It's easy to get caught up in the popularity contest that is social media. 

Instagram is particularly bad for it. Looking at some accounts, it's mind-blowing to understand how they have so many followers as their content is boring and same-y (usually selfies) and without any real messaging. They're just building followers so that brands will pay them to advertise their product.

Someone asked me the other day if I ever use hashtags such as #L4L or #follow4follow and the answer is no. Because although many influencers and brands have lots of followers, how likely are those followers going to engage in their content?

These shortcuts to gaining followers may make you look popular but they're a waste of time because the followers you gain aren't actually interested in what you're doing. 

I'm happy to say that I have about 500 followers on my Instagram, but sometimes when I post photos I get 100 likes-that's the equivalent of 20% of my followers engaging in my content because they're interested in what I have to say. And that's a pretty big percentage for social media engagement.

I've grown my followers organically using hashtags relevant to my brand, following others who are sharing content that's interesting to me and engaging with them through likes and comments. There's nothing better than having someone on another account similar to yours comment "Wow" or "That's amazing" because it's a genuine reaction from a potential contact, or even client. 

My advice to any brand looking for influencers to promote their product is to find an account that's relevant to your brand with followers who will genuinely be influenced by your product. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the ways to strategise your PR, including partnerships.

My friend Emma at Glorious 12th Clothing has teamed up with a young gamekeeper on Instagram (@justacountrygirl.x) to promote her line of flattering clothing for women who shoot. It's the perfect partnership for them both as they're promoting each others' work to similar audiences.

Take a look at their accounts to see what they've done and think about ways you can work with other brands to reach a wider, organic audience.