Something people are always asking me about is how to expand and enhance their Instagram followings. This is symptomatic of Instagrams recent boom, not just in popularity but also in engagement. With half a billion users, most of them young, this is the next generation of smartphone friendly and highly visual social media. I know that it can be tricky at times to properly engage with it – I don’t blame you, I still run experiments with my Instagram feed constantly and I’m gaining more than a hundred followers a month. This isn’t an easy way to promote yourself, but it is one that can give you tangible results fast, if you do it right. Instagram is hungry for content though in a way that is very different from Facebook, and I won’t even get into how it differs from Twitter since that’s a completely different beast. First though I want to share a little bit about how my personal Instagram success has looked.

So I’ve only been seriously growing my Instagram following for a few months now. My goal has been to get about 100 followers a month. In the last month I’ve gained about 170. I don’t use a lot of fancy methods, though I’m starting to spend more time on those. What I have done though is make a commitment to three pieces of Instagram content a day. One is my general driver, this is my video giving people advice on how to grow their bands. Video content does very well on Instagram so attracts a lot of attention. Then I post something about my day to day life, sometimes it’s a selfie with a friend, other times its a book I’m reading, it can just be a gift I got or simply my cat. Finally I have been seeing a lot of success recently by making a point to update my story at least once a day and ideally multiple times a day. With these three systems combined I’ve found that things get a lot easier and run more smoothly.

My posting schedule aside, it’s crucial that you use video content to boost your feed. People love video content because not only is it significantly easier to ingest than something like an article but also it plays automatically. If you have a budget for these things you can animate quick little videos that don’t even need text to be involved. Think about these things as you start moving forward with your growth on Instagram. The other thing to be aware of is that the videos don’t need to be high quality as long as they have decent quality audio. I am not entirely sure why that is, it just appears to be a basic human psychology thing. If you can just talk at the camera for a few minutes a week you’re going to be able to develop your brand a lot more rapidly. If you film some of your rehearsals you will see a similar growth in followers. It’s not hard.

Stories are one of the new features on Instagram that I think not everyone is super comfortable with because they are so ADD and rapidly changing. It’s important of course to appreciate that they were very much inspired by Snapchat so when you create them use that mentality. Furthermore there are constantly new and silly features that you can use. Guess what – Instagram optimizes you in the algorithm if you make a point of using them. Dick around the editing options in your Instagram story. Some of them aren’t totally self evident or easy to be sure, but even adding a quick little poll is going to get people biting and trying to see how they can involve their brands with yours. If you show you are trying to grow your Instagram presence other people will want to be a part of it, because at the end of the day the appeal of Instagram is that everyone is a celebrity.

Perhaps the biggest thing that I have been slowly realizing is that hashtags not only need to be used extremely liberally but also with diversity in mind. That is to say, I have seen a lot of bands who see their interaction drop off because though they have thirty really good hashtags, they use them on every post. By using them on every post they are eventually going to get marked as spam. Simultaneously, even before getting marked as spam you know you aren’t going to be reaching any new people after using the same set of hashtags a few times in a row. I’m not saying that you should never repeat the use of hashtags, but when you choose your set of hashtags always leave a few slots open both for experimentation and hashtags that are generally popular which you might not normally use. This way you can hopefully bring in some more people checking out those hashtags. This isn’t always self evident and can sometimes be tricky but for me that’s part of the fun.

Instagram is shaping up to be the dominant form of social media over the next few years whether you like it or not. It’s focused on celebrity culture, constant engagement and all sorts of fun little features. It has a younger market and one who are much more engaged. This isn’t always something that is fun to be a part of because of the higher attention merited but if you resolve to enjoy it then you are going to find yourself with not just success, but also embracing a future for your band that is actionable. There is a similar potential here as there was with Facebook a decade ago. Embrace that and Instagram will treat you kindly.

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