How to get 10,000 followers in 3 months - a story about social media


Once upon a time I saw a girl on Buzznet named Hanna Beth. She was so ridiculously cool and I wanted to be just like her. I read how she had been bullied in school for being different and I related to her. I saw her blogging about Warped Tour and the movies she loved. I saw her shooting with companies she liked even though she was only 5'3". I saw her jangling ugly-but-amazing key chains on her cellphone while she ran around Disneyland with other internet celebrities causing mischief. I watched her interviewing people on red carpets and attending events with photo booths and misfits. I saw all of this and I was just young and stupid enough to think, if she can do this, why can't I?

Nothing happened when I was trying. I guess this a giant story about that really. Isn't it funny how that works? When I thought about it and wanted it, it didn't come to me. When I did whatever I felt like and forgot about trying to become a scene queen or whatever the hell I was going for, that's when all of a sudden, the things I'd wanted, started happening. Isn't it funny what we want when we're younger? We don't even think about it too much, we just point at something and go, "That".

One of the first events I ever went to was actually a MAC event. Blogging in SA wasn't really popular back then. I think they were just inviting their customers to be honest but I dressed up and took photos and wrote all about it. In my final year of college, I got asked to attend a perfume launch. I still remember asking the head of FEDISA if I could go and Allen said yes.

The next few years were a blur of blogging, shoots, fashion weeks, judging, tv appearances, interviews, collabs and even some events with photo booths and delightful misfits I related to. I enjoyed it a lot but I also started growing up and quickly life became bigger than the things that seem so fun to a 20 year old.

When real shit happens, the fun shit doesn't touch you anymore and sometimes, it just emphasizes how unhappy you actually are because you've lost that sense of reverie that these things used to bring you. I lost family members and I became severely depressed. I even became agoraphobic. I was scared to leave the house. I was scared of being harassed online. I was scared of the world. I stopped posting. I took breaks from social media. I was scared to be me. I was scared to share anything with anyone in any capacity. I only had my writing left and I filled up my Evernote with thousands and thousands of words about my broken heart and what felt like the shell of my soul.

I feel like I've seen a lot and done a lot and I'm not going to discourage anyone who sees their "Hanna Beth" and wants a slice of that. I'm sure you can tell that I feel that nothing is ever all it's cracked up to be but that doesn't matter because I still get emails and messages from girls asking me for advice and I want to say, "It's not all it's cracked up to be" but I don't. I never listen when people try to tell me something. I have to see the lesson for myself. So I do give the advice and thought I might as well do a master post on it. I hope that everyone who wants something that they think will make their life better gets it and then inevitably course corrects. I think we all need that wake up call. Without further ado, I'm going to break it down now.

How to become a successful content creator:

Here is my advice, if you want to start a blog, be a photographer, make a comic, be a beauty YouTuber, whatever - DO IT. Start now. Don't try to get the best software, tools, website, camera, tablet or program - just start. Start now and learn as you go along. Stop comparing yourself to people. Stop paying so much attention to what everyone else is doing. Do what you like. Do what feels right and if it looks the same or looks different, it doesn't matter. You have to stop doubting and second-guessing yourself. Make content that you enjoy making. Write something you want to write about. Make a video about something you've been trying to find a video about and just keep it up.

I can give you the soundbites that are out there; things like: start ten years ago. Blogs are dead, it's all about video now. Don't bother, it's too over-saturated now. I can give you the logical, clinical tips; things like: you can get mathematical about it. You can monitor the best dates and times, you can obsess over numbers and what everyone else is doing. You can try to keep up with the new trends and challenges and if you're that kind of person, it won't even be a bother to do so, I don't think. You can have your hashtags ready for the Superbowl or Mother's Day. You can be armed with a Wonder Woman post to coincide with the release of the movie. You can do all those things but if something doesn't feel fun, natural or genuine, it's not going to work.

You'll hate what you're doing. It'll become work like anything else. The most important piece of advice I can give you is, if it stops being fun, stop doing it. I took lots of steps back in my career and every time it has benefited me and helped me find my passion again. I don't question it anymore. I don't feel bad when I need to say no. I don't go to the opening of an envelope. It feels good to live life on my terms and not according to a timeline. Not according to 'staying relevant' or coming up with new content. However, that wasn't always the case, I present to you: Chapter 2.

How to get 10,000 followers in 3 months:

I used to have around 6000 followers on Instagram and it seemed to be the new "blogging" so I thought I should pay more attention to it. After many breaks away from social media and influencer life, I decided to see if I could grow my following. It was a lot of things that prompted me to do this. I went back and forth between being scared of the world and wanting to still participate in it. Focusing on Instagram seemed to be an easy way back to what I was passionate about. It felt like going back to what I knew, in a sense. I wanted to get back into the loop, get back into the swing of things. I was depressed and newly single and I had a lot of time on my hands. My horrible ex-boyfriend was a social climber who used me and I wanted to stick it to him because that shit was so important to him. In our relationship, he told me he wanted to be rich and famous and I would tell him that those things don't make you happy, that it was all a bunch of hype without much substance. He didn't care. We weren't a good match.   

I became the monster I hated, I became like him in an effort to piss him off, I guess. A sort of, I can do whatever you want and do it better, watch me. I literally just spent all my time on Instagram. I commented and liked and was active for about 3 months straight. I don't know how much I can help anyone with my tips because I did this before the new algorithms came into effect but I won't keep shit to myself. It really all boils down to interacting and being active. I've never bought followers. There is a lot of talk about buying followers but not only would that have felt like cheating, I also genuinely believed Instagram would terminate accounts with that kind of activity on them. I followed about 2000 new people, mostly celebrities and make up gurus. I would get followers after following them, but they weren't follow backs except for the rogue beauty influencer here and there, I'm guessing they were random bots or perhaps a new user who recently followed the account you did and just followed you when they saw you were a recent follower too. Try following someone like Kylie Jenner and watch yourself get a new follower, it's weird. I suspect people unfollow and re-follow celebrities quite a lot.

I did follow and unfollow for a hot second but I didn't have the heart to continue with it. Some say that's cheating but I looked at it like a game and it worked. I kept following anyone who posted stuff I liked. I told myself I would only unfollow when I didn't like what they were posting. Soon I realized I couldn't keep doing it because I was actually finding cool people and not wanting to unfollow, and you can only follow so many accounts. It gets old, fast, and it clutters up your feed. It was fun while it lasted and interesting to see the cracks in the system but it doesn't get you engagement. I have to warn you, my engagement is probably the worst it's ever been now. Follow/Unfollow is just as bad as buying followers really because they don't care about you and will probably end up unfollowing you. Before I stopped trying to gain, I decided to only do what felt less like gaming it, I began commenting more on accounts and content I liked, having fun discussions with people, just using it as it was meant to be used but with more purpose than I used to. I would like and comment whenever I had spare time. Instagram shadow bans accounts that abuse hashtags and like too many posts. From what I can recall, you can like or follow 100 times in an hour but this might also be calculated according to your own engagement/follower count.

It's funny, no one really talks about this stuff, let alone someone who had a genuine following but I don't think it's because they're not doing any of it. Sophia Amoruso got her start by following everyone following Nylon magazine; she created a script that would automatically add friends on MySpace. A lot of accounts with big followings are always on Instagram, commenting and liking. People also look for others similar to them or their niche and focus their attention on them. My account looks very fake now because of my lack of engagement. Some of it is definitely the algorithm because it's affected everybody; not only does the algorithm only show the majority of your followers the posts that do well right out of the gate but if you don't or didn't post regularly, you're also not going to show up on peoples' feeds as much anymore, after my numerous breaks I saw that. I honestly wouldn't care if that 10k unfollowed me because I'd rather have conversations and post to people who see my content but I didn't know that they would be so bot-like and quiet. I think I had to get to this place to feel that way. Maybe you do too and if so, that's how to do it.

So I stopped and just went back to posting whenever and however I wanted. There are other ways to gain that I didn't try. Things called follow/comment/like pods, tagging lots of people and trying to get featured on bigger accounts. I think I was at 25k at one point and I'm happy it's dwindled. Fuck bots. I want to create art and share things and have conversations and I always have but sometimes I think it's good to be no better than someone who pissed you off because you can find a way back to yourself, you can get to know yourself better and you can tell other people, "I'm not gonna lie, I wanted the numbers, it mattered for whatever stupid reason and so I did something about it and got it out of my system." I don't want to be disingenuous. Instagram was my way of putting on make up when I knew I was gonna run into my ex but I got over it. I am really enjoying my newfound confidence. I love posting selfies. I love experimenting with actual make up. I love improving my editing skills. It's fun now but I did want to talk about this; I played around and if anyone can get something positive out of this, that's all I want.

Social media is a meritocracy and you don't have to spend money to get followers. You just have to play the game day and night if it's something that matters to you. If you really are interested in getting seen, it's easy. Pay attention to trends and jump on them constantly. Do the challenges everyone is doing. Look at what albums or movies are coming out. Recreate a look or outfit that someone famous wore. Make jokes or art or memes that are timeous. Get onto Top Posts by finding smaller hashtags. Spam your favs in the comments section. Be one of the "LB" people in the Kardashian comments. Have you ever clicked on one of them? There's randoms with tons and tons of likes and followers and grainy, pixelated photos. It's a lot of work but anyone can do it. It's easy for me to say that that shit doesn't matter now but that wasn't always the case. I got sucked in like so many of us do. Instagram could become the next MySpace in a flash and I'm cool with that. I know I don't spend any time on Facebook anymore and I barely check out Twitter these days. Minding my business is what has made me truly happy. It's like Bo Burnham said, "If you can live your life without an audience, you should do it", but like him and most of you, I'm still sharing. I wonder if we always will.

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