The social media struggle is real.
As a coach, I hear from business owners and content creators who want to know how to grow their following. And to be honest, when I hear this, I cringe.
But, I get it …. We’ve spent our whole lives being trained that more is better. 100 points on a school test is better than 90. 1000s of dollars in the bank is better than 100s. If you ask a child if they would rather have 5 dimes or 4 quarters, they will take the 5 dimes.
Even Instagram and Twitter put follower counts right at the top. Front and center. For everyone to see, and judge. We’ve been trained that follower count is the most important stat when it comes to social media.
So it makes total sense that our society is transfixed on getting as many social media followers as possible. Because tens of thousands of Instagram followers is better than hundreds, right?
Well, it depends … Are those tens of thousands of followers your perfect client? Are they going to buy from you? Or are they just there because of giveaways, or follow-for-follow threads, or other Insta-tricks?
The truth is, if you only care about followers, you can buy followers. It’s relatively easy to buy followers or even likes! What’s difficult is actually building relationships with people, which is what we really want.
What sounds better – 10,000 followers who don’t care about you and your service or product? Or 1000 followers who are eager to hire you or buy from you? Give me the 1000 any day.
It takes a lot of brain re-wiring, but we all need to stop focusing on follower count as a metric of social media success, and instead focus on the following:
1. Posting good content. I know, sounds simple, doesn’t it? And if were that simple we would all have millions of followers. But, I want everyone to remember that Instagram is a content-first platform. The image you post will be a user’s first impression of you. If you can’t grab their attention with those images, then no amount of weird algorithm tricks are going to help you.
2. Your engagement percentage. Some brands are always going to be number focused, but more and more brands are catching on to the fact that engagement should matter more than numbers. Padding your numbers is easy. Faking real genuine engagement is a lot tougher.
3. Website click-throughs. Congrats, you have followers on Instagram. But are they visiting your website? Are they clicking on your products? Are they sending you inquiry emails? These are the numbers you should be watching. Work on getting these numbers higher by sharing content that entices your followers to click.
4. Focus on your current followers before chasing new ones. It drives me crazy that some biz owners only use Instagram to reach new clients, when you likely have hundreds or thousands of potential clients already following you. Obviously if you’re growing your business you want to reach new people, and it’s fine to use social media for that! Just put your current followers first. They already made the decision to press the “follow” button and add your content to their daily lives. Show them lots of love in return by engaging in conversation and supporting them.
5. Consistency is key. You don’t have to post every single day, but keep showing up. A big part of creating relationships on Instagram goes beyond your posts. Respond to every comment and every message, and go to your follower’s posts and engage with them there, too. Scroll through the hashtag your ideal client is using and chat with folks. Set aside a few minutes every day, if possible, just to be present and active and engaging on Instagram.
6. Your idea of success is different from everyone else’s. If you reach 10,000 followers on Instagram but none of them are paying clients, will you feel successful? Maybe you will … that’s not for me to decide. But I encourage everyone to really think about your definition of success, write it down, and then think, “Okay, how will I get there?” If your goal is to make money, then go to your current following (you know, the people who already like and trust you) and ask them what their current problems are. Then solve those problems.
Breaking the follower count habit is hard. Trust me, I struggle with it, too! But when you release yourself from the struggle of feeling like you don’t have enough, you’ll have more time and energy to be happy with what you already have.