It's been about three years since I first joined Instagram. Today I can say that I have a more or less successful Instagram account. It's not one of the big ones, but it has a decent number of followers.
As I've been a user since the very early days – and was lucky enough to meet talented Instagrammers such as @herbertschroer, regalphis or roywrench in person – I believe I've been able to identify some general rules that might help others get started.
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of Instagram accounts. The first group (which probably accounts for the majority of Instagramers) lets others peek into their personal lives. It's pictures of family, friends, snaps from occasional trips and many many selfies. Can you see what I see? These accounts are about their owners, which isn't of much interest to potential audiences, other than friends and relatives of course.
The second group is run by active community builders; these people provide a certain kind of service to their followers. Interests and services are very diverse of course, which is why these accounts vary in focus. They can be anything from personal styling to Paleo diet. Active community builders tend to attract more followers.
Here is what in my opinion makes for a good and valuable Instagram account:
- A very particular focus. In other words: Your followers know what they'll get. While @kathmo is a collection of great spots with a focus on interior architecture, I've noticed that many successful accounts focus on diets, motivational quotes or street style photography.
- Successful Instagramers are involved in their local Instagram or EyeEm community and get mentioned by fellow Instagramers. It's always easier to build an audience that's based in the same location.
- All images have a recognisable style. Again, followers know what they'll get.
- While it's not about creating personal updates on Instagram, a certain degree of personality is very important. No one wants to follow someone they cannot feel connected to.
- Regular updates! I usually post once a day or at least a few times a week.
My Instagram stream became this nice album of places I've visited or moved to in the last couple of years. I believe that because of Instagram I became much more observant and connected to my immediate environment.
Just like many other Instagramers I also used to post images of my food or my friends. Looking back, it was very personal and I'd probably not publish any of this anymore. On the other hand, as personal as my Instagram stream might seem to outsiders, it will hardly ever reflect who I am or what I stand for. Life isn't always as polished as the online brand of a person seems to broadcast; and that's something all of us should keep in mind.