Ever find yourself fantasizing about being famous? A lot of us do, even if we feel a little embarrassed about it.
After all, becoming a celebrity is an aspiration that isn't even remotely reasonable.
Or is it?
Social media has done a lot to transform the landscape of public figures.
Being well known was once basically reserved for people who went through traditional channels via media “gatekeepers” — publishers, television networks, movie studios, and other large-scale enterprises.
But over the last decade, we've seen the rise of a new kind of “micro-celebrity.” Often referred to as “influencers,” these people have a dedicated niche fan following.
They have an audience.
One of the biggest platforms where you'll see this kind of thing is Instagram.
Influencers are flourishing on that platform, transforming their own personae into profitable brands.
From fitness models, to makeup gurus, to visual artists and photographers, to those kind of people who are just kind “famous for being famous,” you'll find Instagram influencers in all kinds of interesting niches.
But how did those people get there? How does someone cultivate a six figure following?
In a recent blog post, Buffer talks about some of the tried and true strategies that Instagram influencers use to build and maintain an audience.
1. Study and load up on quality hashtags
We’ve explored hashtags a lot on the blog, but it seems that nowhere on social media are they quite as important as on Instagram.
The right hashtags can expose your image to a large and targeted audience, and Instagram users don’t seem to get hashtag fatigue in the same way they might on other networks.
In other words, hashtags could be your best bet for growing a fast following on Instagram. Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and many power users max out this ability.
Which hashtags should you use?
It can be a little difficult to discover the right hashtags to add to your Instagram posts and I’d love to share a few tips with you here.
One method I use a lot is to look for hashtags on similar posts to mine. Here’s how I do it in a few quick steps:
- Add a couple of relevant and obvious hashtags to my photo before posting it.
- Then I’ll click through to search those hashtags and scroll through other, similar photos that share my hashtag to see what other tags those users have added that I might add, too.
- Then I go back to my photo and edit it to add all the additional relevant hashtags I’ve found.
You can do this process in a more formalized way by searching and recording hashtags relevant to your brand, in a similar way you might do keyword research for a blog post.
Brands are using hashtags to run unique campaigns as well
2. Ask users to “tag a friend”
They shared a food photo from a past event and asked their 11,000 followers to comment and tag a friend they wanted to attend with.
The response was awesome, and exposed our event to a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise.
I’ve seen this tactic work well for lots more than events, too.
3. Use the right filters
All those filters Instagram gives you to use aren’t just fun—choosing the right ones can actually lead to more views and engagement.
Researchers from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs analyzed millions of photos and corresponding data on how frequently they were viewed and commented upon to determine that filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones.
What kind of filter works best?
After examining five different types, researchers found that the top filters to increase chances of views and comments are those that create:
- higher exposure
- warm temperatures
- higher contrast
Higher exposure was the most tied to more views, and warmth had the biggest correlation with comments.
Two types of filters had negative correlations: Saturation correlated to slightly lower views, and age effects led to lower comments.
Make sure your existing fans know you’re on Instagram through cross-promotion.
Instagram makes it simple to share your images to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare, which could be a great tactic to get some extra exposure.
You can also try embedding Instagram photos in your blog posts (see the bottom of this post for an example) or adding an Instagram feed to your Facebook page for some additional discovery.
You can find more hot tips for rapid growth on Instagram in the full blog post from Buffer.