Question on: How to get your First 10K Followers.

  • Hi all,
    I just watched Jake's great class on How to get your First 10K Followers. I had a very specific question about Instagram. I have heard that it is important that you have more followers than people you follow. The bigger the distance, the more you are worth following...and never, under any circumstances should your following # exceed your followers #.

    What do you think? It has been driving me a bit crazy over the last 8 months trying to keep them balanced this way and it doesn't seem to line up with what Jake said about following a bunch of people in your field.

    Thanks so much for your input!

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @pamm I slowly grow 1 to 2 real followers per week. I am still WAY low on followers vs following. I see where you are coming from on this but actually I don't think I ever really pay attention to how many followers or people following someone has. If I find their art to be inspirational then I give them a follow.

  • @pamm I heard recently, the goal is to be "booked" not "popular". You want "real" followers as in current or potential clients. Following someone is as easy as clicking a mouse or tapping a screen. I think of it more as advertising/exposure. I was decently booked with work before IG. Since IG and my whopping 160 followers (yeah, that's 160 not 160K 😜) I am even more booked. You want to be followed by the right people. Having 10 followers that all send you regular work is better that having 10K that only give you likes ❤️.

  • @chip-valecek - Good to know that you are being motivated to follow by the work and not the numbers. Thanks for sharing.

  • I think that, yes, generally artists who are worth following will end up having more followers than what they can reasonably follow. The question is, did these accounts become accounts worth following by strategizing over their follower/following ratios? I doubt it. I would be surprised if this factored into their gaining of a large following.

    To me it seems strange to say that under no circumstance should you follow more than the amount of followers you have, especially if you are not an established artist yet or you aren't providing content that meets demand.

    That being said, here is a way in which I think it's detrimental to have less followers than people you follow- when you are an artist following thousands of people and your content is relatively not that great. To me that feels like the person is solely interested in gaining followers. I'm not interested in following someone like that unless their work is amazing. If their work is not very strong yet, but they seem passionate and are engaged in the community, there's a chance I'll follow them, because they are offering something positive to my life.

    What you provide for people is going to be the most important factor in gaining followers. If you are providing content that people want, I highly doubt they will second guess following you based on uneven follower/following ratios.

  • @art-dud - That is really encouraging! Thanks so much for your response.

  • @tessw - Some great points. Bringing the focus back to quality of content is a great reminder. Thanks for your reply!

  • I just decided to join Instagram recently after watching Jakes video,and I am really liking it. I am following many more people than follow me back and will be adding a lot more. I love the interesting art and other stuff people are doing.I just hope anyone who stops by enjoys the art and are not bothered by statistics.There is no point having 10k followers and only 10 people actually like your page.I would say just enjoy yourself and stop worrying.

  • @dottyp - Thanks!

  • Pro SVS OG

    I would like to burst the bubble a little - or at least throw darts at it. There is a lot of studies on the way content garners following (it is THE most interesting topic for marketeers today), and simply posting good content is not enough. Of course one can play the follow-unfollow game, but that, as has been pointed out, is not a worthwhile or sustainable way of getting following. What really works has been described by Derek Thomson in this book:

    Hit Makers

    Basically, it introduces the concept of multipliers - accounts that due to the fame of the person who runs them and/or their intrinsic large following have the power to expose your work/content to a very large audience. If you gain the attention of a multiplier, you can have huge bursts in following. I read the theory, but it remained abstract until one of my posts was picked up and reposted by Childrenwritersguild - an IG account with 100K followers. That piece garnered some 3000 likes and gave me 500 new followers in the space of one night. That remained a unique experience so far. My accounts continues to attract followers organically (twitter more rapidly than IG - Twitter is also more interesting for children´s illustrators, because most Children literature professionals are on Twitter rather than Instagram), but the rate is more in the range of 5-10 per week - nothing close to the burst I experienced that night.
    So the way seems to be to post great content consistently AND attract the attention of multipliers. How to do that is not so simple - tagging seems somewhat rude, though some encourage it. A clever use of hashtags is probably the best bet.
    As to whether followers bring work - that is a different story and depends greatly from what type of work you look for. If it is selling prints or doing private commissions, I am sure it helps. If it is gaining the attention of Art Directors, it may help in the long run...exposure fosters serendipity and you never know which eyes land on your work in which moment. As an art director myself (my day job...), I prefer curated platforms - Behance and agency´s websites are my biggest source of illustrators. But I know a few ADs who regularly look on Instagram, and for sure half of the children publishing world seems to be on Twitter....
    I think being relaxed about it all and just keep doing and sharing good work is the winning strategy in the end....

  • @smceccarelli - Thank you for sharing all this great info! I appreciate it. So many things to think about with social media and it can be hard sometimes to find a balance between making the work and promoting it. I am doing nothing with my Twitter account so I should probably invest a bit of time there too.

  • @smceccarelli That is great insight and advice, but I'm curious about your thoughts toward the question at hand: "Is it important to keep the amount of people you follow, lower than the amount that follows you, in order to look like a person worth following, and therefore helping you to gain more followers?" It sounds like @PamM is purposely trying to keep the amount of people she follows lower than her follower amount, instead of just following who she wants. I'm curious what your thoughts are on that, because you give really good advice. How do you decide on who to follow? Would you purposely not follow people you want to, in order to keep your following amount lower?

  • Pro SVS OG

    @tessw I do not have strong opinions either way. I don´t think the number of followers you have vs the number of people you follow has much impact on attracting new followers. If a channels is great and I like the content, I do not care if this person is following more people than he/she has followers - do you?
    I would not not-follow people I am interested in just to play a number game.
    That said, spending time and attention on the people you follow is quite important - interacting and looking at least at some of their content. Can you do that with 20K people?
    I do spend some time looking at new people to follow, as well as weeding out (unfollow) accounts. I hunt for keywords that indicate children writers and illustrators, editors, art directors, book lovers, etc...For a while I followed librarians and teachers and learned tons of stuff from them. I weed out accounts that are not posting regularly, accounts that post too many private photos and/or unrelated content, anything that gets too political and any account that tries to sell me stuff (I am afraid self-publishing authors are often doing that). I consider social media halfway between learning and marketing, so I try to keep those two aspects in balance.

  • Great discussion!

    @TessW "That being said, here is a way in which I think it's detrimental to have less followers than people you follow- when you are an artist following thousands of people and your content is relatively not that great. To me that feels like the person is solely interested in gaining followers." - Agreed 100%

    I also agree with @smceccarelli about the "hit makers" theory. I was also lucky enough to be featured by Children Writers Guild and see my follower increase by 300 in 1 night (while I had worked hard for 1 year doing all the tips Jake Parker suggested to gain 1000). Since then, I have focused more on sharing quality, finished illustrations vs WIP/sketches. I still share these, but I know they won't bring me a lot of followers.

    I have also noticed something else. If you post a "successful" image, with the right #, and you have a lot of engagement in a short period of time, you get in the "top 9" slots that are shown when you research a #. This can also get you a lot of new followers. It's a little hard to explain, so maybe someone who knows the logistics of IG better then me can explain it, but I would say 95% the the stuff I post on IG I have around 150 likes maybe 2 - 3 new followers and then things slows down. On 4 occasions so far (always with finish illustrations) I had a lot of engagement in a short period and then it's like a snow balls. For about 48 - 72 hours after that I get a lot of likes and new followers (around 150 each time). This is without being reposted by anyone.

    I have tried many techniques to see if I could get more followers, and the only one that seems to work (other than when you get lucky with a specific illustration as above) is to interact with others. Just liking is not enough, you have to comment on other people's work regularly!

    That's my 2 cents on IG.

    Now, Twitter is a different story. I just don't understand how I should use my Twitter account. If anyone has tips on that I would love to hear them... (@smceccarelli maybe ? 😉

  • SVS OG

    Great insight here. Just as someone who loves following other artists on Twitter and other social media....I unfollow anyone who starts getting political I don't care what side you're on. I'm following you because I love your artwork or you are an expert in the publishing world and I want to learn from should save that stuff for your private accounts. For me I've found it to be a problem lately I've unfollowed at least 1000 accounts.

  • Tannie Smith, in her new class "Branding for Creatives", had a great analogy about social media. Excuse my summary. It is much better stated in the video...

    She said IG was like a Wall where your followers go to look at the work, Twitter was more like a Window where people look at the work but also want to see a bit of you as a person, and Facebook was a Loveseat where you mix the work and personal.

  • @evilrobot I am with you on the political stuff.

    As for the follower vs following: I cannot stand people that follow me only to drop me after a day or so in hopes to have fished me as a follower. My rule is that I only follow people back if I like their art or know them. I have an app that notifies me when someone has unfollowed, and aobut 75% of followers I get end up dropping me a day later.

    I also believe that people who follow me are valuable to my art, and their comments on what I am working on hold value, and also helping them out in the same way builds good relationships with a group of up and coming artists that will pay off in the end for all of us. I try to private message everyone that follows me, and let them know I am glad they decided to follow me.

    I don't know how much I buy into the idea that our social media presence has a huge impact on getting rep'd. I'm sure it is like having another thing working for you, but at the end of the day, you are either good or you are not. The people that got an agent or book deal that I know have virtually 0% social media presence. My friend just got two book deals with Harper Collins in YA and nobody on social media even knows she writes. My other friend just got a big book deal and rep at the summer conference, and as I was talking to him this last weekend at the SCBWI sponsored illustration show, he has very little interest in social media and growing his audience. I'm sure there is a value in it, but it takes a back seat in my mind to actually being good, and making sure that your craft is getting better and better.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @nowayme Great point - yes, the use of hashtags is almost a science. You want hashtags that are relevant and yet not overused (or you will never make those precious 9 spots!). I tend to err on the side of excess and try to use all hashtags I can think of for an image. There are some that people recommended to me that I never use, like "Illustrationbest" or "Illustrationoftheday" - I feel like a cheater using those. Do you have any experience with these ones?
    As for Twitter, I use it much the same way as Instagram - just with less text available. I normally mirror every post to all my channels (apart from Behance, which is a different beast altogether). With Twitter I retweet more and interact more (in terms of entering cnversations) and have met some pretty cool people that way. I also use Twitter for random text-only posts about books or inpiration or work habits - whenever I feel like sharing something non-image-based.

  • @smceccarelli I do use #illustration_best, #best_of_illustrations and other similar # because they are "linked" to a potential "hit maker" (in their profile it says use XYZ # to be featured) although I do feel like a cheat when I use them haha! (I definitely do not think I am a "best of" anything right now)

    Thanks for the Twitter explanation - I just started following you and seeing how you use it clarifies things a lot. I am still not sure I understand how people finds others on twitter since you usually aren't supposed to use as many # on twitter vs IG...

  • As a very recent Inatagram user I found myself baffled by why people kept unfollowing me ,I felt I had done something personally wrong or the art was so bad I had chased them away (this still might be the case) I am glad to read all your comments and now realise they want me to follow them and then drop me when I do follow them back it all makes sense now.This social media is a complicated business

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