I’ve been putting more effort into Instagram for the past 2 months or so – actually I can tell you the exact post, it was this one:
My ultimate goal is to grow a following and aesthetic strong enough that brands want to collaborate with me for marketing purposes. I see it as a uniquely challenging job interview for a position that there’s no clear path to reach. Sure, there are articles everywhere about how to “make your Instagram better” but it’s not so easy to find step by step guidelines of how to do it (see more thoughts on this here). As a data nerd I was and still am very ready to take on the challenge of trying to quantify becoming successful on social media through a method driven by data.
Here I am, two months later, currently with 437 followers, and today I got what I thought would be the Holy Grail of social media marketing for someone looking to grow a following: a repost. At 5am this morning I posted this photo:
And 8 hours later it was picked up by my absolute favorite online retailer, Look Human:
Their Instagram account has 45,400 followers.
That’s so many followers that they don’t even have the whole number on their account page, it’s just summarized as 45.4K.
There are less than forty-five thousand people in the town that I grew up in.
When I got the notification that they’d tagged me in a photo I held my breath.
I poised to refresh the page, expecting a flood of notifications and follows from the 45,400 people who would see my name on their Instagram feeds that would otherwise be unaware of my existence.
And I got nothing.
(Actually, I lost a couple followers, but that’s a normal part of the ebb and flow of follower numbers)
An hour went by, two hours, and nothing changed on my own account. People liked and commented on the store’s repost of my photo and that was it. I berated myself for having unrealistic expectations and I felt silly for feeling disappointed about something that was never promised, only a wild hope.
I went into other’s accounts who had been reposted by the store and noticed (what I assume to be) a similar trend. The ‘like’ count on their photos didn’t seem to vary between the before and the after, their follower count didn’t seem way out of whack, if you hadn’t known that they were on the store’s account then you wouldn’t have known that a major account had paid them attention at all. It seems that marketing is a relatively one way street – companies benefit from people marketing their products, but the marketers don’t automatically benefit from the same people that love the company.
The moral of the story: Don’t assume that all you need to gain followers is to get the attention of a big account, it’s not going to change your life overnight. You will gain far more followers by paying attention to other people’s accounts than you will by focusing on your own.
Take a repost for what it is and nothing more: recognition that you’re creating good content and heading in the right direction.