Anyone can be on social media. You have to be doing the right things in order to generate an authentic and growing following. That will especially be the case as Instagram unrolls a new algorithm that highlights certain posts above others, not necessarily based on chronology of when content is published.
Why is it important? Because your follower count and social media presence makes you a bigger celebrity, which is especially relevant for athletes and brands in the world of sports.
"Social media today is just as big as Hollywood," said Arvin Lal, CEO of Shredz Supplements. And Lal should know, as he built his company on the back of social media, using hashtags, influencers and consistently pushed content to create a following and a customer base for his products.
Lal was at Facebook's Texas headquarters last week to learn about the changes taking place at Instagram. He provided me his 4 tips to survive the Instagram update, which can be used by any athlete, brand or celebrity puppy to maintain and grow a following on the important social network.
1. Rich content is king.
An individual's reach is going to change with Instagram's update. Engagement will determine whether you survive or don't on the platform. It will make someone double tap on a photo or comment. Ultimately, likes and comments will get you ranked higher and ensure that your content is seen.
"Rich content is one of the most important thing to have," said Lal. "If you can, invest in a DSLR Camera. If not, learn how to use your iPhone. Take pictures in natural lighting. Don't use flash."
In the realm of sports, capturing emotions is of great importance. You want to publish content that draws on emotions.
2. Quality over quantity.
Many people post 2-4 times per day to get likes and put themselves in front of others. Lal says that you should start paying more attention to what you are posting. How relevant is it to people?
"Twitter is something where you can constantly update your feed over and over," said Lal. "With Instagram, you need to choose wisely. If something doesn't catch you're attention, you're not going to stop."
A sports team could post from every single game, or instead choose what is significant about this week, focusing on the highlights and not filling a feed with absolutely everything that occurs.
"Pick and choose what has the highest impact," added Lal. "Just because you're posting with frequency no longer means that people will see you."
3. Tell a story.
This is big whether you are a brand or influencer. Everyone has a story.
"Storytelling is story selling," said Lal. "It's more than just talking about the products or yourself. You connect to people in a different way. Be open about your struggles and what you've gone through to get to where you are."
In sports, there is a strong story to be told whether you are winning or losing. People love comeback stories. They also enjoy riding on the bandwagon of a winner.
Comments matter under Instagram's new algorithm, whereas follower counts will have diminished significance.
"To comment, you really have to feel connected," said Lal. "It's hard to connect to a single picture. If you can draw emotion from the story, then people will comment."
4. Ask yourself: "Would I like this?"
We are all consumers. What makes you stop and look at something, read something, or buy something?
At Shredz, Lal creates a personality profile and gives this manufactured person a name, age, where he/she went to school, whether he/she is married, and a preference of music. He then puts himself in the person's shoes and asks whether this person would be engaged with what Shredz is posting. If then answer is no, then he must go back to the drawing board.
"There is a difference between someone who has 2 million followers and those who are posting engaging photos and receiving massive amounts of comments," said Lal. "We always focus on content engagement."
Shredz now employs 6 photographers and 4 videographers full time. The company opened an office in California just for content creation.
When I first spoke to Lal for a story on Forbes in March 2014, Lal was talking to me from his small apartment. Now he sits in a 30,000 square foot facility in New Jersey and sells his products in over 120 countries. Savvy social media marketing seems to be a strength for this growing business.