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Adam is 17 years old and runs a successful Instagram account @manchester_aviation1107 which at the time of going to press is fast approaching 20,000 followers

Set up to document his passion of spotting his 1st post attracted just 65 likes, whilst now every post can command an average of 1000 likes

Altrincham HQ speak to Adam about why he does what he does, how he built such a large audience here in Manchester and gives away some of his tips for growing an audience like he did

Q: For readers who aren’t aware of what @manchester_aviation1107 is – please explain a little about your Instagram account?

My account is a compilation of all my photos taken from my travels and spotting trips. I am an eager aviation enthusiast and also have an interest in photography. My interest in aviation comes from my travels as a child. I’ve visited and experienced many different countries and cultures throughout my life, near and far. I think this is where my love and fascination of aviation has grown. Since starting Instagram, I spot primarily at my home airport, Manchester but I have also travelled around to different airports such as Dublin, London Heathrow and Amsterdam as well as attending various events such as the Farnborough International Air Show and had a tour of the Thomas Cook engineering and maintenance hangar at Manchester Airport. My Instagram account allows me to document and share my experiences with others with similar interests.

Q: Why did you decide to set up Instagram?

Instagram is a great platform for sharing photos with thousands of people and when I first started in 2015, it seemed like the easiest and most popular social media platform to share my photos and videos on. I also had a few friends that had aviation themed Instagram accounts so before my first spotting trip, I thought I would set one up too!

Q: I scrolled back to your very 1st post which got 65 likes and we always talk about patience with social media – at which point did you realise people are taking an
interest in what you were doing?

I would definitely agree that growth on any social media is all about patience. I think that after 1,000 followers you start to realise that you have a large audience who have an interest in your content and so try to put more into the account in terms of the quality of content as well as the variety.

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Q: I think we first discovered you on Twitter and then found your Instagram. Which is your favourite social media platform and why? And which is your least favourite

social media platform and why?

Instagram and Twitter are both great in my opinion. In terms of influence, Twitter is the main platform that is adopted and regularly maintained by large organisations such as airlines and airports. My posts on Twitter are often liked by the airlines and airport involved in the image, on Instagram it’s less common. However, Instagram is much easier to gain a following base compared to Twitter and in my case has an active aviation community that check out my posts and support me and it’s the one that I invest more time into. Instagram also includes a number of very useful “Insights”. Here, you can see up to date statistics on both individual posts and your account as a whole, meaning that is easy to see what content is liked by my followers and when most of my followers are online in the day.

Q: So how long did it take you to build an audience of nearly 15,000? And how much time do you invest each day into Instagram?

I first started my page on 18th October 2015, so it’s taken me just under 3 years to get to where I am today. I do invest quite a lot of time and effort in the form of organising spotting trips outside of Manchester as well editing photos on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Edits can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour depending on the type of shot and the outcome I’m looking for. In a day I’d say I spend, on average, about 45 minutes from editing to preparing the caption and then to post. However, I do check Instagram regularly throughout the day for any comments and DMs for me to respond to.

Q: How much do you engage with other users posts on Instagram? Do you find deep engagement such as comments get a bigger reaction than low touch engagement such as
likes when engaging with others?

I love to check out other people’s photos from Manchester and all corners of the globe. I am often inspired by other people and like to see how people take and edit photos. I think that it’s important to engage with other users to support their content as they do with mine. I do respond to posts that I really like and take inspiration from in the form of a comment. But yes, in general comments will get a bigger “reaction” as they will often reply back.

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Q: Do you collaborate with other Instagram users? And if so how did they come about?

Not as such. My account is independent of anyone else. Having said that, there are a handful of people in the community that I turn to for advice and help on posts and they will also ask me for the same. We help each other out with editing tips and general account feedback. So, I don’t directly collaborate with anyone but I do have people that give their help and support as well as receive my opinions and editing suggestions.

Q: What’s your biggest measure of success on Instagram – impressions, likes or comments? And why?

Personally, I don’t run my account for the followers and success, however it is nice to see posts that I’ve spent a lot of time editing and preparing getting a good response in the form of likes and comments. But the number of likes on a post is generally a good indication of how well you’re doing, so I’d say that. But generally, if a post gets a good number of likes, comments and saves, I’d deem it a successful post. Impressions are a measure of how many times your post/account has been seen, so if they translate into likes then they are a measure of active engagement with the post. For me though, my main measure of success is all the positive support and encouragement I get from my followers. They often want to follow me on my travels as well as know what I’m getting up to behind the scenes of the account.

Q: Instagram stories have been around for a while now – what part do they play in your Instagram strategy?

Instagram stories are a great way to engage with your followers, outside of regular posting and they play a part in your account’s engagement. I use Instagram Stories to show aspects of my personal life and when travelling, I will often update my followers where I am and what I’m doing using the feature. I also use the story features such as the poll, and more recently, the “Ask me a question” feature where followers can ask me questions about my account or life in general. Instagram Stories is also a great way to direct people to recent posts and also the swipe up feature allows users to simply swipe to check out a website that I add to the story. On occasion I will do Live Stories where I discuss topical things in the aviation world and just respond to any comments that my viewers have. So Stories has allowed me to be much more involved with my followers allowing them to interact and to see what I’m getting up to!

Q: Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram and why?

I don’t really have any favourites. There are a number of people who have stuck by me for a long time and I now regard as good friends and talk with on a regular basis and sometimes meet up to go on spotting trips, not just at Manchester but also other airports and events. I recently attended the Farnborough International Air Show where I was able to meet some of my followers and get to know each other. I think that this is the best thing for me, all the friends that I’ve made and met through Instagram and how we have similar interests that we can discuss and express.

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Q: For anyone looking to build a successful Instagram account – what are your top 5 tips?

1. My first tip, is to post high quality content on a regular basis. Use Instagram Insights (accessible on a Business Account) to find out what time your followers are most active and what kind of content they like and then post accordingly.

2. Engage positively with the community! Talk with people and use Stories to be interactive with your followers.

3. Take feedback from others, both positive and negative. Take each opinion and try to respond to it in the form of the content you post. See what your followers actually want to see! Obviously, you can’t please everyone but do your best to accommodate the majority.

4. Take inspiration from others. See what other people are doing, but do not copy them, people will pick up on that quickly! It is good to be inspired by people to see what works well for them and to get advice from them as to how you can improve. I often found myself asking others for advice on how to improve my editing, advice that I still use today!

5. Finally, be yourself. As well as trying to satisfy your followers with your content, post what YOU want and what YOU’RE happy with, it’s your account after all! Be passionate with what you do and your followers will feel the same!

Q: What do you hope to achieve long term with your Instagram account?

In the long term, I hope to keep growing my account and sharing my passion for aviation to all my followers! So many amazing opportunities have come from it, from an invite to view behind the scenes at the Airbus stand at the Farnborough Air Show to a tour around the Thomas Cook engineering and maintenance hangar at Manchester Airport. I feel honoured to get these chances and opportunities! But the main thing has to be the friendships I’ve made through Instagram, I hope to continue these on into the future and make new friends with the same passion and interest as myself!

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Alex McCann

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