Wondering how to find the right Instagram hashtags for your business in 2018? If so,…
Are you a victim of the Instagram follow unfollow garbage that’s going on at the moment?
If you’re active on Insta, I’m gonna guess you are.
Here’s how it usually goes:
You put up a new post after dinner one night, and you’re pretty damn proud of it.
You add some hashtags so that it gets seen by more people (and because some social media person told you that’s what you’re supposed to do).
The likes and engagements start rolling’ ‘awn in [*but not as much as they USED to, because – algorithm – but anyway],* and you even gain a few new followers – yasssss!!!!!
All in all, you’re chuffed.
You pat yourself on the back, wash your face and jump into bed feeling like a #SocialMediaQueen (or King!).
[8 hours pass].
When your alarm goes off the next morning, you rub the sleep out of your eye, reach for your phone and click open the Insta app to check the post.
AND…. [insert dramatic, foreboding music]…
YOU CAN’T BELIEVE IT.
You’ve gained SIX NEW FOLLOWERS BUT YOUR OVERALL INSTAGRAM FOLLOWER COUNT HAS DROPPED BY 7. WTF.
[Sad, depressing music plays].
*Just don’t unfollow. Don’t do that.
This, my friends, is the Instagram follow / unfollow method wreaking havoc on your poor, unsuspecting account.
If you’re like any of the clients and friends I’ve spoken to recently, fluctuating Instagram numbers is your number one social media frustration. AmmmIright?
So, what the hell is it all about? Who is DOING this to us? And, most importantly, HOW THE HELL DO WE STOP IT?
Well, you’re in luck, friends, because the answers are right ‘ere.
In a nutshell (where did that phrase even come from, by the way. In. A Nutshell… ermmm?!), the Instagram follow unfollow method refers to an account following a TON of other social media accounts with the sole objective of getting a ‘follow back’ in return.
If they DON’T get it, they’ll unfollow after a certain amount of time. It might be a day, a week, four weeks.
And often, they’ll still unfollow you even if you DO follow back.
Here’s another way of explaining it: It’s like a flaky guy you’ve dated who SAYS they really like you and that they want to take it further, but who then disappears after a week SHOWING THAT THEY HAD NO DAMN LOYALTY OR GENUINE LEVEL OF CARE FOR YOU AT ALL.
Now, let me just make ONE important differentiation here. There’s a big difference between these people (aka the assholes), and genuine people that connect with like-minded accounts on Instagram with the intent to form a meaningful relationship (the good people).
The two are worlds apart.
And to be clear, I actually RECOMMEND that people genuinely connect with like-minded accounts – especially when they are just starting out and trying to grow their following of potential clients.
In summary, here’s the difference.
Asshole move = Blindly following a heap of random accounts with the sole purpose of increasing the number of followers on your account (in other words – being an annoying pest).
Good move = Strategically following a number of accounts based on whether they resonate, whether they are someone you like to see in your feed and/or whether they are someone who you would like to engage with because they may one day do business with you (in other words – genuinely connecting with the intent to add value).
Asshole move = Unfollowing en masse anyone who didn’t follow you back, or even worse, unfollowing EVERYONE en masse.
Good move = Connecting and engaging with your new followers over a number of weeks, and ad hoc unfollowing anyone who doesn’t engage back or otherwise interact with you at all (because they aren’t your peeps and you’re not developing a relationship).
So, now we have that clear, let’s find out who the assholes are. Or, in other words..
Essentially, there are two people who use the Follow Unfollow method.
One: People wanting to grow their account at all costs and who really don’t care that it’s annoying AF. You’ll often find their accounts are from overseas (which means they will NEVER do business with you), although there’s definitely local ones as well.
Two: Bots. You know those random comments you get on your picture that are completely un-genuine or just downright not relevant? Yeah, they’re bots.
People pay for bots to go through and auto-comment and/or follow on their behalf with the sole objective of getting as many followers as they can – fast.
Player gonna play. Haters gonna hate. And, yep, followers are gonna unfollow.
At the end of the day? It just is what it is.
“WELL FAT LOT OF HELP YOU ARE, STEVIE!”, I hear you say.
I’m gonna help you, so chill out.
Although it’s just an unfortunate fact of Instagram life, here are a few tips to soften the blow.
1. DEVELOP A THICK SKIN AND GET OVER IT.
LOL. So much for softening the blow, right?
It’s true, though.
If you’re spending all of your time worrying about the fluctuation of your account with follow/unfollow types, you’re not doing what you need to be doing to ACTUALLY get the people who might be genuinely interested in your account on board.
Stop obsessing over the few assholes and instead do THIS:
Spend time proactively engaging with your target audience – and by that I mean people who may one day do business with you.
In my experience, people aren’t trawling through hashtags looking for accounts to follow – we’re all too damn busy for that. YOU need to go to THEM in order for them to find you.
Posting hashtags under your posts and waiting for the follows to roll in is the equivalent to a single gal sitting on the couch and expecting Mr Right to just knock on the door (also, let’s assume said single gal doesn’t have Tinder, because in 2018 she could probably just sit on the couch and have that happen but yeah… but I digress).
YOU need to do the work, and go find your people!
Get out there and start showing people you EXIST.
That’s how you grow your following.
Quality content is the reason that people want to follow you. And remember it’s not about YOU.
Make your content interesting to your target audience, and they’re gonna want to see more of it and follow you so they can.
2. DOWNLOAD THE FOLLOWERS APP SO YOU CAN PICK THE ASSHOLES OUT.
Want to know who’s following and unfollowing you on Instagram?
Well, you CAN.
Download this app, and it will tell you who is a fair-weather follower and who is the real deal.
3. DON’T USE TOO MANY BIG, BROAD HASHTAGS WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS (OR MILLIONS) OF POSTS UNDER THEM.This is a biggie.
When you use BIG, broad hashtags like #SocialMedia or #Summer or #Health (for example), you’re opening yourself to a much greater degree of fluctuation in your follower count.
Bots and assholes LOVE trawling through these sorts of hashtags on Instagram for follow / unfollows and you’ll find that you get a HEAP of new followers.. and a HEAP of unfollows.
I recommend using no more than five of these types of hashtags AT THE ABSOLUTE MAX.
Personally, I rarely use them.
They can be helpful for increasing your post engagement (and pleasing the Instagram algorithm), but they are not really going to be your target audience in most cases.
Why? Well, for one they aren’t location specific so people all over the world use them. If you have an Australian business serving Australian customers, that’s not ideal because most of the world ISN’T, well, Australia.
The other reason is that people genuinely searching through hashtags won’t usually be searching under something like #Love.
They’ll be searching for location specific, or community, or brand hashtags because they are more relevant to what they are looking for.
For example, someone looking for a cafe or restaurant to visit in Brisbane is MUCH more like to be searching under #BrisbaneEats than they are under #Food or #Cafe, right?
Young Australian female entrepreneurs looking for business inspiration are much more likely to be searching under #CollectiveHub than #Entrepreneur.
And so on.
4. BE STRATEGIC ABOUT WHO YOU FOLLOW BACK.
Don’t follow every damn person back that follows you in a desperate attempt to increase your follower count.
Especially, don’t follow back ‘Custom T-Shirts R S’ from Waco, Texas – with 1,000 followers / 6,000 following – when you’re a small florist based in Brisbane.
No really, think about it. WHY?
Because… THEY’RE NEVER GONNA DO BUSINESS WITH YOU!
This is a good example of an account I won’t be following back. It’s based in the US, it’s not my target audience, it looks spammy and it has more ‘following’ than followers. And I’ll bet that they unfollow in a day or two!
The whole point of social media is to start conversations with people that may one day do business with you.
When someone random adds you and you’re thinking about whether to add them back or not, this is the test:
‘Are they my target market’?
If yes, follow back and engage!
If no, bye Felicia.
The bottom line is that everyone (whether they admit it or no) ultimately wants more followers on Instagram.
The Instagram Follow Unfollow method – even though it’s shady, annoying and flat out against good business sense – is one of main ways people attempt to achieve just that and for that reason it’s not a tactic that’s going away anytime soon.
As a result, your follower numbers are gonna continue to fluctuate.
There are things you can do to reduce the AMOUNT of fluctuation (hint: use different hashtags) and to keep an eye on who is doing it (hint: download the Followers App and be strategic about who you follow back), but at the end of the day my advice is to just ignore the ups and downs.
Spend your time and energy on doing the things (like producing great content and engaging proactively) that are going to bring you the RIGHT type of followers – ones that enjoy your content, find it valuable and that may just one day pick up the phone or send you an email to do business with you.
Because at the end of the day, that’s the whole point – right?