How I Gained 35k Instagram Followers In Less Than 2 Years (And How You Can Too)
I started @Philly_Sushi, a sushi Instagram account, back in 2016 out of my pure love for sushi and the city of Philadelphia. With so many sushi restaurants in the city and wide-ranging menu options at each one, there was no one resource out there to help sushi enthusiasts find the best spots.
Before launching the page, friends of mine would constantly ask me where they should get sushi in the city and what the best rolls were. Instead of just helping my circle of friends, I decided that I wanted to give people in the greater Philadelphia area a guide to sushi, whether they’ve never tried sushi before or if they eat it all the time like I do. Now, two years after creating my account, I’ve gained over 35k organic followers.
The growth of @Philly_Sushi – while organic – was painstakingly strategic. That included forging collaborative relationships with numerous sushi restaurants in Philadelphia and working alongside other food influencers, all in an effort to elevate my page through consistent, engaging content and my network of brand ambassadors fueling the page’s success.
I am a public relations professional by day and a social influencer by night. But the parallels between the two have allowed me to elevate @Philly_Sushi into more than just a passion project. I’ve been able to utilize my PR skills – paired with my Instagram status – to catapult my personal and professional brand. I’ve earned local media exposure and countless other exciting opportunities that would not have been possible without a calculated approach to social media.
Now that Philly Sushi has emerged into what it is today, it’s reinforced my long-held views on the boundless power of social media, where a seemingly simple idea can snowball into an epochal platform. Throughout this journey, I’ve uncovered Instagram secrets and strategies that any entrepreneur, side-hustler or hobbyist can employ to build influence and attract an engaged following to their given page.
Choose quality over quantity
Since @Philly_Sushi was built upon careful curation of the best sushi that Philadelphia has to offer, focusing on quality of posts rather than quantity has allowed me to create a distinct level of trust with my followers. They realize that each post conveys a unique message that is meant to benefit them, rather than posting mediocre content for the sake of volume. Quality of content will always trump quantity, and brands that follow this line of thinking will stand out among the crowd.
Create real value for your audience
An additional principle that I founded @Philly_Sushi with was the concept of creating real value for my followers. This is critical, and has allowed me to become one of the go-to sources for information about the best sushi in Philadelphia. Each piece of content I post has a purpose – it’s meant to help people find the best sushi that the city has to offer. Brands that base their social media outreach off of this fundamental idea can have the same success.
Engagement is the key to growth
Engaging your followers is crucial to building a lasting, meaningful relationship with them. It’s common for brands to post it and forget it, regardless of the subsequent interaction it inspires. These comments could include valuable questions, criticisms or actionable feedback, so instead of not engaging with followers, be sure to take the time to respond to your followers. Liking comments and answering questions is a great way to validate and reinforce a relationship with followers. The time spent engaging with them will help to cement their interest and loyalty in the long term.
From side hustle to sushi queen
@Philly_Sushi has become more than a side hustle for me – it’s become a personal and professional game-changer that I am ready to take to the next level. I gained over 35,000 followers in less than two years, and that spark of influence has opened the door to countless meaningful experiences, opportunities and relationships.
Social media and its dominance in our everyday lives is increasing and widespread, and brands that take a tailored and strategic approach to it will see successes in engagement, growth, value and perhaps 35k+ new followers in the long run.
Binh Nguyen is a senior account executive at Flackable, a national, full-service public relations and digital marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia. Learn more at www.flackable.com. Follow Binh on Twitter at @Binh_4thewin.