Obtaining a book contract has long been one of my most important writing objectives. However, the initial responses from literary agencies tended to be the same: “Your book idea is great.” To get this sold to a publisher, though, you need to considerably increase your fan base.
I started those meetings with a little under 5,000 followers on Instagram and knew I had to get serious about expanding my reach before I could attempt again. But I also saw that popularity alone isn’t enough to succeed. It’s important that your readers care about what you have to say. To put it bluntly, vanity metrics won’t help you sell your book, product, or music when it comes out if your followers have no idea who you are or what you do.
My initial following of 5K has more than tripled to 20.3K since then. And I’ve done it on purpose, keeping the bigger picture in mind. I intend to become an integral part of these groups, and I have identified the kind of content that will help me achieve my goals in the long run. In spite of initial apprehension, gaining a following may be accomplished rapidly and efficiently through the application of a growth strategy that aligns with your unique set of skills and interests. Three ways I built a real, dedicated following are outlined below.
Stick to the #s that look like yellow bricks
Hashtags will guide you through the dark forests of audience development. Hashtags are the most effective approach to find related accounts or others who share your interests. Consequently, you should proceed backwards. Which hashtags should sustainability activists monitor if they want to become experts in the field? In addition, for every large hashtag, Instagram will also provide a list of smaller hashtags that are related to it.
Interact with users whose profiles look like they fit your “customer alias” (the type of person who would enjoy reading your material or patronise your business). Send them a note or leave a meaningful comment on their photo. This slow and steady approach pays off in the long run, because people are more likely to promote your page to others who share their interests and passions and to share your posts on their stories if you’re sharing information with which they strongly identify.
Make your profile a platform
Second, you need to adapt your Instagram strategy rather than simply focusing on attracting your ideal audience. When I decided to write a book, I made a conscious decision to move away from publishing exclusively about my personal life and towards sharing more stuff that exemplifies what I stand for and what my book would promote. I also don’t mind showing off my skills to others. I like to let people know I’m a writer by posting photos with elaborate descriptions that showcase my skill as a wordsmith. It’s a great way for my fans to become familiar with my personality and tone.
Depending on where you want to go in your profession, the kind of material you produce should be strategic and reflective. Caitlin Quisenberry is a musician and a very good friend of mine. She wanted to grab the attention of major record labels, and she realised that, like book publishers, the industry has to see evidence of a dedicated fan following before they’ll consider signing you.
Develop a following that is more than just a group of followers
Finally, keep in mind that your audience is more than just a fandom. They are a group of people who share your values and who deserve your support just as much as you give it to them. You need to see your purpose on Instagram as twofold: to entertain, and to serve, if you want to build an authentic, loyal audience. This requires you to listen to the opinions of others. Get more of what your fans desire by asking for it. Where do you think they hope to find the answers? Which of your photographs, landscapes or portraits, do they like better? Do they prefer your interview episodes or your “how-to” episodes? What kind of music do they like to hear more, your originals or covers?
Never let your lack of availability prevent you from responding to comments and well-considered direct messages. If you actively respond to your followers, they are more likely to interact with you frequently. Sharing your skills with those who clearly value them is a great privilege that you should take seriously.
You’ll figure out the best way to interact with your audience and share content you’re passionate about as you develop your Instagram profile.