A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called the Lady Boss Guide to Hashtags and shared my step by step process of gathering, researching and using hashtags. The guide is the most popular blog post that I’ve ever written and I was inundated with kind words from fellow lady bosses.
Here are some ways that my tribe have been using the guide:
Kylie from It Starts With Us told me how the hashtag keyboard shortcut has changed her life (or at least her Instagram account). She raved about this handy little tip to all of the ladies at the Social Media Masterclass, inspiring them to try it too!
Ruby from Volunteering Gold Coast told me that she tells all of her marketing team to read my hashtag guide and even has some interns working on hashtag guides for their Instagram account.
Elle from JuJu Creative Hub shared the moment that I first shared my hashtag tips with her and now loves using them on her Instagram account!
As you can tell, I am a total nerd about hashtags and I love teaching my clients how to use them to build their business. But I’m not silly and I know that pasting hashtags into the first comment of your Instagram image won’t make you an instant social media success. It takes so much more to grow a thriving online community!
So when a client asked me to take part in a little Instagram experiment, I couldn’t help but say yes! The client had been playing with a business idea for a while and was ready to see if the concept had legs. She identified that Instagram was the space where her ideal followers were hanging out so with a small budget and a big idea, she asked the following question: can I grow a social media following with consistent content (complete with all the best hashtags)?
The experiment involved a month dedicated to sharing numerous Instagram posts a day. Content was completely curated from other people’s accounts and was tagged with all of the best hashtags with the intention to generate some hype.
With the information provided, how many followers do you think we were able to cultivate in a one month period? The truth is: we were seriously underwhelmed with the response.
This experiment got me thinking about the ingredients that are required to create a successful and thriving social media platform. While it might seem as though some can create overnight success, social media is mostly a long haul solution.
Here are some key takeaways I gained from the experience.
Unique content is making a come-back
Content curation (or sharing other people’s images) is a great way to share your message without having to fork out hundreds of dollars for a DSLR. And when done right, it can be highly effective. But users are quickly getting tired of seeing the same images being shared and shared and shared on social media and are calling for more originality from the people that they follow. Taking your own photos helps to create a sense of authenticity and shows your followers that there is a person behind the account. After all, anyone can repost images but not everyone will take the time to create their own. If you don’t have the capacity to take Insta-worthy photos then why not share the real behind-the-scenes using Insta-stories? Or maybe you can create some unique, branded graphics to include in the mix of reposted images. Whatever it looks like – make sure you’re injecting your unique self into your social media mix!
Community thrives away from the screen
While it’s certainly possible to build a tribe on social media, it’s also important to get out from behind the screen and interact in the community where your ideal clients are hanging out. Once again, your tribe wants to know that you’re a real person and are truly committed to serving your community. In an online world filled with overnight successes and cookie-cutter approaches, it’s a little rebellious to take it back a few years and do networking the old school way. For myself, being seen at events shows that I’m committed to my business and engaging with my tribe. Plus it connects me to so many incredible women and fuels the purpose and vision for my business.
Social media is a long-term strategy
I’m often asked by potential social media management clients: How long until we start to see results? And while I understand the frustration and the desire to ‘have things work’ straight away, I’m always wary to promise overnight success. Social media really is a long-term strategy and small, consistent actions make all of the difference. After almost two years of managing my own social media platforms, I am starting to recognise the rewards that come with consistency. In an online world where everyone seems to be creating and making, being able to stick it out and show up regularly proves that you can be taken seriously and are in it for the long haul.
Less is more
Finally, I’ve observed that the online world is changing. Numbers aren’t so important any more and bigger isn’t always better. I have worked with many clients who have thousands of followers but very low engagement and sales. From the outside, it might look like they’re killing it. But from the inside, they’re fighting a tough battle. Instead of putting your attention into building a following of 100k followers, put that energy into finding your 1,000 true followers. A term coined by Kevin Kelly as explained in Seth Godin’s book Tribes:
“A true fan is a member of the tribe who cares deeply about you and your work That person will cross the street to buy from you or bring a friend to hear you or invest a little extra to support you. An individual artist needs only a thousand true fans in her tribe. It’s enough. It’s enough because a thousand fans will bring you enough attention and support to make a great living, to reach more people, to do great work.”
It’s not that hashtags aren’t important - valuable connections can definitely come from using them on your posts. But I hope I haven given you a number of different things to consider and ways to engage when building a thriving community on Instagram!