How to Grow Your Instagram Community to 130k+ Followers
How do you gain followers on Instagram? It’s the question every marketer wants an answer to, and even the best of the best still struggle to keep their followers engaged. There’s no simple answer, but learning from industry leaders like AIGA – who have over 130,000 Instagram followers – is a great place to start.
Founded in 1914, AIGA is the world’s oldest and largest design organization, with over 26,000 members and 70 chapters across the U.S., plus more than 200 student groups and a number of international affiliates. As the professional association for design, AIGA advances design as a professional craft and advocates on behalf of communication designers and the design community as a whole. As they like to say, they bring design to the world, and the world to designers.
[quote align=”” name=”Perrin Drumm, AIGA”] The great thing about Instagram is that it lends itself to experimentation, or as designers like to say, rapid prototyping.[/quote]
Reposting community content, sharing consistently, and staying true to the brand values are just a few of the tactics AIGA uses to grow their following. To learn more, we talked to the editorial director, Perrin Drumm, to see how she grew their Instagram community to over 135k followers.
What message do you hope to convey on @AIGAdesign?
We share exciting work by emerging and established designers on our Instagram feed, as well as notable work by design heroes of decades past. We often pull images from new stories on the AIGA Eye on Design blog, which includes everything from pressing design issues to clever packaging design and inspirational design quotes—writ with the most eye-catching typography, of course.
What’s your process in curating your Instagram feed/calendar?
I plan AIGA’s Instagram calendar much like I do the editorial calendar for the blog, especially since many of our Instagram posts reflect Eye on Design content.
We post on Instagram regularly, around four times each day, and have a few mainstays we know we’ll feature at certain times. For example, we start each weekday off with an early morning inspirational design-related quote; it’s part of a series we run on the Eye on Design Blog. We ask a designer to create an original image for a different quote for each day of the week.
We run campaigns throughout the week such as our Monday #AIGAMember posts, where we call out exceptional work by AIGA members, and #TypeTuesday, where we share exciting new and historical typographical work.We also run great new packaging design projects for wine/beer/booze for weekend happy hour posts.
[quote align=”” name=”Perrin Drumm, AIGA”]Like all my colleagues, I juggle tons of tasks each day, and while Instagram is one of the more enjoyable things I do, it’s still just a small part, so the ability to schedule posts with Latergramme in advance is critical.[/quote]
When we’re not pulling images right off our blog, we’re searching through portfolios on Behance, or on other content-driven sites. And while you might think visually driven sites like Tumblr and Pinterest would be perfect, they’re actually less useful for us since attribution is often so difficult to track down there, and giving designers credit for their work is very, very important to us.
What do you look for when you search for new content?
In general, we look for a strong visual sense, a keen eye for detail, line, and color, and for that extra something unusual or unexpected. A great backstory always helps, too.
While we have a clear preference for a certain aesthetic and want our account to feel consistent, we never want it to feel redundant, so we feature a range of styles and try to come at current trends from a slightly different angle. There are a lot of Instagram trends in areas like lettering and art direction we try to avoid.
What are some of the tactics you’ve used to grow your account to +135,000k followers?
It’s pretty simple: if we like it, we Instagram it. That’s the way we started, so a community of like-minded people just grew naturally out of our original approach. Now we don’t have to mastermind anything; we just go with our gut.
We post 3-4 times per day. The time of day doesn’t matter as much as the regularity. Allowing 4-5 hours between posts is key for us to reach max engagement, at least for right now. As we grow we may increase the number of times we post each day. The great thing about Instagram is that it lends itself to experimentation, or as designers like to say, rapid prototyping.
[quote align=”” name=”Perrin Drumm, AIGA”]Our followers represent a large range in the design world from practitioners at every level, to casual design lovers and tastemakers from other creative fields—and from all over the world, too.[/quote]
Our goal is to elevate design as a profession and one way we do that is by elevating designers. In particular, young, up-and-coming designers, who are not only creating some of the best new work we’re seeing, but it probably goes without saying that they’re also much savvier when it comes to using Instagram. As a non-profit, we don’t have advertisers to appease; we really just want to spread the love!
How has Latergramme helped AIGA?
This may sound like an infomercial for Latergramme, but it’s absolutely essential to our success. AIGA has a large reach, but we’re a very small staff. Like all my colleagues, I juggle tons of tasks each day, and while Instagram is one of the more enjoyable things I do, it’s still just a small part, so the ability to schedule posts in advance is critical.
Do you have any advice for small brands using Instagram?
Listen to your followers, but know when to go with your gut. As a community of designers, our followers are extremely opinionated and they aren’t shy about telling us when they love what we post, as well as when they hate it. You can’t appease everyone—and you shouldn’t.
When you see brands do that, they get so watered down they lose all sense of their own identity. When I see overall likes go way down on an image we post, there’s usually a reason and I’m able to get to the bottom of it, but I don’t jump at every nasty comment.
What are some of the Instagram accounts you look up to?
- @letasobierajski and her partner @wadejeffree are two designers who’ve really broken new ground with their Instagram project, Complements.
- The annual campaign @36daysoftype runs is one of the most exciting uses of the space I’ve ever seen.
- I think @thisismold, a food design platform I consult with, has a really strong brand presence on Instagram. The images are gripping, unexpected, and often completely insane.
- For a non-design handle, I like @historyphotographed, which often surfaces lesser known images of celebrities and historical figures.
Header image by Dan Gribbon via StockSnap