instagram, we can then craft content that gives them what they’re looking for.
For example, I know my audience wants to feel inspired and uplifted, so my main focus is on providing this type of content.
Here some ideas for giving your ideal customer what they want:
- Entertainment: post relatable memes or funny images/videos
- Inspiration: post quotes (or create your own) or tell a hero story in a caption (yours or someone else’s)
- Education: post infographics or teach a technique or strategy in a caption
3. Connect with 10 influencers in your field every day
They always say 2 is better than 1, right?
The way this strategy works is twofold; 1) you build relationships with influencers in your field, which can lead to reposts or collaborations, and 2) you’ll likely get follows from said reposts or collabs, tapping into their audience.
Seek out potential collaborators
First of all, we need a simple mindset shift; from seeing folks in the same industry as competitors to collaborators.
Have you ever noticed how people in the same industry all seem to know (and support) one another?
It’s because they know there’s room in the market for everyone.
Building relationships with other influencers means you’re essentially creating your own support network – for example, tons of folks in the personal development industry give each other shout-outs on Instagram, which helps them to get exposure to each other’s audiences.
You can usually find influencers by:
- Searching for hashtags related to your niche (e.g. mindfulness)
- Searching for a keyword related to your industry or profession (e.g. writer)
Time to collaborate
The key to collaborating is to be genuine, and to focus on offering value.
For example, leave specific and thoughtful comments on their content, rather than a vague “love it 😍”.
Once you have a list of a few influencers you’d like to reach out to, here’s how to get to know them:
- Consume their content (including their social feed, their blog, their podcast, etc).
- Leave thoughtful comments on their posts and/or send them a direct message or email about their work.
- After a connection has been made, propose a collaboration – such as an Instagram story takeover, a guest blog, a joint livestream or interview, or a freebie you’re willing to give away to their followers.
Again, this is time-consuming (and kind of a long-game strategy), but super important.
Tapping into someone else’s audience is a great organic shortcut to attract your first 1000 followers, and beyond.
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