My 24-year old son, Andrew, (@Phacebook) has over 5,000 Instagram followers that he’s grown in the past 6 weeks. I found this out while we were discussing social media over a nice glass of beer.
Me: What do you think about my idea of launching a how-to video website to help people figure out how to create their Platforms?
Andrew: Most people my age just figure it out. I suppose people over 30 need the help, especially the non-techies. That’s probably the biggest part of the market anyway. The early adopters already have their Platform figured out. At least, those that are in the game. I know so many people who sit on the sidelines and criticize the guys on stage playing Starcraft. I’m thinking, the guys on stage are making a living playing games, while thousands of us watch it live on Twitch.tv. The reason Koreans dominate Starcraft is that they spend the time to master the game and just do it while the rest of the world watches..and wish they could be like that. The reason why people don’t get started is that they don’t know what they want. The ones who are succeeding just got started and figured it out on the way.
The reason people don’t get started is that they don’t know what they want.
Meanwhile, Andrew snaps a picture of himself on Instagram and types a few sentences in the headline. In 23 hours, he has 552 likes and 49 comments from people who are interested in #craftbeer or think he’s cute, or both.
Why does he do it? Andrew loves craft beers. He likes the people who like craft beers. It’s one of his communities. He has influence there. If it turns into something more, great. Perhaps one day, breweries will pay Andrew to take a picture of himself with their beer and he will have launched a new business.
I asked Andrew how he got 5,000 Instagram followers in such a short amount of time. His answers are below, but he is not letting me in on all of his secrets until he hits 15,000 followers.
5 Things to do when trying to grow your Instagram followers:
- Hashtags. Andrew follows people that have a similar interest. Like Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags to shout out particular interests or trending topics. In recent post, Andrew commented on his own picture with: #me, #summer, #life, #craftbeer, #relax,#guitar, #beer, #duuuuude, #korean, #my, #chill. Anybody in Instagram looking for those hashtags can find Andrew’s new Instagram post.
- Automation. Twitter has several automated utilities that you can use to auto-follow people based on keywords, hashtags, etc. An example of this is www.TweetAdder.com. The programs can unfollow people, send out direct messages, and keep your follow-to-following ratio in a proper range. Instagram has similar programs, but unlike Twitter, you don’t have to follow someone, you can just “Like” their picture. Many Instagrammers will follow someone that Likes one of their pictures. If they are also using a program, this happens automatically.
- Relevance. A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture with a reasonably good looking person who is interested in what you are interested in is worth even more. When you are scanning Facebook or Twitter for status updates, your eye naturally will look at updates that include pictures. So, Instagram has captured the essence of what people do on Facebook, at least. That’s one of the reasons Facebook bought Instagram for $1B.
- Conversation. Andrew personally responds to best comments on his Instagrams. This creates a conversation between him and his followers, which lets them know he’s real and willing to engage with the “tribe.” Many of Andrew’s followers are Korean (#korean), and he gets to practice his Korean by responding to comments in Korean and English. That’s tough to automate and a great way to show your audience that you’re interested–by learning their language.
- Mobile. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks, Instagram is entirely mobile. This isn’t some mobile app add-on, the entire social network is mobile. So, you need to think mobile, which is immediate, simple, and uncomplicated. The links on this page to Andrew’s Instagram were created by 3rd party websites who used Instagram’s API to create a web-based Instagram experience. That’s the add-on. The native app is mobile. That means you are always connected.
So, I sit here working hard to come up with 500+ words in this post, which will probably get zero comments or tweets. Andrew snaps a picture and spends a minute typing a headline and gets 552 likes.
Welcome to Publishing 2.0.
Personally, I’m looking forward to Publishing a magazine again using all of the latest social media and publishing tools. As a former IT guy, I feel like a kid in a candy shop with all of these tools at my disposal. That being said, I plan on surrounding myself with really smart guys, like Andrew, who just “get” this stuff. Hopefully, I will be able to impart something valuable to this generation as well.
Which social network do you want to master in 2012?