Early on in January of this year, while in Rio De Janeiro, I had the revelation of starting a campaign around the phrase Pack Your Mat (read Finding Freedom in Rio on how it all started). While swimming in the beautiful ocean with my friend around 6:30am, I thought of this phrase and how I want to do that ALL the time.
When I came back home, I bought the domain name, secured the social media outlets and I was on changed my personal Instagram “identity” to incorporate what I am passionate about: yoga and travel. Having been an educator for many years, meanwhile traveling and practicing yoga, I had toyed with Facebook and such, but had never really thought about how such outlets can be used for marketing and business. Last year this time, I decided to experiment with it.
In January of 2015 I had about 300 followers on my personal account and perhaps a “9 like” average on each photo. Yup, it didn’t even change to the number form, which usually requires 11 likes to go from user name display to number display. This year has taught me a lot in regards to Instagram, my association with the tool, and the human psyche as well.
I held a full time job for most of the year so I was unable to be fully consistent and consumed with it, but the growth of my following, the types of photos that were liked were easily evident especially when I started to schedule my postings around the same times (~8am or 7-7:30pm). The 2015 Best Nine also provides a holistic summary of what works and what doesn’t.
Here is my non-professional summary of some of the things I’ve learned during this year of experimentation with social media, but most especially Instagram.
Featuring individuals who have inspired you and who have a positive social media influence is really helpful in gaining exposure. I am a strong believer in collaboration with like minded individuals in order to do greater and better things in this world. This couple has definitely been helpful in welcoming me into the LA yoga community. It all started around February when I went to a 2 hour class at Black Dog Yoga. It was great to finally meet Briohny and Dice this year, then a YogaGlo class and eventually I joined in on all the fun at the first annual IG Getaway. Meanwhile featuring the event on my blog, I also uploaded my favorite picture of the pair and it got the most “likes”. So, posting pictures of inspirational figures (whether in the yoga world or beyond), is one way of increasing traffic.
Read more about the IG Getaway here.
#2, 3 and 6, 7, 8 – Preikestolen, Norway It was freezing cold and after a 3 hour hike up, it was rainy and I was sweaty. So, naturally I took my shirt off. Sure, I don’t have a six pack, but people somehow “like” more photos with some skin. Sure we can argue about the objectifying nature of such photos, but it is what it is. I personally don’t mind showing off my hairy, non six-pack abs. I know they’re there somewhere. But of course, I contribute the success of these pictures to the photographer and the natural landscapes. But the skin showing is a consistent like gatherer.
Read More about this Norwegian experience here.
#4 and 5 Barcelona, Spain
I had a lot of time on my hands to find opportunities with proper lighting to showcase landmarks, while doing basic yoga poses. I shot from a lower, ground angle. Another thing I realized was that the timing I used to post this with most of my following being on the west coast and Spain helped. You want your peeps to be awake, so you may benefit from possibly being featured on one of your hashtags due to the popularity of the pic. Then it’s a snowball effect from there.
#9 Yerevan, Armenia
Having done my research and seeing that there were no real yoga shots taken in the city, it was a novelty for most IG users especially in the country. It also helped that local IG users published my photo and tagged @packyourmat. Handstands seem to be crowdpleasers, as well, but remember safety first. Moreover, the captions associated with these photos are helpful. If they relate to people on a more general level, there will most likely be a more positive response to the picture.
Again, I’m not a social media expert or anything and the learning curve was a bit challenging, but here are some tips to increase your following base:
1. Practice Consistency
2. Use Relevant Hashtags
3. Contribute New and Unique Material
4. Use Relevant Captions
5. Be Inspirational
6. Show face and skin (really wish that wasn’t the case).
7. Engage with users
8. Capture High Quality Photos
9. Have Fun (and don’t get too attached).