People continue to ask me the same question over and over, "How do I quickly grow my following on Instagram?" I will continue to tell them there is no easy way to go about this, but I have found one way in recent months that has been building my following much faster than I expected. Here are a few ways I am finding great follower growth, as well as a rise in engagement. Trust me, hold tight while I go through a few ways you as a professional can get ahead of some of these young guns with iPhones.
Alright, so this is more likely for the professional photographer in mind, but at the base level it could be even stronger for beginners to use these tips and tricks to begin to grow an organic reach on social, especially Instagram. If you are not on Instagram, and are a professional photographer, then you are seriously missing the train while kids with an iPhone are snatching up jobs and campaign work over you and your 5D Mark III loaded with sweet L glass (see my previous article how I've made a living with an iPhone). Sure, it's outrageous to watch a kid with a lesser technology take the next job from under you, but in reality that kid is likely telling a story via social while also creating great content, which is what brands freaking love to see these days.
Collaboration is King
When it comes to social media, the groups that have been built have all been set under this umbrella by Instagram for wanting to create community. You want to have this ecosystem in which everyone helps and shares with each other in the fastest and most creative way possible. Where does collaboration stand on the scale of 1 to 10 for building a following, 10! Easily one of the best ways to build an organic following is to reach out and work with other creatives around you, whether in your city or beyond. I have been able to have great success while working with some of the best in the business in my own city all thanks to founding and running a group of Indianapolis Instagrammers. The group is completely for the community but has been building for almost 3 years now.
All photos featuring new found friends thanks to collaborating on Instagram.
While a community based group doesn't seem like much of a money maker, its value has been in the community built and the relationships that have grown from that. Having my name attached to something like this is amazing, and I highly recommend any pro or amateur to push for joining a group in their area. The networking that can be done both personally and professionally is hands down some of the best education you can have in this industry.
Build Social into Your Next Contract/Negotiation
When working with brands or companies on a professional shoot you usually have a contract or at least a select number of images you will be providing set in advance. Now, however you communicate with clients this next tip is very important for those professional photographers out there that want to get just a little bit mor reach on every project in the future. When creating that initial quote, email, or contract work, add in at the bottom social sharing. By that I mean push for them to share a select number of images on social per the contract, and have them mention or link back to your name on the platform. I can't tell you how vital this has been over the last 6 months with working with companies and has grown my following another 4,000 just by adding this to the talks.
Now, this is not limited to just the pros. If you are just starting out and want to begin to grow an organic reach on social as well as your portfolio, reach out to a few brands to work with in hopes of a collaboration. This could mean a paid gig or even a trade of services. For example my work with Crevo Footwear was all built on a trade of a pair of boots for a few shots, as well as post on my Instagram page. I then built that into an incredible relationship in which I have shot their Fall line in addition to prepping to photograph their Spring selections in the coming weeks.
In each of these projects, I have worked in that simple addition of reshares and mentions on Instagram, and each time I will retain a mass flood of followers to my account. Below are a few other instances that worked similar to Crevo in taking simple trade or small projects at first to then work in reshares and mentions on their accounts. Some brands are much larger than others such as Mashable and Daniel Wellington, but don't count out the smaller guys such as local shops where you can pull in more local viewers.
Always Give More
This might seem like a simple tip but always deliver more than asked from any client. Even with strict contracts in which you are delivering only a few very select photos for use on a specific ad or promotion, always deliver more. The idea is to give them photos that you feel will do extremely well beyond what their prime focus is and get engagement on their social. This will allow you to show more value than the other photographers on the list of shooters and bring work back to you later.
A great way to make it easier for them is to build out your final folder of images per usual, but on top of that build another folder called 'for social' and have images Instagram and Facebook optimized. That way all the brand will need to do is grab those shots and post them directly to their accounts with ease. Again, this tip overall might seem like a no brainer to deliver more than asked but its something I truly believe has given me the edge over other photographers in my market and beyond.
I really hope these tips were helpful from both the beginner and professional standpoint and it dives a bit deeper than simple hashtags and follow for follow style articles I see every single day. If you have any questions or if this helped you out let me up in the comments or shoot me a follow on Instagram. Would love to connect!