Hey, welcome to 2019! I love New Year’s because it’s such a great reminder to step back and view the bigger picture — what you’ve achieved, what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to achieve it.
So let’s talk Instagram: Are you ready to have your biggest year ever?
PERCENT GROWTH > TOTAL GROWTH
In general, social media growth is 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 a few exceptions, it’s true across all platforms.
If you're getting 50 new followers a week now, you might be tempted to calculate your 2019 goal by multiplying 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. That means instead of saying “I want to gain 200 followers a month,” say “I want 5% follower growth every month.” That way, even if you go viral and get an unexpected boost in followers, or have a rough month or two where your growth slows, your goal is still easy to track and pursue.
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? Here are three goal-setting methods to try.
method #1: review last year's numbers
If you have detailed analytics from last year… great! But if not, even an approximate idea of how many followers you had in January of 2018 will give you a good starting point. 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 2018 with 1,450 followers, and ended it with 3,200. That means your overall growth for the year 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 2019, since it would encourage you to push yourself a little.
Of course, you should also be aware of any outliers that may have contribute to that growth. If you had something go viral, or you were shared or featured in a big way, you may want to adjust that number so you don’t accidentally aim too high based on a success that isn’t necessarily repeatable.
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 2018 growth if you don't have any other data to go off of.
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 2019 goal you're eyeballing.
Let's say you're at 6,000 and you'd like to end the year at an even 10,000. That means you want to gain 4,000 followers in 2019, which is 66% of your current follower count. Break that 66% into monthly increments and you're left with a monthly goal of 5.5% to get you to 10k by next New Year’s.
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’ve done that work for you already!
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 kick 2019 right in the butt!