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Is growing your business on Instagram worth the effort?

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Eduardo Morales
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Eduardo Morales

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Many people think that growing their Instagram account is an important and necessary part of life on social media, but very few of us have stopped to ask ourselves, “Is my Instagram account actually worth growing?”

At its core, growing an Instagram does one thing: it increases the number of people who visit your Instagram account or, in other words, it generates additional traffic to your Instagram account. Additional traffic can be potentially valuable (depending on what you do with it) but it also comes at a price. Effectively growing an Instagram account takes a lot of time, energy, mental health, and monetary resources. How do you know if the results you might see from growing your Instagram are worth the effort you’ll need to invest in order to grow it? How do you know that your efforts will result in anything at all?

Without taking the time to ask yourself these questions and clearly think them through, you can easily spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars — and more importantly, put in days/weeks/years of your precious life growing an Instagram account that wasn’t worth growing in the first place.

So if you’re wondering whether your Instagram account is actually worth growing, here are the questions you need to ask yourself:

1. What do I want to achieve by growing my Instagram account?

Sit down and write down your username or usernames (if you have more than one account you’re thinking about growing). Take a couple of deep breaths, and next to each username, write down exactly what you want to achieve by growing your account.

Read: [Automating your social media posts could hurt your startup’s online presence]

Be honest with yourself and don’t judge your goals, but instead, be specific. You can write down things like “to get 100 people to volunteer for X cause I care about” or “to get 1,000 more monthly readers on my blog,” “have people discover my art,” “to earn sell 50 more items on my e-commerce website,” “to be creatively recognized,” “to have more followers,” “to get my dream job” or “to get 20 people to sign up for my classes.” Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that you’re super clear on exactly what it is you want to achieve by growing your account.

Here’s an example of how I’ve done it on a spreadsheet that you can also access here:

If you don’t know why or the reasons aren’t exactly clear enough for you to write down in one sentence, your account isn’t worth growing until the reasons are clear to you.

Once you’ve written down your reasons, ask yourself:

2. How else could I achieve this? Is growing my Instagram the most effective way to do it?

Next to each of the things you want to achieve by growing your account, write down 1–5 other things you can do to achieve this goal. Again, the most important thing here is that you’re specific and creative!

If it’s more traffic that you need, would running Google or Facebook ads, or sponsoring an influencer, require less time, money, and energy? If you want more people to discover your art, would focusing on putting together a local art show help you get more significant recognition? If you want to get more people to sign up for your class, would attending two local meetups a week help you achieve that more quickly or easily, or in a more self-fulfilling way? If you want to sell more items through your e-commerce, would writing a valuable blog generate higher-converting traffic than an Instagram account?

These questions are important because, in many situations, we’ve already made up our minds that we need to grow our Instagram accounts, but we haven’t considered that there are many other, possibly more effective, ways to attain what we wish to achieve without having to grow an Instagram account.

Whether or not growing an Instagram is the most effective way to achieve your goals also strongly depends on your natural proclivity to create high-quality content and use Instagram frequently. If you really enjoy creating new content for Instagram and using the app without feeling mentally drained, then Instagram might be the most viable option to achieve what you’d like to achieve. If you feel overwhelmed and drained just by thinking of Instagram, then it much more likely you can find other ways of achieving your goals in a more fulfilling and energizing way.

After evaluating all of the other possible options, if growing your Instagram is still likely the most effective way to achieve what you want to achieve, write down “YES” and continue to question #3. If it’s not, then the answer is “NO,” and you know that growing your Instagram isn’t worth the effort in this case.

The reality is, Instagram is so competitive and saturated these days that, in most cases, the amount of physical and mental energy it takes to achieve your goals by growing an Instagram account is likely not the most effective way. Instead of rushing into trying to grow an account because that’s what you think/have been told that’s what you should do, spend a couple of days evaluating other ways in which you might attain what you wish.

3. Am I willing and able to put in the work needed to grow an Instagram account and achieve my goals?

If growing an Instagram is the most effective way to achieve what you want to achieve, it’s also important that you ask yourself if you’re willing and able to put in the work needed to grow that account in order to even have the possibility of achieving it. Next to where you answered whether or not growing an Instagram was the most effective way for you, honestly write down “YES” if you’re willing and able to put in the work or “NO” if you’re not. If you answer “NO” here, then you’ll know that your Instagram isn’t worth growing in the long run.

You might be asking: “Exactly how much work will I need to do in order to have a realistic possibility of growing my Instagram account effectively?” Well, that depends on what you want to achieve, but in most cases, it will be a lot of work. I mean it, a lot! Even if you know all of the best strategies, tools, and hacks regarding Instagram growth, it is still very likely that you’ll spend at least one year working it at, seeing little to no money or tangible results. Even then, it’s not a guarantee that your account will grow much at all! Of course, every person and account is different, but that’s the reality of trying to grow an Instagram account. There is no escaping it, and if you don’t take these things into account before you begin the journey, it will likely set you up for a big disappointment (and a whole lot of wasted time) once you realize how hard and time-consuming trying to grow an account actually is.

Make an effort to evaluate things objectively. Spending a year growing an account might be worthwhile if it’ll help your business grow in the future or if you’re sharing content that you’re really passionate about (i.e. that you don’t mind spending time on). Other reasons, like being more popular within your peer group, possibly becoming an influencer, or just growing your account just for the sake of having more followers, might not be worth the effort.

4. Do I have the tactical and strategic knowledge it takes to have a high likelihood of being able to grow my Instagram account?

If you’ve answered “YES” for the previous three questions, then your Instagram account is actually worth growing!

This fourth and final question is of a more rhetorical nature, but it’s essential as it will give you the necessary framework to gather the most important information needed to begin growing your account.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The essential Instagram tactics needed in order to have a high likelihood of growing your account: To grow an Instagram account, you need to maximize the people you reach by optimizing the number of times that you post per day, automate the process of posting, implementing a simple system to increase your engagement, using the right hashtags, interacting with as many potential followers as possible per day (possibly using Instagram interaction automation), getting tagged by as many high-value accounts as possible, and running effective Instagram ads and the percentage of them that you retain as followers (by having a simple and clear bio, as well as differentiated and engaging content showcased in a visually unique grid). Having the available time and resources required to execute these tactics effectively will depend on the state of your life, but honestly, it just takes a sincere willingness and effort to learn and execute effectively.
  • The less saturated your niche is, the more likely it is that your account can grow: You can gauge how saturated your niche is by reading #4 in this article, but in summary, the less content-creating accounts there are on Instagram competing for the audience you want to reach (your niche), the more likely you are to realistically achieve your expectations. Innovative products and talented personality-based content creators have the highest likelihood to grow quickly, because they create a niche of their own, without any competition. Non-personality-based accounts looking to grow in an already-saturated niche, such as fashion, quotes, memes, etc. are the least likely to grow, unless they are highly differentiated (which is next to impossible in an already saturated niche).
  • The more differentiated your account is, the more likely it is that your account can grow: Again, it’s important to be realistic and objective about your content; however, the more differentiated and well-executed it is, the more likely you are to grow fast and achieve your desired results, regardless of how saturated your niche is.

You might have awesome reasons for why you want to grow your account and the willingness to spend the time and energy needed to grow it, but do you have the right tactical and strategic knowledge in order to grow it? Or do you have the time to learn the skills needed to execute these activities effectively?

The results

Like I mentioned before, growing an account takes a lot of time, energy, mental health, and resources. Make sure that your account is actually worth growing before you start the long journey of Instagram growth.

If you know exactly what you want to achieve by growing your Instagram account, and growing it is the most effective way to achieve what you want to achieve, as well as having the willingness and ability to put in the work needed to grow your account, and you know the tactics and strategies that are essential to have a high likelihood of actually growing, then your account is worth growing!

If you don’t know why you want to grow your account and/or growing an account isn’t the most effective way to achieve what you want to achieve, and/or you aren’t willing or able to put in the work, then your account isn’t worth growing.

It’s as simple as that.

So what do you do if you conclude that your account isn’t worth growing, but it’s still important for you that it looks great?

What to do if your account isn’t worth growing, but you still want it to look great:

This one is easy. If your Instagram account isn’t worth growing, then think of it as a landing page. It can be used to visually portray your personality or business, and provide the necessary information whenever people search for you on Instagram, without needing to put in the work to grow fast. Here’s how you do that:

This article was originally written by Eduardo Morales for Better Marketing, a publication providing advice that works and covering digital and social media marketing, tools, and case studies. You can read the original piece here

Published May 14, 2020 — 07:32 UTC