If you are aspiring to become an Instagram Influencer, then you are already aware of how powerful this platform is. With the rise in the total number of users, there is great scope for making money and growing your influence online. In spite of being a part of successful business organizations, some people still take the initiative to grow their Instagram influence. This is because, they acknowledge the recognition and range of opportunities it offers. Before we proceed further, Congratulations on taking the first step to become an Instagram Influencer!
Growing Instagram Influence
Instagram is an ocean of people across borders, ethnicities, castes and religion. Growing your Instagram influence requires a lot of dedication, commitment and patience. What was initially designed as a fun media to share pictures, has now become a forum for marketing, branding and growing influence. To understand the impact and potential that Instagram has, here are a few statistics associated with the social platform.
- Nearly 1 Billion people use Instagram every month and almost 500 million users use Instagram stories.
- It is the second – most downloaded free app on the Apple store, with the gender mix percentage being pretty even. 52% Female and 48% Male
- The average time spent by a user per day is 28 minutes
- 200 Million Instagram users visit at least one business profile per day
Even if you are equipped with the skills of running an amazing promotional ad campaign on Instagram, you can still not become an influencer overnight. To become a great influencer, you must follow the 4C mantra.
What is the 4C Mantra?
The 4C Mantra refers to the four C’s. That is clarity, content, creativity and consistency. As an Instagram influencer, you must have clarity and a clear idea about your niche. Once you figure out your niche, you must then accumulate content pertaining to your niche. Make sure that you are creative with your ideas and content. It is okay to learn from mentors and experts in the field and reproduce your learnings, as long as you are creative with your delivery. Finally, be consistent in posting this creative content to help your audience and to establish constant engagement.
Strongly abiding by the 4C golden rule will gradually help you with your influencer journey. This guide aims to help you with these 4 C’s, by discussing important pointers that you need to remember while working on your Instagram Influence.
Growing Digital Addiction
The reason why we call this is the “Digital Era” is because, everything is moving towards the digital space, including people’s time and attention. Various studies have been conducted across the globe to understand digital addiction among people of different age groups. These were some of the findings.
- Internet users now spend an average of a day a week online.
- UK children spend nearly 6 1/2 hours a day on screens.
- The average user logs 15 hours a day on social mediaalone (as of 2012) and checks their smartphone every 12 minutes (The value has grown over the years – average is up to 4 hours as of 2019)
- A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe and click on our devices roughly 2,617 times each day.
- UK adults now spend a total of 25 hours a weekonline
- 34% of peoplehave checked Facebook in the last ten minutes.
- Two in five adults (40%) first look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65% of those aged under 35.
- More than two in five (43%) of UK adults admit to spending too much time online.
- A study found that just seeing the social media logo can trigger an urge to log in.
Like an Instagram Influencer, you must understand the good and bad impacts that social media can have on your audience. The stats above can give you a perspective on how social media is influencing people. With so many eyes on Instagram, you can build and use your influence for the right cause.
Challenges People Face With Respect To Instagram Influence
Before we put on our learning caps and set for this journey, let us discuss some of the challenges that most people encounter on their path to become a well-established influencer and how to address them.
Fearing or Failing to invest:
This is one of the biggest challenges that people face in all aspects of life. The fear of investing time and money. Becoming an influencer is like any other profession. If you want to see major results, you have to take major risks. This task will require you to work extra hours and pour in money for advertisements to get yourself noticed. Yes, initially you will not see any results and will have an urge to give up. But once you get across this testing period, you will grateful to yourself for making the investment.
Putting Yourself in the Spotlight:
Becoming an influencer on a platform with over one billion users can be intimidating. And with great power comes great responsibility. Allowing yourself to be out there, putting your thoughts and opinions in the open requires courage and boldness. This is a challenge in itself. But whenever your mind stops at this thought, remind yourself that the end result will be worth it all.
When the follower count is more than the following count, you are hit with the realization that so many eyes are on you. This is when you are burdened with the pressure of being consistent. To hold your audience from unfollowing you, you must provide them with reasons to continue following you. Constantly posting content will keep them engaged and interested in your work. Make sure you pile up enough content before beginning the journey to ensure that you do not run out content once you start.
Every aspiring influencer once had this thought. “How will I deal with all the hate and negativity? I am also human”. Different people have different views and perspectives on things. There is nothing that you can say that everybody will nod their heads and agree to. For every positive response, you are bound to get some hate. That is just how it works. But do not let this stop you from achieving your goal. Use this as an opportunity to find the right people, who are loyal to you and share the same values as you. These are the people who will love you, support you and help your grow.
Ability to Sell:
Once you cross the 10K follower milestone, you will find people enquiring you and requesting you to collaborate with them. This gives you a chance to make money, as well as connect and interact with brands. But the important skill required for this, is to be vocal. Having the ability to sell can lead you to a number of work opportunities. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds, because you must understand your audience and be very convincing.
Process Of Growing Your Instagram Influence
Being a gradual process, growing your influence takes time. There are two methods to grow your Instagram Influence. Both these methods take a lot of time and effort from your end.
- Organic Method – A way of growing your influence, requiring little to no expenditure
- Paid Promotion Method – An effective method, that requires moderate to large expenditure
Here is a table that describes the various techniques under each method. We shall further discuss the techniques in detail.
PAID PROMOTION METHOD
Posting Content Consistently
Running Instagram Ads and linking it to your Business Account
Use of Hashtags and Location Tags
Asking bigger influencers to share your content and/or comment under your posts
Cross promotion of your content on other platforms
Increasing follower count and engagement by conducting giveaways contests
Using the Polls, Q & A and Live features
Having your followers create user – generated content and featuring it
Being very responsive (DM’s and comments)
Using Social Media Management Tools to manage all your content and schedule posts (for consistency)
Let us look at the various organic methods extensively.
Posting Content Consistently:
This is probably one of the best and most effective way to gain some followers, without spending any money. As long as you keep churning out content, your followers count keeps increasing. If you stop posting, the count becomes stagnant, or in some cases, starts decreasing. Hence, this should be the first thing on your must – do list.
Use of Hashtags and Location Tags:
Most influencers are so focused on the post, that they actually forget about the Instagram caption. By making the most of all the Instagram features, you can increase your visibility (through Explore page). You can expand your reach by incorporating trending hashtags pertaining to your niche. Since people follow hashtags according to their interests, this will enhance your chances of being noticed.
If you are catering to the people of a specific location, then you can use Location tags. This is to ensure that your content reaches the people of the location tagged.
Cross – Promotion of your Content on other platforms:
Becoming an Instagram influencer does not necessarily mean that you should only stick to Instagram. You want to reach out to every person that you possibly could. This is where cross – promotion comes to the rescue. Sharing your Instagram content and links on other social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can give you a broader reach across channels, making sure that no follower of yours is left out.
Using Polls, Q&A and Live Features:
Any user loves to stay engaged with an influencer who is constantly interacting with them, because it creates a valuable bond between the influencer and follower. To establish such a relationship and to keep your audience engaged, you can make use of the polls features to understand your audience and the Q&A and Instagram Live features to interact with them. This can also be used as a filler option on break days, when you are not posting content.
Be Very Responsive:
Most of us hate it when our peers take a very long time to respond to our texts. The same applies for influencers. Being an influencer is like being a friend to your followers. You must be approachable and friendly towards them. In order to make your audience feel special and valued, you must take the time to respond to each message and comment individually. This will add more credibility and respect on your end.
Paid Promotion Methods
Now that we discussed the organic ways to grow our reach, here are some of the paid promotion techniques.
Running Instagram Ads:
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we say ‘paid’. While organic methods are effective, it is a slow process. As an influencer, learning how to run a successful Instagram Campaign can be beneficial. It can come in handy, when you want your content to reach a large number of followers in a very short span of time. A great tactic to use while running ads, would be to add a link in your Instagram ad. Make sure that it links to your best content or your Instagram profile, prompting them to click on the ‘follow’ button.
Approaching Bigger Influencers in the field:
If you want the overnight miracle to happen, then you can consider this option. Having a big influencer interact with your social profile can instantly boost your worth. This is an expensive option, although the cost depends upon the influencer chosen. But since the influencer has a bigger following, your content comes to their attention through the influencer.
How great would it be if numerous people started sharing your content simultaneously and lessen your burden? Sounds great, doesn’t it? People constantly look for an incentive to work. For an influencer, this incentive is a giveaway content. Conducting a lucky draw and setting the eligibility criteria as per your requirements, can get people to participate. For example, you could conduct a gift card giveaway and mention that this is only applicable to your followers. This will instigate people to be on your follower list.
Featuring User Generated Content:
Having your followers help you with your content, can assist you in building your influence. Interactive posts such as ‘Finish the Slogan’ or ‘Share a Throwback Thursday Picture’ can actually extract content from your users with minimal effort, which you can later feature to showcase your love towards them. This is an amazing strategy to build relationships since your followers feel like they are a part of this virtual environment that is inclusive of their inputs.
Using Social Media Management Tools:
Manually monitoring and operating your social media profile can be a tedious task. Solely looking for trending hashtags, following the best practices and posting at an optimal time can be tiring. Hence, you can make the best use of technology by receiving help from Social media tools. Using social media management tools can help you with trending topics, content ideas and with posting on time.
According to Google, niche is something that denotes or relates to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. As an influencer, you become enthusiastic with the idea of becoming a jack of all trades. Meaning, you want to appeal to everybody by being multiple personalities, since it will provide you with more opportunities. But this can do more harm than good.
Let us understand the importance of having a niche, with a bunch of small examples. Choose one option from each set below.
- Who would you approach if you have knee pain? A general physician or an Orthopedic doctor?
- Who would you turn to for travel advice? A lifestyle vlogger or a travel vlogger?
- Who would you pick as your math tutor? Tutor for all subjects or a Mathematics tutor?
If you chose the latter option in all of the above questions, you probably understood why it is important to have a specialization. When you tailor your products and services, it makes you unique and stand out from the rest of the market. Having multiple niches or not sticking to a single niche means that you do not have an identity that you can be associated with, as an influencer.
Here are a couple of reasons why you should stick to just one niche if you want to become an Instagram Influencer.
- You will get a loyal following, each of them sharing a common interest
- You will be recognized as a veteran in your niche
- It becomes easier to post content, since the content is only tailored to a set of audience
- It adds credibility to your profile, helping you move up the Instagram ladder
- You will have the opportunity to connect with other major influencers in the field
Types Of Niches
Now that we understand what a niche is, let us discuss the types of niches. There are two broad categories of Niches. They are
- Macro Niche
- Micro Niche
Macro niches are niches on a broader scale. They are specialties on a macroscopic level. Some examples of Macro niches are Relationships, Wealth, Health and Wellness.
Micro niches are niches on a narrow scale. They are specialization within a specialty. They cater only to a defined set of audiences. Some examples of micro niches include relationships for men, making money through digital marketing and how to take care of your mind.
As an Instagram Influencer, it is recommended to go with a micro niche. This will eliminate people outside your desired audience circle. Although, do not narrow your niche too much, as it will restrict your content and working opportunities.
Not everybody with a huge following can be named an influencer. An influencer is someone with a clear objective and goal in mind. If you want to become an Instagram influencer, you must have a good answer to the question “Why?”. Ask yourself what you seek to benefit from this process. You can do this by answering these questions.
- Why am I becoming an Influencer?
- Where am I going with this?
- What will I do when I cross the 10k follower mark?
- Am I open to doing brand deals and sponsorships in the future?
Set milestones for yourself and know what you want to accomplish, once you cross each milestone. This will give you the motivation to work vigorously on the influencer journey.
Instagram is all about visual appealing. As an influencer on the platform, you want to appeal to the audience when they first come across your profile. Not all of them will take the initiative to go through each and every post. Thanks to the minimal attention span, most people just scroll through a profile to make their initial judgement. This is where aesthetics plays a vital role. It helps with the first impression factor.
Instagram aesthetics refers to how you will visually communicate everything about yourself and what you believe in, to your target audience.
Check out Zoella’s feed on Instagram. See how her feed subtly communicates ‘fall’ or ‘autumn’. Her color palette includes shades of dull orange and brown.
Here is a game plan on how to establish and maintain the aesthetics of your Instagram account.
Before you start working on your Instagram account’s outlook, you must work on establishing your brand, which is you. You can start by defining the following three parameters
- Vibe and Communication Style
- Target Audience
- Fundamental Values
Once you have set the ground principles as an influencer, you can then proceed onto the next step.
Search for Inspiration:
It can be a little tough to instantly come up with an idea. Having a good Instagram aesthetic is absolutely crucial. Which is why, you must search for inspiration before setting up. You can use Pinterest for reference, or check out other influencers in the field to see what tone they have set for their profiles.
Have a Theme and a Standard Template:
Our human brains are trained to find a pattern in all things. It is okay to be extravagant and outrageous. But it is necessary to have your own personalized theme and template and always stick to it. This will create a sense of uniformity and will appear organized.
Find colors and shades that reflect your personality and style of communication. If you want to sound professional, go minimalistic with plain colors. If you want to appear as fun and quirky, use bright colors. Create your own color palette and use them throughout your Instagram profile.
Edit your Images:
This is the part where most influencers fail. There is a reason why Instagram provides us with so many filters and editing options before we post our image. Edit your pictures to blend in with the aesthetic you have set for yourself. This can include editing text fonts or adding white borders to make your feed look neat.
Planning before Publishing:
If you are looking to have a balanced look overall, you must plan where you want to position each post. For instance, you can alternate between bright and dull images to get a neutral look. This requires thorough planning, prior to publishing. Arranging all of your posts in order and posting them accordingly will give your account a nice touch.
Have your own Signature:
Be it a dialogue, hashtag or template, it is important for an influencer to have a personalized and customized signature. This ensures that when people come across the signature, they are immediately reminded of you. A great place to display your signature would be the Instagram Bio.
Be Consistent in your Aesthetics:
Once you have set the aesthetic of your Instagram profile, make sure to be consistent with it in all areas. This includes Instagram stories, IGTV videos and advertisements. Incorporate your signature wherever possible and maintain uniformity
Instagram offers two types of accounts, based on the needs of its users. A personal account for personal use and a business account for public figures and brands. If you want to become an influencer, you must have a business account. Business accounts will come with a number of features and also let people follow you instantly.
How to create a business account?
Firstly, you need to open an Instagram account. You begin by providing your details and then signing up. Once you open your account, you will be directed to your Instagram feed.
Click on the profile button to go to your profile. On the top right corner, you will find a button with three horizontal stripes. Click on this button. You will find the ‘Settings” tab at the bottom. Click on the ‘Settings’ Tab to open a catalog of setting options.
Now, select the ‘Account’ option from the list, to open the account settings.
Click on the ‘Switch to Professional Account’, to convert your Instagram account into a business account.
You will be given two options, based on your requirements. Select the ‘Creator’ option, since this is an ideal option for influencers. If you want to have a page for your business or company, you can choose the ‘Business’ option. Once you are done, select your niche and fill in the details. Now, you officially have a business account.
Grids are a great way to make your Instagram profile look visually appealing. Instagram follows a N X 3 grid pattern, meaning there are three columns and ‘N’ number of rows. When a user scrolls through your profile, this is the pattern that they see. You can use this grid pattern to your advantage, to make their scroll time – worthy.
There are two types of grids i.e, vertical and horizontal grids. Here are two images that give you an idea about the two grid patterns. You can also use them as feed dividers, to divide your feed into different sections.
In the above images, you can see how the two accounts have used two different grid patterns in their profiles.
How to make a grid system?
Although it seems like you will require an algorithm to perfect the grid system, it is actually pretty simple. All it does require is proper planning and a formula, which is stated below.
To make a horizontal grid, you will need three images that you have to post consecutively, one after the other. These three images must form a pattern when put together. A tactic to consider would be to design one complete image and then, crop it into three square portions. You can then post the final portion first, second portion second and the first portion last (right to left)
To make a vertical grid, you need to have three image templates (since it is not a one – time thing). Have a standard template that you can edit and paste only your content on. Using a vertical grid system divides your feed into three vertical sections. You must decide what each column is for.
For example, column one could be for facts, column two for tips and column three for images. You can customize your columns as per your wish. Number the columns from left to right. So, the right – most column is for images and the left – most is for facts.
Your posting schedule must follow a descending order. Which means, the third column image goes online first, second column image goes second, first column image goes third and the third column image goes fourth. This sequence should continue to repeat itself.
Since the number of columns is three, every fourth picture in order must be of the same template.
Note: Before you start your vertical or horizontal grid, you have to make sure that the number of posts already published must be zero or a multiple of three.
There is a very famous quote that goes, “Content is king”. How true is this! Especially for an Instagram Influencer. Your chances of becoming an influencer depends vastly on the content you put out on Instagram. To be creative and consistent with your content, you need to have a proper content system in place.
There are two components in a content system. They are content planning and content publishing. 90% of the work goes into the content planning, which requires a neat plan layout. If you want to see the content system in action, you need to have a content calendar.
Content calendar is like a planner/organizer that lays out which content goes online which day. You can make your own content calendar, either weekly, monthly or annually. Having a content calendar makes the content publishing a routine process. You can decide what type of content goes each day, depending on the current trends. If you need inspiration to design your own content calendar, you can use Pinterest or purchase the calendars sold by content marketers. Here are a few templates from Pinterest.
Using the right content calendar does most of the magic. You can find various software – based tools such as Hootsuite and Sked Social, that let you design a content calendar and schedule your posts accordingly for publishing.
As an Influencer, there are two types of products that you can consider selling.
- OP – Own Products
- OPP – Other People’s Products
To give you a better idea, let us discuss a small example.
Say you are a football player and an influencer on Instagram. You have started your own line of shoe collection in your name, perfect for football players. Let us call the line ‘DX Shoes’.
You now want to promote ‘DX Shoes’ by talking about it on your Instagram profile, since you have a decent number of following. You publish posts and stories about it, you advertise it and you even go live to tell your audience about it. Now, this is called ‘Selling your own product’. You sell ‘DX Shoes’ and you make money.
Now imagine you do all the things mentioned above. Only, the brand you are promoting is Nike or any other famous brand and not ‘DX Shoes’. This is called ‘Selling other people’s product’. Here, you are getting paid by a bigger brand to advertise their products on your profile.
OP and OPP selling are not restricted to physical products. You can sell your own course or e – book, or talk about another course. This is where you monetize on off your Instagram Influence. Although, the idea of money is exciting, please make sure that you only sell products that are worth selling. Else, you could potentially lose the trust of your audience.
Influencers must connect with two sets of people in order to grow. Their audiences and other influencers. Having a big network of connections can help you learn more. This will give you more content ideas in the long run. Here are some reasons why you must collaborate with other influencers.
- You can tap into a completely different set of audiences
- You can build valuable relationships
- You can add credibility and trust to yourself, amongst your followers
- You can gain more recognition and contacts
- You will be led to a number of work opportunities
How to collaborate with other influencers on Instagram?
There are several ways through which you can collaborate with other influencers. You can go live with them to answer questions, share each other’s work and products or work on a common project. You can also do recordings with them and post it online, showcasing your close association with them.
Before you collaborate with them, you must first approach them and seek their approval. You can contact them through Instagram DMs or via E – mail (Whichever medium is suitable) and elaborate on how you wish to collaborate with them. Here is a sample mailer template you can refer to.
I am Y, a ________ influencer with ___ followers. I have been following your work for quite some time and am truly impressed with the projects that you have worked on, especially the one _______________ (explain one of their projects). You have been an inspiration to me and to many others.
I have this great project idea that we could work on (explain project idea), and I believe that this opportunity could be beneficial for the both of us. Do let me know if you would be interested in something like this. I would love for us to work together.
Should you have any queries or would like to discuss it further, do not hesitate to contact me at (give contact details). I have also enclosed some of my work for your reference and consideration to make a decision. Hoping to hear from you soon.
A message like this is simple, direct and professional. It makes it clear for the receiver to understand the project idea and your enthusiasm about it
As we discussed earlier, there are two types of products you can sell to make money. But what if you do not own any products and no brand has approached you so far? This is why it is necessary for influencers to sign up on influencer marketing platforms.
There are so many sites like iFluenz and TapInfluence, that create a forum for brands and influencers to meet. Brands search for influencers to market and influencers search for brands to sell.
All you need to do is sign up on one of these platforms. Most platforms offer free sign up options for influencers. Ensure that you have a good number of following before you take this step. Once you sign up, you will be given a list of products that you can consider selling. Select a product that goes with your niche, sell it like a pro and start earning!
Insights are the metrics that convey how a particular piece of content is performing. Instagram has the provision to keep a record of all insights for future use and planning. Instagram Insights give a sneak peek on how many likes, comments and shares a post has received. It also tracks the number of people who saved your posts and the time at which most of your followers are active online.
Why are insights important?
Tracking and constantly monitoring insights can help you prepare tailored content. You can identify the best performing content and prepare content in the same genre or you can make localized content if the majority of your audience is from the same location. You can also post your content at a time when most of your followers are online. This makes sure that there are minimal chances of your content going unnoticed.
Where can I find my insights metrics?
To track your insights, click on the button with the three horizontal stripes on the top – right corner, you will find the ‘Insights’ option listed below.
With Instagram Insights, you can determine a number of parameters like the time and day when your followers are active, region they are mostly from, followers gender split ratio and many more.
Mistakes Influencers Make
Nobody starts off as a perfect influencer when they begin their journey. Mastering the art of being an influencer requires immense learning and only happens through practice. While you can learn only after you start, you can avoid the following mistakes to fasten the process of becoming an influencer.
If you lack clarity in what you actually represent, it starts showing in your content. Having no proper clarity will lead you to post anything that would get likes and shares. As a result, there will be no order and uniformity. Hence, your followers might be confused with what your real values are, and may not be able to resonate with you.
Inconsistency in Content:
This is with respect to content publishing and also the content in itself. People often say “out of sight is out of mind”, and this is true for an influencer. When there is a long pause between posting content, your followers will feel less valued. This means that, even if you post double – tap worthy content, you will still not be able to establish a loyal following.
The content that you post must also be in sync with the niche that you stand for. You can allow yourself to share other content now and then. But your prime focus must be your niche.
Not going all the way:
When you are an influencer, you must be willing to go overboard with your content. It is essential to have a sportive spirit and the ability to take up any challenge that comes your way. This also includes the ‘trending challenges’ in the literal sense, since there are so many on Instagram. Be serious with your niche but also do not refrain from being a little goofy at times. Take up those nomination challenges and make something funny out of it. In the end, we are all human. Your audience need to see you as a regular human being that they can resonate with.
When you want to become an influencer, you must not have thoughts on your head that begin with “what if?”. Questions like “What if people don’t like me?” or “What if I don’t make it?” will often cross your mind. But one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an influencer is to let these thoughts get to you. These inhibitions will eventually stop you from doing what you really want. Think about the long – term goal and overcome these inhibitions.
Not Building a Proper Ecosystem:
Think of yourself as a king building his own kingdom. Your followers are the citizens of the kingdom. The content you post online are the laws that you are passing for the well – being of the kingdom. Now as a king passing laws, it is important to have citizens who will support you and agree to your conditions. Only then, there will be a sense of unity that will exist among all the citizens.
As an influencer, you must build an ecosystem for the people who trust and believe in you. It must be a space that they can come to at given time. Only when you are aware and clear with what you are doing, you will be able to attract the right audience. So, communicate yourself well with your audience.
Hope this guide gave you the motivation that you needed and pushed you to become a great influencer (or at least made you consider). Do remember to follow all the mantras mention above very strictly. You will see good results only if you stick to all the rules and guidelines given to you. Everything mentioned in the guide is more than enough knowledge for you to become an Instagram superstar. So, all the very best on your journey to becoming an Instagram Influencer. Wishing your more success and followers!