Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, 6th most popular to be exact. The Facebook-owned app reached the 1 billion mark for number of users in July last year.
There are several schools of thought on why Instagram is growing so rapidly. One is the fact that it’s purely an image application and humans are highly-responsive to visuals.
Secondly, it’s very mobile-friendly. People prefer doing things from their smartphones rather than their computers.
All this means that you can leverage Instagram’s prominence to grow your business. But first, you need to gain a massive following, which is not the easiest thing to do.
In this post, I’ll share proven ways on how to grow your Instagram account.
1. Join an Instagram Engagement Group
There are two categories of Instagram newbies. Those whose following increases fast within the first couple of weeks, and those who take several months- or even years- to achieve the same.
What is it that the first group of beginners does differently? They join Instagram engagement groups!
That said, you also have to be smart when it comes to the groups you’re joining. While it may be tempting to join the largest engagement groups, the better thing to do is to join a niche-specific group.
If you’re looking to grow your Instagram account, you’ve probably identified a niche that you’re interested in.
By focusing on just that one niche, you’re highly likely to get a targeted list of followers. By that I mean having followers who are actually interested in your products/services.
Followers who will remain loyal to your brand for years to come.
Once you join a group, you’re able to increase your reach to your target audience. Of course, you also have to return the favor by engaging on fan pages for new individuals who join the group.
Important to note is that this tactic might not increase your business sales instantly. However, it will help you build your reputation early on.
2. Repost Other Users’ Content
You probably spend a huge chunk of time creating original content that you can share with your Instagram followers.
But have you ever thought of reposting what others have already shared? A carefully-crafted repost can help to increase awareness of your brand just as much as sharing your own content can.
As in the case of joining engagement groups, you’ll need to choose the content you plan to repost wisely. Don’t pick the first post you come across just because you find it fascinating.
Instead, assess whether that content is relevant to your brand. More importantly, check whether it aligns to your brand’s style and Instagram strategy.
Do you have governing rules for the content you share on your own account?
Have you set certain visual standards like a color scheme?
Do you usually use a specific tone for your Instagram texts?
If the video or picture fits your brand’s principles, the next thing is to reach out to the original poster.
Send them a direct message seeking their permission to repost their content on your page. In doing so, you’re not just being courteous. Instagram has a policy that requires you to do so.
When the poster gives you the green light, you can proceed to share the content. Be sure not to edit the content in any way.
If an Instagram user decided to trace the original source of the content, it should look identical.
Additionally, it’s important to credit the original poster. You should do this by adding a caption not just by tagging them. This way, your followers know that this is not your original content.
There are two main ways of growing your Instagram account. One is to increase the interaction with your current audience, and the second is to increase the number of new followers.
Posting new content on a consistent basis can help you achieve the first goal. But if you want to grow, you’ll realize that hashtagging your photos is incredibly important.
So what kind of hashtags should you use?
As with Twitter and other social media platforms, some hashtags are more common than others.
Here’s a list of trending hashtags on Instagram:
4. Get Creative with Your Content
An unbeatable strategy of increasing your Instagram following is posting high-quality, relevant content.
This is based on a simple premise- if your content is great, then your followers will like, comment and if you’re lucky, share it with the rest of the world.
That said,you should look for nifty ways to amp up your content performance. For instance, instead of simply posting pictures and videos, you can generate stories around them.
If you’ve never done this before, check out how Airbnb weaves stories into their posts.
Their ultimate goal is to encourage people to travel and discover new places worldwide by staying with the locals. To pique the interest of their audience, they usually post snippets of the lives of the hosts.
In their captions, they highlight the host’s interests. They also describe the kind of experience the hosts will offer to travelers.
Essentially, they use real-life narratives to engage with their users. Airbnb goes an extra mile to show followers that they care about their experiences.
Another trick you can use is to showcase the behind-the-scenes. This proves that you’re a transparent brand.
It also makes your audience feel like they’re a lot more than the title “follower’. When they feel like they’re a part of your brand, they will stay loyal. In the long-run, this is likely to translate to leads.
5. Work with Instagram Influencers
For new entrepreneurs, the field of instagram influencer marketing may seem like a hard one to traverse.
How do you identify the right influencers to market your brand?
How should you reach out to them in a way that creates a memorable impression?
Will this lead to an instant increase in sales?
The best way to approach this is to take one step at a time, and that first step is to identify influencers in your specific niche.
By now, you’ve probably caught on the importance of specificity when choosing platforms to promote your product. The same concept applies here.
Let’s assume you have an online store where you sell formal shoes.
In this case, you can look for Influencers who have specialized in professional outfits rather than those who are in the broad niche of men’s or women’s fashion.
Alternatively, you can look for keywords that are relevant to your niche.
Identify the most common hashtags and keywords that would pique the interest of your audience and find content that has received a lot of likes and comments.
This is a nice way of finding influencers who have the largest reach.
Partnering with influencers on Instagram is one of the best ways to promote your most recent products and acquire new followers.
If you’ve tried dozens of tactics but don’t seem to be increasing your following, this strategy will come in handy.
The reason why this works so well is because the influencers already have an established audience, which translates to a high level of credibility.
As such, they’re in a better position to promote your product or service.
Even if you’re starting from the ground up, an Instagram influencer can assist you build your following within a short amount of time.
They can also help to generate traffic to your Instagram account, and potential clients by featuring your services on their profiles.
6. Use Instagram Live Videos
Back in 2017, Livestream partnered with New York Magazine to conduct a study that compared the efficiency of live videos versus blogs.
They discovered that out of the more than 1000 respondents, 80% preferred to watch a live video from a brand compared to reading a blog. Similarly, at least 82% preferred the live video platform to social posts.
What this means is that one of the best ways you can reach a greater audience and grow your Instagram account is by posting videos. Best part is: Instagram has a feature that enables you to post videos in real time!
Besides, it’s incredibly easy to do this. Once you start streaming, all your Instagram followers will be notified so that they can tune in and watch. If they wish to, they can also leave comments.
But there’s a hurdle: any live videos on your profile can only be viewed within a 24-hour window, after which they’ll vanish into thin air.
This raises the stakes as it means that you should make the most of these videos. For instance, instead of recording a one-hour long video, record a 15-30 minute that is interesting and concise.
Using live videos is my favorite way of growing an Instagram account. It presents an opportunity of a lifetime i.e. the chance to show your audience what your brand is all about in a very personal way.
Considering that we live in an era that’s dominated by technology, more and more people are searching for authentic interactions.
7. Post Regularly
Based on a 2017 study carried out by Tailwind, one of the ways to increase your Instagram following is to post as often as you can. In the analysis, Tailwind analyzed more than 100,000 posts over a period of three months.
The study revealed that individuals or brands that post more often, experience a considerable increase in their engagement rate. Similarly, the number of their followers sky-rocketed.
If not for anything else, posting frequently helps you maintain your current followers.
If you’re lucky enough to draw customers early on, the worst mistake you can do is lose their interest or cause them to forget you. To prevent this, ensure you follow a regular posting schedule.
This will require you to have one thing: a camera. You never know when an opportunity to take that perfect shot will arise.
Fortunately, in the digital era we live in, most individuals always have a camera on them- at least the one on their smartphones.
According to Diego Martinez, a social media expert, cellphones are just as good for capturing pictures that are Instagram-worthy.
8. Optimize your Instagram Account
As you continue looking for other strategies to grow your Instagram, you should work with what you have. By that I mean, make your Instagram account the best marketing tool it can be.
For one, your brand’s bio should serve as your account’s “homepage”. While this seems like a no-brainer, the majority of companies don’t actually complete their bios.
Don’t miss this opportunity to drive followers to your site by failing to maximize on your account’s features.
You also need to think about the image captions, username and profile image. Do they help to identify your brand? If they don’t, then users won’t know that the account belongs to your brand.
And when coming up with a username, keep it search-friendly. If your brand’s name is too long, shorten it to a reasonable number of words so that your audience recognizes it easily.
Also, avoid incorporating numbers or special characters to your username.
9. Hold a Contest
Planning an Instagram contest is a fun and easy way of increasing traffic to your Instagram account. However, you need to be careful so that you don’t attract the wrong kinds of followers or completely fail the event.
In fact, your ultimate goal should not only be about increasing your following. It should be about building your brand awareness.
This way, Instagram users will remain interested in your products and services long after the contest is complete.
Before you start planning the contest, it’s a good idea to go over the rules for Instagram contests. You don’t want to invest all your energy, time and money into arranging a contest that ends up being taken down because you violated one of the rules.
Other Tips to Help You Plan a Successful Contest Are:
- Using a branded hashtag – a specific hashtag makes it easy to monitor entries and conversations about your contest.
- Have an eye-catching photo – Instagram is founded on imagery, even when it comes to giveaways. The picture you choose should not only be attractive but also engaging. In other words, it should relay relevant information regarding the contest. Try to keep the text short and concise.
- Get creative with your prize – the greatest mistake that most companies make is to offer prizes that are not related to their brands in any way. Yes, this will attract followers. But such generic prizes only draw freebie seekers, not followers who are interested in your course or brand. Ideal options for prizes include gift cards to shop in your store or free products.
10. Interact with your Followers
Your photos and videos should be eye-catching, but your caption should prompt Instagram users to interact with you either by liking or commenting.
The caption is the perfect opportunity to share a story or promote your brand in a subtle manner. One of the ways to ensure your captions encourage engagement is to use open-ended questions and emojis.
You can ask simple things such as what plans they have for the weekend or how their day is going.
It doesn’t have to be a serious discussion. The important thing is that you give your followers a chance to share their experiences.
This will in turn, make them feel appreciated and possibly, translate to leads in future.
A common mistake that companies do is to use an automated response system. Although it helps to save time, it’s not advisable to use such when you’re responding to feedback and reviews.
Make each of your followers feel valued by answering them individually and in the most detailed way possible.
Even if some of the followers are criticizing your content, be polite and respond in a courteous tone. You can even offer them free products or services if the shortcomings are your fault.
11. Monitor your Instagram Stats
There’s no point in increasing your following if you’re not able to retain your current followers.
Keep a close eye on the rate at which your followers are increasing as well as how engaged your current followers are.
There are dozens of tools that can help you track both stats.
My favorite is Social Blade, which helps me evaluate the growth of my Instagram following.
It maps out a graph displaying the number of followers I’ve gained and those that I’ve lost over a period of time and on specific days.
If you have an Instagram Business account, monitoring is much easier thanks to the Instagram Analytics dashboard.
This program shows you the exact number of people who are viewing your profile, the number of users your posts have reached as well as your most engaging posts.
Creating an Instagram account to promote your brand is just half the battle. The other half is investing your time and effort to grow this account.
This way, you can increase the number of followers, which translates to more leads.
Some of the ways to boost your following include optimizing your account, joining an engagement group, posting frequently and using live videos.