Why Genuine and Organic Instagram Growth Is Best For Your Business
I've recently seen a rise in article and posts advocating that people buy followers and even poach their competitors followers. Personally, I think buying followers is an instant no no as it's quite easy to tell when people have. If your audience find out that you have, it can be a turn off as people will think that you're shallow or all about the money/numbers. As for poaching your competitors followers, there is a clear line. Using it as a way to connect to artists and small businesses can be useful but just going down someone's follower list and following everyone is not the right way. I had this recently where I noticed a follower of mine, who does similar things to me had followed a large portion of my followers. This is the thing, not only the artists and businesses as just mentioned but my own personal friends. Personally, I think this is crossing the line, although maybe I shouldn't be so precious in this day and age with the accessibility of social media. Each person's moral compass is different to your own. Stepping beyond that line is something I would never do but again it harks back to the point I am about to make about being genuine online. So, here are 5 reasons why I think obtaining Instagram growth organically and authentically is the best option for growing your business.
Chances are if you're in it for the numbers and you poach other people's followers, randomly follow people in the hopes that they will follow back, you won't get the engagement you're after. Simple. At first look, Instagram appears to be all about the number of followers you have, with this determining how successful and "big" you are. However, Instagram's algorithm is mainly based on engagement. It's not enough to have thousands of followers anymore, people actually have to engage with your post in order for your posts to be more visible to them. Chances are if you've poached a load of followers and you haven't bothered to genuinely connect with them and establish them as friends, they're not going to bother to engage with your post. This also applies to buying followers from certain companies. You may get promised anything from hundreds to thousands of followers "overnight" but the truth is most of those are bots that are rarely going to engage with your posts. For me, a massive benefit of curating an genuine, engaged community is cultivating feedback and insight. For example, I often use Instagram to ask for people's opinions on a certain product idea or colour way or design. This is a huge advantage that you would massively miss out on if a large portion of your followers were bought or didn't connect with you.
One reason someone might decide to follow you besides liking your work, is because they like your personality, your brand vibe, your feed or your lifestyle. Another big reason would be because they feel that you're an authentic, genuine person that they can trust. Being authentic in your business and you're approach to marketing has more of an impact on your audience than you might think. For example, you might like a person's Instagram because they seem to genuinely care about how their business effects the environment but if you found out that they had bought thousands of followers, you would think that all they care about is popularity or money.
People don't want you to be "salesy" all the time. So you need to create content that you like and is genuine but that also reflects what your followers are interested in. If you have the majority of bought or poached followers, they are not going to give you that feedback on what they like. They'll just like everything or randomly. You need to use this wonderful engaged community to your advantage and help them, help you.
If you pay for followers or follow someone else's followers without checking if they are your target audience, that's a huge chunk of your audience that won't be likely to ever head to your website or buy your products. A recent study by Fohr Card found that 8% of the estimated 600 million Instagram accounts were fake, which equals 48 million potential bots! That's a large percentage of accounts that don't have a human being behind them. Yes you will have loads of followers but you have to ask yourself - what's the point? If they are bots, you're essentially standing up on your soap box, speaking to no one. All that time and effort that you put into your content and for what? For it to look like it's well liked but actually not many people have clicked through to read your blog post because most of the people that liked the post are "AI".
Back to the engagement point real quick, if you create genuine connections with your organic followers, they have the potential to pass on your work via word of mouth or on their own social media platforms. Bots and people who you haven't connected with won't do that. One of the biggest benefits of creating an engaged community is that you can build mutual respect and admiration for people. Again, you shouldn't create those friendships with the intention to exploit them, but genuine friendships can often lead to connection and shows of support in multiple ways. Be it a purchase from your shop, a motivational support boost, a share on their page, a mention on their blog or a lovely comment on your post. These sorts of relationships can't be created with bots and people that don't have a connected interest in you. Marketing is the biggest part of running a business and most marketing is off putting as it is done in an aggressive way. Unexpected, genuine marketing can be the loveliest and have the most impact. Besides, everyone is more likely to trust a brand and purchase from them if they have good reviews, right?
4. Focus on your own lane
Constantly searching through your competitors followers and scouting out what they are doing, leaves you with less time to concentrate on your own work. You know the saying, stay in your own lane? This very much applies to that. Work on developing your own brand, your style, your portfolio and creating a place where people will want to be.
"If you build it they will come."
"Your vibe attracts your tribe."
These phrases are popular for a reason. Because they're true. By trying to copy someone else, you lose some of your authenticity and what the people who followed you originally liked about you. You will probably end up doing things you think other people will like and less of what you and your original followers like. If you're not enthusiastic and love what what you're creating, other people won't love it either.
5. Brand Integrity
Just as with most things, good things take time. Building trust with your followers and consumers is something that can't happen over night. No matter how many bots you buy or how many of someone else's followers you try and steal for yourself. It's not just a case of they follow my competitor so they're going to follow me. They might follow your competitor for a whole host of reasons and I'd bet that one of them is because of their authenticity and integrity. Quality content takes time, expertise and a real effort to obtain an organic social community.
So, that is why I think being genuine and growing your following organically is the best approach for your marketing strategy. It may be slower and as we live in a society that is all about instant gratification, it is easy to get lost in the numbers and focus and obsess about looking good online. In honesty, looking good online comes from being genuine. Building that genuine connection with your followers and providing them with interesting, tailored content that they love and want to engage with. At the end of the day, that is where the progress and trust lies. It's like the lesson you learn after school - "I would rather have a small group of close friends than thousands of friends who don't talk to me." You can have thousands of friends and still feel lonely. The world around us and our new and constantly changing online business world revolves around engagement.
Community over competition.
Communication is key.