Social Growth on Instagram in 2017 and Why "The Social Media Handshake" Method Wins!

Part Two of the Sollevarsi SOCIAL Series: Pillars of Social Growth on Instagram in 2017

The mistake many people make entering into social media is confusing organic with passive. Organic growth on Social Media doesn't perform well unless you are active. The romantic notion being sold to you is that content wins. You will get on Instagram and post great pictures or videos and be off and running. First, content is a craft (Part 3 of our Pillars series). It takes time and effort for anyone to become really effective. Second, posting content simply sends it out into dark empty space, if you aren't active in growing social. Have you ever done an email campaign with a list that performs poorly? or sent out 100 resume's in a week with no replies? Inactive organic growth is like that. We see profiles with good content all the time that have 1,000 posts and 256 followers. This pillar is a guide on how we actively grow your Instagram. Knowing a little bit about what we do for you is important for your overall social media strategy. We call our methodology The Social Media Handshake

Before we get to our methodology, let's review the four primary ways we see people grow their Instagram accounts (Twitter being very similar).

#1 Hashtag and Hope

Most on Instagram and in social media fall into this category, especially at first. Many creatives, crafts-men and women, small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and more are included in this method (if they have taken the first step of performing well in content and posting). This social growth strategy is part of the success of every other method at its core - good content, posting it the best possible way. We get into how to post good and great content as our series continues. 

Hashtag and Hope.jpg

The difference for this social growth method is that they stop here. Let's assume for a minute you are above the curve when it comes to content and social. Well-crafted content, good copywriting, proper hashtag placement, the right hashtags, good form, best time to post, including location tags, tagging other accounts, asking questions, engaging with your followers, and much more make up a good Instagram post (or any social media for the most part). You do all this right. It's on brand and on point. You're a content and social pro! You expect your account to grow doing all these things the right way. You have heard from the experts that tell you "Good content wins!" and "the cream always rises to the top." For 99%, it doesn't. We're not talking about winning the lottery or become the next famous artist or whatever you do. You don't have to be in the 1% or the .000001% to grow a business. There are hundreds of millions of people active on Instagram. Let's stop acting like it takes a lightning strike to succeed. 

Results: Unless you're in the top 1%, this strategy is very slow for most. It doesn't require any budget, a minimum amount of time, but it yields slow results. It's passive growth strategy doesn't grow for most. You're likely "most" and that's ok because what makes your business special is something else besides content and social expertise.

#2 The 2017 Advertiser

Social Media channels love this person. They spend big dollars to get revenue. This isn't organic. It's pay to play and it works, if you get it right or outsource. This profile is analytics driven and sales minded. They have put the time in to master the advertising in-channel system, like Facebook Ads, or they outsource to very costly advertising agencies. Even the freelance social ad experts are expensive $$$. 

Advertising Spend

You do a good job at #1, then you add an advertising budget. This makes it active and provides good results. You're boosting your posts, using a sales funnel. You have your landing pages on point, and you're actively scaling up. You get solid results to your bottomline, but your social isn't growing and it comes with a bigger price tag than you thought. Though costly and highly specialized, this methodology works and you're short term, direct revenue is promising. Yet, there is more if you could build a true brand and not just a one time direct purchase model from ads. You have to spend money on everything, even the social proof for your posts. You aren't fully leveraging the Power of Socialbut you are on a good business trajectory as long as you aren't running your funding dry before the ads really become lucrative. 

Results: Big budget, active, moderate growth supported by a promising bottomline. 

#3 The Reverse-so, Bizzaro Social Media Paradigm

This growth profile is active outside of Instagram and pushes traffic to Instagram for the purpose of strengthening their brand or adding social to their success. This is our out-of-channel expert. Some people and businesses come to social with a powerful brand. These are usually the ones touting loudly how much "content wins" and it's all about content. They aren't wrong but they aren't telling you the whole story. Apple recently started an Instagram channel and within a heartbeat they had over 800k followers. Now that is social growth we can't touch! 

The more accessible version of this profile. They are the SEO expert, the Google Adwords pro, the expert blogger, the published author, or any personal brand or business that has achieved a high level of success outside of social. They are experts at driving traffic to their social media. They also do #1 exceptionally well.

If you're like most of us and still growing your business, you are likely looking for social to do the opposite. This paradigm is to grow your business first and then brand later. Still, unless you bring a VERY powerful brand, you will find trouble pushing traffic to social unless you are actively growing social in the channel, in Instagram.

Results: Requires major brand cache and a thriving business outside of the social media channel. Super speed social growth if you have it; near stagnant growth if you don't. 

#4 The Social Media Handshake

Personally, I have done all of these extensively. Over the past 15 years as digital marketing has matured, I've spent this time working internally for companies driving these business initiatives or externally with clients supporting their efforts and consulting on the best pathways to success. 

 The pink birds are the ones we identify and add to your Followers using the Social Media Handshake.

The pink birds are the ones we identify and add to your Followers using the Social Media Handshake.

The proven success we have had with the Social Media Handshake is why we work with this methodology first and foremost for social growth. Simply put, you are not getting the most out of Instagram and other social channels if you aren't actively growing your profile. Content and proficiency is required because as you've heard before "content wins." That part is true. But now you can drop the "hope" part and substitute an active growth profile. More accurately and truthfully, active content wins. 

We will get hands-on with the steps that make up our process in future articles. But here is a basic outline.

We identify people interested in your brand based on their Instagram activity. This is the same type of targeting done with social media ads but we do it organically and responsibly. We reach out to them individually in an unobtrusive casual connection. Some of them join your brand by following your page. We think of it like walking into a networking event or expo and introducing yourself to someone. You know they are interested in the same genre, industry, field, or whatever brought you to this event. We do that on a social business scale - similar to ads but more powerfully and authentically. If you have your presentation right, they will most likely be happy to meet you and want to engage.

We scale this basic premise up responsibly to accelerate your social growth by offering an affordable, time-saving, account management service. This is how we started growing some of our earliest clients at Sollevarsi SOCIAL. We have found it to be the most effective and authentically organic single method of social growth on Instagram (and Twitter). 

Results: Accelerated growth. It works. Whatever you are getting from #1-3 above, we accelerate that growth substantially. Typical results have been around 10k new followers in the first six months of social growth doing only this method (and posting good content). If you're combining all of these, your growth will skyrocket with our social growth acceleration! Check out the results from some of our earliest clients here. 

Check out Part 3 of the Sollevarsi SOCIAL Series: Pillars of Social Growth on Instagram in 2017 for a look at the craft of content and what you need to be doing to win on Instagram. 


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