Create and sustain a dynamic following on Instagram

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With its ever-expanding reach, social media permeates nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Yet, despite having the opportunity to connect with people across the globe, it’s rare that we use this ability to its full potential. As a growing artist, it’s important to understand who your target audience is and how and when to connect with them. You need to spend time researching their hobbies, tendencies, and interests. For example, if you want to build a following in London, you might consider the time of day to post based on your current time zone, using additional location related hashtags, or posting a particular content type that the audience seems to favour. Posting a video of a new song may hold more value than posting a picture of the album artwork to certain audiences. And while content can be shared through a variety of platforms, Instagram has proved itself to be one of the most important tools in building and maintaining an international audience, given their 500 million plus active daily users.

Dynamic content creates perspective

There are multiple routes to sharing content with Instagram, each with its own advantages. Photos give the ability to snapshot a moment in time highlighting key aspects of your brand. Videos can provide more depth about what you do, giving you an opportunity to showcase your brand creativity. Instagram stories have continued to pick up interest among users since its debut in 2016, and it’s a great way to increase engagement.  This is the kind of engagement that helps create a more personal relationship between you and your followers. Plus, Instagram stories are discoverable to users that do not follow you.

Creating a visible online presence

The simple answer to creating and maintaining an international audience is to curate great content and actively interact with users. Creating great content involves being knowledgeable and relatable about your brand while adding value to users. Interacting with users through different content types like sharing stories, comments or direct messages will help increase relationship value. Although the specific variables Instagram uses in its algorithms are unknown, understanding the key components and concepts of them can provide brands with an opportunity to enrich their online presence.

Breakdown of Instagram algorithms

Much like its parent company, Instagram’s algorithms are designed to maximize the amount of time you spend on its application. They generate content based on a variety of factors like time, type of content, and engagement. Engagement can be broken up into post engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.), time spent viewing content, search queries, and sharing content through direct message. The algorithms are constantly evolving, but don’t let that stop you. There are still basic variables that can be used to your advantage.

Shaping your reach

  • Create content that sparks real engagement between you and your audience.  When your post shows real engagement, Instagram wants to let other users know. Comments, video views, saves, shares and likes all provide a different weight in valuing this.
  • Post often and post different forms of content. Each type of post is helpful in creating a collection of content that provides different perspectives about your brand. Sharing content consistently and actively responding to users helps build trust.
  • Target your audience at the proper time. Optimal posting times vary from user to user.  Remember to consider who you want your post to reach, as well as prior insights through the Instagram app.
  • Create great content. Anyone can create great content; the definition is in the details. Taking the extra time to show your audience you care about what you’re doing will help maintain them as fans. Be creative and don’t overthink it.

At the end of the day, there is no real formula to outsmarting the Instagram algorithms. Building and maintaining an international audience is hard work and takes time. Be unique, try new techniques and learn that failure is your friend. Trust your process. Just remember that Instagram rewards great content for brands of all sizes.