“I want to be unpopular”
We live in an age where, for better or for worse, your mojo is directly correlated to the number of Instagram followers you have. If you’re a social media influencer (or aspiring to be), your reputation is contingent on the popularity of your account. If you’re a brand, a strong Instagram has a significant impact on sales.
How to get a lot of followers on Instagram and rise above the crowd is not easy. It takes creativity, intuition, and hard work. Combine these three traits with the following three fundamentals and you’ll be one step closer to reaching Austin Powers mojo-status.
1. The Instagram Mindset
Getting 100k followers isn’t easy – it’s a full-time job. You need to consistently be on the hunt for epic shots. When you’ve found one, give yourself enough tries to capture it just the way you want.
Most people think that they need to find something incredible to take a good picture. They’re wrong. You’d be surprised by how the most ordinary things can be turned into the most extraordinary photographs. The trick is to focus on the way your environment fits together rather than getting starstruck by individual elements.
Photography empowers you to turn the way you see things into something concrete.
The photo to the left taken by Ansel Adams represents everything we will go over in this blog.
As the great Ansel Adams once said, “you don’t take a photograph, you make it”
The beauty of a picture is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. That being said, these best practices take you a long way.
- The rule of thirds
Ever wondered why Instagram overlays a 3×3 grid on your pictures? They’re there to help you frame your picture in a symmetrical and visually appealing way. Generally speaking, you want to place the most or captivating elements of your picture at the center of the screen or where the grids intersect.
- Use your perspective
Ansel Adams was also known to say that “a good photograph is knowing where to stand”. Perspective, as in the position you are taking relative to what you are photographing, matters… a lot. For instance, the angle at which you take your shot has a huge influence on the feelings you convey.
In the following example, taken at the top of a temple in Myanmar, I shot my brother from below, eliciting the feelings of power and splendor.
#temple king in #bagan #myanmar A photo posted by misha_blu (@misha_blu) on
How close up you get to your subject also impacts your picture. In this example, being up close helps the viewer empathize with the subject.
While in this one, being far out presents the subject (the girl) into an object interacting with her environment.
#serra at #LACMA #modernart #artinstallation #ironribbon A photo posted by misha_blu (@misha_blu) on
- Be intentional
Do things for a reason. It all comes down to being conscious of the composition of the picture you’re about to take.
Why are you taking it from where you are? Would it look better if you took it from somewhere else? Are the different elements of your picture in harmony? Or are you intending to have two elements clash against one another to build tension?
Consider your different options before moving in for the kill.
Developing your photographer’s eye matters. In order to create, you must consume. Instagram is full of talented, diverse photographers. Some of my personal favorites are Good Life Hunting, Jacob Coma, Humans of NY, and Crime By Design.
Use Filters, But Don’t Overdo It
Pictures should amplify your pictures, but they should not be overbearing. That being said, there are exceptions to every rule. The heavy use of filters in the following photograph creates a hallucinogenic feel, which is reinforced by the overlaid geometric figures.
This one time, I was walking through a meadow, or at least I thought I was. My feet were bare, and the luscious grass made me feel as if I was walking on clouds. As I looked up, I spotted a gang of cows feasting on the green fur. I got closer, curious to know what my animal-brothers were chatting about. But as I walked towards them, they kept moving further away from me, and the sky crystallized into a massive geometric figure. Convinced that this was my iPhone 3’s soul calling me from the grave, I drew my iPhone 6 and shot. A photo posted by misha_blu (@misha_blu) on
Experiment. Let your creative juices flow. You never know the beauty you may uncover.
You can also mix it up with the host of photo editing apps at your disposition. Here are my 7 all-time favorites.
2. Build a brand
“Build your brand”, “develop your voice”… We’ve heard these words thousands of times, but what do they really mean?
First of all, what is a brand?
In the words of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
It is not what you post, but what your followers remember about you. Let’s conduct an experiment: in one sentence, what is Apple? If you’re anything like me, you answered something along the lines of “world-class designed computers and phones”.
What about Nike?
“Elite sportswear for the athlete”
These players have built such a powerful brand that the simple evocation of their name draws up a vivid essence in my mind. I almost feel as if I knew them.
Let’s see how Nike translates its brand identity into Instagram.
The first thing I notice is that practically every picture features an individual athlete performing an intense workout in a scenic environment. The focus on the individual facilitates our connection with the athlete and evokes the elite, independent individual we love to fetishize. The use of bright colors, grandiose backgrounds, and wide-angle lens conveys the feeling of freedom and power.
There are 2 main things you can learn from the masters. The first is to build a compelling brand (duh). The crucial question here is a compelling brand for whom? Delighting everybody is nearly impossible.
- Identify your perfect follower
- e.g. interests, age… many brands even name their target follower to make him/her more real
- Then identify the kind of post your target follower will most identify with
- by tracking likes and comments
This will be an iterative process: you will refine both your target follower and your brand over time.
The second thing is to be consistent. People are naturally drawn to what they are familiar with. The most successful Instagram profiles tend to have a continuity, an essence. This consistency makes it easier for your followers to build rapport with you, increasing the likelihood that they will engage with your posts and recommend your account.
3. Growth Hacks
The first two sections were aimed at helping you to develop your content. In this section, I will cover my favorite growth strategies for how to get a lot of followers on Instagram.
Use the right #s
Using hashtags helps other IGers discover your posts. However, not all hashtags are created equal. My favorite way to discover hot hashtags is to look at the hashtags being used by other big Instagram accounts that are similar to mine.
Here are the questions you want to ask yourself before using it:
- Is this hashtag active?
- Is my post relevant to the pictures that are already being tagged with this hashtag?
- Does this hashtag have a high engagement rate?
- To check this, visit around 5 accounts of people that have used this hashtag and compare the hashtagged picture’s engagement to the engagement on other pictures.
Follow & Unfollow
This is one of the most effective and predictable ways to get your first ten thousand followers. It’s pretty simple: when you follow someone they are likely to follow you back, especially if they like what they see. Leverage this fact by following people in your target audience (i.e. people you think will resonate with your content). Target these accounts by following people that use relevant hashtags and who follow similar accounts to you.
Following relevant accounts is just the first step. The fact is that most of the people you follow will not follow you back simply because they didn’t have the time or the interest. After a day or two, unfollow all the accounts that did not follow you back to keep your following count under control.
Doing this manually is a ton of work. Luckily, you can make your job mmuch easier with services like JustUnfollow.
Engage, Engage, Engage
As you gain momentum, an effective way to gain a lot of followers is to get a shoutout from a well-followed Instagram user or to do a collaborative post with them. Get them to link to your Instagram handle.
They’ll likely want you to exchange the favor, which is why you want a solid following to begin with (the bigger your following the bigger the Instagram accounts that will want to collaborate with you).
Keep an eye out for accounts who fit the bill. To get their attention, you can use likes, comments, follows, and direct messages. Look beyond Instagram to Twitter and email if you have the option.
WARNING: Don’t be a leech. Be respectful, build a relationship with the other person first, and reach out to accounts that gain value from collaborating with you.
4. Beyond the fame
Getting hundreds of thousands of followers isn’t easy. It’s a full-time job. But unless brands pay you to manage an account, you’re probably funding your Instagram out of your own pocket.
If you want to earn revenue by promoting brands you’re passionate about, sign up on NeoReach to browse through our brand partnership offers. It’s free, easy, and lucrative.
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