Do you know why people follow you on Instagram?
If you ask most influencers (including businesses with a large following or a high engagement rate) why their followers are their followers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features or service. In other words, most businesses and influencers have no clue why their followers are their followers.
This is a fascinating realization. There is no Instagram page out on the market today that customers can’t visit which offers the same kind of content, quality and/or services. If you truly have a first-mover’s advantage, it’s probably lost in a matter of months. Someone else on Instagram will soon come up with something similar and maybe even better.
If most of these influencers don’t really know why people follow them on Instagram, then how do they know how to attract more followers and encourage loyalty among those they already have?
Influence human behavior
There are two ways to influence human behavior:
- You can manipulate
- Or you can inspire
In business, we try to manipulate customers on a daily basis via sales and marketing. Typical manipulations include:
- Dropping the price
- using fear (i.e. only a few items left, this deal is only available for 24 hours)
- peer pressure
- aspiration messages
If influencers don’t have a clear sense of why their followers are their followers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. Examples are:
- Shout out for shout out
- Fake it till you make it (fake followers and engagement)
- DM groups to push content
- Put their account on private creating fear that they only accept the next 10 followers
- Peer pressure
And for good reason. Manipulations work (in my opinion only on a short-term basis). Even companies hire influencers for peer pressure. For example, Tiger Woods endorses Nike golf products. Which makes sense. But Tiger has also endorsed General Motors cars, management consulting services, and even credit cards. Peer pressure works. It’s used to appeal to our aspirations and our desire to be like them. The practice is designed to do one thing, and one thing only: to pressure you to buy. To make you feel you might be missed out on something.
My mother told me if everyone else stands in 💩, would you do it too? I won’t.
But there is some truth behind it. Sadly, influencers started the dangerous “Tide Pod Challenge” which was a trend for months…
Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.
Manipulation works. On some level even I use it. We all do. They can help influence behavior. They can help an influencer become quite successful on Instagram. But there are trade-offs.
Not a single form of manipulation breeds loyalty. the gains are only short-term. Leadership is the ability to rally followers not for a single event, but for years to come. On Instagram, it means that followers will continue to support your page even when you slip up. And I did that plenty of times. Yet, my followers are loyal and stayed.
And that’s the difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do engage with your content now and then, but don’t follow you. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better page and keep following you.
Loyal followers are in my eyes your brand ambassadors. They don’t even bother to research the competition or entertain other options. The reality is, in today’s world, manipulations are the norm.
But there is an alternative.
The golden circle: Why people should follow you on Instagram
There are a few Instagram pages who choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people. Whether individuals or organizations, every single one of these inspiring leaders thinks, acts and communicates exactly the same way. And it’s the complete opposite of the rest of us. Consciously or not, how they do it is by following a naturally occurring pattern that is ‘The Golden Circle’ by Simon Sinek.
It all starts from the inside out. It all starts with Why. Very few influencers can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money—that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?
When most influencers think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason—they go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.
We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.
But not the inspired influencers. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out.
is the WHY important?
YES! At least, if you want them to follow you on Instagram.
You need to realize that: people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
Your content needs to give life to their cause. And that’s the reason why people should follow you on Instagram! And the only way to achieve this is by inspiring others.
Most companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. This is what I mean when I say they communicate from the outside in; they lead with WHAT and HOW.
In order to know why people should follow you on Instagram, you need to dive deep into the fuzziest things first.
Why people should follow you on Instagram should be the center of your social strategy
Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful on Instagram, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility.
When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty, and inspiration that helped drive the original success. By difficult, I mean that manipulation rather than inspiration fast become the strategy of choice to motivate behavior. This is effective in the short term but comes at a high cost in the long term.
Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling.
People follow you on Instagram because they have the need to belong. Our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures. It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected, and we feel safe. As humans, we crave the feeling, and we seek it out. For example, we’re not friends with everyone from our country. But if you travel abroad you’ll form instant bonds with other Dutch you meet.
When influencers talk about WHAT they do, they may have appeal, but they do not necessarily represent something to which we want to belong. But when an influencer clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include them in our lives. This is not because they are better, but because they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Those influencers make us feel like we belong, and that’s the reason why they follow you on Instagram.
Win hearts before minds
Great influencers are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for. Great influencers are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.
We make decisions all day long, and many of them are emotionally driven. Rarely do we sift through all the available information to ensure we know every fact. And we don’t need to. It is all about degrees of certainty.
Influencers with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. If an influencer does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does.
To inspire starts with the clarity of WHY
You can’t convince someone you have value, just as you can’t convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.
When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life. If that belief is amplified it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare, “I want to help.” With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen.