Follower authenticity has always been a hot topic around Influencer Marketing; however, recent press articles have been popping up left and right around the topic making the conversation grow even louder. Brands are beginning to demand more stats around the influencers they choose to work with which is why Whalar has been pushing recently on our creators connecting their Instagram Insights to the platform.
We believe, and have seen throughout our journey, that transparency is always the way to go. But how can you improve your stats?
You know that feeling when you apply for a new bank account or credit card and the section checking your credit score comes up?
A. Super confident because you know what your credit score is and you’ve been working on keeping it strong and potentially improving.
B. You’re terrified because you haven’t checked it in years or maybe have and didn’t see such a great number looking back at you.
Owning up to your Instagram stats is like owning up to your credit score - keep ignoring it, and it’ll never get better. At Whalar, one of our biggest points of focus for both applications as well as our current community is our creators’ engagement rates and audience credibility. These two go hand in hand because even with a higher engagement rate if the credibility of the audience (referring to if engagements are coming from real people) is low then those engagements are actually empty and hold no value to a brand.
I think it’s safe to say that it’s a competitive landscape out there, and the thought of buying followers or using a bot to follow and unfollow authentic accounts can be pretty tempting, but we don’t want our creators to resort to that.
Brands, influencer companies, and other influencers can already tell if an influencer has dabbled a bit in the dark side, especially if it’s been recent. We understand where the pressure comes from to have a high following and lots of likes, and to want to be the best of the best. However, we also know that in order to actually be the best of the best, those numbers and engagements need to mean something apart from just being a number.
And it can’t have meaning if it’s fake.
It’s simple - Just like the analogy above of not wanting to come to terms with a bad credit score, no one wants to admit their numbers are dropping, or they’ve used bots in the past. In order to be a more genuine and authentic Instagram creator, you need to own your numbers and commit to an action plan, even if only to yourself.
Being an influencer isn’t easy - and maintaining a strong following is even harder. Own your craft and have faith that with a solid strategy and high-quality content engagement will come naturally. It won’t be overnight like everyone wants, but it will happen with a bit of patience and hard work.
To connect with the audiences you actually want, it’s important to be active and strategic.
1) My personal favourite way to go about this is hashtags (an oldie but a goodie). You could:
Participate in the monthly Whalar #ObjectProject, or the Weekend Hashtag Project from @instagram. Or create your own hashtag project to engage your audience and their followers as well
2) Try something new.
Shake your content up a bit by sharing a different side of you to your audience, or take them on a new journey with you. Want to get into creating more video? Why not show how you progress using your platform. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you’ll find a new audience of people who are also looking to learn.
3) Have a cleaning spree.
We’re not saying you should cull anyone who follows you but doesn’t engage (a lot of people like to use Instagram as a ‘window shopping’ experience rather than a chat room), but it might be worthwhile having a look at who really follows you and which accounts look like they might be spam or fake and delete those ones in order to improve your engagement rate.
4) Engage with people outside of your circle.
Instagram is a wealth of amazing content! And if you’re only engaging with the same crowd then you could be missing out on some great inspiration and new friends.
5) Best practices.
It goes without saying, but make sure you’re using Instagram to its full potential. Geo-tag your images, tag other people or brands who feature in your content, use the hashtags that are the best fit for your picture. Post consistently and post good quality content that people genuinely want to see and you will be rewarded.
It can be hard getting bogged down in the numbers but remember you aren’t defined by them. A simple strategy and planning session can be put in place in no time, and so long as you keep track of how your engagement rate and audience credibility is doing every now and then, you should be able to focus on doing the things you truly love.
Banner image by @elina_melnik