Instagram, I bet you know what that is right?
It’s a mobile app that lets you edit and share your photos and videos.
It’s a neat looking, slickly-run app. And the best bit? Almost everyone is on it. We’re talking about celebrities with verified accounts, social media influencers, the guy next door… that’s right. They are all on Instagram!
“What makes it particularly powerful is that you can share content with anyone following you and you can, in turn, see what others post by following them.”
In addition to following friends and family, you can follow your favourite celebrities to see what they get up to in their personal lives as well as your favourite brands to see what they’re launching next.
The app is most popular among users under the age of 35, just so that you have an idea of the key demographics with Instagram.
To say that Instagram’s meteoric rise in popularity was spectacular, would be an understatement. Just take a look at these numbers.
In recent Statista results, as of 2018, Instagram had more than 1 billion active monthly users.
The photo-sharing social networking app giant’s daily active users topped 500 million.
Just take Selena Gomez for example. She has more than 132 million followers followed by footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo with around 119 million. These are crazy numbers which supports just how Instagram can heavily influence thousands of people around the globe.
Ok, Selena and Cristiano aren’t your typical Instagram users, but there are many out there who have followings of hundreds of thousand or even millions of people. This gives them the capability to reach masses of people with just a click of a button. From a marketing perspective, this is gold. To master selling on social media is to master effective marketing in the 21st century.
Instagram marketing strategy
Brands have seen the potential for reaching massive audiences and many of the largest companies are very active on the platform.
Nike, for example, has nearly 70 million followers! Imagine being able to reach that many fans of your brand. Imagine how endorsements would work here too, and how easy it would be to reach out to the right people to endorse your brand!
Companies really make the most of Instagram’s platform when considering objectives relating to… deep breath… brand awareness, company culture, attracting talent, increasing customer engagement, showcasing employees, distributing company news, showcasing products, driving sales, promoting events, increasing loyalty and improving community engagement. So just a few things.
If you’re old enough, cast your mind back to a time before social media. You’ll see ads about products and specials, but very little insight into the company itself.
The same goes for celebrities. Now, thanks to social media, they’ve become real and tangible. They’ve been humanised and relatable. Instagram plays a big part in this shift!
Social Influencing has become a thing now.
With so many normal people who have rapidly built an impressive following, they are now are able to make a living out of their popularity with sponsorships from brands and companies.
Because they have acquired large volumes of followers, this gives them the power to exert a certain amount of influence over those following them.
In the past, famous people have generally assumed the role of influencer. They would appear in ads and try to influence you to buy something or do something.
Today, anyone with a large following can influence. They may not be world-renowned, but within their online community, they are popular.
A mere mention by an influencer could send sales skyrocketing or plummeting. Influencer endorsements have been included in many marketing strategies.
Why do you want to grow your Instagram audience?
Knowing why you’re doing something is as important as doing it. If you’re driving a car, it’s good to know where you’re driving it to, right? The same holds true for your Instagram strategy.
“It takes effort and dedication to build a following and to keep them happy.”
Having a sizable following comes with some responsibility. Whether you just want to offer them awesome insights into your life and develop your personal brand, promote your business and products, or if you want to make money as an influencer, you’ll need to work hard at retaining and constantly growing your followers!
Five tips for growing your Instagram following
There aren’t really any shortcuts to getting organic growth on Instagram. If you think that buying followers is a good idea – be warned, it’s not!
This will only result in poor engagement and brands won’t want anything to do with you. It’s not good practice so avoid shortcuts!
Besides, just following these few steps will ensure you grow your following organically and quickly.
Step 1: Create a compelling profile
You should start with the quality of your profile. You want it to be attractive and informative so that your followers know who you are and why they should follow you.
Your business name should be your username. If you’re the business, then it needs to be your name. If the name’s already taken, make sure that it forms the first part of whichever username you do finally settle on. This will make it searchable and easy to find.
Make sure your profile picture represents your brand as this is the first thing people see when they visit your profile.
An established business may choose to display their logo.
Your bio is limited to 150 characters.
“Don’t be shy to add a bit of personality to your profile, people react positively to this kind of thing.”
You need to make it easy for your followers to access your website, so a good idea is to include a link in your bio. Use Bitly to shorten your URL to keep everything neat and succinct.
You also need to remember that the vast majority of Instagram users are accessing by mobile. Always consider the mobile layout of your profile as this is, realistically, the only format people are going to be viewing.
Your site should be set to public by default. Just confirm that this is the case otherwise none of your pictures will be visible to anyone visiting your profile, which would not be ideal in terms of step 2…
Step 2: Produce quality content
One cannot get away from the value of quality content. It’s the lifeblood of everything digital and quality is rewarded.
It’s worth brushing up on your very basic photography skills. We’re not suggesting taking expensive photography courses, but you should get an idea of what makes photos look good and the basic rules to ensure this.
Of course, photography and filming skills are integral to any social media campaign and transferable across platforms. Our blueprint on How to Film for YouTube on a Budget is ideal for getting you on the road towards high-quality video and picture content.
Most of your photos will be taken with your mobile, so learn the techniques that produce good looking images. Instagram’s filters are easy to use so apply them to your photos. These filters also allow you to have a consistent theme or feel throughout all of your images – if that’s what you choose to have.
Your images and videos must be accompanied by an engaging caption. Humanise your brand by adding a bit of personality here, it’s guaranteed to get clicks and shares.
“Remember that you communicate your brand through the content you produce, so put every effort into ensuring it’s on point every time.”
Your audience chose to follow you and that’s because something you do, resonates with them.
Continue with the winning theme you’ve already established. This will ensure high engagement and continued loyalty.
Step 3: Interact with your followers
Instagram is a social network, so use it as such! Be very engaged on this platform, as this is what Instagram was made for and it’s also what drives followers. You’ll want to find people whose posts appeal to you and follow them and engage with their content.
When they receive the notification that you’re following them, they may choose to follow you too. Here’s something to keep in mind.
“Ideally, you should have many more followers than the number of people you’re following.”
If the numbers followers versus following are about equal, then it looks like you’ve been doing a follow-for-a-follow which of course, sends a bad message.
Instagram limits the number of people you can follow to no more than 1000 a day, and a maximum of 7,500 in total.
Instagram Stories are a great way to interact with your followers. This is impromptu content produce when an opportunity arises, and the lifespan of this material is very short.
You might ask why I am mentioning it in this section rather than in the ‘Quality content’ section?
Well, high quality is not really the objective of Instagram stories, rather it is about conveying a compelling message. If you do produce something of high quality then, by all means, use it.
So, Instagram Stories has two formats. The first lets you share unscripted video content with your followers that’s accessible for just 24 hours then disappears.
The second lets you share live videos with your followers. When you stop recording, the video disappears.
These formats are ideal for giving your followers a glimpse into what happens behind-the-scenes.
It gives your brand some personality so keep it genuine. It’s unscripted so perfection is not expected and in fact, isn’t desirable. Anything interesting happening in the office or an event you’re participating in, or anything unscripted, would work really well for this format.
Step 4: Use hashtags effectively
When used effectively, Instagram hashtags can grow your Instagram account.
Hashtags are used to categorise your photos and videos, and increases your exposure.
It’s an effective way of exposing your brand to targeted audiences and gives you the opportunity to increase engagement, get more likes, and grow your following.
Make sure your hashtags are relevant to the content. Hashtag abuse comes with penalties which you want to avoid at all costs.
Users abuse the feature to get exposure from hashtags they know attract many visitors but are a misfit for the content they’ve posted.
There are two types of Instagram hashtags:
Branded hashtags – these are unique to your company and may be your company name, a tagline, a campaign or a product.
Community hashtags – these connect people with a common interest. It’s a good way to find your target audience. You can find these hashtags by checking which ones your favourite accounts, competitors, industry leaders and audience are already using.
Word of warning!
If your content is unrelated to the hashtag, your account could be shadowbanned. When Instagram shadowbans you, your account gets hidden from everyone except from those already following you. Neither your account nor any of your content will be displayed in search results, and hashtags you use in your posts, won’t appear in any hashtag search results.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using hashtags.
- We wouldn’t advise copy and pasting the same hashtags to all your posts. The Instagram algorithm may see this as spam and your account could be at risk. Mix up your hashtags for each post.
- Choose hashtags that describe your target audience, your product and your business.
- Avoid generic gimmicky hashtags like #nowornever as you won’t attract a quality, highly engaged follower.
- Avoid hashtags with over a million followers. With that many followers, it’s probably too generic to attract your target audience.
- Keep a spreadsheet in which you organise and keep track of your hashtags.
- Utilise community hashtags as they will contain more of your target audience.
- Schedule your posts when your audience is most active. This will increase engagement. If you receive sufficient engagement in the first 24 hours of posting, you could be added to Instagram’s top posts for a specific hashtag which will massively boost engagement.
- As a general rule, include 3 to 5 less targeted but still large hashtags that generate lots of engagement.
Step 5: Engage your fans
User generated content (UGC) is a post from your followers and fans in which your business is either tagged or the post contains your hashtag. Sharing user generated content is a great way to show your appreciation for the content produced in your honour.
Of course, you’ll need to go through a filtering process so that you only repost quality content that is in line with your brand identity and style. When doing so, mention the original poster in the caption. This shows that you care about your customers and it will be appreciated.
Contests are a great form of engaging existing followers and attracting new ones. It’s a strategy that’s been used in every form of marketing since forever and is an effective drawcard to grow your followers on Instagram.
Finally, respond to comments. That kind of one-on-one interaction is always appreciated. It shows that you’re reading the comments and that what people think, is important to you. It also gives those reading your comments a deeper insight into who you’re or what your brand stands for.
Follow these five steps and you’ll be growing your Instagram following in no time!
Instagram is a massive platform with near endless reach.
It can be used as a powerful marketing tool or just an effective way to engage with many people.
By keeping your content interesting and relevant, and unique to your target market, there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to see your following increase and with it, your sales.
But remember to be consistent throughout, as this is key to growing a natural, bot-free and bountiful follow count!
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