We chatted with four Canadian social media stars about their strategies for building an authentic online presence.
Eleni runs a lifestyle blog and is currently based in Calgary.
“I think the biggest tip I can give is to document your life – not create. When things are overly staged and too perfect it's hard for the everyday gal to relate.”
On growing an authentic following on the platform:
It's a lot of work. I started posting things that I found to be inspiring or daily outfits and engaging with my audience. I feel like when I started, there weren't as many bloggers so it was easier to stand out, and growing your following was a lot easier. With all the changes that have happened to Instagram's algorithm it's a lot harder to grow your social channel. [Editor's note: In March of 2016, Instagram changed the user experience by rearranging the way photos appear on your feed. Instead of photos appearing in the order in which they were posted, Instagram created an algorithm that ordered the photos according to their specifications. In a statement released by the platform, Instagram said that the update would order photos "to show the moments we believe you will care about the most." Many believe the update has had an impact on their social engagement].
On her social-media strategy:
I think hashtagging, geotagging and engaging with your audience are all extremely important if you're interested in developing an online community. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will be seen.
On Instagram themes:
This is a tough one. I know personally I kind of post what I like and my "themes" aren't always as congruent as I would love for them to be. With that being said, I follow girls because they have created a engaging theme on their feed with beautiful reason. Then there are others who I follow because I love them for their personality or their life story.
On taking quality pictures:
Statistically my best photos have always been iPhone photos so I try to stick with what works. The one thing that always makes a difference is good lighting – that is my simple secret. Unfortunately, if the sun goes down, the shot doesn't happen.
Allana is a beauty vlogger and YouTube sensation from Vancouver, B.C.
“Have quality content, post frequently, and be unique. You need to post consistently to keep your followers interested.”
On growing a social-media following:
I think people often try and look for some magical rainbow formula that will make their audience grow overnight, but I truly think that it all boils down to hard work and luck. Developing relationships online with other bloggers is also key. I remember my first major jump [in following] was when Kathleenlights mentioned me in a video. Without that, I don’t know what my numbers would be like! I have other people to thank big time for my growth.
On curating a perfect feed:
Consistency and quality. Make content that you would want to look at yourself, and make sure that your equipment and lighting are on point. If you don’t have nice white walls or a pretty marble backdrop for photos, get a piece of white fabric or a marble cutting board and you’re set. Little tricks like that make a huge difference in your content. I don’t believe in the whole #Like4Like thing, doing that won't give you an engaged following!
On posting frequently:
I see so many people with amazing photos... but they only post once a month. You need to be consistent to keep your followers interested! Don’t comment asking for followers on other accounts... start conversations and be fun instead! People are much more likely to check out your page that way. If there was anything I could tell myself when I first started, it would be “please lawd ditch the orange background and upload in HD… blurry oranges was not a good look for you...."
Donté runs a personal style Instagram account and is a freelance digital creator from Toronto, Ontario.
"Be yourself and show your personality through what you post."
On his social media growth:
I noticed an increase in my followers when Instagram began connecting your account more with other accounts... like the explore page and the popular page. I also found that posting more frequently increased my followers and interaction. Posting once a day is good enough, you don’t want to overload your followers’ feeds with pictures. The time of day that you post is also important. A large number of people are more active at night than they are during the day. If you are trying to get some more interaction from your current following, try to post in the evening between 6pm and 8pm, or at night between 11pm and 1am.
On not over hashtagging:
Hashtagging definitely helps, it broadens your audience – if the hashtags are worth using. Over hashtagging can be annoying to your followers so make them good! You definitely have to cap it if its looking like, “#shirt #newshirt #ilikeit #doyou #isntitgreat”... It’s a little excessive to be honest. Keep it simple. If you are having a hard time coming across the right hashtags, try looking for a hashtagging app. The list is endless and gives you the most popular hashtags to use, or that have been used a lot by people over a course of a month. I am a big believer though that the time of day you post is imperative if you're looking for more involvement from followers.
On not taking 'gram SO seriously:
I definitely used to believe that curating a perfect feed was important. I think it all really depends on your brand. I wanted a minimalistic feed at first, then moved to fashion, and after that I found I was just putting to much time and effort into it and I was taking it way to seriously. For now it is just for fun, one day I will definitely have to take it more seriously when it is for a brand.
Be yourself and show your personality through what you post. Don’t be too concerned about how many likes you get or followers you have. It takes time to build an audience. Follow feeds that you enjoy or find interesting. To gain more of an audience, use different social media platforms to promote your posts as well as connect with other accounts by tagging their brands in your post.
Katie is a style blogger based in Toronto documenting “unpretentious Canadian fashion.”
"Be true to yourself - always, always, always."
On her blog:
What is Haute Chilled today had its beginning in 2014 as Toques and Truffles. I started my Instagram account just before I launched the blog, and as more interest for my personal life built up because of my Instagram photos, Toques and Truffles transitioned to a lifestyle-focused blog. A few months ago I was feeling completely uninspired and in a constant state of writer’s block. So, after a few weeks of reflection, I changed the name and direction.
On having more fun with her theme:
I used to keep my Instagram photos light-looking – and it was incredibly curated, and by that I mean super arranged and colour-coordinated, but then I loosened up a bit and began to have more fun with it. I feel like there are a few different types of accounts floating around, there are those that are intentionally organized, or the opposite, authentically messy. It’s entirely based on how you want to convey yourself and be perceived by the world. Whatever it is you decide to do, know that you’re going to attract like-minded followers and brands.
On engaging with her audience:
Liking other photos that use similar hashtags, geotagging, tagging the brand or company I work with, liking and commenting on photos from accounts that I don't follow, and using hashtags are all social media strategies I have used. I’ve learned that the best way to gain and retain followers is to engage with those who comment on your photos particularly since they’ve already expressed an interest in your account. It also helps to use popular hashtags that are relevant to the photo.
On the whole #Like4Like approach:
I feel that people should only ‘like’ photos that they genuinely like. Using the #like4like strategy isn’t the best tool to gather legitimately interested followers, and over time you’ll seem inauthentic - you’ll lose more than you gain.