How to grow your Instagram as an Athlete
Instagram is the second biggest social media platform in the world with over an eighth of the planet being active users.
That is 7.7 billion people using Instagram.
1 billion people are using it every month and 500 million of them are using it every day.
Another very interesting statistic is that 88% of the users are outside the U.S. and 71% of them are under the age of 35.
This is leading us to the conclusion that Instagram users are much younger than Facebook users.
It is not surprising that many young Instagram users at their 20’s do not even own a Facebook account.
We would say that Instagram has become a teen-oriented social media platform as 72% of them are at their 20’s.
Based on those facts, are you targeting the correct audience to grow your athletic profile on Instagram?
If you are unsure, let’s see where you can start.
If you want to advertise yourself and grow your image on Instagram, then there is no better place to do so.
Instagram might be a distracting way to get away from everyday life or a way to connect with friends and family.
However, it is also a huge tool to promote your business or yourself.
Being the most powerful marketing tool out there, you have the opportunity to use its tools in order to grow your profile and reach the right audience.
The bigger you grow, the bigger the visibility and the bigger the chance of getting sponsored or receiving gifts and discounts in order to promote certain products.
This is practically how you become an influencer on Instagram as an athlete.
Bear in mind that this is no easy task and you need to have a specific strategy to grow your profile in the right way. We are not going to talk about how to buy Instagram followers, as this has zero positive impact towards your goal. On the contrary, it is going to impact you and your profile in a way that you will lose all credibility and trust.
1. Start by building the foundation of your followers from people you know.
Having your friends and family follow you in the beginning, is where you should focus.
Follow them back and start interacting with them so that they know you are on Instagram. Take advantage of the contacts you already have. In order to create a highly engaged profile, you need to be as genuine and creative as possible. And no matter how obvious it might sound; it is not an easy task. Having a real account and connecting with people is the first step and it should not be taken lightly.
2. Take a look at the most popular Instagram pages.
I bet the first thing you will think, is that the content of the posts is of very high quality.
The photographs and videos that they are posting are well thought of and they are the result of imagination and effort. Here are some examples of athletes that are doing really well on Instagram at the moment.
One thing will not do the job anymore.
Posting a selfie in low resolution is no longer something that will stimulate the audience.
People are used to seeing high-quality photos and videos, taken in environments that are visually aesthetic.
Not only the photos and videos are of good quality, but they are also tailored in a way that creates huge engagement.
Think about you scrolling down your Instagram feed. You get bombarded with hundreds of photos and videos from hundreds of people.
When do you stop scrolling to have a look for an extra second?
At something that stands out from the crowd, right?
This is the way you should think about your content.
How can you make every single post stand out from the rest having your own style and feel transferred into your creations?
Once you start creating content, you will start testing what is more engaging and what is not. What inspires more your audience and what kind of content they love to see?
The better your images and videos, the more value you have injected into them, the better your engagement will be and the bigger the likelihood for them to repost your content.
Once people start reposting and sharing your content, the better your visibility will be.
It all starts with how consistent you are in creating your content.
In everything you do in life, you need to have two components in order to improve and become better.
This is consistency and hard work.
As a result, in social media, you need to be consistent and work hard in order to succeed.
You are an athlete and you know better than anyone that your success and improvement rely on how often and how well you do what you do.
There is no difference in any other aspect of life. You might have talent, you might be skilled, you might be strong and agile. But you will not improve if you will not keep going.
Every skill or talent that we have is weakened if we do not work on it every single day.
Same goes with social media.
You need to consistently feed your audience with posts so they will not forget you. Also, the Instagram algorithm has a way to “understand” how often you post and as a result how often you update your profile. This activity is what makes you more visible to people and you are easier discoverable. There are many tools that can help you schedule your content in case you are not always available. For example, Later.com is an excellent tool to schedule your posts and organize your hashtags, links, etc.
Do not underestimate the stories tool of the platform as this is more engaging than you can imagine.
People are posting interesting/relating stories which are a more “fun” and “real” way to connect with their audience.
A newer tool is the IGTV, which allows the user to upload lengthier videos in a fullscreen mode. Take advantage of it as well.
Once again, think about yourself. What entertains you the most? Watching a photo or a fun video from your favorite accounts? Maybe both.
It is no surprise that Instagram is way ahead of Snapchat in terms of short length video content. The explanation is simple.
As we mentioned, the database of Instagram is huge, and almost 400 million people are using Instagram stories to their benefit.
As an athlete, creating stories is probably one of the easiest things to do as you can create unlimited content for your audience, in the best way.
Take short videos of your training or the “behind the scenes” of a big game.
Educate your audience about what are your tips in becoming a better athlete or even what you eat on an everyday basis.
4. Be genuine and authentic. Be Yourself
This goes hand in hand with success. There is nothing more exhausting than trying to be someone you are not. Or trying to be perfect. There is no perfect man or woman and there is no perfect athlete.
Do not forget that people online have a tremendous sense of tracking fakeness. We are not saying not to try and be the best you can, we are just talking about authenticity.
People love witnessing the “weaknesses” of other people which is essentially what makes you a human.
Posting photos and videos that show exactly who you are and the efforts you make to become better as an athlete is the best motivating tool ever.
Do not forget that people feel more at ease following a real person with weaknesses than a person that is so perfect that has nothing to pass.
5. Be valuable and help your audience relate.
Your journey as an athlete must be the main source of content for your audience.
Provide valuable feedback to people that are facing the same struggles as yourself and at the same time, provide them with tips and drills that have made your life easier and you, a better athlete.
Showing what your previous failures were, is a sign of maturity and also a valuable way to help your audience avoid repeating these mistakes.
Is there anything more valuable than that?
Being confident, transparent, mature and genuine enough to expose yourself and really help others is everything.
This is what makes you a role model. A personality role model as well as an athlete role model.
The value that you give to your audience by showing what you did wrong, what you are doing right now to improve yourself and share your everyday successes and struggles is extremely powerful.
Being an athlete that will only share the good moments and the successes is not what is going to create the engagement you expect. A supposedly perfect athlete has nothing to use to teach others. As you already know, failures are the biggest teachers in life.
6. The more technical stuff (Hashtags and Tagging)
The first step is done. You have a clear idea of what your content should consist of and what your main storyline will be. You have your strategy in mind.
Now after you click on publish, you have the opportunity to expand your reach to more and more audience other than your followers.
Hashtags help you get discovered by people that are not your followers but are looking for posts and videos similar to what you post for inspiration.
This way you will be searchable to people with the same interests in a particular niche.
People might look for new ways to improve their speed in the specific sport you are specializing in or look for what to eat on a daily basis. They might be looking to discover a new training schedule.
In this case, it would be a good idea to add hashtags such as baseballtraining, baseballathlete, baseballdiet etc.
Another important aspect of your posting should be the tagging of your photos. If you are using specific gear or clothes you really love and you trust, then it would be a good idea to tag those companies and their pages. This way if you tag a brands Instagram page, you have a better chance of your photos to be reposted to a much larger audience and maybe even attract the attention of the company itself.
Many big companies discover talented people using their brand through Instagram and this is the way they recruit new influencers.
People like you, become ambassadors of huge brands only because they represent the brand the best way possible.
7. Join forces with other athletes
You might have already come across this technique used by businesses in the marketing world.
Two similar brands that have started at the same time in the industry, both trying their best to become bigger but still struggling to grow.
Both have similar audience and engagement, but they need an extra helping hand to move on.
This is exactly the same scenario with athletes trying to grow their Instagram pages.
You can try and work with others that have similar engagement and audience size as yours and are willing to do a cross promotion.
Ask them to give you a shootout and do the same for them. Send messages to other athletes or go to the same events. Take pictures together and tag each other so that each other’s audience will also see you and look for you.
This tactic brings nothing but benefits to both sides and adds value to both channels.
Do not be afraid to join forces with other people that are just like you.
Their audience might not be the right match for you, but the certain thing is that they will need to know who you are and what you are doing.
Although the followers of the other person might not be your targeted audience, there is still a big possibility that they would want to follow you as well as you have similar characteristics with the other athlete.
8. Instagram is like a human relationship
What do you do when you need to keep a friendship alive? What is your behavior towards your partner?
What do you need to do to keep a relationship strong?
Giving and receiving. That’s right. Effort from both sides. It is funny how everything in life translates the same way in the business world as well.
What I want to point out is that your job is not done only after you have posted the perfect photo or the perfect video and after you have received the ideal number of likes, shares, and comments.
The trust that your followers have shown to you is something impressive and you should be proud of yourself. But do not forget the appreciation part.
Take the effort and look who is following you or who are repeatedly commenting on your photos. Go to their profile, find out who they are, like their photos, leave a comment.
Same goes for other athletes.
You are not alone in this game as you are not alone in the field. The same way a good comment or a like makes you feel, that is the same way the other person feels.
This interaction will make it so much easier to gain more followers and increase the engagement on your page.
Also, try to attract people’s attention by asking them a question & their opinion about a topic. This is a great way to show that you genuinely care, and prove that what you do, is basically about them.
9. Use other platforms to promote your page and use paid ads.
If you are an athlete trying to grow your Instagram page, it is very possible that you might have accounts on other social media platforms as well.
If you do, then take advantage of them by letting people know about your page on Instagram and invite them to follow you or share your content to other social networks.
You have many platforms to choose from including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Soundcloud, Tumblr, ChampionsID etc.
The more people you invite the better the chances of increasing your audience even more.
Take a look at our article regarding how important is for an athlete to be present in all social media platforms and how you can use them in your advantage.
The main goal, of course, is to be to grow more and more using every possible tool available to you. Another way to do so is by taking advantage of paid ads. Be careful not to waste any valuable money by blindly boosting every single post of yours using generic options.
Take the time to research which posts you should promote, which audience you should target and take the time to create a video saying who you are what you are doing, what your journey as an athlete is about, how you plan to inspire people and why you can give value to your audience.
10. And the winner is…. Hard work
We come back to where we started.
Do you remember the two components? Consistency and hard work.
One without the other is going to lead nowhere. It is not an easy task to gather a huge community that will worship you unless you can add some value to their lives.
As an athlete, you have an amazing power to influence other athletes and people that love the sport you are into.
You have an amazing tool in your hands to transfer all the experiences you have to the people that want to follow you and be inspired by you.
Help them be motivated and solve their problems. Be real and authentic. Act as a coach through Instagram.
Only once you really start building a trustworthy relationship with your followers through valuable content you will see real growth taking place.
More and more people will be following you; more and more people will admire you and more and more people will notice your existence.
If you need help building your personal brand, we can help you achieve your goals.
Take a look at our services for total social media handing solutions and creation of different customized images according to your photos, team colors and your sport.
Never forget that in order to build the audience you are dreaming about, you need time, dedication and extreme patience.