This is sort of the behind-the-scenes introduction to the Do You + Be Kind organic IG growth series I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks, and this first segment gives you an idea of where I’m coming from…and why this series might be a little different than you were expecting: read below to see what I’m talking about. 😉
I’ve been working on this series covering Instagram growth for awhile now, and I wanted it to be just right before hitting that little “publish” button. It’s tricky to answer these questions without coming across as a self-important, know-it-all, and that’s been my hold up if I’m being honest with you all. I want to use my experience to help if anyone could use the perspective, but I also don’t want to come off like an expert….because I can only speak to my own personal experience, you know? So. Take this series for what it is: a reflection back on my year and a half whirlwind Instagram journey as I try and piece together what worked for me and how it could work for you, too. That’s my goal.
Another hold up: perpetuating the belief that THE most important thing about Instagram/social media is the number next to our names. That’s a scary, bottomless pit of a trap to fall into, and it can reroute the course of our decisions, our social media identity, and even how we choose to spend our time with (or without…) our family and actual face-to-face people in our lives. I’ve fallen into that trap once or twice on here, not going to lie, and it didn’t feel great. It felt…like I’d lost ME on MY own social media account ABOUT ME. 😑 Funny how that can happen, huh? I’ve hesitated to write an entire series promoting GROW GROW GROW, because…that honestly isn’t the MOST important thing about it all. I’m realizing as I walk my own journey that the followers you HAVE should matter more than possibly ignoring the community you’ve created to constantly attract new followers at all costs. Our people supporting us already should be our #1 focus when we are creating content for our channels, fostering and growing the community we’ve built and loving on the people who love us as best we can. Is growth important and a good thing for our feeds? By all means, heck yes!! It’s vital for businesses and income if we are using our accounts for that purpose, and it expands our horizons for new opportunities and connections, all that jazz. But…if growth-at-all-costs becomes the main focus, then I think we’ll miss the best part about social media: the community already around us.
I’m not here to reinvent the wheel either. Not only is Instagram constantly shifting and reshaping itself anyway (algorithms, anyone…?! 😩), there are already SO MANY great resources out there for social media growth tactics, ideas and implementations, etc. If you are looking for quick tips and tricks, a Google search will get you what you want. No need for me to completely rewrite what’s been written a bunch of times already by experienced people. What I’m going to talk about in this series might be a little unconventional and against the social-media-grain, if you will. But…it’s what worked for me, for whatever reason, and if it can help my buddies in their own journeys, then I say it’s worth sharing! Just a warning though: it’s probably not what you’re expecting, so if you choose to stick with me, I’d ask that ya keep an open mind and remember that GROWTH GROWTH GROWTH is only one part of the Instagram equation (…math…😳😂) in my opinion. An important part, but…only a part.
Before we begin, I think it would be good to get a little background and context on why I’m even approaching this topic and where I’m coming from in a sense. By far the most frequently asked question I receive (in some form or another) pertains to Instagram growth: how did your account grow so quickly? What should I do to get my own to grow quickly? Tips, tricks, etc? And I totally get the reason behind the questions: the @cottonstem account DID grow quickly, and that was a surprise ESPECIALLY to me at times! I started that account just hoping to further grow my design business, and initially I intended to use it only as a small marketing tool. I started my IG account in August 2016, and the original goal that I wrote in my biz planner back then was “500 followers by Christmas” with a little blank square next to it waiting for its checkmark. By Christmas four months later, the account had grown organically to approximately 20K. (“Organically” meaning zero paid-for followers or likes or any of that shady stuff…👎🏼) At around 10 months, it had hit 100K. Now at a year and a half, it’s around 220K. Insane and swirly: understatements fo’ sure. 😉 But…looking back, I think I can now connect the dots and hopefully use what I’ve learned to help others on their journey, too! First things first though…
While this growth certainly was a surprise at times, it also did not by any means “just happen”…not by a long shot. Time, energy, research, planning, all the things all those articles you Googled told you to do….? Well, I did them, too. I listened and read and read some more. I asked for advice from those who knew better than me, tried new things and accepted change, honed my skills intentionally, sacrificed free time with my family/leisure time to learn and put in the effort.
(Not to mention…some of the kindest people I’ve met on IG land helped me by sharing my photos and connecting me with their friends, all out of the goodness of their hearts. They were certainly living out the title of this series: do you + be kind. I’ll be forever grateful for THEIR kindness and have tried to pass it on myself.)
I say this 👆🏼up there to tell you up front: it takes work and time…and a helping hand. Hard work and more time than you think it will take. Pick any of your favorite Instagrammers or bloggers, and I guarantee they would tell you that what might appear to have just “happened” for them in regards to their growth or success took a crap ton of work behind the scenes, and I bet they could name a few people they’re grateful to for helping them out along the way. They hustled!! I have little patience for people who want quick results with little effort given on their part. That just doesn’t exist, man! (Or if it does, point me in the right direction, because mama be tired… 😂😉) People who hustle get results…just don’t miss the results because of the hustle as you grow. Again, growth is only one part…
Anyway, my point is this: if you are willing to put in the work, keep an open mind and put in some MORE work after that…then this series is for you. Do you and be kind: organically growing your reach without losing yourself in the process. Are ya with me so far, buddies?! If you’re curious about specifics such as photography, feed cohesiveness, social media boundaries, growth tactics…plus insight from some of your favorite bloggers and Instagrammers, then stick around for Part Two of the Do You + Be Kind IG Growth series coming soon…!