It might surprise you to learn that on Instagram you can be too popular.
Anyone who is obsessed with their Instagram account will know how hard you have to work to get that follower number up. Each milestone feels like the longest climb, and it is celebrated with such enthusiasm. Heck, I almost threw a party when I hit 1,000.
But, bigger isn’t always better.
"Micro-Influencer" is the new social media and digital PR buzzword. By definition, it is someone on social media who has a small, yet highly engaged community. Influencer marketing agency Markerly <markerly.com>, believe a micro-influencer has anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, However, I believe you can have the same kind of influence with a much smaller audience.
As you grow, your engagement decreases. This happens for two reasons:
The Instagram algorithm shows your posts to only a small percentage of your audience; if you have circa 100,000 followers only 1-2% will engage with any given post, vs. an average engagement rate of 4-8% for audiences between 1,000 and 10,000. The bigger your audience gets, the smaller the engagement average. <Source: markerly.com>
“Macro-influencers" often fall out of touch with their audience; it’s hard for them to maintain the same personal connections as micro-influencers as they are unable to interact with every person who engages with their content (some choose not to engage at all).
As a small business owner, your Instagram account is a marketing platform for your business or service. Vanity goals, such as trying to reach 100,000 followers "just because", are not worth the time, energy or money that you're probably going to need to invest.
Think of yourself as a “micro-brand”, influencing your audience to buy your products, just like “micro-influencers” are doing on behalf of other brands.
To be able to influence your audience, you need them to:
- know you
- like you
- trust you
and to do that you need to:
- post content that adds value
- not just sell sell sell
- nurture your community
Nurturing your community is crucial, and once you've got that down pat, you can start to assess how to grow your audience actively.
A small engaged community is worth so much more to your business than a large disengaged one. I would much rather have 1,000 followers who engage with my posts, read my social media blog and hire me, than 100,000 who just follow me for my cute photos of Spring blossom!
My Top Tips for Nurturing Your Community
Try to Post When Your Audience Is Online
If your target demographic is in a different time zone or even split across multiple time zones (e.g. UK and USA) then try to post at the optimum time for both audiences and at a time when you can stay in the app. Not only will this help the engagement on your post (which in turn will encourage the algorithm to show it to more of your followers) but it means you can be available to engage with those leaving you comments. The size of your following will determine how long you will need to spend engaging before the engagement tails off. As a rule of thumb, I would say allow yourself 30 - 60 minutes after you post.
If the comments are slow to roll in, have a look at who has engaged with your previous posts; check out their account and see if they've posted again and like and comment on their post. If they're a creature of habit and online at roughly the same time each day, then they may well come over to your account and engage with your latest post.
You are not Beyoncé. You need to engage with your community. Don't just sit back and wait for everyone to follow you and like/comment on your posts.
You need to get out there and give some insta-love back. This not only makes your followers feel valued, but it can also help you pick up new followers as your comments will be visible on their posts to their followers.
Try to allocate some time every day to engage with those who have taken the time to like and comment on your posts by liking and commenting on theirs. If I have a highly engaged follower (someone who comments on my posts every day), I tend to follow them back as I want them to know how appreciated they are.
Once you've got yourself into a routine of looking after the audience you've already got, then you can start actively trying to grow your account.
Growing Your Audience
With 800 million+ users on Instagram, there are lots and lots of potential customers, but you have to go looking for them, you cannot expect them to find you.
Hashtags are a good place to look for your target audience. Look for new accounts to engage with and follow by going into hashtags you are using on your posts. (You may also stumble across some competitors to keep an eye on as well.). Also, think about the types of hashtags your future customer might be using. For example, let's say your brand sells children's clothing and you are targeting parents. You could look under #ParentBlogger to find suitable accounts, but you wouldn't use the hashtag on your posts as you are not a parent blogger yourself. Use other Instagram suggested hashtags to find even more accounts. E.g. #mumlife #mumsoninstagam #parenting101
Another place to look is at the followers of those following you. If someone likes and comments on your posts, the likelihood is that their followers will also like your content. Have a look at who comments and likes their posts, as these will be engaged and active users who will be more likely to look at your account.
Write Genuine Comments
Do not copy and paste your comments, do not just use emojis. Write real and authentic comments, read their caption, look at their image and write something thoughtful. Nobody is expecting an essay but please steer clear of "nice pic 👍" or "love this! 💕💕💕”
Do not use this as a place to HARD SELL to your potential customer, remember they don't know you, you want them to get to know you, like you and trust you and they will naturally migrate to being a customer.
In summary, don't stress about the number at the top of your profile, just because it doesn't have a K next to it doesn't mean you can't use Instagram to market your business. Nurture your community through genuine engagement, and they will convert to your customers; at the end of the day isn't that what you want from your marketing?
If you want to learn more about how to thrive as a small business on Instagram and increase your sales click here.