If there’s one thing we can all agree to be true about Instagram, it’s that it’s one of the most competitive platforms out there. It’s estimated that there are around half a million of active influencers already on Instagram – going up against such extensive competition can be enough to overwhelm and intimidate most aspiring Instagram personalities.
How can you make sure you give yourself a real shot at success?
1. Focus on your audience
One of the key things to remember is that the aim of each influencer is not to ‘steal’ the audiences of the other 500,000 influencers on Instagram. Most users are not exclusively ‘faithful’ to one influencer – otherwise, each Instagram user would only be following two or three people, instead of hundreds.
The key to unlocking your audience isn’t, therefore, to win over the followers of your competition: it’s to define and subsequently cater to your target users. If you can reach your target audience with valuable, high-quality content that they will enjoy, it won’t matter that they already subscribe to other influencers – they’ll follow you, too.
This step is often omitted by aspiring influencers, and perhaps it’s not strictly necessary – but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of careful planning from the get-go. Having an idea of your ideal follower and the reasons why they might be interested in your posts are essential components of coming up with an effective content strategy.
2. Let your personality shine
Regardless of what needs you meet for your followers – what questions you answer and what kind of content you provide – your personality is going to be the driving force behind your success on Instagram.
While it’s important to cater to your audience, it’s equally important not to lose your unique voice and perspective – after all, that’s what your followers are there for: you.
It’s advisable to use a photo of yourself – rather than a logo, for instance – as your profile picture. The style of the image should tell visitors to your page something about who you are and what you’re about. Similarly, your bio should reflect who you are and what you offer as an influencer – so spend some time to make it truly yours.
3. Engage with your followers
As you gain popularity, it will gradually become impossible to reply or react to every single comment from your followers. However, it’s important to make an effort to consistently show interest for your followers, their views of your posts and beyond, and their content.
You could make a point of spending an hour or two per day reviewing and replying to comments on your posts, perhaps. Follow back the people you find interesting, and show that you truly care about your audience. Try to be genuine and specific in your replies, displaying genuine interest.
4. Use CTAs often, but wisely
A call-to-action, or CTA, is a common way of generating feedback and engagement from your followers. It’s important to use CTAs often – they really do work – to get your audience to comment, like, and follow. This will help to increase the number of your followers, as well as providing you with invaluable insights directly from your followers. You can use these insights to guide future content and tone.
However, the most successful influencers use CTAs that go beyond the standard ‘leave like if you enjoyed this post’, or ‘let me know what you think in the comments’. Consider asking your audience specific, meaningful questions instead, facilitating engagement on a deeper, more personal level. For example, if within the post you share a personal story about your most cherished childhood memory, invite your audience to do the same in the comments. This will help you to understand your audience and make you appear more personable and approachable.
5. Choose brand partnerships carefully
For many Instagram influencers, brand partnerships are the holy grail of what they do. Others don’t care for brand deals, not wanting to appear as a sell-out. One thing’s for sure: the moment when you being receiving brand deal offers will mark a major milestone in your Instagram journey.
It’s recommended to find a middle-ground between the two approaches. You definitely don’t need to take every single offer you receive, but there’s no harm in vouching for a product that you genuinely would recommend.
Before you agree to a brand deal, look into the product and the company carefully, taking the brand’s publicity (both now and historically) into account. Consider this alongside both your current and potential audience, and make in informed decision as to whether this will be a good fit. The most important aspect is to make sure that you won’t end up turning away followers through your brand marketing – whether it’s because of choosing an inappropriate brand or pushing branded products a bit too much.