This might sound a bit controversial; but you really don't need to have thousands of Instagram followers.
"What?! But you just wrote a blog post all about how to grow your Instagram following?!" I hear you say. Well, yes, I did, and there is a reason behind that, and I'll get to that in a minute...but let's get serious for a second. Why do you want a large Instagram following? What is the real reason behind it? Is it to book more jobs? Is it to look more popular (a totally valid reason!)? Or is it just because you really enjoy being on the app and connecting with others? Whatever your reason is, I'm going to focus on the business-y one; the idea that you want more followers because you think that will lead to you booking more clients (especially if you're a photographer).
What if I told you that the number of followers you have on Instagram won't make a huge difference to your client bookings...but that it's the kind of followers you have that makes a big difference. Is that starting to sink in a tiny bit... the number doesn't matter, it's who is following you that matters.
But what on earth am I talking about? Let's get real, I didn't realise this for a long time. For a very, very long time, I would log onto social media, and all I would see was my low follower count. I'd feel sad, ashamed, and a bit deflated by it.. but I'd keep posting, because the goal was to grow a bigger following. I didn't know why I needed those followers, I just thought that the number at the top of the screen would mean I was more popular, and therefore I'd be more successful. It wasn't until recently that I realised how absolutely pointless that mentality is.
You see, if you spend you time doing nothing but focusing on how big your following is, or how fast you can grow it, you're not really inviting the right kinds of people into your life/circle. In business, we speak regularly about attracting our ideal clients. That's an incredibly important part of every business, and everyone who runs a business (big or small) should spend time figuring out exactly who their ideal clients are. It's a hard exercise, and ideal clients can change over time, as your business changes. However, it's incredibly key that you know exactly who you are trying to target with your social media... because if you don't, you're just going to be drawing people in who have absolutely no interest in your services... and what's the point in that?
I don't know about you, but I would much rather have 3000 followers who love what I do, and might book me one day as a photographer, than 30,000 followers who are random people from all around the world, who have no interest in my photography, and only followed me because they wanted extra comments on their images (and would most likely unfollow me in a few days time).
Do you see what I'm saying here? Rather than looking at an Instagram following and thinking: "I need to get this number up as high as possible, so that I can book more clients" take a step back and think: who do I actually want to have following me? Is it real brides? Is it other businesses? Is it clothing brands? Maybe it's coffee shops. Whatever it is, sit back for a second and think: who do I want to work with. Once you've done that, you'll know who you need to target.
So, why bother trying to grow you Instagram at all? Well, because you can still try to grow, but grow consciously. Grow to attract the right people. And what will those people do? They will comment, like, and engage with your work... which thanks to Instagram's new algorithm, will push you up into other people's feeds. No longer is Instagram just a "post as much as you can" game. More than ever, we need to strive to create engaging content. The images you post and captions you write need to want to make people engage with your images, so that you get seen in feeds... and ultimately continue to attract your dream client.
So I hope this has given you some perspective, and maybe changed the way you look at Instagram (and all social media platforms - I've targeted this at Instagram, but the same applies everywhere else!). Don't worry so much about the number at the top of the screen. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many people follow you... all that matters is how many of the right people follow you.