There seems to be two major strategies on Instagram as far as following different accounts go…
First, the follow/unfollow strategy. Here’s the gist of it, you follow a bunch of accounts in your target audience i.e. if you’re a sports blogger you’d follow a bunch of 18-35 year old men who are fans of the teams and sports you write about. Then everyone who doesn’t follow you back, you return the favor by unfollowing them.
Second, you want everything to be soooo organic that you don’t follow anyone, don’t use hashtags, don’t put your geo-location and just hope that you get discovered (not really a strategy).
I’m sure there are other strategies out there, but as far as which accounts to follow…my strategy is somewhere in between, and really has worked for me up to this point. Here are the 4 types of accounts you should be following as you’re building your brand.
- Friends…Remember Social media is SOCIAL!! You’re friends are the foundation for your engagement. Depending on your friends, they’ll always be there to support what you post. “McClain, I’m not trying to sell to my friends? That isn’t real engagement is it?” This is going to sound superficial, but the more likes and comments you get the more exposure you get. Instagram has an “explore page” which consists of posts you’ve liked and the people you follow liked. The more people who “like” and “comment” on your photo the more exposure you’re going to get on the explore page. So you may not be trying to attract your friends, but maybe it’s the friends of friends you want, lay down the foundation for your engagement.
- People You Want to Network With…Instagram can be a good platform for networking (sometimes it isn’t). Find people who you want to connect with (it’s good to connect with smaller accounts or accounts that are similar to your size). Follow their account, comment on their photos, like their posts, be social and network.
- Top Accounts in Your Industry…Following the bigger accounts in your niche can help with seeing what’s trending and what people like. Also commenting on their posts can show you’re a player in the industry and help expose you to your target audience. DON’T spam their comment section, you have to provide actual value to their post. I highly recommend you don’t beg for people to follow you, check your stuff out, or like your new post, especially with out providing value on the other side.
- Local/Niche Related Accounts…I like to follow local accounts. This one really depends on what you’re trying to do and the exposure you’re trying to get. That being said, I think following local influencers or influencers in your niche is always a good idea, kind of going back to networking and building relationships via Instagram.
Conclusion: A lot of people like the follow/unfollow idea. Other’s want it all to be organic. I sit somewhere in the middle. Obviously you don’t just want a bunch of auto-bots following you or people who are looking to follow for follow. In the same line you don’t want to come off spammy. You want real, engaged followers, of course that’s a given, but in my mind you should be doing everything possible to gain that exposure which means hustling on Instagram.