Instagram is a social media platform that has changed the way we view the world, marketing, and has revolutionized the very way we interact with one another. In the beginning, it was a way for amateur and professional photographers alike to showcase their photos. Then, it became the iPhone photograpgher's digital portfolio. Now, companies search for your IG handle before calling you back for an interview! From IG stories to the wide array of filters and editing apps, to paid sponsorships and collaborations, it appears that unlike Myspace or even Twitter (soon-to-be RIP), Instagram is here to stay. It's a one-stop-shop that takes aspects of Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and even Whatsapp (maybe because Facebook owns errything!?) and brings it all to your fingertips. It's no wonder that there are over 600 million active users!
Granted, there are certain social norms to follow when using the platform, but for the most part, it's a free-for-all! What does that mean exactly? Anyone can sign up, and as long as you find your niche, the sky is the limit!
Why is reaching 10k such a big deal?
It's when Instagram "stops counting". That means that instead of 1,356 you'll see 10.1k or 11.3k. It shows brand power, influence and the higher your followers and engagement, the easier it is to catch the eyes of brands and other creatives in your field. It implies that you're either active and tuned-in, that you produce high-quality content, or that your followers really like what you're putting down. Nowadays, many companies partner with Instagram users to promote their products, hotels, clothing, or even their country! Shout out to those influencers working with tourist boards! (WERK!)
Can I still get noticed if I have less than 10k followers?
Of course you can! To be honest, there's a shift taking place in the market as we speak. Followers are great, but engagement is where the money is! You know, those individuals who buy followers have really messed it up for the rest of us! More than the amount of people who follow you, companies want to see that your audience is actually engaged, that they interact, and well... do what you say! That is what influence is at the end of the day, right?
How do I get started?
First, you'll have to sign up for the platform itself. (Duh, Danni!) Then you'll probably want to decide what kind of IG you want to have! Are you going to only share original content? Are you only going to post videos? Memes? Do you plan on being a re-post platform? Will you be in your photos, or will it be a flatlay, or even a foodie IG?
Then you have to decide on your voice. Are you going to write short, witty captions? Or are you more of a storyteller? How much of you do you want to share? Only do what feels comfortable, but no matter which approach you take... be authentic.
Real recognize real.
So, onto the burning question...
How to Get 10k on Instagram:
What is often? The "experts" recommend 2-3 times a day, maximum. If your name is Beyoncè Knowles-Carter, you can post once a month, and still gain followers because, well, she is everything. If that's not your case, then you're in the same group as the rest of us plebians! LMDES posts twice a day, every day. Keep in mind that LMDES is also a re-posting platform. If you're posting original content, make sure that you always have images waiting in the cut.
As entertaining as IG can be, no one in their right mind wants to spend countless hours on the app every damn day! Let's be honest. You should approach this task like you would any other goal and get organized. Consider scheduling your posts in advance, in big batches, so that you end up optimizing and able to focus your attention on other things that matter (like binging on Underground). Hootsuite, Buffer, and many other apps allow you to schedule your IG posts in advance. Find the interface that speaks to you most!
Stay on Brand
People are fragile, delicate creatures. We look for patterns, consistency, and order above all. Can you imagine of your favorite food blogger posted an image of their pedicure? You'd, internally, of course, flip out! What if Travel Noire posted a group of white college students in Cancún? (We're still looking at you, Shea Moisture)! The horror! The outrage! You'd furrow your brows, and probably be a bit turned off, right? This isn't to say that you can't have variety. But, if you normally post flatlays and pretty quotes with pastels and rose gold, don't then post a video from World Star because it made you "chuckle". That's for a personal IG, not for a brand's IG (unless of course, that's your brand!) If you write long, compelling copy and captions, don't all of a sudden, drop two or three emojis and call it a day. Your priority is to give people what they came for: your images and your voice.
Engage with Your Audience
Once you decide on which style of captions you prefer, it's also good to have some sort of "call to action" an engaging question that people will want to answer! When the do answer, don't forget to also respond to them! Try to keep the conversation lively and fluid. The more people feel that there is another relatable human on the other side of the iPhone the better!
Tune Your Bio
First off, if you're a business page, have you switched over to the business page option for IG? It's useful to do so because then you can actively track stats, impressions, and reach for each of your posts. Did you know that you can also add and change your bio link? Keep this updated with your latest content or project so that you can use IG to direct traffic to your website. Make sure your bio is clear and concise and again, stay on brand. You don't want people confused by what you do, or what your product is.
Use them. Whenever possible. Instastories serve several purposes:
Your followers can see you behind the scenes, and unscripted
You can post things here that are up-to-date and give real time updates
You can share the photos and even memes (maybe) that you wouldn't share on your main page (where they'll appear foreverrrrrr) It disappears in 24 hours, so there's less pressure!
You can tease new articles, tag brands, mention restaurants and spaces you've visited and also curate and create full-on stories about a new product. It used to be much more organic, but now, people are also uploading semi-professional videos to their stories!
You decide what works best for you, but either way, don't sleep on this invaluable resource!
Tip: You can also live stream and track the number of viewers that tune in. IG offers analytics on your Instastory too! Engagement is key!
The basics: hashtags are used to group and organize similar, recurring ideas on social media platforms. By adding a punt sign in front of a word, people can search for a specific hashtag and see, in turn, all of the posts grouped together. It makes searching easier and less tedious! Keep your hashtags in a note somewhere so that you can copy and paste them instead of trying to remember them all. Also! No spaces! Or else they won't function properly!
Still unsure? check out this article on Mashable!
So... should I use them?
Absolutely! There's no need to go overboard, nor should you #start #talking #inhashtagsbecauseitlooksdumbaf
Don't do that. #dontbeagoofy
What you could do, however, is take 30 mins and look at your fellow creatives (in your niche, of course) and peep which ones they use often! Then see how many posts, on average, that hashtag receives. You want to be seen, but also searched (#danniisamazinganddopeandherhairiscute is not something people search as much as #traveloften for example). The more common the hashtag, the more used it'll be. What does that mean for you? Your post will show up under #love but will disappear, or simply get lost in all the other posts! Get specific, but keep it within the spectrum as much as possible!
Tip: post your photo on IG then add a comment underneath with the hashtags you'll be using. It makes your caption look less messy and the results are the same!
Lead people to where you want them to go. If Instagram is the platform you're choosing to grow currently, then use your other networks to get them there! Post an image on Facebook telling people that if they like what they see, there's much more of it on IG! (Then link them to your page, duh!) If you have a newsletter, make sure to remind people to follow you there as well! Make the IG icon visible on your blog or website and encourage people to stay connected!
Collaborate and Listen!
It may be difficult securing collaborations early on, but try! What do you have to lose? Hosting an IG story takeover for a page with more followers than you creates a funnel that brings new eyes back to your page. Make sure that if your content is original that you also tag bigger re-post pages at the hopes of your content being shared. If your image is shared by them, they will always cite the source and again, new eyes on your page! If you expect to get to 10k on Instagram alone, then you're in for a long, arduous journey! Comment, like, tag, and repeat.
Slide into the DMs
Dms don't have to be creepy, yo. You can also use them to network and make connections. Personally, I'm not a fan of the automatic messages because they feel very impersonal. It wouldn't take very long to simply write a message to a few choice people either supporting / congratulating, introducing yourself or even proposing a collab! People cannot find you if they don't know you're there. Show up for your damn self, y'all!
Controversial Ways of Obtaining Followers
Warning: I'm simply the messenger. These suggestions are often heated topics within the social media community. You decide.
Bad: Follow / Unfollow Method
This is where a page decides to follow people in large batches, then after a few days (some even a few hours) or even a few weeks, they unfollow the person. Some argue that you're simply "poking" them to get their attention, and if they like what they see, then they stay. If they don't, no harm done. Others argue that it's manipulative and hurts people's feelings. You pretend to feign interest in their content only to get what you want: a new follower.
As I mentioned previously, brands care more about engagement than followers. It's always better to have people come to your site organically and of their own will, because they will be more likely to become genuine fans and ideally clients!
Worse: Paid Cross-Posts
Other people pay the larger influences for a mention or cross-post. These prices can start at 15 dollars and quickly rise to 1hundreds of dollars depending on how long the post is visible, and how "powerful" the influencer is. It's insincere, but most business transactions usually are!
Worst: Buying Followers
It's tempting. We've all been at that very fork in the road. Take the higher path, friends. Nothing good can come from buying followers.
Do those Instagram apps count?
Yes, if you're liking photos you'd never ever ever like of some Chihuahua in Turkey wearing a bowtie in exchange for coins and +30 followers, it still counts. Most of those apps aren't filled with real people. They're bots or fake profiles. Some are even sexually explicit. There are also apps that simply leave generic comments on random posts. Again, people can smell fake from a mile away. Imagine a photo of someone announcing that their childhood dog has died, and here you go with a "Yas, Queen! Love this post! It's everything!" Yo... the internet is forever. Be very careful with that!
How does one reach 10k on IG?
Post often, and post well: post twice a day and keep the quality high, and the content just varied enough
Be engaging and engaged: both ask, and answer questions. Write captions that captivate your followers
Stay on brand: give people what they've come to expect from you, no matter what that is
Be authentic: share enough of yourself that people feel connected and a genuine interest in what you do. Use Instastory as a tool to show your followers a bit more of who you are and what you do.
Plan ahead: plan your content in advance so that you're not scrambling at the last minute for a photo.
Talk to people: If you only ever comment on your own page, you're doing it wrong. Respond to comments, start conversations on interesting photos, tag people when you talk to them (or about them). Be social, and that will eventually lead to increased visibility.
Direct people: use your other platforms to direct people to Instagram. Try sponsoring giveaways or fun contests to get people active and create a buzz around your brand.
If you take the less conventional route... know that is has consequences that aren't always good.
Have we missed something? Tell us in the comments!
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.