The days of growing a social media following by simply posting quality content regularly are gone. Without some kind of push to get ahead, you might as well enjoy the exercise on your hamster wheel.
Social media success depends on a lot of factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your photos. Yes, that means I'm saying no matter how damn teal and orange you make your shots, it may not get you the followers you're looking for. The streams or timelines that determine what we see are tightly controlled by algorithms. The sheer amount of users on services like Instagram and Facebook make algorithms necessary.
If you want to succeed, you need to be ready to put in the leg work. Learn the ropes in a way that doesn't involve online research and tips. Making yourself interesting enough for people to want to follow is no small feat. It takes dedication, genuine passion, time, and most of all, sacrifice. Many of the people who have reached autopilot "I have so many followers I can call the shots and earn money for everything" status put their noses to the grindstone for a long time while we were busy complaining about our reach.
I'm not saying you can't get more likes than you currently do by trying some of the tips that are out there. I'm just saying that to make the jump to the next level where brands are offering to pay you to influence and every post you drop gets thousands of likes, you need to be willing to go all in. Most of us simply are not. Just like we all want to be rich but aren't. There is usually more involved than just luck.
So What Can You Do?
So, while I'm not exactly an expert on getting ahead on social media, I have been involved with web trends and the technology behind it since their inception and get it more than most. You have to start building something. Think of it like this hypothetical Lego metaphor. One day, everyone in the world starts getting a single Lego brick every morning. Most people are confused and ignore it. Some people see no value and give them away. Other people don't ask why and start putting them together. As time goes on, most people haven't built a thing, but these patient, forward-looking builders have these amazing structures that are getting noticed and seem to have come out of nowhere. Everyone wishes they had used theirs to build and some start, but most assume it is too late and doubt the real possibility that they could get somewhere down the road.
We could have all built amazing Lego creations, but we didn't put in the time. It is the same with social media. You really can succeed. But you need to be willing to work harder and smarter to get there. Don't think it is too lat don't assume it will be too much work and never start.
Get out there and do what you want, or someone else will. And you will be saying: "I should have done that; I had the Legos..."