How do you grow on Instagram? There are a TON of Disney fan accounts on Instagram. Some are great! Some are NOT. I get a lot of questions about this topic and I also see a lot of people doing the wrong things to try to grow their Instagram following. So I wanted to take a minute and give you guys some tips regarding Instagram specifically. This information will apply no matter what type of account your are trying to grow.
I have grown my Disney Instagram account, LivingbyDisney, relatively quickly. It’s been about seven months since I’ve started it. But I’ve worked in Social Media Marketing for quite some time and helped other brands grow their following on many different platforms of media. So I have seen what works and what doesn’t. If you want to grow a real genuine following, with interactive and informed fans who have gotten to know you and your life thru your account, then you are in the right place. If you just want to see a big number under “followers” and that’s all that matters to you, then move along. We all want followers, of course. But that number is only one indication of how successful your account is. There’s more to it. So here’s how to increase your following and connections and build a real community of fans- the right way.
1- Do NOT buy followers.
This had to be the first thing I listed NOT to do because it is a huge pet peeve of mine. Yes you can buy followers- if you didn’t know this was possible. It’s not a lot of money and that follower count will instantly go up. However, anyone who knows a little about Instagram will be able to easily tell your followers aren’t legit. Here’s a screenshot of an example of this- notice the picture below.
The follower count is 1490 which looks decent on first glance. Here’s how you know they aren’t real. Look at a few posts and see how many likes and comments they got. In this picture of Mickey below (click to enlarge) you can see they got 8 likes and no comments.
Less than 10 likes with over 1400 followers. That’s impossible. Then you see that the only have six posts to begin with. There’s no possible way you can get over 1000 followers in only 6 posts. This is plain stupid. Adding to that, these are only re-posts of other people’s pictures and not original and you know it’s bogus. I’m not sure who this person thinks they’re fooling. But they need to stop.
Buying followers may fool a few people into following you, but if you want experienced accounts to follow you back this won’t work. And even if you get people to follow you solely based on a high follower account, they aren’t going be the real fans you want. There are no shortcuts to building a following on social media. It takes work. (More on what you need to do coming up.)
Also, let this be a lesson to all of you when you are tempted to follow an account due to a high follower number. Check out a few posts, look at the likes and comments and see if it looks legit. If more people did this, there would be less of an incentive for people to try and cheat the system, and these shady businesses that buy and sell followers wouldn’t exist.
2- Be a Fan.
You need to follow others and be a fan of theirs to gain a following yourself. No matter how big of a deal you think you are, you are still an Instagram user like everyone else. You still need to follow other people and connect with them. This does not mean just following a ton of people randomly and assuming they will follow you back. Some mistakenly think they will just follow thousands of people and then thousands of people will follow them back. Easy right? No. It doesn’t work that way. I get this all the time- comments like F4F? Follow4Follow? Why should I follow you? Just because you followed me? How do I even know I like what you post about? In the screenshot below you see the red flag here- super high following count.
If I see that number is very high in comparison to their followers then I won’t even consider following you. Why? Because I know you don’t actually look at any of those thousands of people’s posts. If you won’t even look at my pictures, why do I want you as a follower anyway? And as soon as I follow you, it’s very likely you will unfollow me hoping I won’t notice. Many people use an automated service for this. (Yes another way to try and cheat the system)
You need to find accounts you genuinely like. Be their fan. Like, comment and interact with them. Even accounts with huge followings notice the people that regularly comment. That have genuine, interesting feedback or questions on their photos. They will notice and often times they will follow you back all on their own. I know I really enjoy connecting with the people who follow me and are interactive and engaging on my account. But you have to be a good fan first.
3- Reply to comments.
As you grow your followers you will get more and more comments on your pictures. This is awesome. Most people are like me and love comments! Likes are awesome too, but comments are what really tell you if the picture or info you posted is well received and what people think about it. It helps you learn the things people are most interested in. Liking a picture is pretty quick, but leaving a comment takes time and shows a high level of interest. But, nothing is more annoying to me than asking a question and not getting an answer or reply. I may let it slide a few times, but if it happens more than that I will either unfollow or stop commenting.
Now, if you have tens of thousands of followers, and you’re getting hundreds of comments on every post, then it’s certainly understandable you can’t answer all of them. We all get that. But I’ve left comments or questions on very small accounts and hear nothing back. It sends a definite message. I don’t care about you or any of the people that follow me. You will not gain a successful following like that. As you grow, following up with comments and DMs will take a good chunk of time. As will liking and commenting on other’s people’s posts (as a fan of theirs). But like anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it. That’s why it’s good to try to limit the amount of accounts you personally follow so you can actually view at least some of the pictures that others post.
Give back a little of the love and comments you get. Then Instagram will start to feel like a real community of fans who are all passionate about the same things. That’s when it gets really rewarding. Again, no shortcuts. Take the time to put in the work and you will grow.
4- Post interesting things.
This may seem obvious but “interesting” is relative to who you talk to. Keep your posts on topic. If you have a Disney account, keep the posts primarily about that. if you get off-topic too often people may unfollow you. That being said, it’s important to keep it personal. Social Media is about letting people in to your life and showing them how you see the world.
Scan your feed and try to look at it from the perspective of a new user. If I look at your bio and picture feed can I clearly see: Who are you? What is your personality like? What is your account about? Where do you live? What is your life like? Are you selling or promoting a service or product? Is this work or personal? Where else can I connect with you?
This is most evident in photography pages. I see a lot of Disney photography accounts- and the people are undoubtedly good photographers. But that’s not enough for me to follow you. The first thing I want to know is who are you- if I can’t tell then I won’t follow. If there are no pictures of you personally, and there’s personality in the pictures, no story being told in the captions, then what’s the point? I can go on Flickr and see great pictures. Why should follow you?
These days people want transparency in their social media- they want to see the man behind the curtain and hear a unique voice in their media. Those that don’t alter their approach will find themselves left behind. This goes for people just starting as well as those that have established followings. New people are entering the scene every day. If you want to stand out from the pack then show them who you are. Make it personal. If you aren’t comfortable doing that, at least to some small degree, then maybe social media isn’t your thing.
Also, be careful to post regularly and consistently, but not too much. Spamming people’s feed with tons of pictures of the same event in one day is a good way to lose followers. Make those a rare, special occurrence. If you don’t have anything to post then don’t. Better to not post then throw something up there that’s boring.
5- Use other tools and apps to help you grow.
Once you start really growing your followers you may want to use some tracking tools to keep up with things. I like to use InsTrack, but there are others as well. It’s free but you will need to pay to unlock all the features. For me it’s been worth it. It helps you track your gained and lost followers, and shows you your most popular posts. It also shows you your top 20 “best friends” who have the highest engagement with your account.
This is super helpful. Seeing your biggest “fans” allows you to easily give some love back to those people who are really supporting you. If you don’t know who they are or aren’t following them back, then consider doing so. Check their latest posts and give them some love. I always make it a point to know who these people are and what’s going on with them.
You can also use other photo and video editing apps to enhance your posts. Now that Instagram lets you post up to one minute of video, you can really get creative with your video editing. There are some great free apps to edit, splice and enhance your video and pictures. If you guys are interested in the apps I regularly use, leave a comment here and I’ll write a future post about that.
Also, don’t forget to let people know other ways they can connect with you. If you’re on Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, etc… remind people and use your bio to post direct links. When social media can help you move fans to multiple platforms that’s when you really start seeing your following and community grow.
I hope this list will help some of you guys get things going. If you have other questions that I didn’t answer, leave me a comment and I will definitely answer you! 🙂 If you have an Instagram account that you want me to look at and give you feedback, DM me on Instagram and I’ll check it out and see if I have any tips for you. Also if you follow me on Instagram, thanks so much for doing so! I love the Disney fans there and always look forward to seeing what you guys have to say.