In 2013, I started an Instagram account with little focus and mostly personal pictures of my daily life. Three years and nearly 30,000 followers later, I have built a brand, co-founded my sports performance and wellness company, received sponsorships from well-known food product and supplement brands, crafted custom meal plans for fitness influencers and written articles for popular magazines and websites. Interested in building your own social media influence? Here are three tips that I’ve learned along the way:
1. Find a community and connect with others in that community in a genuine way.
Are you all about plant-based eating? Do you love running? Find others who can relate. It’s important to focus your energy when you first begin, so make friends with others who post content similar to what you enjoy. Comment on others’ photos. Build friendships. Meet up with those who live near you. It may seem silly to make friendships online but it makes a big difference and pays off when those friends comment on your recipes, tag you in photos or reference you in a caption that gets you noticed. Your friendships also may help connect you to brands you want to work with.
2. Post consistently.
You can’t post one time a week and expect to grow thousands of followers each month. Instagram users tend to scroll daily through several hundred accounts they follow. If you aren’t posting consistently, they can forget who you are and lose interest in your message. Also, that Instagram search page? It’s much easier to get noticed when you are posting consistently!
3. Put yourself out there.
I stopped posting only recipes or meals and started posting deeper thoughts: how I overcame body issues, career tidbits, messages of positivity and motivation. Being a dietitian, I was nervous to talk about my past eating habits, body issues and fitness missteps, but that is exactly what resonates with people and why they listen. They feel a connection with you because of similar experiences. Even if these are not your proudest moments, you can help others with your tips! People don’t follow you for your highlight reel. Be true to who you are — we all are humans and just trying to connect!
Growing a brand via Instagram takes time and consistency. If someone would have told me three years ago that I would have 30,000 friends who want to know what I say, I would have found that unbelievable. But by putting myself out there, I have built a community of friends and grown my business at the same time. I never imagined that Instagram would change my life forever.