It seems that authenticity on social media is harder and harder to come by. From photoshopped pictures to fake followers, fitness professionals on the platform are competing for the attention of a user base that can quickly become jaded. So how can you really be authentic on Instagram while still growing your business?

A lot of the inauthenticity on social media comes from a misguided sense that more followers are always better. In a world where your follower count can dictate your happiness, fitness professionals often feel pressure to always be recruiting more followers on Instagram. But are those followers really doing anything to grow your business?

Rather than blindly chasing more and more followers on Instagram, take a moment to consider what your goals are for the platform. For most fitness professionals, the goal is to get more clients and make more money. Even if you had 1,000,000 followers, if none of them lived near you to take classes or train with you, then what’s the point? It’d be much better to have 100 dedicated followers that engage with you on and off Instagram – and actually pay for services.

Unless you’re trying to be an “influencer” that is paid to post sponsored content, it’s probably more important to build a quality following on Instagram than trying to get as many followers as possible.

No matter what your goal is, there are a few Instagram don’ts that everyone should follow

  • Don’t buy followers. Even if you are trying to be an “influencer”, bloated follower counts full of spam and bots are more likely to get you banned than famous.

  • Don’t set up automated commenting. There’s nothing more off-putting than an irrelevant comment asking for people to look at your profile.

  • Don’t follow anyone and everyone. Following a bunch of random accounts is a good way to clog up your feed and create followers that won’t actually engage with your content.

That means you should post original content that matches your personal brand and speaks to the people that you’d like to recruit as clients. Here are some hard and fast tips for authentic Instagram posting that won’t drive you crazy:

  • Post high-quality content consistently. Commit to a schedule that makes sense for your life. Whether it’s once a day or once a week, make sure that you stick with your schedule so people can rely on your Instagram posts and engage with you.

  • Embrace the Instagram story. A lot of Instagram users are engaging with stories rather than posts nowadays. Your Instagram story can be a great way to put out content with more personality and give your followers insight to your everyday life.

  • Share the love. If you’re already on Instagram a lot, take a couple of extra minutes to leave genuine comments and feedback on other’s posts and stories. Engaging authentically with your followers is a great way to show clients that you really care about them.

Instagram can be a great tool for fitness professionals, as long as you are being candid and authentic. So much of social media is masking what’s really going on in our lives. Break the mold and be real – your followers will thank you.