If you have been on instagram for a while, you will know that there have been some pretty dramatic changes to the platform, some that have effected even the best of the best micro influencers (Under 100k followers). Engagement has dropped, as well as being discovered, therefore making it harder to be followed by genuine followers (IG WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!)
Many people (including myself there for a while) turned to dramatic approaches hoping to save their ever growing popularity, but what I have found is that there is not a quick fix to any of these changes that instagram has made, and the more you fight with generic fixes (…ahem…follow trains) the quicker you are to hurting your engagement.
What exactly is the algorithm?
Well, to start with, an algorithm is a tech-y scientific way for instagram (or google) to track your activity to try to customize your experience. The new changes are suppose to help people who want to see more from their friends and family. The more you engage on someone’s posts (that you are following) the more likely it Is that they are going to show up in your home feed. Their intentions were well, but the results for most of us have been…annoying (and painful somedays, right?!?)
It works in a similar way with google. If you are on the internet a lot, you may have noticed that If you have researched for a new pair of shoes, you start seeing more and more ads for shoes (or clothing in general) popping up on your screen, no matter what you are looking at. That is part of google’s algorithm. They do this to serve you with ads that are relevant to you.
I hope that makes sense, but what I hope you gather from this is that it works the same way for everyone, not just you.
So if your friends are clicking on other people’s posts, your posts are not always likely to show up in their feed, and unless they come to hunt you down, they may not even know that you have posted…sometimes for weeks at a time. Instagram is such a fast paced environment with thousands of images being uploaded every minute, that it is hard to keep track of everyone, for anyone, especially if you are following a large amount of people.
To make this all even more of a pain, of the people who are following you, it is really only 10% of them that get exposed to your new posts. If in the first hour it does well, then IG will let more people see it organically in their feed, Maybe, if they think that the other people want to see it.
It is an up hill battle when you are facing it alone. But I got you! There is a way to work around this, and we are going to do it together! Got it?!? <3
How to “beat it”
I am going to tell you right now, this is not going to be easy, and you may not like what I have to say, but let me remind you of something…if you have dreams, if you are trying to create a side hustle, or even a steady sustainable income (which is 100% possible for anyone who wants it bad enough) You are going to have to trust me.
You are going to have to give it your all. What I am about to tell you is the keys to freeing yourself from working two jobs, or allowing you save up for the dream vaca, or that car you have been eyeballing, or traveling all the time, or buying a house, or completely quitting your day job (if you want!) (***disclaimer from a dreamer-forced into being a realist… It takes a lot of time, effort, learning and determination to reach those goals…nothing is an over night get rich quick scheme…those do not really exist…unfortunately…)
Alright my sweet friend, lets get to the nitty gritty…Remember…I am here for you. You got this…Do not get over whelmed. It is just instagram 🙂 ENJOY THE PROCESS!
You may have heard this time and time again, but content will forever remain key. You can read a hundred books, study everything there is to know about social media marketing and networking, but if you do not spend any energy on your content, none of it will work long term.
If you take a few minutes everyday and learn about photography, and find other accounts that inspire you, (You know the ones you secretly crush on dreaming it was you…) take notes of their photography, even reach out. Do not be afraid to ask what equipment they are using, or editing software they love the most. You will find (and maybe even be surprised) that a lot of people are still using cell phones. But maybe they have selfie lights, or strategically only take pictures outdoors, and then they use an editing software like adobe lightroom. You don’t know unless you ask.
Some people are more willing then others to share their tips and tricks. Being in the dog niche, I do know it is a little different then if you were photographing food or yourself, but there are still main skill sets that can take your photos to the next level that could benefit you regardless of your theme. If you are afraid to ask someone, there are tons of videos on youtube that will help, and even books on how to take amazing photos with a cell phone. You do not HAVE to have a fancy camera or expensive props for good pictures.
If you notice there are people with several different types of written content (or captions). Some people don’t even both writing anything, they just stuff hashtags (…I do not recommend this tactic even for a second). In my opinion, that is just plan lazy and you will not get very far at all. If you are not trying to grow your account, then go for it, but if you have any ambitions with your instagram, you must create written content.
The next kind of written content I have noticed is quotes. I think these are good, if you are finding ways to connect the story of the picture with the quotes you are sharing. I think this is actually pretty easy do with dogs, because really they are just amazing, and inspirational by themselves. But you can be creative and really make a picture stand out by choosing carefully which quotes you use.
Another kind of content (the kind I really think stands out the most) is story telling. Giving your dog a voice, a story, a personality (which really they already have, but you can really bring it to life for your audience by being a little creative). I have put together a list of some of my favorite story-tellers HERE.
Soak it in, and then practice doing it yourself- go through some of your older photos and on paper (or in a word document) practice caption writing. They say with creativity, the more you create, the more creative you become; we all have it in us. Let others inspire you, but be you, don’t try to just copy someone else. I believe you have it in you, if you really want it to be there!
When I think of the way I see people use hashtags I am reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein, when he said that insanity is repeating the same events, expecting different results.
How often are you using the same hastags (over and over) and then saying to yourself, or other people: ”my hashtags are not helping!” or If you are not questioning this, but are not getting good results from your hashtags, then you should be questioning it!
If you want to grow, hashtags need to be a big part of your strategy, but not just using them in your posts. I will explain two different ways to use hashtags to help your growth.
The first thing is strategically using them in your posts. Most seasoned bloggers know that keywords can make or break every single post they write; hashtags are no different when it comes to instagram. I cannot tell you which ones to use to help you grow in this post because there is a lot to say about it, but keep an eye open for that article soon.
What I will tell you here is that you get what you give. Effort matters! I suggest keeping this in your mind: Being random, will give you random results. The key to success is not being random in your strategy. Be random in your personality if you want, but if you want to have predictable results, you can’t be random with hashtags.
Now that has been stated, there is another step with hashtags that I think a lot of people over look that can lead to a plethora of new, organic followers.
When you have your hashtags picked out, you are likely picking the ones that make sense to what you are posting. In a lot of cases, there are also other people who are using the exact same hashtags as you, for very similar types of posts. People may not even process this, but this is the WHOLE point in hashtags. It is about discovery, but also creating community with like-minded people.
I will go back to the whole you get what you give thing…If you are spending some of your time engaging with others that are using your chosen hashtags, you are likely to make new friends, and the end result is you end up with new, organic, loyal, followers.
In the long run, you will realize that if you are doing affiliate marketing or sponsored posts, these like minded people are going to be not just followers, but customers, which will potentially serve your paycheck every month. If you are have a sporting dog page but are using hashtags that have more to do with small dogs in clothes, you are going to make friends, because nice people like nice people, but then you link up with a company selling sporting gear for your dog, who do you think is going to purchase that? The cute and tiny city girl- yorkie dog, with the $1000 wardrobe? My guess is…Probably not.
This last comment is not to say you shouldn’t be friends or want a variety of followers from other walks of life, but it is very important if you ever want to earn an income from your social media to make sure you have plenty of followers who resonate with your specific niche, or your marketing efforts will not get you very far. In the business world they call this a target market. I do not have any thing wrote on this specific topic yet, but I hope to dive into it more soon.
If this hashtag strategy doesn’t work for you, I would go back and reflect again on your content. Again, and again, I will say -You get what you give. You give 100% you will get 100% but think if you give 1000%? Do you know what you could accomplish? (And may I remind you that all 1000% can be fun from the get go and profitable (eventually), if you want it to be).
Pushing buttons, commenting, all that fun stuff can get you a small following and you may even make some dollars or at the least a ton of free products (please don’t settle just on free products…companies pay for sponsored posts, which is the same thing as getting a free product and creating an ad with it, except you get paid…for real), but if you want real growth, if you want people to pick your account to engage with in their precious time, you have to make sure all these moving parts are moving in the right direction. None of them alone is a strong strategy, but together, they can be very powerful.
With everything that I have already said, there is one last piece that I think is critical to gaining a loyal following and see your efforts facing the algorithm pay off; that one thing is sincerity. Social media is about making friends, gaining trust, connecting with other human beings (even though in the dog niche we don’t always see the human behind the pup).
When you are leaving comments are they mostly emojis? Are they one-word responses like “Cute” or “beautiful”. I suggest asking yourself before you push send “What would I say if the person was holding this picture in their hand, standing next to me?” or even more so “What would I say if I was there with that puppy when this picture was taken?” Be personal, people can tell when someone is just commenting for attention, and when they are being sincere.
I am not going to say anything else about this, because it should be simple enough to understand. Go make you some friends, girl! <3
We all see them, most people even use them, but most people do not realize the kind of exposure a good story can give. As with anything else on IG, story strategy is also important. This is a good place to share things you find on IG that you love, and also a good place to share behind the scenes type photos and videos (bloopers, and other fun things that are not so “planned”). There are some ways to boost your views on these stories that after so many times doing it, you are going to see a boost in traffic. It might not be a large one, but if you are consistent with it, I am positive it will help. I am working on a post to help you boost your stories. I Average about 100-150 likes per post right now on my IG (I have not been giving my 1000%) but when I post a story, I am always getting 150-800 views in 24 hours. Every. Single. Time.
It can happen & we will talk about this soon. This post has had a lot for you to soak in, and the stories can wait.
*Just to let you know, there maybe affiliate links in this post. I some times earn a small commission if my readers purchase a service or product I recommend, at no cost to you. I do this to keep cutedogaddicts.com thriving but would never recommend a product I don’t use and/or trust 🙂
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