When I started my Instagram feed, I was googling how to increase my followers by any means necessary. I looked into every scam and guarantee that said I would have 100k followers and only pay $$$ for it. I soon learned that the number of followers is irrelevant. The key number is engagement.
As of the writing of this, I have “only” 4,315 followers on Instagram. There are thousands of Instagram accounts with 100k or more, and I would love to have 100k followers, but I’m not going to buy them or fake them. I am going to earn them.
Here’s my strategy — I post a photo almost every day, and I engage people in other feeds by real likes, follows, and comments on their images. This is the honest way to do it. I don’t beg for followers, I don’t trade likes, and I don’t post photos of my coffee or cat. I share my own work, and I share it for the public benefit.
There have been articles from CEOs and executives stating that they won’t work with “influencers” with less than 100k followers. That’s their bar. I disagree that this is a good measure of effectiveness. What is effective in social media? Engagement.
Out of 4,315 followers, I post this photo, and without any intervention on my part, I got 728 likes and several comments. These are from real people, not fake followers. These are real people who look at my photo, find it to be interesting or attractive, and hit the like button.
Let’s do some math. I have 4,315 followers. My photo got 728 likes. That’s 728/4315 = 16.8% of my followers are engaged. Pretty good! Now let’s look at a bigger account.
Instagram account @natgeo has 82,900,000 followers. That just blows my mind! But here’s the math. On the latest image they had 46,382 likes. Wow. That’s a lot of engagement. If you’re looking at this brand as an influencer, you have to admit they have a lot of engagement. 46,382 people liked the photo. This blows my little account away.
But again, let’s do the math. 46382/82900000 = 0.0056% engagement. My photo got 16.8% engagement. NatGeo’s photo got 0.0056% engagement. That means I got 3,000 times more engagement than NatGeo. Hmm…
In conclusion, I would never say I have more influence than a mega-account like NatGeo, but I am comfortable saying that I have 3,000 more times engagement than they do. By absolute reach, they blow it away by reaching thousands upon thousands of people through their Instagram.
It reminds me of the story of the tortoise and the hare. How does that one end?