How influencers grow their following so quickly — and why you probably shouldn't care

Are you bumming about your follower count?




I just got off the phone with an extremely talented jewelry designer who is doubting her abilities because OF HER INSTAGRAM FOLLOWING. If you’re feeling discouraged by your social media followers like she was, read on.


Guess what? Followers don’t equal sales. Some of the most successful business owners I know have less than a thousand followers on Twitter and Instagram COMBINED! That’s right. They’re too busy actually selling and servicing to make attracting a massive audience their priority.

While it’s generally true that you can expect a certain % of your followers to eventually convert into customers, there are some real-world purchases that occur outside the social media bubble. 


If you’re on social media for an ego boost, chase followers. If you’re on social media to grow your business, though, chances are you’re playing with a different set of rules and should temper your expectations.


As long as you’re steadily growing, attracting the right followers, providing consistent value to them, and engaging with them on a daily basis you’re doing it right.


Some early-stage entrepreneurs fear a “small” following makes them look less credible to potential customers, and often become so desperate to look “legit” right out of the gate they start to inflate their accounts with fake followers. Please don’t do this. It never works and it’s usually painfully obvious. 


Instead, let’s talk about how some of the most credible brands and personalities have amassed thousands or even millions of followers (whether it matters or not).

  • Take your time. Often, it takes YEARS of publishing consistently. I’m talking 3-5 posts
  • Reward early engagers. Respond to every single comment. Not just with emojis. When a passerby is exploring your photos and notices you’re someone who actually responds to their comments, they’re more inclined to engage with and follow you, too.
  • Tag everybody. And everything. Wearing a Madewell top? Tag Madewell. Working from Philz Coffee like I am? Use the geo-tag feature. These days, brands have dedicated social teams waiting to interact with their fans and reward them for lightweight promotion. Maybe they’ll re-post your content, who knows!
  • Collaborate with bigger brands. Any time you can get an authentic shoutout or feature from someone in your category and get exposed to their audience, you can expect an uptick in interest from their followers.
  • Go viral. Are you creating content every once in a while that has the potential to get picked up by an actual publication or syndicated to other platforms? 90% of the “influencers” and “gurus” I follow have some big viral moment in their timeline that exploded their growth. Having worked at YouTube, I could talk ad nauseam about virality, but let’s save that topic for another week.


So, next time you’re feeling down in the dumps about your small following, please remember:

  • Your follower count doesn’t say anything about how successful you are or how much money you’re pulling in.
  • You never know who’s paying for followers and engagement (unless you’re a trained pro like me ;)) so don’t compare yourself to anyone.
  • If you don’t care about popularity and just want to look credible, there are far better ways to spend your time than growing your following. In fact... HEY-O, that’s what I specialize in! If you want to talk about your digital footprint, what your LinkedIn account is saying about you, or SEM, reply to this email and let me know.

Not sure if your slow, steady, organic growth is as great as it could be? I’m here for that too. I do social media audits in my sleep.


Until next time, friends and hustlers,