For cosplayers, Facebook is old news and Instagram is the new frontier. If you're ready to own Instagram in 2018, it's time to set some goals to drive your efforts.
percent growth > total growth
Here's the thing about social media growth: In general, it's exponential. The more followers you have, the easier it is to get followers. This is from a combination of things — followers engage with and share things, which means your posts reach more people; if you look more popular, people are more likely to assume you're worth following; etc. — but with some exceptions is true on all social platforms.
This means that if you're getting 50 new followers a week now, you might be tempted to calculate your 2018 goal by multiple 50 followers times 52 weeks. But while that 50 may be a reasonable goal now, in 6 months when you've gained around 300 more followers, your organic weekly average will probably have gone up, forcing you to reevaluate your goals (or get lazy).
For this reason, I recommend setting a percentage growth goal. This way, even if you go viral and get an unexpected boost in followers, you can keep the same goal for the year, and it's easy to recalculate.
You should set your goals based on your own experiences and long-term plans, but just for reference, the average month-over-month social growth for brands on Instagram is 6-8%.
setting achievable goals
The key to setting a good goal is picking one that's both challenging and achievable. Too far out of reach and it'll be too easy to get discouraged; too easy to meet and you won't feel inspired to push yourself. But how do you identify that sweet spot?
method #1: review last year's numbers
If you have an approximate idea of how many followers you had in January of 2017, that gives you a good amount of data to work with. Subtract that number from your current count to find your annual growth, and then figure out by what percentage your audience grew last year. (Bad at math? Samesies. Here's a handy percent calculator.) Let's say you started 2017 with 1,450 followers, and ended it with 3,200. That means your 2017 overall growth was 45.3%. Broken down by month, that's just under 4% per month. That means 4% would be a great month-over-month goal for 2018, since it would encourage you to push yourself a little.
method #2: review last week's numbers
Don't have social stats from last year? Totally understandable. Not everyone is a spreadsheet-obsessed data-monger like me. But if you have a business account on Instagram, you can see your new followers in the last 7 days on your Insights page.
Let's say that number is 25. Multiply that by 52 to get your estimated annual growth (1,500) and then divide it by 12 to get a monthly number (108). Obviously, this estimation is flawed, since it doesn't account for the exponential factor we discussed above, but it's a reasonable enough way to rough out your 2017 growth if you don't have any other data.
method #3: work backwards
Okay, let's say you have no data whatsoever, you don't have a business account, and you've never even looked at your follower count before. (Or maybe you just have a more ambitious goal than your current numbers can support.) In this case, you can work backwards from whatever 2018 goal you're eyeballing.
Let's say you're at 4,000 and you'd like to end the year at an even 10,000. That means you want to gain 6,000 followers in 2018, which is 150% of your current number. Break that 150% into monthly increments and you're left with a monthly goal of 12.5%.
staying on track
Of course, setting goals is all well and good, but they won't help you unless you consistently check in and make sure you're on track to achieve them. Otherwise, there's no way to know if you need to adjust your goals or your tactics in accordance with your progress so far.
You can always keep a paper tracker in a bullet journal or on a bulletin board, but when it comes to tracking a bunch of numbers (particularly when it includes percents!) I thoroughly prefer using a spreadsheet, which can not only track my progress, but calculate and predict automatically. Lucky for you, I spent two whole days creating the perfect Google Sheets spreadsheet (well, Bryan helped!), so you don't have to.
- Is customizable with your own percentage growth goal,
- Predicts your monthly follower count through the end of the year, should you meet your goal,
- Makes it easy to track your actual growth month to month, and even
- Tells you if you're on track for your goal (and if not, tells you how far behind you are.)
All you need to do is plug your current follower count into the appropriate cell and the spreadsheet does the rest for you. That way, you can stay focused on the important part: Choosing and adhering to the right Instagram strategy to clean up with your cosplay content.
Now, go forth and take Instagram by storm!