So many people on Instagram base success on how many followers they have. As artists, the number of followers shouldn't be as important as the number of art patrons. However the fact is that the more followers you have, the more people will see your posts and the more buyers will be reached. The magic goal of 10K followers also allows Instagram users to create stories that link to websites -- a rare benefit on Instagram as you can only have one outside link on the whole service otherwise, and only in your profile. So how do we gain those followers?
There are a lot of ways to gain followers, but not all are created equal. In some cases you can game the system, but will that translate in to engaged followers who help your posts rise above the social media noise to be seen by a wider range of people? Maybe, maybe not.
I'll address 10 ways you can gain followers on Instagram and the benefits and drawbacks to each.
1. Consistent Quality Content
This should be a no brainer, but sometimes it has to be repeated and each word needs to be explained. Post consistent quality content.
Consistent: meaning periodic and repeated. Many think if they create an Instagram page and put a few examples of their work, that should be enough. Instagram doesn't work well as a static advertisement. No new users will be served up older content. Posts grow stale quickly and then the only way users will find you is if they know to go looking for you. And even if your patrons look for you, if they follow you, they won't be reminded that you make beautiful work if you don't add new content consistently. One of my favorite sayings is that your customers need to see your work repetitively before they make a substantial purchase and you shouldn't wait for them to search for you each time for that or it may not happen.
Quality: posting just to have updates is also not recommended. You need to put something your customers will want to see and consider buying. Reposting quality content or repurposing it (creating a new look via image editing software like Canva for instance) can be a way to produce more quality while still maintaining a consistent posting schedule.
When you post repetitive interesting content, the organic followers will come. They like your content and follow you because they want to see what you post. These will be the best followers because they are engaged with your work and are self-motivated.
2. Follow for Follow
This technique is simply to follow as many people as possible and hope they follow you back. Many times this will build up your follower count because many Instagram users will reciprocate a follow almost automatically. This does dilute your own feed, however, and engaging with customers (which I will write about in future posts) will become more difficult as you will have a huge variety of non-related content in your own feed. These may or may not be engaged followers and this is not one of my favorite techniques.
As a note: you do not need to reciprocate when someone follows you. You might decide to go check out their page and see if you legitimately want to see their content in your own feed or engage with them in the future before following them.