Chances are you’ve heard the hype about Instagram and may have even started an Instagram account for your business. And if you’re doing well, you’re regularly posting. But you may be struggling to find your audience. Just like any new account on any social media site, it can take a while to grow a large audience.
Here are some tips to help you grow your Instagram audience quickly.
Promote Your Instagram Account
One of the first things you need to consider is to promote your business is on Instagram. If no one knows you’re there, how are they going to follow you? Make sure that you’re promoting your Instagram account through a number of resources you already have:
Tell your customers you’re on Instagram.
Tell your other social media site fans that you’re on Instagram and give them the link to your profile.
Include your Instagram URL in your email signature.
Include your Instagram handle on your website.
Add Instagram widget to your sidebar or homepage.
Include your Instagram handle on flyers and business cards.
Link to your Instagram account in your e-newsletters.
Join groups and networks relating to your business and promote your Instagram handle.
Provide Exclusive Content
Exclusive content is so important to growing your Instagram followers. If your fans and customers are already following you on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, why should they follow you on Instagram too?
You have to give them a reason!
Make sure you use High Res Images that represent your brand, and are sized correctly to Instagram specs. 1080px by 1080px. Use eye-catching images that will make someone stop and look when they are scrolling through hundreds of images. Plan your content, so it flows on your feed. You can read a previous post How To Grow Your Instagram Followers, which covers a tip on using mobile apps to dress up your imagery.
I always recommend sharing exclusive photos of events, behind the scenes or products on Instagram only. You can tease these images by sharing one photo to your other social media accounts and telling those fans that they can view the rest of the photos on Instagram (make sure you give them the link!). This gives your fans a reason to come over to Instagram to see the rest of the photos.
Don’t automatically link your Facebook or Twitter accounts to share every Instagram post, this doesn’t help you or your branding. Create your content to suit each platform.
Share exclusive discounts, competitions or promotions strictly to Instagram followers. Once people know that you offer these promotions, on Instagram you can be sure your followers will increase.
With the new Instagram stories, offer specials or one off deals, let your other social media networks know that they need to watch your instagram stories to see them.
I recommend you don’t use your business account to post personal images of you, keep it professional. I recommend you use stories to post more personal shots or create a personal Instagram account.
Use Hashtags ##
Hashtags are an Instagrammer’s best friend. Yes they are!
You can significantly improve the reach of your posts by including relevant hashtags. I recommend using 3-7 hashtags per post for the best results. Hashtags should be related to the post content and/or your industry or niche.
Don’t over do it, it’s not necessary to do 30 hashtags. It’s just over the top and wasting your valuable time.
If you want to know which hashtags are the most popular, you can search Google (or any other search engine) for the most popular hashtags on Instagram. They vary slightly but usually stay fairly consistent. I warn you, however, not to use hashtags simply because they’re popular. For example, if your post is of a new piece of Women’s Clothing you have in your store, keep the tags relevant example, you could use #pretty or #fashion. Both of these are popular tags but are also relevant to the post.
Follow More People
Unless you’re a big brand, no one wants to follow you if you only follow 20 people. You’re here to be active and engaging, so follow more people and get active! While there’s no ideal specific ratio for followers to followings, you should be following as many people as possible that is relevant to your brand.
If you’re looking for great people to follow, try following people that your followers follow. When you go to your notifications page on Instagram, switch over to the “Following” tab. This will show you all the posts that those you follow are engaging with. Chances are you will have similar interests and like many of the posts and people that those you’re following like.
Click on the posts and go to these other users’ profiles. Scroll through and follow anyone of interest. Instagram is fairly reciprocal and if you like and engage with people, they will often like you back.
Don’t follow someone just to get them to follow you and then unfollow them, it’s rude and not good manners. Follow people you have a genuine interest in.
I do recommend every once in a while you review who your following and clean up your account if you have alot of people that aren’t following you or don’t engage with you or like your posts do a general clean-up.
You want to build a community that wants to engage with your brand. You can do this with a program like IconoSquare.
Actively Engage with Others
I am a big believer in this one, and it makes the most difference to your fan growth.
The best way to grow your followers is to actually connect with people and engage. This means being active on others’ profiles by liking and commenting on their posts. Responding to comments on your own posts also generates conversation and followers.
Find new people to follow that relates to your brand and start engaging with them. When they begin to recognise you and your profile, they will often follow you back and return the favour with likes and comments.
When people comment on your posts, make sure you @mention them in your response so that they receive a notification and see what you wrote. Answer questions, thank them for their thoughts, or ask them how they’re doing.
I like to reward those that have liked my posts by returning the favour and going to there page and liking at least 2-3 of their posts. I get a comment I like to go leave a comment back on one of their posts. I think of it as common courtesy, but also helps you build a relationship with your followers, which is what it is all about.
Keep the conversations going and more people will join in.
There is nothing worse than just posting images and leaving, and then wondering why you haven’t got any likes, comments or engagement. You need to go and comment and like other people’s posts that you follow and follow you.
If you just do this for one month, every day, I guarantee you will see results!
The Popular Page
“Formula” For Getting On The Popular Page
Instagram’s Popular page is an element of it’s “discovery” aspect — it’s reserved for photo’s that have had a significant amount of recognition from the community, usually picked by the number of ‘likes’ the photo has received by fellow users.
The formula for getting on the popular page has been a much discussed one, but Instagram has been quiet about what exactly you need to get there.
The general consensus, is an algorithm that has something to do with the number of ‘likes’ you get within a certain amount of time (it’s been estimated between 10 and 20 minutes), divided by the amount of followers you have. Therefore, some people may only need 50 ‘likes’ to be on the Popular page, and others may need thousands.
Being on the popular page is beneficial for one purpose: getting more organic followers from those browsing the popular page.
We all know that an account that posts every once in a while or neglected account that will just sit in limbo. Instagram is no different. Try to post at least a few times a week, ideally at least once a day.
The more often you post, the larger variety of hashtags you use, the more you’re engaging with other Instagramers, the faster your audience will grow.
You don’t want to be posting too much in a day, as people may unfollow you as they feel it’s SPAM. Post relevant content that your followers will want to engage with.
Nowhere in any of these tips have I recommended you buy followers. That’s because this is a big NO! NO! I hate it and am so against it.
Trust me when I tell you that buying Instagram followers will not help you in the long run. In fact, these fake or bad followers can damage your opportunity for growth and hurt your chances of reaching the popular page.
You need a community of people that are generally interested in your brand and posts and that engage with you.
As with any social media platform we all want more followers. But it’s important to focus on nurturing a great community around the followers you have. The more you focus and connect with on your existing followers, the more your audience will grow naturally.
Check your Analytics
It is so important you are looking at your analytic’s and reviewing them at least once a week. It’s now even easier with Instagram having their own analytics program, you have no excuses.
Monitor what images and posts are working for you and what is not working for you.
Post at the maximum time your followers are online, check this before you post. It takes 2 secs.
Experiment with the best times to post on Instagram, sometimes later at night you get better engagement as their is less people posting.
Test, Test, Test. You won’t know what works unless you try it, try different strategies to see what works for your brand.
To get better analytic’s try Iconosquare, you get much more in-depth details and can focus in on your target market.
Last piece of advice
If you want to build your community online their is no quick fix! Dedicating some time each day, to interact with your followers is so important. Try dedicating 10 mins every few hours to go like posts and make comments. You will see the engagement on your own posts increasing.
You don’t want to leave people hanging and not responding to them. Make sure you comment in a timely and efficient manner.
Don’t just post and run this is not going to help you grow your community, or build relationships with your followers.
Want more Tips? Check out our post on How to Grow Your Instagram