Instagram is a very popular social media platform. While it is growing it may not be for every business. Usually individual, niche, or trendy brands see the most success, but everyone can use these tips to grow their Instagram followers.
- Post Visually Stimulating/Attractive Images – Instagram users are efficient speed scrollers. Scrolling through their feed rapidly, only stopping to like a picture when it catches their eye and stands out from all of the others. For me, it is usually a picture of a family member, a golf course or a life update from a friend. Businesses can get this attention by posting images that are visually interesting and actually cause users to slow down. A good example is this post from Nike from earlier in April. The image is beautiful. It shows vibrant colors, active motion and is just a little bit busy. It makes the mind slow down to figure out what it is seeing, but is also then easy to identify.People post bad images to Instagram all the time. And for personal use, that’s no big deal. But, if you want to grow your following as a business, you have to stand out and capture the attention of your current followers and people looking for new pages to follow.
- Connect with an Event – Whether it is an industry-wide convention, a music festival, or a local chili cook-off, intertwine your images and messaging with the events your potential followers are going to be at. Post images that people at the event will recognize like the main stage at a music event, especially if you are a sponsor on that stage. Then, make sure your caption sends a clear message and use the event hashtag. Just like twitter, sometimes people will click on a hashtag to see what else is going on around them at an event. You want to make sure your post is there to be seen.
- Use Popular (and Appropriate Hashtags) – This one goes hand in hand with the last point. Hashtags on Instagram are sort of a hybrid between Vine and Twitter. They carry some of the organizational purposes that hashtags do on Twitter (like making sure your post is in the conversation about the music festival we talked about before), but they also have a sort of “joke” feel to them. Long and obscure hashtags defining what is going on in the image or in the users mind are common a la the Jimmy Fallon skit. Most of the time, it is a good idea to use around 3-5 hashtags per post on Instagram. Make sure that the ones you choose are relevant to your goal and are used by people who you want to see your message. #Golf is more likely to reach someone like me (a person into golf), but it won’t reach people visiting the beach who might stop by and buy your fish tacos. Be logical and think through the hashtags you choose. Bonus side note: research the hashtags before you use them. The last thing you want is to use a hashtag that will mar the reputation of your business simply because you didn’t know what the hashtag was representing. Many a good company have jumped into a trendy hashtag on social media only to realize they missed the boat on the definition and now have some PR and image rebuilding work to do.
- Find an Instagram Celebrity and Explore Options for Promotion – Yes this is a real thing. People on Instagram that have thousands (sometimes millions) of followers are huge influencers. If you sell a body building protein supplement then it may be worth finding an individual with a high influence and a large number of people to represent your product. This can be expensive and there isn’t a ton of research on it yet, but it works. Sending a sample of your product to an influencer simply asking for a product review can be a powerful way to grow your following. Post Regularly – it sounds simple, but it is one of the best things you can do. Regularly doesn’t have to mean 4 times per day. In fact unless you find that posting more frequently results in higher engagement on each post, I’d recommend 1-2 times daily. If you can only find time to post weekly, then make sure you do that. Your message needs to be consistent and on a somewhat regular schedule so it can be received.
Instagram can be a tough network to navigate. It takes persistence, consistency, and a great plan. But, if you follow the steps above and commit to executing your plan you can grow your following!