Firstly let me clarify that the importance people and brands place on follower counts or the impressions their content receives is grossly overvalued. I can’t say numbers don’t matter, but the value everyone places on these numbers needs to be reconsidered. There is just too much emphasis on the width of engagement—how many potential connections they make—rather than the depth of those interactions which, in my eyes, is far more important.
It doesn’t matter if you have an Instagram account
with a million followers or if you just created a new profile today, this is absolutely the advice I would give to anyone looking to build a more meaningful community on Instagram or online. The reason I feel comfortable answering this question is that I’ve spent the last 10 years of my career trying to understand user psychology and reverse engineer attention into an engaged community online. This is not theory, it’s practical advice that has worked for me and thousands of other individuals, companies, products, and brands. I started using these tactics on Twitter but obviously migrated them to Facebook and Instagram. No matter which platform comes next, this will be the behavior I deploy to build awareness, and more importantly, community online.
The truth is, the way to win on social media is to actually be social!
if you can’t build a community of like-minded people who care and engage. The only real way to do this from scratch is to become part of the conversation, you need to participate and engage with people who have the same interests as you.
I came up with what I like to call the $1.80 Instagram Strategy
which translates to leaving your personal $.02 on the top 9 trending Instagram posts for 10 different hashtags that are relevant to your brand or business every single day. By the end, you haven’t just left your $.02, but a full $1.80 of thoughts online in the specific category, niche or industry you want to become a part of.
I’m going to use the example of meditation. imagine that you are deep into meditation and have been practicing for years and now you want to build a business around meditation or grow your personal brand.
STEP 1: FINDING THE BEST HASHTAGS TO FOLLOW
The first thing you need to do is identify the 10 most important/relevant hashtags in your field.
The best part about searching for hashtags is that you can quickly and easily identify related tags in your industry or niche. Once you search meditation, Instagram recommends related hashtags to follow. Spend time searching not only the most popular hashtags but lesser known hashtags that still relate and can make a real impact. When you find a hashtag, or better yet a post, the first thing you need to do is identify who that person is. Click on the post, identify the account, read their bio, look at their profile, understand their likes, dislikes, and activity. Read the copy below and engage, even if the account only has 190 followers but every single post that user creates has 60 likes and 20 comments, REACH OUT and leave your $.02. The thought that a low number of followers can be considered “irrelevant” makes no sense to me. You can have 10, 10,000, or 1,000,000 followers and all it takes is for one post to be noticed by one person to cause a social media chain reaction. The absolute number does not matter. One retweet, one repost, one link in an email is enough to get the ball rolling.
STEP 2: LEAVE YOUR INSTAGRAM COMMENT $.02 FOR THE 1.80 INSTAGRAM STRATEGY
Now that you’ve identified the top 9 posts for your top 10 hashtags… it’s time to leave your $.02 which means leaving your thoughts and trying to provide value where you can. If you see someone in the comments who has a question and you know how to respond, answer. If you love the post and admire the aesthetic, say so! If you have thoughts about the quote or the copy in their post, reply! If the image reminds you of another content creator, tag them. If you think a friend would benefit from seeing it, share it with them. Comment, like, engage, respond, share. These are the simple and easy ways you can leave your $.02. Realistically this shouldn’t take any more than 2 minutes per post.
You don’t have to write a book or say something profound, you just have to engage and interact. That is what it means to be social. But please please please be authentic to yourself and the person on that post. We all know what a spam comment looks like. And if you really want to connect, send a DM to the creator. Mention the post and why you liked it. Respond to their story and say something valuable. Ask if you can help, collaborate, promote, etc.
STEP 3. CONTINUE TO COMMENT, LIKE AND ENGAGE ON INSTAGRAM
It’s as easy as that. The overall process is incredibly simple. It’s $.02 , on 9 posts for 10 hashtags every day. That all adds up to $1.80.
No matter how much value you provide, this is still a game of numbers. You have to be willing to give yourself more at-bats. Everyone else is only leaving $.02. You’re leaving a $1.80 Every single day.
Even if that is only one new follower a day or 1 new idea about what works and what doesn’t on Instagram. No matter what, I guarantee you will learn. You will learn something about the platform, about culture, about human behavior, about how people interact online, about empathy and humility and perspective, it’s all there through this little process. It’s leaving your $.02 and being part of a real community.
So, start deploying the $1.80 strategy. You’re going to drop $1.80 a day, two cents at a time, nine top posts, on ten different hashtags, every day. And that will slowly but surely build an audience that knows you and appreciates your content. You’re going to leave $1.80 in karma, $1.80 in community, $1.80 in your thoughts. You’re not there to say follow, follow, follow.
The way to be discovered is to either put out great content, and have one piece go viral, or the way I like it, and the strategy that has always worked for me is to become part of the community. You will pick up three to four followers a day, which are meaningful. Not bots and spam, but meaningful connections. That means you’ll probably receive 100 new meaningful followers in a month. Which means you’ll put out a piece of content and if one of them is special, and one of the people that follow you has a bigger audience and decided to share it, then away you go.
But that’s not even the best part. Do you know what’s so great about the $1.80 Instagram strategy? It’s not that you’re going to get exposure, or you’re going to get some followers, or that you’re going to contribute and be a great community member, but you’re also going to learn. Because you’re going to watch and consume, 90 pieces of content a day that is doing well on Instagram, which is then going to inspire and help you strategize the content that you yourself are going to put out on Instagram. That’s a really good use of three hours a day.
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Let me know how it goes.