Features are an ideal way for someone to grow their followers but also their influence within their given niche. Given the number of followers that some of these accounts have, your photo is far more likely to go viral and be shared over social media when posted by them than you if you still have a relatively small number of followers.
For example, this photo was posted by me initially and did ok on my profile but when it was posted on @beautifulhotels, it had almost 50k likes and was re-posted by other feature accounts over 100 times and so the audeince seeing my photo was HUGE in comparison to the reach of my original post. This was almost 12 months ago and I still get this re-posted every now and then:
Most people think that you have to be big and successful to get big features on the likes of @beautifuldestinations, @luxuryworldtraveler, @luxintravels etc, this just isn’t true. I had my first feature on @beautifulhotels (3.1 million followers) when I had just over 1000 followers and had been going for a month or so and have had over 10 features with them since. I have had features with countless large accounts and have only really done so through following steps:
1. Your content needs to be on point:
This sounds obvious but don’t waste your time with the rest of these steps if your content isn’t quite on point yet. When I first contacted feature accounts, I wasted a lot of time because I was sending them irrelevant content, don’t make this same mistake! Maybe as a test, ask a friend to compare the content you are creating to that featured on large feature accounts (someone who you know will be brutally honest, you know the kind of friend I mean!) and ask them if they feel it is of the same level. If it is and you are confident, carry on with the next steps.
2. Make contact
A big mistake people make is just waiting for features to happen by tagging feature accounts in their photos, hoping that this results in a feature. Whilst this can and does work with some small-medium feature accounts, an account with over a million followers isn’t likely to pay much attention to these tags. It is really important that you aim for the larger accounts as they are the trend setters and they are the accounts that will help get your content shared all over IG!
I would suggest making a list of feature accounts in your niche in a spreadsheet, make sure they are mainly 100k+ accounts and include an email address as contact details if possible. I would reach out with a DM, along with 1-3 photos you feel they would feature and also send an email (if they have an email address on their IG) to cover your bases. So many of these accounts struggle for fresh content from accounts they haven’t heard of before, so as long as the content is at the level they need (we will go onto this), then they will be so happy to hear from you.
3. Be specific and selective
So in your initial email / DM, it’s important to follow the mantra “less is more”, don’t spam them with 10 photos and hope one will stick. Do your research, match what you have to their style and ideally try to send 1 – 3 shots so that you catch their eye. They will make their decision as whether to reply within a split second so it’s important you make an impression and a good one at that!
4. Focus on the large accounts and the rest will follow
I mentioned this before but it’s important so I’ll mention it again. Whilst it’s nice for any account to feature your content, you’ll soon find that anything below 100k followers doesn’t really do much and so, in my opinion, would be a waste of your time approaching anything below that. It’s also important to look at their engagement, you need accounts that have a minimum of 5k likes per photo so that your content will have a wider reach. Spend your time focusing on the large accounts, I would try to get a large list and keep building (believe me there’s a LOT out there).
5. Build relationships
So this won’t be relevant with all accounts but I try, as best I can, to build a relationship with whoever is re-posting content. This can be built over email but I have even gone as far to set up calls with those people posting content so I can really understand what it is they are looking for. Once you have more of a relationship, they are likely to trust you and your skills a lot more and will begin to look to you as a source of content and not a source of annoyance (I have probably annoyed a few of them to begin with!!)
6. Adjust your shots to their style
When I first began approaching feature accounts, all of my content was shot landscape and therefore 99% of accounts rejected my advances immediately. The better feature accounts (in the travel niche) will only re-post content in portrait and so it was impossible to promote the majority of my content (I mention this in my blog “7 things I wish I wish i knew before stating my Instagram Account” ). Once we realised the above, we began shooting portrait for most of our content but would still shoot landscape when we thought the shot would be better posted as a square. Furthermore, most accounts weren’t overly keen on content where we were the focus of the photo and preferred shots where the hotel or landscape was the focal point, so we began taking this into consideration.
Once you get a handle of what it is these large accounts look for, you are able to incorporate this in to your style and you increase your chances of getting featured considerably.
7. Be consistent and be patient.
Again, this sounds obvious but if you message someone once and then they don’t hear from you again for 4 months then you probably won’t make much headway. Try to check in with someone on a regular basis; this could be once a month, it could be once a week; gauge what works for them (without annoying them) and try to have a regular touch point so that they see you as someone they can regularly rely on.
Finally, patience is most certainly a virtue when following this approach. Getting yourself a big feature from an account with 3 million followers won’t unfortunately skyrocket your followers overnight, these things take time so try not to get frustrated. This approach is less about overnight success and more about slowly but surely, getting your name and brand out there so that you’re in a position where you don’t need to send your content to large accounts as they already follow you!