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How to Gain Your First (or Next) 1,000 Instagram Followers – 26 Tips

It’s no secret that business opportunities are continuing to grow on Instagram. Approximately 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion active monthly users follow a business account on the platform, and there are more than 200 million business accounts.

But here’s the deal: Unless you’re famous, it’s really hard to amass a huge following on Instagram without some hard work.

Luckily, you can do a few things right away to collect at least 1,000 quality followers for your personal or professional Instagram account. It’s all about knowing where to invest your time and effort. In this post, we’ll discuss a few strategies to help you gain those followers, from creating a follow-worthy Instagram profile to using contests and staying true to your brand.

1. Make your account into a business profile and optimize the description.

First thing’s first: Customize your Instagram profile to make it look good. Tell your potential followers who you are, and give them a reason to follow you.

How? Start by making sure your username is recognizable and easily searchable – like your business name.

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If your business name is already taken, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across you. For example, the Australian activewear line Lorna Jane uses the username Lornajaneactive.

Setting Up Your Account

Step 1. Add your full business name to the “Name” field in the “Options” section. To find “Options,” tap the three lines in the top right corner of the iOS app, followed by “Settings” which will appear at the bottom of the screen next to a gear. If you’re on Android, tap the three dots in the corner. Your business or name will appear under your profile picture and your username in search.

Step 2. Make your profile public. To make your profile public, open Instagram, open “Options,” and make sure “Private Account” is turned off.

Step 3. Choose a profile picture that’s on-brand with your other social networks, like your company logo.

Step 4. Fill your bio with delightful, actionable, and informative information about your brand. Information like this lets people know what you’re about and gives them a reason to follow you. Include who you are and what you do, and be sure to add a hint of personality.

Here are a few examples for inspiration:

Cheekbonebeauty: “Less waste. Ethical and safe ingredients.”
Oreo: “Playful moments from your favorite cookie.”
Mrsbrittanyhennessy: “Helping Influencers go beyond #sponcon and create sustainable businesses.”
CalifiaFarms: “Something different, something better. Let us show you what plants can do.”
Coragedolls: “Elevating, educating, & encouraging girls of color to be unstoppable with dolls that finally look like her.”

Step 5. Add a link tree to your bio to make it easy for people to go straight from Instagram to your other platforms if they want to. The space allotted for URLs is precious real estate. When you receive 10,000 followers, you can add links to your Instagram Stories.

Until then, your bio is the only place within Instagram where you can place clickable links, so use it wisely. We recommend using a shortened, customized Bitly link to make it more clickable.

Step 6. Enable notifications so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This’ll let you engage with them more quickly – just like a lot of companies do on Twitter. To enable notifications, go to “Options” and then “Push Notification Settings.” Select “From Everyone” for every category.

A word to the wise: We don’t recommend you link your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook (or other social media platforms) for automatic posts. Because every platform caters to a different audience and requires different types of posts.

2. Designate an experienced content creator.

Just like there should be one (maybe two) people managing your other social media accounts, there should only be one or two people managing your Instagram account.

If possible, choose someone with experience on the platform who will “get” it — and be sure they stay updated on all new features Instagram has to offer from Reels to IGTV.

If you work for a large organization, you might find that a lot of people want a say in what’s posted. That’s when an organized request or guidelines document comes in handy.

This document should inform people how to request a post on your Instagram account, when, the value of the post, and why.

3. Follow photography and editing best practices.

On Instagram, post quality matters. A lot. Your Twitter followers might forgive a few bad tweets, but a bad photo on Instagram is a big no-no.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take a photography course to be a good Instagram poster — nor do you have to practice for weeks before you start. But you should get familiar with basic photography tips and photo editing apps.

Photography Best Practices

Since Instagram is a mobile app, chances are, some content you post to Instagram will be taken on your mobile device. That’s expected.

If your budget allows, consider investing in professional photography for your Instagram photos, as that will elevate your profile. Otherwise, a smartphone and a few editing apps will do.

Focus on one subject at a time.
Embrace negative space.
Find interesting perspectives.
Look for symmetry.
Capture small details.
Make your followers laugh.

Edit photos before you post.

Instagram has some basic editing capabilities, but oftentimes, they aren’t adequate to make visuals really great.

Most of your photos should go through at least one or two photo editing apps on your mobile phone before you open them on Instagram.

Additionally, consider creating a cohesive Instagram theme across your feed, so anyone visiting your account for the first time can get a sense of your brand.

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4. Adhere to a regular posting schedule.

Once you’ve created and optimized your profile, have someone managing it, and have your creative assets ready, it’s time to start posting.

It’s a good idea to have a solid number of great posts up – maybe 15 or so – before you start engaging people and working down this list. That way, when people visit your profile, they’ll see a full screen of photos and will know you’ll post great content regularly.

To start posting on Instagram, download this social media content calendar template first and plan out your posts. It’s best to build a backlog of content ready a few days or weeks ahead of the publishing date.

This will ensure you always have content during holidays, vacations, and even creative blocks.

Keep your target persona in mind as you plan out your posting schedule, as that can drastically impact your posting timing and frequency – especially if you’re targeting an audience in a different time zone. (Download this free template for creating buyer personas if you don’t have a few already.)

Optimizing your schedule for your specific audience might take time and experimentation.

Experiment with these times and days to see what works with your audience. You may find that your target users are most active and engaged at different times.

5. Allow outside contributors to curate your content.

Although it’s best to have only one or two people manning your account, one or two people can’t be everywhere at once taking photos. What about that fun sushi night the engineers had last night? Or the event your head of sales spoke at earlier this week?

There’s a whole breadth of content you’ll want to post to Instagram, and more often than not, one person won’t be able to keep track of it all.

One solution? Create a system where you can curate photos and content from members of your team.

There are a few ways to do this. The first option is to create a specific email address for employees to send their photos, short videos, memes, hyper-lapses, and so on.

Encourage people to add a descriptive subject line so you can easily sort through the content they’re sending. While this doesn’t seem like the smoothest way to curate photos, it’s actually the easiest for the people sending you photos — and the easier you can make it for them to send content, the more content you’ll get.

If your team shares a Box or Dropbox account, you could also create a shared folder where people can automatically drop their photos and videos.

6. Use a consistent, platform-specific brand voice.

Photos and videos might be the most important part of your Instagram posts, but captions, comments, and other text should never be an afterthought. If you’re managing a channel for a brand or have more than one Instagram manager, consider developing a consistent voice that humanizes your brand.

This shows potential followers that you are credible and relatable, rather than formal or intimidating.

When developing a voice, you should keep the platform and your audience in mind.

For example, many influencers and prominent accounts on Instagram have a very casual voice and style but remain professional and on-brand. Once you’ve got your voice down, make sure it stays consistent and natural in your captions, comments, messages, and your bio.

7. Write engaging, shareable captions.

Captions are an essential part of your post — the icing on the cake if you will. Consistently great captions can do wonders for humanizing your brand, winning over followers, and making your content more shareable — thereby giving you more exposure.

Here are a few things you might see in a winning Instagram caption:

Clever or witty comments
Calls to action
Relevant emojis
Hashtags

Clever or Witty Comments

Some brands and influencers have used clever or witty captions, or even audience-appropriate jokes to further humanize themselves on Instagram.

My colleague Kelly Hendrickson, HubSpot’s social media team manager, says that she loves Netflix’s account and sub-accounts, particularly because of the post captions.

“They have such a clear brand voice, and you laugh along with them. They’re in on the joke, just like one of your friends,” she says.

Netflix’s voice is casual, trendy, and humorous while still staying on brand.

In the post above, the caption is funny, authentic, and relatable. Who hasn’t flipped through a friend’s Instagram Story with the hope that you’ll be featured?

Calls to Action

Another way to increase the shareability of your caption and engage your followers is to ask questions or have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos.

For example, you might write, “Double-tap if you find this funny,” or “share your story in the comments.”

In the example below, we asked followers of the HubSpot Instagram account to leave a comment with a book that’s had a positive impact on their work, along with tagging the author:

Relevant Emojis

Adding just a few relevant emojis can add even more personality to your posts. It could also make them even more noticeable on an Instagram feed. In the post below, Danielle Gray, a beauty expert with over 50K followers, includes witty text with relevant emojis to make the post pop.

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Along with the three items listed above, you’ll also want to include hashtags.

8. Optimize posts with relevant hashtags.

On Instagram, a hashtag ties conversations from different users who wouldn’t already be connected into a single stream. If you use relevant hashtags, your posts will gain exposure to a wider audience and help you become discoverable to potential customers.

The key to using hashtags effectively is to be selective and use them sparingly. Try to limit the number of hashtags per caption to around three. Similarly, don’t use “like for like” hashtags, like #like4like or #like4likes.

This is a shortcut tactic that’ll only leave you with low-quality followers.

To find the hashtags your audience might be using, do a little research on relevant hashtags in your niche or industry. The easiest way to do this research is in the Instagram app itself, in the Explore tab (i.e., the magnifying glass icon).

When you search for one hashtag, it’ll show you a list of related hashtags at the top of your screen.

For example, when I search for #digitalmarketingstrategy on Instagram, it shows me relevant hashtags like #digitalmarketingexpert, #digitalmarketing, and so on.

To help relate to your followers on a personal level, you might consider hopping on hashtag trends like #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”), #MotivationMonday, #TransformationTuesday, or other trending hashtags. Here’s a post from Fanmdjanm, a headwrap collection and lifestyle brand with over 150K followers on its Instagram account, using the #HappyMothersDay hashtag:

Once you build up a bit of a following, you can try creating your own hashtags — like your company name or a slogan that applies to your content. This is a great way to build up your brand on the platform and build a more cohesive presence.

9. Lean into trending content formats.

With the arrival of TikTok on the social media scene, short-form videos have become one of the most effective content formats on social media.

In fact, according to a HubSpot Blog survey, 85% of marketers who use short-form videos find them to be the most effective content format. And 95% of marketers who leverage short-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022.

That’s why it’s important to lean into trending content formats. After TikTok, Instagram came out with IG Reels, and this feature is a great way to post funny, relatable content.

When Instagram comes out with new tools, like IG Reels, don’t be afraid to use those features because they can help you gain Instagram followers.

10. Post content your followers want to see.

To gain your first 1,000 followers on Instagram, it’s important to know who your audience is. Once you’ve created your Instagram account, you should take note of which posts perform best.

Is it interactive content, behind-the-scenes stories, funny and relatable posts, or something else? When you have a general idea of what performs best, continue to create that type of content.

Additionally, Instagram has many tools and features you can use: IGTV, IG Reels, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, Highlights, etc. Begin by posting several types of content formats and see which one does best. Then, come up with a strategy and master that one tool. Doing so will help you create content your followers want to see and gain new followers.

11. Promote your Instagram.

Like the old adage about a tree falling in a forest, if you start an Instagram account without promoting it, is the account even real yet? Well, yes. But, you’ll have fewer followers.

One of the best ways to gain followers on Instagram is to promote your account. Embed posts in your blogs (like you see a few on this post), post on your other social media platforms, and share social links in your email newsletters. A great way to gain followers on one platform is to ask current followers on other platforms if they want to follow you somewhere else as well.

Additionally, to promote your Instagram, it’s important to get started with Instagram promotions and ads. This will help you reach a wider audience. I know it might seem like ads are only effective for selling certain products, but I’ve followed several business accounts because of a sponsored post I saw.

12. Engage with users through follows, likes, and comments.

Instagram is very much a community, and one great way to get involved in that community is to find people who post pictures that interest you, follow their accounts and interact with their content. It’s the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account.

This accomplishes two things: for one, when they get the notification that you’ve followed them, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your profile. This goes back to the importance of having great content on your account before you start reaching out to others.

Secondly, it means you’ll be seeing their recent posts in your feed, so you can Like and interact with them if you choose to.

As you build a following, celebrate your followers by responding to and pinning their comments, and even reposting their posts for user-generated content.

13. Cross-promote with influencers and brands with similar audiences.

Once you build rapport with the folks behind accounts with similar audiences to your own, consider collaborating with them.

Partnering with influencers and brands helps with discoverability, reach, and social proof.

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For instance, influencer Sweetlikeoyin who has around 60K followers, posted a sponsored image of herself on the beach wearing a dress from Lulu’s. The clothing brand then published the same image.

With this partnership, both accounts can expand their reach and gain new followers. It’s a win-win. However, be sure to create content that seems natural and makes sense for your brands and collective audience.

14. Run Instagram contests to encourage engagement.

Another great way to expand your reach while increasing engagement with your photos is to run a contest or giveaway. As part of your contest, you can ask users to follow your account, like, and/or comment on the post to be eligible to win.

I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love winning free stuff?

You can also add a user-generated content (UGC) element to the contest, too, where people post a photo of their own and use a specific hashtag.

Here’s an example from PlayaBowlsNortheastern, where followers were asked to follow Playa Bowls as well as their brand partner, Scoop and Sushi, and tag a friend in the comments. In exchange, followers had the chance to win a free bowl:

15. Explore Instagram Stories’ interactive features.

Instagram has always given brands the platform to share beautiful, curated photos to represent their companies.

However, with the introduction of ephemeral Instagram Stories, brands can also share on-the-fly, behind-the-scenes looks for 24 hours that may not be as polished as a published photo, but give your brand more personality on the platform.

Just look at how Snapchat exploded a few years ago. Once platforms like Instagram and Facebook introduced similar features, it made those apps more valuable and interesting in the eyes of users. Although Snapchat pioneered this feature, Instagram Stories now has over 500 million daily users.

Along with sharing video clips and static images through Instagram Stories, users can also use polls, event reminders, and the “Ask a Question,” tool to gain more engagement and learn more about their audiences.

Once a user is verified or has over 10,000 followers, they can even include a link to a webpage within a story.

How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours unless they are marked as a “Story Highlight.”

Highlighted stories will show up at the top of your profile between the photo feed and your bio.

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Here are a few other brands we recommend following to see what they’re sharing:

Dana Shultz (Minimalistbaker) publishes easy vegan and gluten-free recipes on her blog. Her Stories feature neat how-to videos of her making breakfast and testing out new recipes in her kitchen. The behind-the-scenes aspect of her Stories provides a lot of human context for her blog’s brand, and everybody loves a good how-to video.

Casper publishes quirky Instagram content to advertise their mattresses – without overtly doing so. The main theme of their content? Staying in is better than going out (because you can stay in and lay on a comfy Casper mattress, naturally).

They’ve even created a gallery for followers to use as backdrops for their Snapchat and Instagram stories to make it look like they’re out at a party when in reality, they’re laying in bed.

One of their latest Instagram Stories featured someone watching “The Sopranos” in bed, with the caption: “Who needs plans when you have five more seasons?”

This video supports Casper’s campaign to stay in bed with a very real look at what millions of people do when they’re hanging out at home.

Here are our tips for using Instagram Stories for your brand:

Whether it’s funny, sad, or unique, be authentic. Your photo gallery is where content can be perfect and polished. Instagram Stories are for the raw, unscripted, and unretouched. Use Stories to share the other side of your brand that followers might not be able to see elsewhere. Do you have a dog-friendly office? Is your team trying out the latest challenge? Start filming to showcase the more human side of your brand.
Go behind the scenes. These are by far our favorite types of content for ephemeral video sharing. Show followers what goes into the planning of an event or the launching of a product, and make it fun. Your followers want to feel included and in the know. You could also use Stories to cultivate a brand loyalty program that only rewards people who check out your content.

16. Use the Instagram Live feature.

Instagram also lets users record and share Live videos, another content format that’s proven to be hugely popular on other social networks. What’s unique about Live videos on Instagram? They disappear when users stop filming.

This authentic, bi-directional experience lets brands share unscripted, raw moments with their audience to incorporate human elements into a social media platform that’s highly edited and polished in its traditional use.

Since the Live feature launched, Instagram has added even more features that may enable further engagement or interactions from viewers, such as:

Request feature to go live with the live account
Pinned comment
Q&A box
Up to four accounts on Live at a time
Filters

Live video is a growing trend across a variety of social media platforms, so if something interesting is happening, start rolling. Whether it’s an event, a team birthday party, or behind-the-scenes footage, your devoted followers want to see what you’re up to.

And if you want to make it even more interesting, you could collaborate with an influencer or another brand to host a Live. With people that your audience is interested in, you can promote this Live event, and then host it on your profile.

Promoting this type of event will help you tap into someone else’s audience while interacting and engaging with your followers by answering their questions and talking to them during the Live.

17. Share your profile link on your website and social media channels.

Have a website? Newsletter? YouTube channel? Make sure you include a link to your Instagram on every single platform.

The first place you’ll want to make sure to add an Instagram badge is your website, specifically your footer and “About Us” page.

Here’s what the badge could look like:

If your brand has brick-and-mortar locations, put out a good ol’ print call-to-action letting people know you have an Instagram account and encouraging them to follow you. You can also place them on your business cards. You might even offer a discount code for doing so.

Also, be sure to promote your Instagram account on your other digital platforms. Chances are, the folks who already follow you on Facebook and Twitter will also follow you on Instagram without much prodding.

Let those followers know you’re on Instagram and encourage them to follow you there.

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In this example, wine company The McBride Sisters encouraged their email subscribers to follow them on Instagram with a simple CTA: “Join the community.”

18. Post user-generated content.

Similar to cross-promotion, brands can publish user-generated content to show appreciation for existing customers and generate social proof at the same time.

If I see a regular person endorsing a product on Instagram, I’m more likely to believe they really like the product.

The same is true for most consumers. That’s why sites like Yelp are so popular.

Ultimately, user-generated content can be an excellent strategy when trying to increase brand awareness and trust in your products or services.

For instance, Bevel reposted a video from blogger Rickey Scott using and recommending their products to their 600+ followers.

Posting Scott using Bevel is a smart move.

Firstly, the product is designed with black men in mind. Having Scott, who is part of the brand’s target demographic, recommend the product serves as the social proof the brand wants.

Furthermore, part of Scott’s audience will likely fall within Bevel’s target audience. Simply put, the two brands have similar audiences and brands that align well, which is why it’s a good opportunity for Bevel to promote Scott’s content.

19. Diversify your audience to resonate with different types of users.

As your followers grow, it can be tricky to identify what content types will resonate with them. With this in mind, divide your audience into sub-groups and target your content to various demographics.

For instance, if you have 200K followers, those followers probably come from different regions of the world, have different interests and hobbies, and likely have different careers. Rather than post all-encompassing content that will satisfy all your followers at once, conduct some analytics research to separate them into smaller sub-groups.

Take Starbucks as a good example of this. Starbucks has close to 18 million followers. There’s no way the global coffee brand can post content to satisfy 18 million people at once — and it doesn’t try to.

Instead, Starbucks regularly posts more exclusive content geared towards particular groups, such as this post they published celebrating #TeacherAppreciationWeek:

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This post won’t appeal to the majority of Starbucks followers who aren’t teachers, but that’s OK.

You don’t always need to post content to please everyone. Instead, demonstrate your company’s ability to connect and engage with sub-groups and post what aligns with your own brand’s values.

Education is something that matters to Starbucks, so by posting about teachers, they’re doing more to demonstrate their values than they are appealing to everyone. Which is kind of the point, isn’t it?

20. Apply for a verification badge.

When an account on Instagram is verified, it has a blue dot, called a badge, next to the username. When another user comes across this profile or finds the verified username in search, the blue dot confirms to them that the account is the business, individual, or brand that it’s claiming to be.

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While Instagram has a list of eligibility requirements for the badge, the platform does allow users to apply for one. You can learn more about that process on Instagram’s Help Center.

21. Create your own filters and badges.

When it’s time to promote a new product or feature, creating your own filters, stickers, or badges can help you reach a new audience. You can learn how to create your own filter or sticker to jazz up your Instagram Stories.

The best way to do this is to use these on highly shareable posts that followers will want to add to their own Stories. This way, you’ll reach their audiences and your users will promote your page for you.

22. Tag relevant users.

Another way to gain more followers on Instagram is to tag relevant users in your posts. Your posts will then show up in that person’s tagged posts, and anyone who looks through there will find your page (and hopefully, follow).

However, it’s important that you only tag people who are in the photo, or relevant to the photo. For example, many times, influencers tag the clothing or makeup brands they wore in a photo.

23. Post content that’s meant to be re-shared.

Each post on your Instagram should have a purpose. It could be to generate likes, comments, engagement, shares, etc. However, you can’t expect followers to re-share content just for the heck of it. There needs to be a reason.

Because of this, reverse engineer your Instagram posts. Think, “What type of content would my audience re-share?” Then, create that content. It could be a quote, a meme, an infographic, statistics, etc.

To gain new followers, you should post content that’s meant to be re-shared, so that when others do re-share it on their own Instagram Stories and tag you, their audience will find you and follow you.

24. Get on the Instagram Explore page.

Getting on the Instagram Explore page is easier said than done. We get that. However, creating posts that are aimed at getting on the Explore page means you’ll be creating easily shareable and trendy content.

Think about viral trends and create a video that your audience might engage with. Additionally, use hashtags and tag other users and brands in those posts.

Instagram’s Explore Page algorithm also seems to grab content that has more engagement, especially if said engagement happens in the first few hours of posting. In Instagram’s case, quality is better than quantity, and getting interaction from influential users (i.e. having a higher follower count) is one of the best ways to do it.

25. Share educational content with Instagram slides.

Similar to creating content that’s meant to be re-shared, you can also create educational content in the form of Instagram slides. Instagram slides have become a popular way to educate audiences on an idea or topic.

Think about what you can educate your audience on and then create a simple Instagram slide post with an engaging title that entices users to click on the post.

With this type of content, you can share the post on your Stories, and then hopefully other users will be compelled by the content to share on their Stories as well.

26. Host an Instagram account takeover.

When you’re collaborating with influencers and other brands, think about hosting an Instagram account takeover. You can have an influencer take over your Stories for the day, and promote this on their own Stories.

Then, you’ll get their followers to follow along with the Stories and hopefully follow your account.

Additionally, you can ask an influencer or brand if you can take over their Stories, and interact with their audience as a way to promote your own account.

Quality Over Quantity Still Matters

Ultimately, it’s important to focus less on the number of followers you have, and more on the quality of content you create. Your audience will grow naturally if you put effort and time into creating engaging, informative, or inspirational content without worrying about “quick fixes” for boosts in followers.

You want to play the long game on Instagram, and that starts with focusing on what you can control: the quality of the content you produce, the messages you promote, and the brand you build.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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18 Core Company Values That Will Shape Your Culture & Inspire Your Employees

Having core company values can help you ensure each of your employees, from top leadership to entry-level, are working towards the same common goal, and share a bigger purpose.

Take a look at one of Google’s values — “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Any Google search will show you they stand by their purpose to serve the user. Undoubtedly, you find most answers to your common questions on page one of Google, and more recently, it’s likely separated in its own featured snippet, as well.

In this post we’ll explore why company values are important, how you can create your own, and serve up some industry favorites for inspiration.

What are company values?

Company values (sometimes called core values) are the beliefs and principles that drive your business. They help your team work better together and distinguish your brand from the competition.

Keeping these common values top of mind will help you make business decisions that are in line with your core principles and stay true to the company vision.

Why are company values important?

Core company values give employees purpose. Purpose is undeniably critical for employee satisfaction. In fact, a McKinsey & Company survey of employees found 70% of employees said their sense of purpose was largely defined by work. However that number drops significantly to 15% when non executive participants were asked if they are living their purpose at work. This is why it’s important your core values are embraced at every level, not just by the executive team. Purpose doesn’t just improve employee satisfaction — it also increases your bottom line and builds trust with customers.

Professor and author Ranjay Gulati explains in his book Deep Purpose that “To get purpose right, leaders must fundamentally change not only how they execute it but also how they conceive of and relate to it.” Gulati calls this process deep purpose, which furthers an organization’s reason for being in a more intense, thoughtful, and comprehensive way.

Ultimately, core values are critical if you want to create a long-lasting, successful, and motivating place to work.

Whether you work for a new company in need of core-value inspiration, or an older company in need of a value revamp, you’re in luck — below, we’ve cultivated a list of some of the best company values. Additionally, we’ll examine how some companies truly honor their values.

Examples of Companies with Inspiring Core Values

1. Gravity Payments

Creative Leadership: We inspire growth and innovation through learning and bold action
Passion for Progress: We have an uncompromising focus on impact and excellence.
Responsibility: We act with honesty, integrity, and thoughtfulness.

For Gravity Payments, core values aren’t just a few feel-good statements to put on the company “About Us” page. Spearheaded by their outspoken CEO Dan Price, Gravity Payments is widely known for introducing a $70k minimum salary for all employees. The move created a media firestorm, especially when outlets learned he had cut his own salary to fund it.

This bold act guided by Price’s sense of responsibility to his employees and ethics is also reflected in the company’s core values above. Price admits staying true to the company’s values puts them at a competitive disadvantage, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

“Staying true to our values gives us purpose. It brings clarity to difficult decisions, and it attracts a strong community of individuals who value authenticity, rather than deceit,” states Price. What values would you uphold even if they put you at a competitive disadvantage? Follow those values, embrace the obstacles they cause, and watch your company thrive.”

Gravity Payments’ core values go against the industry grain but the company has thrived despite the naysayers.

2. Google

Focus on the user and all else will follow.
It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
Fast is better than slow.
Democracy on the web works.
You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
You can make money without doing evil.
There’s always more information out there.
The need for information crosses all borders.
You can be serious without a suit.
Great just isn’t good enough.

On Google’s philosophy page, they don’t just list their core values — they also provide examples.

For instance, consider their value, “You can make money without doing evil.” While many companies likely tout the benefits of integrity, Google references strategic efforts it has made to avoid “evil” business, including — “We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown … We don’t accept pop–up advertising, which interferes with your ability to see the content you’ve requested … [and] Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a ‘Sponsored Link,’ so it does not compromise the integrity of our search results.”

Ultimately, a core value doesn’t have much power if your company can’t list intentional, calculated decisions it’s made to put values ahead of profit.

3. Coca Cola

Leadership: The courage to shape a better future.
Collaboration: Leverage collective genius.
Integrity: Be real.
Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me.
Passion: Committed in heart and mind.
Diversity: As inclusive as our brands.
Quality: What we do, we do well.

Coca Cola demonstrates its diversity core value with its public Global Diversity Mission page, which lists the company’s diversity-related efforts, such as, “[collecting employee] feedback through formal surveys and informally through their participation in our business resource groups, various diversity education programs and our Resolution Resources Program, where associates can work to resolve issues they face in our Company.”

Additionally, Coca Cola’s Global Diversity Mission page exemplifies their commitment to accountability, as well — they’ve publicly included pie charts with statistics regarding their global employee gender and race ratios. By acknowledging both their efforts and their shortcomings, Coca Cola is able to show its desire to live up to their values, while taking responsibility for any mismatch between its ideals and reality.

4. Whole Foods

We Satisfy And Delight Our Customers — Our customers are the lifeblood of our business and our most important stakeholder. We strive to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping experience.
We Promote Team Member Growth And Happiness — Our success is dependent upon the collective energy, intelligence, and contributions of all of our Team Members.
We Care About Our Communities And The Environment — We serve and support a local experience. The unique character of each store is a direct reflection of a community’s people, culture, and cuisine.
We Practice Win-Win Partnerships With Our Suppliers — We view our trade partners as allies in serving our stakeholders. We treat them with respect, fairness and integrity – expecting the same in return.

Underneath each of its values on its core value page, Whole Foods provides a link, such as, “Learn more about how we care about our communities and the environment.”

Ultimately, their page demonstrates their ability to walk the walk. For instance, to exemplify their commitment to local communities, Whole Foods created a Local Producer Loan Program, which provides up to $25 million in low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans.

Additionally, Whole Foods provides a list of environmentally-friendly efforts they’ve practiced since 1980, including “Printing and packaging using recycled paper and water- or vegetable-based, composting to decrease landfill waste, and no single-use plastic bags at checkout since 2008”.

If you’ve ever been to Whole Foods, you know they’re serious about their efforts to reduce waste and help the local community. In fact, it’s part of the reason so many customers are brand loyalists — because they support those efforts, too.

5. American Express

Customer Commitment: We develop relationships that make a positive difference in our customers’ lives.
Quality: We provide outstanding products and unsurpassed service that, together, deliver premium value to our customers.
Integrity: We uphold the highest standards of integrity in all of our actions.
Teamwork: We work together, across boundaries, to meet the needs of our customers and to help our Company win.
Respect for People: We value our people, encourage their development and reward their performance.
Good Citizenship: We are good citizens in the communities in which we live and work.
A Will to Win: We exhibit a strong will to win in the marketplace and in every aspect of our business.
Personal Accountability: We are personally accountable for delivering on our commitments.

American Express doesn’t just hit the bare minimum when it comes to polite, helpful customer service — they go above-and-beyond to solve for their customers, even when there’s no protocol in place.

For instance, Raymond Joabar, the Executive Vice President at American Express, recently told this story in a Forbes interview: “One time, a hotel café manager [an Amex merchant] alerted my team that he had accidentally sold a display cake with harmful chemicals and needed to find the customers before they ate it. Obviously, there’s no procedure for that, but our team took ownership of the problem. They gathered all the information they could from the record of charge, identified 21 Card Members who used their cards at the café during that time frame, reviewed the accounts to find the right match, and then called the Card Member in time before they served the cake at an anniversary party.”

“The important point here,” Joabar noted, “other than that everybody ended up safe and sound — is that there isn’t a script for every situation, so we empower our care professionals to do what’s right for the customer. And we recognize what they do with this empowerment as well. We give awards to employees who go above and beyond to help customers and we share their stories across the company.”

This anecdote exemplifies American Express employees’ commitment to their customers even when it’s not easy, and demonstrates the company’s dedication to living by its values.

6. REI

REI’s core purpose is to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship…We believe that it’s in the wild, untamed and natural places that we find our best selves, so our purpose is to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors, for all.

Recreational equipment co-op REI has remained true to its values since its founding in 1938. The co-op model allows them to invest a significant portion of profits back into their employees and community through employee profit sharing and donations to nonprofits dedicated to the outdoors.

Since 2015, all REI stores close on Black Friday — perhaps the biggest shopping day of the year — so employees can enjoy time outdoors with friends and family.

The company states “We give all our employees a day off to #OptOutside with family and friends on the busiest retail day of the year. We continue this tradition because we believe in putting purpose before profits.”

Staying true to their core beliefs has made REI not only a great place to work, but has also made them a favorite brand of both new and experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

How to Implement Core Values

Now that you’ve seen what core values look like at other companies, you may be wondering how to create and implement your own. While defining your core values may be a hefty task, there are a few simple steps that will help you develop and iterate your own.

1. Check in with your team.

A quick way to get started is to consult your founders or executive team. They’ll often already have a vision for the company, its values and how they would ideally like everyone to work together. Once you have that framework, you can work on fleshing out your organization’s core values.

2. Solicit feedback.

HubSpot’s core employee values were initially outlined in the acronym HEART:

Humble

Effective

Adaptable

Remarkable

Transparent

While getting feedback for HubSpot’s culture code update, co-founder Dharmesh Shah realized that something was a bit off. He found that the acronym was missing one integral part of how HubSpot does business: empathy.

In response Shah proposed replacing “Effective” with “Empathy” and encouraged employees to submit feedback via an internal wiki page.

3. Implement feedback.

Once you’ve solicited feedback from your team and stakeholders, it’s time to implement what you’ve learned. In HubSpot’s case, our culture code was updated and the HEART acronym changed to Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent.

4. Make your core values unique to your brand.

It’s easy to hop on trends or use certain generic buzzwords, but it’s important that your company values are specific to your brand. For example, if you choose integrity as one of your values, define what that looks like for your company. How will you demonstrate it to customers? How does it inform your business practices?

5. Continue to evolve when necessary.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your values as your company grows. What you originally created in the early days of your brand may no longer work for your current business. Enlist the help of your employees to reevaluate your values and guide any changes you decide to make.

Strong Company Values are Good for Business

Ultimately, good core values can help an audience identify with, and stay loyal to, your brand, rather than flipping between you and competitors. To ensure long-term success and long-termemployee retention, it’s critical you create — and live by — certain non-negotiable company values.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Use TikTok: A Step-by-Step Guide

Did you know TikTok is the most engaging social media app with an average user session of almost 11 minutes? Now add to the mix a staggering 1.2 billion monthly users.

To state the obvious, TikTok is dominating the social media landscape, becoming a gold mine of short, snackable content. While that sounds exciting – how can you get started?

Here’s a a handful of steps — with photos — to walk you through setting up your profile, filming your first video, adding special effects, and using challenges or duets to engage with other users.

Setting Up Your Account

1. Download the app and sign up.

Go to the App Store or Google Play and download TikTok. When you open it, TikTok makes it pretty easy to sign up. You can do an instant sign up with Facebook, Gmail, or Twitter, or add a standard username and password if you don’t want any of those accounts connected.

2. Set up your profile.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll instantly be brought to the feed of videos. I’ll show you how it works in step three. But first, tap the icon in the lower right that looks like a person’s outline to see and edit your profile.

Once you enter your profile, tap the Edit Profile button, then select a profile photo or video. You should also add your username and bio information. If you want to show off your other social media profiles, you can link up your Youtube and Instagram pages. If you’re a business, this could be a helpful way to advertise your other visual platforms.

Finding Videos and Engaging with Users

3. View your video feed.

Now that you’ve set up your profile, tap back to the Home tab to see your video feed.

Think of this feed like Twitter’s, but where video is the primary content. If you don’t have any followers yet, the app will send you random trending videos. As you begin following and interacting with more people, your feed will become more personalized to your interests.

4. Like, comment, or share videos you enjoy.

When you find a video you like, you can tap the heart to like it or the speech bubble to comment on it. To share the video, press the forward sign underneath the comment symbol to see your sharing options. These symbols are all located on the right side of the video.

If you really like a video and want to see if the user has more posts you’ll enjoy, swipe left to toggle to their profile.

5. Search for videos.

Tap on the second tab, or magnifying glass, to enter the app’s search area. On this tab, you can either search out accounts or videos, or you can look below the search bar to see videos by trending topic.

6. Organize your saved videos with Collections

Once you start “liking” videos, you can rewatch them under your Saved tab. But be warned: the Saved tab can get messy, quickly. Luckily you can organize your favorite videos under categories — or as they’re referred to on TikTok, Collections.

Image Source

To access Collections, click on the bookmark icon below the comment icon. Then, press “+ Create new collection” to add a collection. Categorize your saved posts by topic (i.e., fitness, recipes, dog videos), aesthetic, or any other classification you want. Additionally, you can create a collection of your favorite sounds, effects, and hashtags.

7. Follow users.

If you want to keep up with a great video creator, you can follow them by pressing the icon that includes their profile picture and a plus sign.

If you already know of a TikTok account or person that you want to follow, you can search for them in the search bar and then press the “Users” filter.

8. Share your TikTok using TikCode.

Now that you have a TikTok, it’s time to share it far and wide. One of the easiest ways to do so is with a TikCode. A TikCode is a QR code unique to your profile that others can scan to quickly access your profile. It’s an ideal option if you run into a friend in-person who wants to add you.

To find your own TikCode, go to your profile and access your settings options. Then, click QR code. This will open your unique code.

How to Post on TikTok

9. Set up your shot and pick out special effects.

Tap the center tab to enter camera mode. To face the camera in the right direction, tap the Flip icon in the top right. On the right side of the screen, you’ll also see icons for the following:

Speed: Allows you to record your video in slow motion or sped up.
Beauty: A filter that can hide blemishes and smooth out your skin.
Filters: Lets you change the color filter of the camera.
Timer: Allows you to set an auto-record countdown if you want to film hands-free.
Flash

Sounds and Effects

On the top center of the camera screen, you’ll also see music notes with “Add a Sound” next to them. Tap this to choose the musical overlay or sound effect that you want to work with.

On the bottom of the camera, you’ll also see an Effects icon to the right and an upload button to the left — in case you want to record your videos outside of the app.

When you tap the Effects button, you’ll see a giant lineup of AR filters and other special effects that can augment your face or your surroundings. You can also pick out a video overlay-styled filter here.

In the black bar under the camera, you can set the time limit for your video or tap Photo Template to create a photo slideshow instead of a video.

10. Record the video.

Once you’re ready, press and hold the red record button. You can either record your video all at once or in pieces.

If you want to fit different shots in each video or record it in pieces, simply hold the record button for each segment, then let go, then press and hold it again when you’re ready for your next shot.

Don’t want to hold your record button the whole time? Before you enter record mode, you can also use the timer to give yourself enough time to prop up your phone and pose in front of it before it starts automatically recording.

11. Make final edits and add a caption to the video.

When you’re done recording the video, you’ll still be able to add a musical overlay, filters, and other basic special effects. You can also add stickers and text overlays on top of the video.

When you’re done, press Next. You’ll be directed to a page similar to Instagram’s post page where you can add a caption, relevant hashtags, and account handles of others. You can also set the privacy of the video, turn comments on or off, and allow duets or reactions.

If you aren’t ready to post yet, just press the Drafts button at the bottom left to save it for later.

12. Duet with other users.

See a musical post that you love? Want to join in with the person who made it? TikTok allows you to reply with a Duet video. To use this former Musical.ly feature, find a video you want to duet with, press the Share button to see sharing options, then press the “Duet” option on the bottom row in the center.

Your camera screen will appear next to the video. From there, you can press record and sing along, dance, or do whatever you want to the music.

To show you what a finished product looks like, here’s one great example:

If you make a post and don’t want anyone to duet with you, you can tap the “Duet/React Off” button on your Post page before publishing.

13. Participate in a challenge.

Like other social media platforms, you’ll occasionally see videos with hashtags for “challenges.” A challenge is when a video post, company, or person encourages users to film themselves doing something oddly specific — like flipping the lid of a Chipotle to-go bowl with no hands. Participants then film themselves doing the action and hashtag the challenge name in their post captions.

There usually aren’t any winners in a TikTok challenge, but hashtagging it might help you get more followers or views as people find you when searching the hashtag.

To give you a quick idea of what participating in challenge entails, here’s a video of someone doing the above-mentioned #ChipotleLidFlip challenge:

A Few TikTok Takeaways

As you’re brainstorming or filming your first videos, here are a few tips to help you create unique and engaging posts:

Have fun with the special effects. There are a ton of ways to zest up your video, and audiences on TikTok expect it. So play around and experiment with them.
Embrace the music. Most videos on the platform have some type of song or sound effect in the background.
Film a few videos with multiple shots. This will make it feel more interesting and active.
Don’t be afraid to show a lighter side or a sense of humor. People come to this platform to be entertained.
Use trendy hashtags and try out a challenge video. Then, include relevant hashtags in your post caption so your video shows up when people search it.
Look at what other brands are doing. While your company might not need to jump on TikTok just yet, videos posted by other brands could inspire some ideas for your own strategy.
Yes, TikTok may seem like a new, experimental platform right now, but it might be a great tool for engaging and spreading awareness to your younger audiences
later.