An interview with our own

by Matt Swecker, Copywriter and Sydney Fullerton, Project Manager

Lessons learned growing an Instagram following

Project Manager Sydney Fullerton is the force that keeps things running smoothly around Hydrogen, but when she’s not at the office keeping us all on deadline, she’s yoga-ing. As a way to further connect with the yoga community and grow her teaching opportunities, Sydney decided to turn to Instagram. Through trial and error, she learned a lot about the platform that just might apply to your business too.

1. When did you start practicing yoga?
Originally when I was about 9 or 10, I stole one of my mom’s Denise Austin Power Yoga VHS tapes. In 2012, I began a far more dedicated practice.

2. Why did you start your yoga-themed instagram?
It was mostly to be a part of a community, to keep myself honest, and to connect with like-minded individuals.

3. What were three techniques you learned that increased engagement?
1. Hashtagging
2. Industry exploration, meaning spending time discovering new people and new yogis to connect with.
3. Communicating with followers. Even if it was just a simple “wow that’s super cool!” When you respond and create a connection it does something different than just putting your content out there for people to see. It creates a dialogue that can lead to so many other places, whether it’s getting to try a new studio with someone, travelling to a faraway place and having somewhere to stay, getting tips on the best studios when you’re out of your own zip code, learning about new tips and tricks to further your practice, or getting insight on mental and physical ailments. It’s an incredible thing to open up to people who you know for the most part have your best interest at heart!

4. How did you decide which hashtags to use?
It was lots of different things – it wasn’t about always using the most popular hashtags, because with those, you get buried under all the other content that’s populating that hashtag. Sometimes it was better to use smaller and more unique hashtags. Like #flexibility versus #gainflexibility versus #gainsplitsflexibility. While the first hashtag has tons of content and tons of Instagram users who are searching for it, it’s difficult to be differentiated among lots of other photos. You become muddled amongst ballerinas, gymnasts and dancers. But as you refine your hashtag to, say, #gainsplitsflexibility, there may be less people looking, but those few people are more dedicated to what they’re looking for. So for me it was a mix of using the gigantic hashtags like #yoga and pairing them with smaller and more unique search terms like #hanumanasanahelp (Hanumanasana is splits pose in Sanskrit) to get visibility across a bevy of searches.

5. Did you notice a difference when you started to use them?
I saw a huge difference in my followers when I started using hashtags as a tool rather than seeing them as an aesthetic annoyance. Followers were gained and lost but my followers were refined, more interested and engaging, not to mention, the more I hashtagged relevant search terms, the more my follower count grew.

6. What advice would you give to businesses interested in leveraging Instagram?
I would say research and act on the hashtags that are relevant to your brand or company. Also, genuinely engage with your social community by contributing to conversations and interacting with influencers. And finally, look at the social behavior of other companies that have similar goals to glean what works and what doesn’t.

7. What surprised you most about Instagram?
The amount of genuine connections available to be made.