Why do followers and Likes matter?
Do they even matter? Yes but it depends on what kind!
The depth of interactions is more important than the number at the top of your page. If you can get a decent number of followers who are engaged with your content, then this blog post will hold true. If your followers aren’t engaged, then you are left with a whole bunch of bologna which isn’t good for any brand (or person for that matter!)
An article by Gary Vaynerchuk mentions that analytics may show that people are seeing your content but are they really SEEING it? Followers only matter if they truly care (don’t buy followers!) and are truly consuming your content.
Why do ENGAGED followers matter?
Establish Authority as a brand
There's a theory called social proof which shows that people are more likely to trust a person or a business that has a decent number of followers and engagement (we can’t forget about engagement here, friends!) Followers bring brand recognition and then spread that recognition by word of mouth or features and shoutouts. “Omg did you see so-and-so on Instagram?! Their page is blowing up!”
This is true for personal and business accounts. Followers bring awareness, authority, and respect within your niche.
Become an Influencer
An influencer is someone who has an impact on a specific niche based on engaged followers. These influencers promote a product or business in exchange for the free product or money (compensation depends on the brand, influencers reach, and project).
For example, a fitness brand might hire a model with a large following to promote their new product. Or a watch company might give a photographer a free watch of their choice in exchange for a gorgeous photo. This is the same concept as Youtubers getting brand deals and can be very lucrative as your following grows.
There are a number of sites to sign up as an influencer.
INFLUENCER CHEAT SHEET BELOW!
Most of these require at least 5,000 to 10,000 followers to even apply, and it can be tough to get a brand to recognize you if you aren’t in the 50k+ range (reasons to keep growing that following!)
As your following and content grow, especially if you have unique content, brands might reach out to your directly.
Just be sure to disclose if the post is sponsored based on the companies rules. Some companies are very strict about this for legal purposes.
Reach out to brands that you want to work with. Keep it professional and to the point and be respectful if their page says no brand inquiries.
Monetize your Instagram
If you have a decent sized following, you can make money from your page. Hundreds of people have monetized their Instagram accounts to the point of being completely financially independent. There are a few different ways of doing that which we will dive into deeper in a later post. Some of these are, become an influencer as mentioned above, sell promotions, affiliate sales, sell photography, sell a product, or sell ad space.
Freelance and full-time work
Your name recognition that comes with a large following can open doors to new jobs and gigs! This is huge! As a photographer, I’ve had brands find me on Instagram and ask me to photograph an event or product for them. Your Instagram page becomes a resume, and your followers become your recruiters.
This is very similar to networking in a sense especially if you continuously connect with your followers and reach out to people you admire. You never know where a valuable connection might lead your career path.
Connect with cool people
This goes without saying but, as your page grows and you start to connect with your followers, you’ll find a bunch of incredibly cool people! People to go shoot photos with, people to work with, people to hang with, and lifelong friends!
Followers are also a viable means of marketing and sometimes can measure success. Followers do not correspond directly to revenue but having a large engaged network can quickly provide organic profit.
The determining factor for marketing is engagement and interest in the brand. You can have 1,000,000 followers but if they don’t care about what you are posting or promoting you have nothing! I think it was Pat Flynn who said, if you have 1000 true followers who are engaged, buy your products, and promote your brand every single time, then you have a successful business.
In conclusion, followers matter if you are trying to grow a brand or business for yourself or a client. But these followers only matter if they are real and interacting with your content and your page.
I see so many accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers and only get a couple hundred likes and a handful of comments on their photos. This is horrible! What happened to this audience?! If you are buying followers, they aren’t going to be engaged resulting in zero interactions and zero sales. Not good!
Make it an effort to make sure that you bring value and creativity to your posts and make these followers care about your brand!
Because at the end of the day, it’s still just a number but what comes from this number, is what really matters.