Why the number of followers should not be your priority

Do you wanna have more followers on Instagram?

When I reached out to Simeon Penev and offered my help, that was the first thing that came to his mind.

Simeon is a young entrepreneur from Bulgaria that I’ve found while browsing the comments of one of the posts from Gary Vaynerchuck on Instagram. I checked his profile, liked his energy, and decided to get in touch:

He did send me an email the next day, introduced himself and his business, and asked some questions. One of them was about growing his audience on Instagram:

“(…)how can we grow our audience (get more followers) on Instagram? Can you help me out with promoting my Instagram profile on social media or something like that? If you know any tips or tricks for getting more followers it would be great to share with us!”

I replied to his email and answered all his questions, and gave him some advice.

This is what he wrote to me in response:

I don’t need to say that I was very happy to see my advice being so appreciated.

And if you’re wondering what I wrote in my email that got Simeon so excited, I decided to sum up the main points and write in this post, so you can read, learn and tell what are your thoughts about it.

But before you continue reading…

To fully understand what I’ll share with you in this post, it’s required that you know a little about my background, so I strongly recommend you to read this post, in which I tell my personal story in order to share a lesson about patience.

Please read the post now then come back here.

Did you read it? Great. Keep reading.

I first heard about Gary Vaynerchuck from my girlfriend, Shyrwyn. She’s my business partner and social media manager. Everything you see on my Instagram, starting from February 12 this year, was posted by her.

Thanks to her work, I grew from hundred-something followers to more than 300 in 2 weeks, without using any trick or special techniques. She just publish, post a comment with hashtags, and answer comments.

Could we have more followers?

Yes. There are many techniques to grow your audience on Instagram. You can easily spot people who use these techniques when you see profiles that don’t have many publications yet have thousands of followers.

Now, you may ask me: if I know that there are ways to quickly gain hundred — even thousands — of followers on Instagram, why do I choose NOT to do it?

Because…

…the number of followers is not as important to the success of a business as we are led to believe

Just think with me: if you have a business, then you are selling something, either a product or a service, right?

Then, the success of your business depends not on how many followers you have, but in how many sales you make.

You can have one million followers on Instagram, but if they are not buying from you, your business is a failure. But if you are selling, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have.

But why everybody is so obsessed with followers?

Because it’s the only metric that everyone can see and measure.

If you check my Instagram, you can only see how many people are following me and interacting with my posts. You can’t see how many people are hiring me.

From the outside, if you look at two different Instagram profiles, you will assume that the one with the most follower is the most successful.

But you can’t know for sure.

Why do professional marketers are always selling services to grow the number of likes and followers?

For 2 reasons:

  1. Because people want it;
  2. Because marketers can make it happen quite easily.

If you would like to hire a marketer to get you more followers, that would be quite simple. Any decent marketer can guarantee to get you more followers on Instagram.

Now, do you know what most marketers will not guarantee you? That you will get more sales!

They can sell you followers, but they won’t sell you clients.

The point is this: you should not focus on the number of followers you have on Instagram, because that’s not what will make your business successful.

But then, what should you focus on?

Looking at my personal experiences, I realized that every good opportunity I have ever had access to was provided because of my connections. There was always someone who would give me some information, offer me a job, pay for my expenses, get me a gig, and so on.

When I launched this website, I already had 3 gigs in my portfolio. I got those gigs BEFORE I had my website, and when my Instagram was still abandoned.

How did I do that?

First, I started by working as a freelancer on Fiverr.com on August 2016. There, I got a request from a guy from Chicago who worked in a finance company and wanted me to develop a script to convert raw text files to Excel spreadsheets (I tell this story here).

It happens that the guy was also a Wedding DJ and needed help to install a new theme on his WordPress website. So he hired me to work on RobertJNicpon.com.

He ended up hiring me to do several small projects, and during the process of working with him, I managed to build a good relationship that went beyond professional. He liked me as a person, and that gave me the opportunity to ask him to recommend me to his friends, so I could get more work.

And that’s exactly what he did. He recommended me to a friend who had a Jewish wedding band, who hired to improve the design of KeyTov.com.

After the project was finished, he hired for 3 other gigs: improving the speed of KeyTov.com, migrating the site to a new server, and build a brand new website for his other business in Real Estate, D3 Home Solutions.

It was only after all this that I launched my website, and Shyrwyn started to manage my Instagram.

And what am I trying to do with my Instagram?

To build strong connections.

That’s what I was doing with Simeon. I didn’t call him to say, “Hey, check my website.” or, “Hey, hire me!” I called him and said:

“Dude, what you’re doing is great, and I would like to help. What can I do for you?”.

Was it possible that he would end up hiring me to do some stuff? Yes, of course. But I honestly didn’t have that expectation. I wanted to establish a strong, personal connection. I wanted him to think “man, Davidson is awesome!”

Because then, if he ever stumble upon an opportunity that would be good for me, he will tell me. But if he’s just a follower, this won’t happen. He will stumble upon an opportunity for me and do nothing about it.

Success depends on who do you know and what they think about you

My mom thinks I’m a genius, but this doesn’t help me too much, right?

Now, what if I met Gary Vaynerchuck and got him to think that I’m a genius? Do you think I would get some good opportunities?

You bet I would.