Instagram changes since my first 1000 followers and what can be learned

Marketing sites and businesses keep talking about how changes to the Instagram algorithm have hurt engagement. In this post I will look at how I got to my first 1000 followers shortly before the changes took place and how my strategy to grow my following has changed since.

Looking back at all my posts it’s hard to believe I have been on Instagram over 2 ½ years! I started in early September of 2015 to help a designer start and grow her Instagram account. I knew I needed my own account to run my own experiments and see what would be best for my client in the interest of time and resources. I have since ended my working relationship with her, but my account has continued growing. I will start by how I got to my first thousand, strategies that can be helpful as you look to improve your brand.

Getting to 1000:

Once I got to 1000 followers it felt like no time at all, but it took me 4 months from the day I started until I finally got to 1000. The amount of posts was 215. It was in January and I was a bit discourage that I wasn’t growing as quickly as I hoped. I was at a little over 700 followers and decided to post on a rainy Sunday afternoon this Tiffany necklace designed by Paloma Picasso in the 1980s.

Tiffany gemstone necklace posted on my IG that got me to 1000 followers, seen at Christie’s in December 2015

One feature Instagram had was a trending hashtag section. I looked at the page where the trending hashtags were and saw #rainysunday was trending, so I worked that into my caption picking out the most bold and colorful piece to chase away those clouds! Posting around three in the afternoon I knew I’d get some likes, but I never anticipated that over the next couple of days I would get over 500 likes and about 300 followers which got me from 700 to 1000 almost overnight! I realized that my post had made it on the explore page which is why the jump in interest!

Paloma Picasso wearing her design for Tiffany, taken in 1980s. photo from Paris Vogue

Strategies to use now:

Since the changes I can no longer like pictures in real time of when they were posted unless I follow them and get notified when they post. Also, some accounts never make it to the top of my feed. So how do I try and improve my odds:

  1. Follow brands because you like their content not because you hope they follow you. I made the mistake when I first started of following accounts of people or brands that I thought would like me. The problem their feed was not always what I enjoyed seeing so I had to eventually unfollow and look at engaging with account that may never follow me but make my account a pleasant place to go to. Also, to note don’t follow them just because they follow you. They may like your posts, but you may not respond to their content as well, it comes down to engaging with accounts that resonate with you.
  2. Look at what your posting and research hashtags to use that are relevant. Mixing up your hashtags is a better way to grow your following and be in front of new people. Using the same ones can be too predictable especially if you are selling online. Look at what your posting and who maybe interested versus trying to advertise it’s for sale.
  3. Make Instagram friends. Too many small businesses and solopreneurs rely on friends, families or groups they belong to for engagement. The best compliments have been from people I have never meet but find my posts beautiful and interesting. I have even been able to meet with some of my new friends who give me inspiration and different ways to better serve my following.
  4. Experiment with different posts and times. I have read and gone to workshops about growing your following. Everything from running an IG contest to posting more about you as a person. Some ideas are helpful others I tried have failed miserably (I’ll share stories and lessons learned in later posts). For posts use the edits IG has with their photos. I try to make sure my photos are sharp, in focus and the colors vibrant to stand out better to my followers.
  5. Do not get too discouraged with slow growth or followers that leave you in the early stages. When first starting I got a lot of account follows and unfollows in hopes of growing their numbers. Instagram is still a game to many and if you worry too much about winning or losing you’ll miss the important reason for this platform to be social. Again, don’t follow just because they follow you, refer to tip #1.

 

There are plenty of other ways you can improve. Here is an article I read on Hootsuite about ways to improve your account with the changes to the Instagram algorithm. I also read an article by Recode posted early this month, that stated that your Facebook friends can play into what accounts are one top when you log in. I do not follow a lot of my Facebook friends on IG since I want to keep more focused on my business with IG.

Even though it feels harder sometimes, I am still having good success on IG growing my followers and engagement. If you would like a more personal session to find ways to improve your IG please send me an email at Data.inthe.Rough@gmail.com Also feel free to make a comment below about something you’d like to understand or an observation about your experiences with Instagram! Thank you for reading my post, I hope you return soon! Also a bonus the matching earrings to that bold Tiffany necklace, because you can’t have a statement necklace without some statement earrings!!

Matching earrings to Tiffany necklace sold at Christie’s in December 2015!

For Retailers: Three Ways the Year of the Monkey can become the Year of the Millennial

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For many ringing in a New Year starts on January 1st. For those that are interested in Asian culture or follow the Chinese calendar, the Chinese New Year (the Year of the Monkey) starts this week. So my question for retailers, have you made any business resolutions? If you have put your plans for the New Year in action then great! What is your plan for reaching millennials? You need to have a separate strategy for the different demographics that you hope to interact with in your store and online. Millennials and how to reach them are a common focus in the news and though out the retail industry. So how can you improve your message to refocus Millennials on your store and product? I have three suggestions broken into the store and online experience. Whether you have a presence in both or one you hopefully will get some ideas from my insights.

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  1. Transparency: This word references many aspects of a business but my focus in this article is transparency on the price. Keeping a price secret or worse thinking that telling the potential customer to contact you for the price can end up wasting both your time and theirs.

Store: Have some of your window displays list the price or give a range. Millennial shoppers like to research and price compare, it is not a fact retailers always like but this is how it is. Jewelry is still an emotional purchase but with a little more thought than what previous generations used. An example of displaying prices is below from a jewelry store I visited in Boston.

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Online: For social media the call to DM (Direct message) works for people familiar with your brand or have a personal relationship with you. For new comers to your brand or new to buying jewelry it is daunting to write if you do not want to buy right away and are just seeing what is out there. A price range would be a good start or mention where prices start in a certain category. For example, you Instagram a ring and mention that you can DM about a price and prices start at (amount). In addition, if your website has a gallery of photos but no price listed give a range or list the price for at least the low to mid-priced items. You do not need to sell everything shown online but again it helps Millennials research and become introduced to your brand. David Webb’s online site displays prices for some of their pieces even though they are not for sale online. Example pictured below:

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  1. Informative: Sprinklr.com listed a report on, ‘Content Best Practices among Millennials’, I think the findings can be applied for online and in stores. Only putting out the message of ‘buy from me’ will not build that relationship necessary to sustain your business.

Branded_content_on_Social_media_via_sprinklr

Online: Keep the message short, informative and shareable. On social media, you need to put out material that tells your story and how your product can be a part of your customer’s lifestyle. Show different skin tones wearing your product. Style your product for your audience, show your jewelry worn with jeans so your audience sees them in action rather than just telling the audience your necklace can go with a little black dress or blue jeans.

Store: Organize your jewelry by designer if you have well distinct brands that you represent. For the in store displays, list the name of the designer and a little about them. You can also show the designer’s website or display an article, that the designer has a feature.

  1. Patience: The graphs from another report listed on Sprinklr.com below are to illustrate the income gap Millennials still face compared to other groups.

income_spending_by_groups_via_sprinklr

For both online and store: Millennials are becoming the major consumer group but we are still not in the salary range or as out of debt as we hope to be. Each purchase even a small amount is a huge investment and value is a factor in buying jewelry not just ‘is it pretty’. Patience from retailers is necessary for open lines of communication with price sensitive Millennials. The world of retail, especially for jewelry is changing and it is better to start and adapt than try catch up later. I would love to get thoughts and opinions about your experience with the industry, please comment below.

Have a Happy Chinese New Year! I look forward to many more posts and discussions on this site! Please visit again soon and sign up for my email to keep up to date with new posts!

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