[Tipster] How to Grow from Nothing to Something on Social Media

tipster post Jan 10, 2023

Over the holiday break, I finally reached 30k followers on Instagram, after hovering around 28k for months. 
And the followers keep following. As I write this, I’m nearing 31k.  
I suppose I’m experiencing a mini-viral moment.
And I do mean “mini.”
When a social media account goes viral—because of a post that is shared and reshared repeatedly—it often grows by tens of thousands. 
I grew by a few thousand after hosting a virtual holiday home tour with a few other accounts in early December. 
My point is not to brag. 
I’ve been growing my IG account for exactly eight years now—posting over 3100 times. (And that doesn’t include all the Stories I’ve posted daily for about five years.)
The growth has been slow and steady. Until December, I hovered around 28k followers for months. I was losing as many followers as I was gaining.
“Going viral” was a catch phrase that never applied to me.
Who Cares about Social Media?

Whenever I write about social media, I worry many of you will be annoyed. You may think, I’m a writer! Lay off the social media chatter.
If you have another platform for marketing yourself and your writing, then you're right. Social media isn’t important.

But many writers want to grow a social media following. (Platform is paramount in publishing). 
Others of you have started and stopped at social media because it’s hard growing a following. 
No comments. No follows. No likes. Me no likey.
This post is for those of you in the “it’s hard” category. You want to work at growing your social media following in the new year but need some encouragement to get after it.
The Right Mindset

The first and obvious place to start is with the right mindset. 
To grow something from nothing demands a core of optimism. A belief that you can grow an audience and that having that audience matters.
From that core is drawn the persistence to show up regularly; to create content that matters to the people with whom you’re trying to connect; to build relationships with others in your tribe.
If you don’t believe you can, you won’t. If you don’t believe it matters, it doesn’t.
My impetus for growing my social media following was to create opportunities to publish articles in shelter magazines.
Eight years ago, when I posted my first image, I had zero followers (literally zero!). Why post?
Because I believed that growing my presence on IG would help me make connections with editors.
Some days my content flopped. Maybe I posted at the wrong time. Maybe what I wrote didn’t connect with my followers. Maybe my image was bad. It could have been a number of things.
But I persisted. I believed posting regularly mattered.
I’d post again, and miraculously (and it always seemed like a miracle in the early days!) that post was liked and shared. 
I paid attention to the posts that people responded to most. I learned to post more of that.
“More of That!”

While the exact content you share will be different than what I share, you need to find your own “more of that!” content.
Here are a few types of content I learned people connect with most:

  1. Stories. Whenever I tell a story about a shared human experience (even if I’m talking about decorating), it gets lots of likes—and lots of comments. People want to be understood. And your posts have the ability to help people feel understood.
  2. Anything unique. Social media has created a sea of sameness. When you thoughtfully post content that has a fresh perspective, that is provocative, that gives reader’s pause, others actually pay attention. And they share it.
  3. Arresting images. Even if IG isn’t your primary platform (which is built on images), most platforms now are image- (and video-) driven. Be thoughtful in the images you use to accompany your words. They will be the thing that slow down the fast scroller.
  4. Expertise. Be generous with what you know. And share it in a winsome way. When you genuinely help people with your content, they are likely to share that content with others. And sharing is how you grow!

Does It Really Work?
If you’ve read this far, then you might wonder, So, what has social media really done for you?
It’s a fair question. Because the number of followers doesn’t matter as much as the engagement that follows the posting.
I’m happy to say that within two years of posting, I made connections with an editor of a respected shelter magazine and became a regular contributor. I published about 20 articles.
Then there were unexpected results, like having my home featured in magazines and books. Being asked to speak at a conference. Appearing on podcasts and in national articles. Becoming an ambassador for a renowned antique market.
All of that happened before reaching 30k. But it demanded believing that I could grow past zero.
Now buckle up and write.



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