Day 38 of #100daysmarketingcreatives - Talk To Likes and Follows To Grow Your Instagram Account
Social media isn't called social media for nothing! Unless you have an extremely niche sort after product mixed in with a lot of publicity from elsewhere it is really difficult to get your Instagram (or other social media) off the ground and to grow it at a significant rate. Posting alone is not enough especially at the early stages. You need to be talking to people and developing relationships with them. With so much competition out there for air time these days it is much more difficult to get noticed than it was if you got in at the beginning a few years ago but by talking to people and helping them to get to know the person behind the work that they are looking at, by being approachable not being just a faceless product advertising account you will get noticed, people will warm to you and ultimately will be much more likely to engage with you and your products and either purchase them or help spread the word so that others do. You will also build strong relationships with others who will help you along your journey!
But who wants to talk to you and why when there are so many other much more popular accounts out there? Well later in the project I will talk in more detail about cold, warm and hot traffic. For now though in striking up a simple conversation just think about people who like or follow you. These people have just looked at either a single post or have looked at your account and chosen to like the post and / or follow the account. By doing that these people have indicated that they like something about what you are doing. These people are therefore much more likely to entertain a conversation with you and if you craft that conversation carefully it can lead much further occasionally in the short term but very often in the medium and long term.
But I haven't got time for talking to all those people? A common mistake here. Your time is more important to make more product and by making more product you will make more sales. No no no!!! As a small business you need to get into the mentality of 50% product creation 50% marketing. That is the reality if you want to be successful until you reach a point where you can get someone else to look after that side of your business for you! I know you are a great artist but rubbish at marketing, you don't want to do something you cannot do well like your art and because time spent on it so far has not been very fruitful other than perhaps selling in person at shows then you don't want to do it. Well unfortunately to grow and be successful online you do and the good news is that as you become better at it and gain confidence as well as see more results you will start to enjoy it more I promise you! But to do it you need to make the time and discipline yourself so that you use that time constructively and productively.
OK so what do I say to a Like? If someone likes a post you have struck a chord with them. They like something but not enough to follow you. Like you they might be choosy about who they follow to keep their feed influential from accounts doing well rather than cluttered with smaller accounts that are not. So the like is a great big opportunity to convert this person to a follower. You can do this by sending them a direct message. Very few people do this which makes it even more effective. Many don't because they think it is time consuming but if you prepare some text offline you can copy and paste it into a direct message then personalise it a bit for the individual so it is much quicker. The key is to send it within minutes or hours of the like so that you are still fresh in their memory. Before you do check out their account, find a first name, see if you have anything in common that you could personalise the conversation with and end the message with a question - that way it becomes a 'conversation' not just a message and a conversation is much more likely to encourage a new follower than a single one way message.
So can you give me an example? Glad you asked! Well this text is along the lines of what I send to new likes. I am constantly refining it and if you want to get really clever have 2 or 3 versions that you can rotate and experiment to see which one is most effective for you. Some get ignored but several have either converted straight to a follow or to a conversation that then converts to a follow
"Thanks for the like on my #100daysmarketingcreatives post (their first name here). I would love to have you follow the journey of @tabathagell a very talented 15 year old artist as well as more established arts and craft people as I show them the techniques necessary to promote their work online. Hope to have you on board and if you like what you see please like the posts, mention to others and ask any questions. That all helps me more than you imagine. Lots to cover including websites, mailing lists, social media, online shops and more. Is there anything you would like to see me cover? Paul"
Tailor this to your own area. Discuss what you intend to show in future posts that people might like to see so there is a teaser and reason to follow. Use a question to stimulate a conversation and use the conversation for building a new relationship as well as valuable market research. Spend a minute or two looking at the other person's account. What kind of things do they post? Is there any common ground that you both have? Is there anything you can compliment them on in the direct message? Before you send the direct message why not like a few items on their feed that strike a chord with you which will also help get you on their radar and more likely to read your direct message.
So someone has followed you - why waste time talking to them when they are following you? The key here though is to kickstart relationships with people who have genuinely took an interest in you enough to follow you. By being courteous to them and thanking them for that you have a hot lead that is ready to engage with you and maybe start building a relationship. Offer a few tips about next steps you might want them to take - perhaps visiting your bio to visit a link to your website or online shop. Do you want to steer them towards a mailing list, profile highlights (more about those later in the project) and so on. Again use a question to stimulate a conversation, perform more market research and if you think the account is one that might collaborate with you (coming up later in the project!) then why not sew the seeds for a future collaboration for example.
There is also another type of follower that this might connect to. Some people have a strategy of following people to get them to follow them back then they unfollow that person once they have got the follow back. It is a system that works for some people but for me it just feels unethical. I think there are a lot of people doing it systematically but there are also many more that just have a naïve approach to Instagram growth and have found something that works for them in the absence of something better. At this stage, however, when you need all the followers you can get in order to get started why not direct message these people. By striking up a conversation with them they might think twice about unfollowing you and might follow you more attentively, interact in your posts and help spread the word to others.
"Thanks for following me (their name here). I hope you find my content useful. If you do please let others know and feel free to ask any questions. I will often post more detailed content on my web blog so follow the link in my bio with each Instagram post you are interested in. Enjoy. Is there anything specific you would like me to cover or anything you think we could collaborate on? Paul"
The key to all of this is make it easy to do by copy and paste on your phone, carefully craft the standard text and continue to refine it as time goes on and to personalise it with the persons name and a line or two specific to them so you do not appear spammy but rather that you can be seen to have a keen interest in this person and willing to build a relationship with them. This really works while numbers are low but once you have very high numbers of followers (10k+) it might become too time consuming to continue to do it as well.
If you have found this free advice useful, please return the favour by following me on Instagram or Facebook liking my posts and mentioning me to your friends! Thanks.
Do you use this technique? What kind of things do you say and what kind of results do you get?