In 2010 the world of mobile photo and video sharing shifted drastically with the introduction of a new app called Instagram. Many if not all of us have either an account on Instagram or have at the very least heard of this application. Today, Instagram has become one of the most widely recognised social media platforms and there are many apps that have been created to support Instagram users such as photo editing apps and follower/following tracking apps which let you know when someone has deemed you worthy of receiving a follow or a dreaded unfollow. As with many social media platforms there is a social hierarchy on Instagram based on the units of followers and likes. The more followers a user has usually directly translates to the amount of likes and interactions they will receive on each photo they post, and therefore users with more followers consequentially possess larger social capital.
Although not everyone uses the app strictly for the purpose of climbing the social hierarchy this has undoubtedly become a theme within particularly social media proficient millennials and members of the tech-savvy generation Z. I wanted to know which feature of an Instagram account makes the largest difference in terms of number of followers, likes and overall social capital and so I began researching. I cycled through many accounts, read through various articles written on the subject and interviewed my good friend Kristian Kumric who uses Instagram for his photography business. I was able to determine that although there are many aspects that create social capital for an Instagram account (some as extreme as buying followers), there is none more effective than the aesthetic or direction of an account.
The aesthetic or direction of a user’s profile or “feed” could also be spoken of as being the theme of the posts. Rather that posting content of various themes and subject matters, a clearly visible direction of content such as photos of travel and adventure is tremendously beneficial for gaining followers, probably followers who enjoy travel and adventure. With this being said however it’s not just the subject matter. A clear and reoccurring colour scheme or editing style between posts can attract the following of a demographic of Instagram users and maintain that following.
A good friend of mine, Kristian Kumric, has used Instagram to market himself as a professional photographer and has successfully extended his social capital by using a moody travel/adventure direction with his posts. Kristian has rapidly gained over three thousand followers and is currently receiving an average of 500 likes on each photo he posts. Kristian also has contracts for real estate companies and a few car dealerships such a Volkswagen groups Porsche. When asked about the importance of his profiles direction and aesthetic he states “a huge aspect of your aesthetic is the type of content you’re posting. For example when someone goes to my page they instantly know I post travel/adventure photos. If I were to post random photos of let’s say my dog, the food I eat, cars and continue posting various unrelated photos of different subject matter, it would take away from the overall aesthetic of my profile. Doing that would provide less of a reason for someone to follow me and would decrease overall engagement on some posts since not all users have identical interests or preference to the type of photos they open the app to see.”
As social media and online presence becomes increasingly important in business, highly reputable modern media outlets such as Forbes Magazine have published tips and tricks for gaining followers to extend social capital. Forbes.com recently published an article titled “Want More Instagram Followers? Here’s How to Do it” and the very first thing listed is to have a direction, reoccurring theme or colour scheme to your profile. Tom Ward Forbes contributor, voices in this article that “we all follow people who post pics of their kids, then post ads for their stupid business scheme, then selfies, then a million pics of their pugs. Who is supposed to follow them? Fans of pugs? People who are interested in their business? This is probably the most important thing to figure out. What are you trying to promote? Stick to that. You can have a separate account for your family and friends”
All aspects of a user’s account must align with their direction to maximize this phenomena such as the profile picture, username, bio and most importantly the photos. It’s also important to note that the theme or direction of your account is more likely to accumulate a greater audience if this theme or direction is trending or meets the interest of a large demographic of users. This advice is not the do all and end all of how to gain a following as many celebrities don’t have a particular theme nor direction to their account however acquire a large following simply by their identifiableness and non-Instagram fame. Although each users experience and reason for using the application is subjective, if you’re trying to gain a following and reach a larger number of people your account needs direction.
Go give Kristian a follow, a great photographer and a great guy!