In September 2012 Facebook completed its acquisition of Instagram. The deal was reported to be worth an estimated 1 Billion in cash and stock.
First things first, decide if Instagram is right for you. Odds are, you’re reading this because you either use IG already and want to grow your presence, or you’re still sitting on the fence and deciding whether to try it.
If you’re still thinking about it, ask yourself these three questions.
1) Do you like to take pictures?
2) Do you consider yourself creative and artistic?
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3) Do you want to expand your network and create loyal connections?
Assuming you answered yes to one of them, the debate is over… keep reading because the people already on Instagram are wondering why it’s taking so long to get to the good stuff.
I joined Instagram back in April of this year, when it first became available on Android devices. In the 7 months since my debut, I’ve built a fanbase of over 60K followers who’ve collectively blown me away with their engagement. It’s safe to say, after earning 1.25 million likes and 36000+ comments, I’ve achieved a certain level Instafame. Now it’s time to map my success and pass on a few directions how you, too, can become Instafamous.
BE AN ARTIST, NOT A PICTURE TAKER
I know, I know, it was a bait and switch; I asked you if you liked to take pictures and you said yes, WTH!! That’s just the thing, though, anyone CAN take picture. Of course it helps to take a “better” picture, but the #1 concept I learned about photography is it’s all about the finish. Anyone can take a picture and upload it to Instagram; you need to set yourself apart. Here’s the deal – skip your latte and invest in a “pro” photo editing app.
Here’s a quick look at what a creative eye and technology can produce with some of before and after shots!
This is a good segway – when you’re doing advance edits, don’t try to pass it off as an original. Some people’s feathers get in a bunch when you don’t disclose it as an edit. Another “controversial” topic is the use of cameras outside of your phone. Some people are hardcore, iPhone only, purists that shun other IGer’s who post pics shot with a digital or DSLR camera. Well, I use a DroidX and Canon point and shoot… so the purists might not like me. It’s a 60% phone / 40% Canon ratio for my posts and, frankly, I don’t care what the aristocrats think.
THE INSIDE SECRET
Ok, let’s get it out of the way – I’ll tell you the “Big Secret” everyone wants to know. How do I do it… get so many likes… have so many followers… comments? It started with hard work and then became a helluva lot easier as I reached the popular page. So there it is, getting on the popular page will make you Instafamous. The End.
Just kidding, sort-of, but here’s the kicker. You’ll need more than a bunch of people following you to climb the charts. You want fans, not followers. Fans are the ones who actively view their Instagram feeds and engage with you on a regular basis. As your base grows, use tools like Statigram to keep tabs on your most engaging fans and monitor your progress. The chart below, along with the first infographic above, were both generated with Statigr.am.
Run to a Million
HOW TO: BUILD YOUR INSTACRED
This part isn’t as hard as it seems, but takes time. You’re going to need thousands of fans before you make it to the popular page; which means more people need to know of your existence on Instagram. There are three main ways to accomplish this: follow someone, like their post, comment on posts. The first two are the quickest way to introduce yourself. If you want further detail on follow/like strategies, comment with your interest at the end of this post.
My Bieber Moment
Most of the things we talked about fall under one umbrella – setting yourself apart from the other tens of millions IG users. I have one last tiny tip that will pay dividends immediately and probably will be the most impactful concept you take away from this. I’m assuming that you do (or will) respond to all your comments. Make sure you respond to all comments until you reach the popular page and can’t keep up with them all. The key here is to use your fans name in your reply to their comment. I’ve had over a hundred people respond by with something similar to “you’re the first person to ever called me by name here.”
Go ahead and ignore everything I said up until to the last two sentences. That’s the real secret – get to know your followers and make them into your fans.