U P D A T E
So, let's be clear this isn't bragging, but a testament to putting the work in and focusing on finding your voice. I recently went over the 4k mark and thought it had happened fairly quickly. A quick consult of the numbers shows that yes, things are moving rapidly!
February 1st (start of the challenge) I had 2,994 followers
February 16th (the original publish date of this project) I had 3,247 followers
March 16th (today) I have 4,115.
Now to send Ohn Mar some freshly baked cookies.
Wow. This has been really eye opening:
1) The steps to grow your following are so much more practical than I could have ever imagined. It doesn't take massive strategy or hours of time, but instead, dedicated and consistent effort.
2) It's still hard, as there are a lot of little moving bits.
Here's how the challenge went for me:
P R O F I L E S H I F T
The first big change was shifting my profile. (The pic on the left is much older than the start of this challenge, but it was the only shot I had of my old bio). My avatar changed from a happy picture of me to an illustrated avatar of me (better explains and shows my creativity and industry). I also finalllllly changed my name from 'dylanmierzwinski' to 'bydylanm'; I've used ByDylanM in all other places, but was scared to abandon my full name. Luckily, the name still shows on the profile, but the handle is easier to find, spell, and remember. Now people can find me by searching for either. And lastly, it was time to tackle that bio. I loved how sweet and simple my bio was before, BUT, now that I'm looking at my stuff as a business, I knew it had to change. For one thing, sewing is a big hobby of mine, but it no longer has much to do with my audience or what I'm sharing. I also wanted to be more intentional with telling people WHAT specifically I do.
P O S T I N G M O R E
The next big thing, and probably the biggest change overall, is how often I'm posting now. I was posting once a day at most, and even then felt like I was badgering my followers. Now I post at least once a day, usually twice, sometimes three times. I've posted 30 times over the past 16 days, averaging out to 1.8 posts a day. The best news is that although not every post receives 400-500 likes like the favorites do, even the lesser performing posts are still getting considerable engagement, especially taking into account how much content I'm sharing with my followers.
C O N T E N T S H A K E U P
Posting more has fueled me to be more creative with my posts. I realized that before I would do a single post on an illustration, but now I realize that a single illustration can lend itself to multiple posts (showing a studio view/in progress view, showing the rendered final, showing a vid of me working on it), and so now I'm always on the lookout for things I'm already doing that I can document. This has been nice because I haven't had to ramp up on creating content, I've just had to ramp up on documenting the things I was already doing.
E N G A G E M E N T
I felt I had really solid engagement before taking on this challenge. Followers regularly leave plenty of really great comments, and I'm always good about responding to them. I did notice that by trying to be more strategic with my hashtags and engagement in general that my discovery insights on each post is starting to creep up to 11-15% from 2-3%. Also, I did a giveaway after hitting 3k followers and I think it was really successful. I didn't want inflation in my followers if they weren't truly interested in what I was sharing, and I think the way I presented the giveaway gave me a modest boost in ACTUAL interested followers. I would rather gain 75 really interested fans instead of 600 people that just want free stuff. The giveaway also served as a chance for some market research; for an extra entry followers could comment saying what their favorite thing EVER is..this gave me insight into trends with who's following me and what they're like (hint, they like coffee, dogs, their family, and their creative spaces).
O P P O R T U N I T I E S F O R I M P R O V E M E N T
The one thing that I need to be better about is responding to comments in a timely manner, and actively engaging other instagrammers that I'm inspired by. I like to collect comments for a whole day on a post and then go back and respond to all of them in one swoop. I may instead try to respond to them as they come in, then schedule in time to go back through in case I miss any. I also realized that most of my time spent on instagram is all focused on who's engaging with me, not who I want to engage with. I comment on things I happen to see in my feed, but I'd like to make a list of people I admire and either turn on post notifications for them, or get in the habit of checking the list of names for new content and things I can interact with.
Thank you Ohn Mar for sharing your invaluable insights with us.