As a business, your Instagram following is an amazing marketing tool: a group of prospects and customers that you have the potential to connect with, interact with, and show your stuff. Whether you're in the early days of your Instagram account and are struggling to grow your following or you've had an Instagram account for a long time, but need to see significant expansion, there are several things you can do to help grow your following and improve your reach. Some strategies require you to have a reasonable budget to help expand your reach; others, however, you can do with just a little time and effort.
Before we dive in - please, please, please, PLEASE don't buy followers. There are plenty of options out there to purchase followers at very low costs, but they are not legitimate followers and it goes against Instagram's terms of service so it could get your account banned. Those followers are never going to actually be customers anyway so why would you want them?
Step One: Create a Theme
What is it that your business most often posts on Instagram? Do you have a theme to your posts, or do you tend to post whatever comes into your head at random? While it's fine to occasionally step away from your theme - with a new product launch, for example - it's helpful to have a defining theme that helps show other users what you're posting. That way, they know what to expect when they visit your page. Your theme could be as simple as targeting your industry or as complex as the persona you've created for your Instagram account.
Step Two: Post on a Schedule
If you genuinely want to grow your Instagram following, you need to post regularly. You don't want to create posts so often that you flood your fans' feeds, which will quickly lead to them unfollowing you. You do, however, want to post often enough that you remain highly visible. Design your posts ahead of time, then create a posting schedule that has you posting at least four times per week, but once per day is really the sweet spot. As you're designing your schedule, take into consideration what the best time of day for your posts is. When are your followers most likely to be online? Consider running a few test posts to determine when you're most likely to get interaction on your Instagram posts. Every business has different target personas so the times that work for one business may be drastically different than the best times for another company. You need to test to find your best options!
Step Three: Choose Your Hashtags Wisely
Hashtags are a great way to get the words out about your posts and include your posts in searches. When you choose your hashtags, however, you want to be sure that you're using hashtags that are likely to attract followers and that genuinely pertain to the content that you're posting. Try some of these important hashtag strategies to get your posts noticed:
- Skip the extremely popular hashtags. If there are thousands of accounts using and posting them, unless yours is already huge, you aren't going to be noticed in the crowd. #fall, #love, and other simple nouns aren't going to get the results you want, as these broad tags can be used in nearly any category.
- Look for hashtags that are trending and consider how you can fit into the theme without being overwhelmed.
- Make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your photos. Over time, irrelevant hashtags can decrease the number of people who actually see your posts.
- Take a look at the hashtags your competitors and others in your industry are using. You may be surprised by which ones are relevant!
Step Four: Interact
The purpose of social media isn't just to throw content out there for your followers to see. Rather, social media is an opportunity to connect and interact with your followers, learn more about them, and provide them with the content that they genuinely want to see. Take advantage of the opportunity to interact! Don't just post content. Answer your followers when they ask questions or comment on your content. As you're trying to build your following, take the time to like or comment on posts in your industry or that are related to the hashtags you're trying to target. As your name becomes more visible, you'll be able to increase your followers and the number of people who are aware of the content you post. It's all about being social and staying in front of your customers.
Step Five: Go Beyond Static Posts
Instagram is an excellent opportunity to show off your pictures, but that isn't all it can be! You can also delve into videos, live videos, and stories, all of which will provide unique opportunities to interact with your followers. Video content has become increasingly popular for many advertisers, who are discovering its many uses and advantages. What type of video would interest your followers? Could you take them behind the scenes at your office to learn something new about your business? Provide them with information about an upcoming release? Show off a new product? As you create your videos, remember that the goal is to be interesting and engaging. You want viewers to follow those videos all the way to the end.
Step Six: Write Great Descriptions
A Picture might be worth a thousand words, but your descriptions will go a long way to providing searchable content that users will be more likely to find as they browse through Instagram. Make the most of all your descriptions! Use your descriptions to tell an amazing story, to provide better descriptions, or simply to connect more deeply with your users. You'll be surprised by how your content can impact the visibility of your posts.
Step Seven: Connect it All Together
You have a great following on your other social media platforms, or maybe a wide audience that connects with your blog on a regular basis. Take advantage of that for your Instagram account! Remember, each person that you add to your followers - even if they already follow you on another channel - is a fresh opportunity for you to connect with the people who follow and interact with your accounts. Promote your Instagram posts on your other social media accounts. When you attend an event, provide information about your Instagram, Facebook, and other social media accounts so that you can gain followers. Your reach will expand faster when you connect all of your accounts.
Building your Instagram following is an ongoing process - and it's one that can be challenging. Not sure where you stand or what you could do better (besides the tips above)? Let our team review your Instagram account (as well as your other social media accounts) and give you free advice and feedback on how you can get more out of your accounts with a FREE Social Media Evaluation!