My inner critic is whispering (hah!) in my ear, “Anyone with 2000 or more followers will never read this and wonder why you would even mention such a meager following.” So, I just gave her an assignment while I write to you. Way back when, 1000 followers was a magical, unreachable number to aspire to on Instagram (IG for those in the know). I’m delighted that I have accrued that many folks interested in my posts and want to share with you the strategies I’ve used. I did not do this alone.
At first, I barely paid attention to the platform. It was more than five years ago that Ali Formica taught a small group of us the merits of ‘gramming.’ I had the attitude that after her 40 minute talk, I had it figured out. I briefly revisited the platform, scrolled a bit, posted a quote or two, then threw my hands up and thought, “I don’t get it.” My main income was coaching women entrepreneurs, which as fulfilling and wonderful as it is, is not a visual profession. I hobbled along, hearing about the merits of IG, but not taking any action. My social media team came up with attractive squares on Canva to post more quotes, but I wasn’t feeling it.
However! When I started making my pillows in mid-2020, everyone I spoke to said, “You need to be on IG!” Well, I already was on IG, but in a pathetic, half-hearted way. I began uploading images of my art and started getting more hearts and comments. That fueled me. I’m a sucker for positive feedback. (Who isn’t?!)
I hired a 20-something to help me out. She put in 4 hours a week, commented on others posts, signed me up to follow new people and increased my numbers dramatically. I had to ask her how she found all these new people to follow. She pointed out the search icon – different on the phone than on the computer which totally threw me – and answered my questions about commenting on artists I didn’t think were that good. She explained what a generous platform IG is and that kindness is rewarded. I’ve been used to more critical venues and liked the idea of positivity first.
After that budget was spent, I took @trimqueen’s amazing IG class: Instagram Agility which spurred me on. She asked each of us for words that described our brand, explained what buckets to hashtag our posts with, and modeled exuberance and creativity on the medium that still leaves me breathless – adding music, flashing wording in different colors and other beyond-my-pay-grade embellishments that have earned her nearly 12K followers. Plus, as an instructor, she has continued to cheer me on, comment and like my posts, and send affirmations that go beyond simply noting what I’ve done. Talk about positive reinforcement.
Instagram becomes addictive as you’ll see when your numbers climb, your comments reach double or triple digits (not there yet), and DM’s start coming your way.
I’ve been on a roll since taking that class. I also got onto Clubhouse where your IG profile is your cred. My numbers kept going up. Then a week or so ago, I said yes to appearing on the Shi Show with the extraordinary Shira Blumenthal. During the interview I mentioned that I’d love to have help getting my numbers up to a thousand. I was at 970-something when we went live. Shira and I watched the chat as her audience tallied my followers to bring me over the top.
What’s the formula for increasing your numbers on IG or anywhere, really? Here you go – Steps 1-5, rinse and repeat. 1 – Care, 2 – Stay engaged, 3 – Ask for help, 4 – Post good stuff, 5 – Like, comment on and follow others.