Reading time: 3 minutes

Do you want to spin Instagram? Unless you're a celebrity, then consistency is the secret to growing your following on Instagram.

by JERRY SILVER // Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Digital PR specialist and CEO at Spin Factory

Instagram has become a social network many companies and organizations consider building a following on.

But how do you become successful as a brand on Instagram?

  • Are there any magic hashtags that you can use?
  • Or a way to game the Instagram user recommendation engine?
  • Should you sharpen your comedy skills — or just take some photography classes?

Well, there is a spin strategy that will help you. But it might just not be what you think.

Here goes:

What Seems To Be Working

The Instagram “Celebrity Effect”

One obvious way to get hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers would be to become a celebrity. Being famous will trigger your fans to find and follow you on social media.

If you’re a celebrity, you could post a picture of yourself brushing your teeth; you would still get thousands and thousands of likes for it. That’s the power of fame for you.

The most liked image on Instagram (2,700,000 likes and counting) is a recent pic by a celebrity — Kendall Jenner:

kendalljenner instagram

The Kendall Jenner image has many things going for it:

It’s a message of love with a touch of creativity, it’s cute and instantaneous, and most of all — it’s a picture many of her fans and followers can replicate. It gives people a reason to take selfies, which usually works well on Instagram.

And the Kardashian/Jenner family are no strangers to going big on Instagram:

kanye west wedding

Caitlyn jenner cover

The Instagram “Inspiration Effect”

Another way to go about it is to go for inspiration. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that an image-driven social medium like Instagram tends to err on the superficial side of things.

Example 1: Beauty & Style

The German Instagram influencer deborah_tmz is a great example. She has grown a following of 753,000 fans from a total of 340 selfies — much like this one:

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 19.43.51

Example 2: Stunning Photography

If you’re a talented photographer, you could grow a serious audience. Swedish amateur nature photographer @wisslaren (Christoffer Collin) grow his following to 1,000,000 fans by posting 5,000+ pictures like this one:

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 19.54.30

Example 3: Exploring Passions

Maybe gym training is your passion? Fly-fishing? Interior decorating? Or maybe you’re passionate about your dog? People are always looking for inspiration, and there seems to be an audience for many niche interests, just like Boss The French Bulldog with his 182,000 followers:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 19.42.56

Example 4: Entertainment

Maybe you’re funny as hell, and you have a knack for the particular type of comedy that works on Instagram? Like The Fat Jewish with his 5,000,000+ followers and updates like this one:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 19.55.09

What Strategy Will Work For My Brand?

“But I’m not a celebrity!”
“But I’m not a beauty queen!”
“But I’m not a talented photographer!”
“But our business has nothing to do with French bulldogs!”
“But our prospects won’t appreciate us trying to be funny at all!”

Well, I’m sure you’ll be okay. Chances are your brand wouldn’t want the following a celebrity, a beauty queen, a world-class photographer or a French bulldog gets.

You want a following that’s relevant to your business, right? You want a community that’s yours.

You should consider the Instagram Consistency Strategy.

The Instagram Consistency Strategy

People (or dogs) who manages to attract massive audiences through the “inspiration effect” all have one thing in common:

They’re surprisingly consistent in their postings. They don’t go out on tangents, and they rarely experiment with their content. They’ve learnt what their followers appreciate, so they stick to that.

Consistent publishing schedule: They post on a consistent schedule that works well for the type of audience they’re building.

Consistent emotional message: Their images have a consistent quality in evoking an emotional response, like laughter or surprise.

Consistent formatting: They are consistent in their use of filters/editing, whitespace and general composition/cropping.

Consistent motive choices: They pick a type of motive(s), angle(s) and/or location(s) — and then they stick with these choices.

Consistent copy tonality: They are consistent with the way they write about their uploaded photos, from copy to tagging.

Case Study: louiselj

Swedish Instagram talent Louise Ljungberg serves as an excellent example of being consistent and getting a niche following. From posting 599 pictures, she has grown a following 182,000 fans. Here’re her latest photos:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.15.17

From a visual perspective, Ljungberg takes great pictures. The shots are well-balanced, emotional, softly understated and often interesting perspective choices.

But she’s consistent in everything else as well. Her selection of motives, the use of whitespace to create a harmony between the pictures, the color palettes, etc. It’s all about The Follower Contract — if you glance at her account just for a second, you can still decide with certainty if her work is going to be inspiring to you or not.

So go for relevancy, commit to a quality level and stay the course. Consistency, at least for Instagram, rules.

I’d love to check out (and follow!) your Instagram account! Leave your Instagram account name in the comments below and I’ll make sure to follow you.

Never miss a Doctor Spin article again?

Join 4,100+ of the best people on the planet — my SpinCTRL subscribers
(+ download 23 Tactics for Content Promotion as a signup bonus).


SUBSCRIBE

###

Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. His fascination for corporate communication and human psychology runs deep. Via his own agency Spin Factory, every day's spent on coaching people and organizations on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, journalist and television host, and their two-year-old son, Jack.

Interested in Jerry’s services or speaking engagements? Learn more.

Add your comment:

Åsa

Thx for your advice Jerry! Good – as always! I’ll try to be even more consistent!
@perrovalparna

Reply
Doctor Spin

Cool. I need to listen t my own advice, my personal Instagram account is all over the place. On the other hand, I’m not trying to build a massive audience of people who are interested in baby pictures, either, ha! :)

Thanks for commenting, I’ll make sure to follow you. Cheers, Jerry

lokkomotion

Thanks for good advice! For my own personal Instagram I’m like you Jerry, “all over the place”. Photo of my friends, my dog, family, from work, nature, party – a mix of everything I care about and like to share – @lokkomotion –

Reply
Doctor Spin

Haha, yeah I hear you. I’ve actually considered going for consistency, but I could never commit to one niche. I go for inspiration in the moment before any long-term strategy.

Thanks for dropping by and I’m looking forward to follow your “all over the place” updates! :)

VisitSweden

Interesting! I’m definitely struggling with the consistant formatting… I work a lot with Afterlight (which I can totally recommend) but every Instagram video, photo collage and Repost “destroys” the overall look of my gallery… :-/ @VisitSwedenDe

Reply
Doctor Spin

I use Afterlight, too. My wife and I share an Adobe account and she’s in possession of Photoshop and all the Premiere video editing stuff, but I managed to snag Afterlight! :)

But yeah, no matter if you’re a brand or a person — consistency is a challenging game to play.

Li Gessbo

Thank you, you are right of course, just a bit difficult to follow the advice. Regarding Instagram, I think for my personal account it’s hard to decide what target group I have . . . That’s easier at work, with a project with a specific goal – but still not very easy :-) @gessbo

Reply
Doctor Spin

I’m not following my own recommendation either, ha! My personal Instagram account is all over the place. And mostly baby pictures at that, not exactly the perfect strategy for grabbing that Instagram fame! :)

James Pabling

Wow! word of the day consistency. I think I’m going to do it whatever it takes. Thanks for the tips….

Reply
Jerry Silfwer

Best of luck to you, James.

Traci L Turner

Thank you for this post! I have an artist account that I started to tighten up earlier this year. I removed a lot of my “personal” posts and pictures of me so that my page focuses more on my artwork, however sometimes I don’t have much (if anything) to post when I’m in-between projects so there can be gaps in-between my posts. What are your thoughts or advice on how to beef up followers and interactions for artists on Instagram? Do you think the same “consistency strategy” applies?

My handle is @tracilturner if you’d like to check it out!

Reply
Doctor Spin

Hi Traci and thanks for stopping by!

I do think the consistency strategy applies and I’ve also found that the correlation between how often you post and how fast you grow is usually very weak, meaning that posting often doesn’t really help you grow as much as one would think.

So not posting that often might just be fine, as long as your posts are great and consistent and creating a powerful visual experience when looking at your whole board.

However, there seems to be a strong correlation between being interactive and growth, especially when building up to critical mass. Interaction means commenting on other people’s work on Instagram, but also strategically following industry influencers you respect and unfollowing inactive users.

A popular tool for this is the software Crowdfire (both app and desktop versions). It lets you be smart about how to find people to follow and unfollow on Instagram: https://www.crowdfireapp.com/

Traci L Turner

Just now seeing this! (The reply went to my spam folder, lol) Thank you so much, you’ve been very helpful and informative.

Doctor Spin

Awesome Traci, happy to help!

Hanaw Rashid

Kul läsning! Här får du namnet på både mitt privata insta-konto (@hanawrashid:disqus ) och mitt mat-instagram-konto @letthegirleat :) MVH en som är i samma bransch :)

Reply