With over 500 million users scrolling through Instagram daily, it has become a vital tool to businesses across all fields. As a visual marketing channel for your brand, you can directly target and engage with potential customers to build an audience of loyal followers.
As with any marketing channel, there are good, bad, and smart ways to get the most from your Instagram profile.
This blog aims to help you grow your Instagram profile and engage your followers with 17 tried and tested methods.
Add Reels to your content mix
Reels are relatively new to brands on Instagram. They are fun videos that you can share with your followers or publicly in Explore to reach new audiences. Here’s how to do them right;
To increase the chance of your Reel going viral, make your content diverse and identify trends from Instagram and other platforms like TikTok so you can make them your own.
Keep your content simple and relatable. Sometimes lower quality videos have a better reaction than highly produced reels.
People like to be entertained, but they also want to learn something new. Keep the balance right between entertainment and education in your Reels.
Use the Instagram Insights tool to see your audience’s likes and dislikes, see patterns in engagement that affect your visibility and see which call to action works the best. All information can be used to create content that will get you more engagement and followers.
Cross promoting is reproducing content across social media channels. It saves time, and it can increase brand awareness.
TikTok and Instagram naturally cross-pollinate, so if you gain followers on TikTok posting video content, they could naturally follow you to Instagram.
Cross-posting works well with Instagram Reels, translating to excellent YouTube Shorts and Pinterest Stories.
Plan your profile grid
Your Instagram bio and last nine posts are the first impressions a potential follower gets of your brand. If your posts follow a theme or simple pattern, it can entice someone to hit that follow button.
If your feed has a consistent theme through colours, filters and post style coupled with a consistent posting schedule, the impact can be felt just as much as any other growth strategy.
You can really get creative with the aesthetic of your feed, and many accounts that adopt this method can spend less time on creating content as they can produce text graphics, for example, that will turn visitors into followers but are much less time-consuming.
There are many tools to help you plan and schedule your posts to get the look for your feed that you desire.
Team up with brand ambassadors
Not everyone has the budget to pay celebrity influencers to market their brand. Step in brand ambassadors! Ambassadors can have a few hundred followers or a few thousand, but most importantly, they are genuinely passionate about your brand and will tell all their friends about it.
The best thing about using brand ambassadors is that their posts are authentic and relatable. The second best thing is that they work for freebies rather than cash payments. A popular arrangement is that the ambassador will advertise a unique discount code, and for every five times (for example) that it gets used, they earn a free product from your brand.
Use your loyalty program to gain followers
Loyalty programs have become more popular amongst retailers to encourage repeat custom. Brands are now offering rewards for following them on Instagram. A customer might earn points by following accounts that can be redeemed as money off vouchers to be used in-store, for example.
Use your personal Instagram account to market your brand
No one will be more passionate or knowledgeable about your brand than you, so make yourself the influencer! Align your business and personal accounts with a similar theme or filter, and you can increase your followers, brand recognition and sales. Use your personal account to show ‘behind the scenes’ whilst giving tidbits about your lifestyle. This method also works well with TikTok.
Try to get on to feature accounts
There are feature accounts that cover every category; food, photography, travel, to name a few. These pages are like a round-up of the best in the industry. If you can get on one of these pages, it can definitely send traffic to your profile and increase your followers.
Put your posts up at the optimum time
The timing of your posts is an often-overlooked factor that should be considered. Instagram analytics can help you understand what times have worked well for you previously. It’s also easy to research the best time to post, depending on your industry. This also varies with the day you are posting, so be sure to take that into consideration too.
It’s also a good idea to use a post scheduling tool, like Sprout Social, to automatically publish your posts at your chosen time.
Keep an eye on your competitors
If you engage with followers on your competitor’s Instagram accounts, you know that they will undoubtedly have an interest in your product/service too. You need to engage with them by;
Liking their photo
Commenting on their photo
The more you try to engage with them, the more likely they will go to your page to investigate.
Pay for product reviews and sponsored posts
Whilst there are many free ways to increase your followers, the reality is that spending some money if you have the means to do so, will help you get the results that you want.
Have a look for the accounts with the largest followings in your category. If you sell clothing, you’ll need to look for large accounts from fashion bloggers. Ideally, you want them to have a minimum of 20,000 followers and be contactable via an email in their bio. An email in their bio suggests they are open to being contacted.
Make contact to establish how much they charge per post. You may also want to send them a sample to review and post. The more natural and authentic the post, the more engagement it will get.
Be aware the influencer may have a lot of followers but lack engagement. An influencer with fewer followers but a high engagement rate would be a better investment.
Add your geotag
Make your posts and Stories discoverable by tagging your location – the city or venue the photo or video was taken so users can search for them in the same way they do hashtags.
Locations have their own feed, story and hashtags that your post or story will be added to when you tag them.
Local businesses benefit the most from location tagging. A user may be looking for an independent shop by a town name, and the local pub may come up in the location feed – a perfect spot for lunch after visiting the shop!
Hashtag like a pro
Any business’s goal for their Instagram is to engage their existing followers whilst growing their following. The hashtags you use on your posts are crucial to growing your following. Instagram users can search hashtags to find something specific they are looking for.
One way of using hashtags is by searching the most popular hashtags for the day and using those. This will get you some likes and maybe some follows, but it won’t net you quality followers that lead to long term engagement and increased sales.
You need to use the most relevant hashtags for your posts, so do the research and find ones that not only are relevant but are also being searched for.
There are several online tools for this, including best-hashtags.com and all-hashtag.com. Instagram will also suggest related hashtags when you start writing keywords, or you can directly search for them.
You must remember that the most popular hashtags, even on the same subject, are constantly changing, so do check your hashtags each time you post. You can also revisit older posts and add additional hashtags into the comment section if you feel like you’ve missed any out.
You can also use hashtags in your Instagram stories. Either hashtag directly in your captions or create a hashtag sticker.
Use your Highlights to organise your Stories
You have 7 seconds to make an impact on a potential follower and convince them to follow you once they land on your page.
Organising your Instagram Stories into Highlights gives the user quick access to learning about your brand and seeing what’s new. Instagram Stories also only have a 24-hour life span so giving that content a home ensures additional engagement.
Highlights can be for timely promotions e.g. ‘Mothers Day’ or more evergreen content that consistently delivers sales like ‘best sellers’.
Ask your audience to follow you
There is no shame in asking your audience to follow you! You will always find YouTubers asking for follows at the end of their videos, and it works!
A good way to do this is a simple ‘follow us for more content/videos/advice etc.’ as sometimes people need a small push to get them to follow you. You can also tempt people with upcoming promotions or giveaways, a teaser of something coming that they are sure to want to see.
Launch a competition
This is a fun way to get new followers. If you launch a competition where users must follow you and tag a friend to enter, its engagement will be huge, which will please the Instagram algorithm, and it will bring a lot of potential new followers to your page.
Post user-generated content
Any videos, photos, reviews, audio etc, that other users post about your business is called User-Generated Content (UGC), and it is a vital component in your growth strategy. As UGC posts will usually feature real people, telling real stories and giving genuine insights makes your brand feel accessible and helps to start building a level of trust between you and potential customers.
You can encourage UGC by asking customers to share images of themselves enjoying your product, service or experience by;
Launching a contest
Sharing a branded hashtag for customers to use
Putting a call to action in your Instagram bio
Including an ‘ask’ for UGC on stationary included with your packaging
Use Instagram Live to stream videos and encourage your followers to get involved by asking for comments. You can acknowledge the comments to interact in real-time with anyone watching. All your followers will be notified when you start a live stream, and it will stay in your stories for 24 hours.
Try these ideas for using Instagram live for gaining more followers;
Hosting a Q&A
Doing a ‘behind the scenes live stream
Dropping hints about new products, giveaways etc
Streaming from a current event
Doing product tutorials or showing a product being made
Your Growth Strategy
We have given you a lot of ideas to work with to build an engaged and targeted following. You must remember that quality over quantity is essential as numbers don’t always lead to revenue.
Keep your content authentic and social, and the engaged followers will come! If you’d like to discuss your businesses Instagram advertising strategy further then get in touch for a free strategy session today – Sophie@3twelve.co.uk