When it comes to brand visibility and user engagement, Instagram is the best social network out there. A variety of studies have shown that engagement on Instagram far exceeds that of Facebook and Twitter.
Even with all that engagement, it can be difficult to gain real followers on Instagram. A genuine following requires significant hard work and effort in the right direction. You may be tempted to focus more on quantity than quality, but then you might end up with more bots than real people in your follower list if you’re not careful.
Here are some time-tested tips that will help you organically grow your Instagram followers. Give each a try and share which works best for you.
Engage with your audience
If people have chosen to follow you, you need to reciprocate by giving them your attention. The easiest way to do so is to interact with your followers: respond to their comments on your posts; like and share their posts; go the extra mile and check out the profiles of your most active followers; leave them feedback on their posts. Genuine interaction will not only grow your followers, but it will also make the platform more enjoyable for you to engage with and help build a community of supporters around your profile.
Use the right hashtags
Hashtags are a very handy way of making your content discoverable for others. Be creative in using hashtags – an interesting and creative hashtag can become a trend of its own. At the same time, mix in some generic hashtags as well. For instance, #fun and #photooftheday are the kind of hashtags which see endless user engagement. You can mix such hashtags with your own brand-specific hashtags to make the most out of this feature. Using a variety of general hashtags will help other users discover and engage with your posts. Making good use of hashtags is one of the fastest ways to get exposure. Think strategically about who would enjoy and engage with your content and use hashtags to reach those types of people.
Engage with the trending conversations
At any given moment, something is trending on Instagram. It could be a conversation or hashtag that has become extremely popular. Often these trends can last for a short period but they can result and drive a lot of attention to your profile during that period if you engage properly. Try to find a common ground between your content and the trending topic. For instance, if #photooftheday is trending, you can post the most popular image associated with your brand. This lets you stay relevant to your content while reaching out to a larger audience. Be careful though. Often, tragedies and other humanitarian crisis situations end up trending. You don’t want to try to turn a real crisis into a marketing attempt because it will certainly come back to bite you. Be thoughtful and caring. Other people’s pain and misery is not a marketing opportunity for your business. More than a few big brands have made this mistake. Use good judgment as you work with trending conversations.
Choose manual over automatic
A virtually endless range of social media automation tools are available today. These tools can make the task of managing your Instagram easier, but they also make your content less appealing. Audiences can quickly discern content that is creative, fresh, and original. They can also identify the comments that are genuine and real as opposed to comments that are automated. If you want to organically grow your followers, choose manual and thoughtful content over automated tools. The human factor always has more appeal.
Find engaged Instagram users who are relevant to your niche. Selectively choose some of their great content and share it with your followers. This will bring more variety to the content you share and it will create a reason for this person to mention or share your content or profile, helping you connect with their audience.
The important thing here is to make sure you identify the profiles and persons that are genuinely relevant to your audience. In time, this might snowball into cross-promotions that can earn you a large number of followers who are already interested in your niche.
Make the most of image captions
Photos are the key form of content on Instagram. You can creatively use the opportunity to make your content stand apart. Most people and brands tend to give little attention to image captions. You can use this to your advantage by supplementing your images with fun and creative captions.
Try your hand at storytelling or stand-out descriptions. Keep it informative, fun, and interesting. Experiment with different forms of captions to see what clicks best with your audience. Then evolve it over time based on what works and what doesn’t. Be careful about being too cliche or copying others. Spend some time to create real, honest, and engaging captions.
One other note on image captions is to make sure that you have good images to go along with the captions. Instagram is a visual platform and if your images are terrible, you don’t stand much of a chance at being successful. Make sure you’re building your profile around beautiful images and video.
Complement with traditional marketing
An often overlooked way of promoting your Instagram presence is through traditional marketing. Yes, that means radio, print media, business cards, flyers, posters, and more. We are so used to digital marketing that we often overlook the significance of traditional forms of marketing. You may have an engaged audience at your business, and helping them be aware of your social profiles can go a long way toward building an engaged audience.
A lot of people still pay attention to traditional mediums. You can turn this to your advantage by making sure you promote your Instagram profile through these means. An important note in this regard: keep your profile name brief, simple, and easy to remember for optimal results.
Develop your Instagram voice
Your Instagram voice is really the style that helps you stand apart in the endless barrage of content on the platform. Your voice is everything from the color scheme you prefer in your content, the kind of images you post, and the tags and captions you use.
It may take some time to develop an organic voice. But once you achieve it, it gives you a solid foundation on which to grow an audience. As a general rule-of-thumb, keep your brand voice unique and specific, but also make it appealing enough for a large and diverse audience.
Optimize your profile bio
Your profile bio is what many new followers are going to check out when they first discover you. Most Instagram users simply write up their bio once and then never bother to update it. You can choose to differ by updating the bio on a regular basis. Include whatever is your latest or most trending post on the bio. Get creative with the text as well. Do anything and everything to make it relevant, informative, and exciting.
Why your Instagram followers are not growing?
Is your Instagram following not growing despite the best of your efforts? It is likely you’re still doing something wrong. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid in order to steadily grow your Instagram audience.
1. Your content is not interesting.
For many Instagram profiles, it is not uncommon to see follower growth plateau simply because their content is no longer fresh or interesting. If this is a trend you’re seeing, evaluate your content strategy. Are you posting content like everyone else or are you creating something fun and original? Test different content styles to try to find better engagement.
2. You are over-promoting.
When you over promote, your followers immediately recognize this. If you must promote your products, do so in an organic way. Try to promote indirectly through content that offers genuine value to your followers. Keep the promotions tasteful and fun. As with everything else, do not overdo. People aren’t on Instagram to be marketed to. But if you do it in a fun and creative way, people won’t mind. If you do it in an obvious and abrasive way, you’re likely to lose followers quickly.
3. You have a not-so-hidden agenda.
The downside of imprudent marketing: your followers end up thinking you have a hidden agenda, even if that may not be the case. To avoid this major pitfall, keep it open, transparent and honest. Interact, respond and establish a healthy reciprocal relationship with your audience. If you’re a business, your followers are going to know you want them to buy stuff. You don’t have to be over the top and you don’t have to be sneaky. Don’t be the creepy insurance salesman at a networking event. Be someone people would want to hang out with on a Saturday night and they will want to engage and buy your products.
4. Your content lacks focus.
A content niche or focus is important on Instagram. There is an endless variety of content on the platform and most people will follow a profile because it aligns with their interests and beliefs. If your profile doesn’t have a clear focus, it is going to be difficult to build an audience. The key to building a following is to align yourself with people interested in what you’re talking about and give them fresh new information and resources.
Garnering real Instagram followers is a long term deal. You need to lay down the right foundations and then wait for the work to pay off. If you do it right, follow the hacks and best practices listed above, avoid the common pitfalls and keep at it without losing patience, you are guaranteed success.