Photo Credit: CamilleovertheRainbow
In 2019, Instagram growth can easily feel like a game of cat-and-mouse.
I’m sure many of you are aware of the frustrating algorithmic changes that Instagram have been making. It forces you to buy ads if you want followers and engagement.
You probably feel defeated – like Instagram is a lost cause. That there’s no way you can leverage it for your business anymore.
I’m about to give you 7 tips that are so BOMB you’ll be hard-pressed to find them elsewhere…
And the amazing thing? If you implement then ASAP, you’ll see massive results.
How Instagram Works
Instagram has over one billion users and so if you want to leverage your business, it’s vital that you’re using Instagram effectively.
However, unlike other social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram isn’t just about driving traffic to your blog, it’s the place to convert sales and expose millions of targeted individuals to your brand.
Instagram is a visual platform that is perfect for selling your brand story and then the actual 💰💰 will come left, right, and centre.
1. The Basics
To grow on Instagram, you first need to make sure that your profile picture, bio, and website link are optimised.
This means that when a potential customer is on your page, they know exactly what your brand is about.
Are you passionate about creating sustainable jewellery?
Do you create non-toxic products for babies?
Are you a clean and vegan skincare company?
When your ideal customer is on your Instagram page, they should know immediately what you do.
Here are the steps you need to take next:
- Use an appealing logo. Preferably one that is consistent across all your social media channels. The best logos are either a) one that shows your face, so that people can connect with you easily or b) your brand logo.
- Your Bio: fill in all the details Instagram allows you to put in. Make it personable, add some emojis, and Instagram gives you one space for a link – use it wisely! Also, include a CTA (call-to-action) in your bio.
2. Brand Identity and Visuals
The people that are most successful on Instagram stick rigidly to their brand visuals.
Make sure your Instagram feed is cohesive. To do so, you need to have figured out what your brand identity is.
This includes: the mood of your brand, colour, theme, topics, fonts, etc.
But, it also means knowing your target audience. Who are you creating content for? What kind of content are they looking for?
By answering these questions you can easily create a feed that aligns with your brand visuals and easily tell your brand story to them.
If you create content for new mums with 0-3 year old babies, being followed by people that aren’t mothers isn’t going to make your business grow. So, your feed should highlight and reflect your brand.
What you need to do:
- Plan your Instagram visual strategy: Using a free platform like Planoly, which lets you schedule posts for 30 days for free, play around with some images and captions, and see what feed style works best for your brand.
- Keep your feed consistent: You can always post a messy, random feed, on your personal Instagram. However, for your business Instagram do not post anything outside of your niche as this will only confuse your audience. If you’re a restaurant in Texas selling chicken wings, why is there a random picture of your dog on your feed?
- Ensure that your blog has the best visuals by taking high-quality imagery, or getting free stock photos from websites like Unsplash. It’s the best if you don’t have time to curate your own content!
3. Why Followers Don’t Matter, but Community Does
Yes, you read that correctly.
The truth is, the number of Instagram followers you have is not the essential optic of your business.
I’ve seen brands/businesses with 100k+ followers struggling to leverage their followers and sell to them.
I’ve seen others with 1k followers whose community adore them, and are willing to listen, communicate, and buy from them.
Instead of focusing on Instagram followers, which is a vanity metric, focus on building a community.
Don’t use nefarious means to get your followers like follow/follow back/unfollow, buying followers, or marketing fads to get quick followers that are useless in the long term.
Using these unsavoury techniques will only discredit your brand.
Actually, engagement is more important than any other quantifiable metric. When you have authentic engagement, these people will buy and invest in you.
Manually using Instagram, as opposed to automation, is a great way to grow your Instagram account.
Get hands on and proactive. To grow your audience you must communicate authentically with them. On a micro level, engage with as many DM’s, comments, likes etc as possible.
Ask them questions, reply back to comments, and only follow back those who are your target audience.
Before you mock it, or tell me you don’t have time for it, the CEO of @FreshlyPicked grew her account to over 800k by spending hours liking people’s photos.
With an algorithm that doesn’t want to show your posts, this forces your name out there for people to see and interact with.
This, combined with a feed that appeals to your target audience will mean more followers and engagement.
An easy way to find your target audience is to identify five competitor accounts.
When that brand posts a photo, go through the likes on that image and engage with those Instagram accounts. Since they are active, they are more likely to check out your content and follow/engage.
Also, once you’ve posted a photo in a specific hashtag, go through that hashtag and like other people’s photos.
The Instagram algorithm favours comments over likes, so to make it to the top of people’s feeds, spark conversation! Ask questions on the caption of your image.
Rumour has it that Instagram only counts comments as engagement if they are longer than three words. Therefore, don’t just leave a meaningless emoji comment, but reply back to comments in an open-ended, meaningful way to create a thread of conversation.
What you need to do:
- Micro-influence: Engage will people one-to-one: comment on their posts, reply back to DM’s, comments and likes. Create authentic conversations by providing value. If someone DM’s you with a question, do not jump down their throat with a product or service you offer. Genuinely help them.
4. Instagram Hashtags
Instagram hashtags are more important than a lot of people realise.
I’m sure you’ve heard conflicting views about using them.
They can be mistaken as being spammy, messy and/or unprofessional. I’m here to tell you that they are not.
If you’re not using hashtags as part of your Instagram marketing strategy, you are not operating in the places where your target audience are hanging out.
What I’m saying is, you’re missing out BIG TIME.
But, if you are using hashtags and not seeing the results you want, then you’re not implementing them properly. This is likely down to the lack of targeted hashtags you are using.
I cannot stress enough how important targeted hashtags are for growing your Instagram for your business.
This whole hashtag game goes a lot deeper than #throwbackthursday or #humpday.
For example: #minimalfashion is a high-quality target hashtag because it’s specifically for fashion posts and as you can see below, the hashtag quality is high because all the photos (minus the avocado on toast…but yes please?) are fashion related.
You should be using hashtags that describe your image and where your target audience are.
Getting your photo to the top of a hashtag is based on how quickly your photo gains traction after posting. The system I use is simple, yet highly effective.
What you need to do:
- Find hashtags with photos ranging between the 1,000-300,000 posts. This means that the hashtag is not over saturated and gives you a better chance at making it to the top of the feed because it won’t get drowned out in seconds. You can play around with this number, but anything less that 1,000 usually doesn’t have enough engaged users and anything more than 300,000 tends to be over-saturated.
- Look at the quality of the content on a particular hashtag. Whatever your niche is – ask yourself: Are these the people I am trying to target? Will my images resonate with them? Finding hashtags relating to a collective is usually the best way forward. Some examples include: #collectivelycreate #graphicgang #visualcoop #phculture
- Create your own hashtag to build community.
If you are serious about using hashtags to catapult your Instagram business ahead of everyone else, there is only one Instagram course I would wholeheartedly recommend and that is Hashtag Hero for $99 or Infamous to Influential for $329. Alex Tooby is the Instagrammer who built her Instagram @menandcoffee (it’s the one you’ve seen with the hot, usually shirtless men, with coffee mugs) and now teaches Instagram courses that actually provide value. You really get more bang for your buck than any other Instagram course I’ve joined.
5. Start to Collaborate
Working with other businesses in your niche, or with influencers, is a great way to get your business noticed.
Have a “take over their account” day/week. Share each other’s posts on your feeds. Or, join forces with other businesses and host a giveaway.
Be industrious and figure out how you can collaborate with others with a similar following to you, and have their audience become your audience.
Alternatively, find ways for your community to engage with you by creating a collaborative approach.
6. Timing is everything.
With the smart feed now being used by Instagram, it may not seem as important, but you still need to know when your audience is most engaged. Using a spreadsheet to see what days and times give you optimum likes and follow is the best way to track growth.
Although there is plenty of information provided by Instagram on the best timings: Wednesday 5.pm e.s.t is typically the best time to post, this is constantly changing.
The audience you have will always determine the best times to post. If you post quotes on your Instagram, mornings might be the best time to post as people are looking for inspiration at the start of their day.
However, if you’re a fashion blogger, you have to think about when someone might be looking for style inspiration, like on a Friday night.
Look, I get it. Consistency as a concept sounds easy enough. Most bloggers recommend posting between one to three times a day, depending on what you see fit for your brand.
However, consistency is often a lot harder than it looks, especially if your blog/business is not your full-time job. Life gets in the way, and suddenly it’s been a week since you last updated your Instagram profile.
However, not only will posting sporadically make your audience lose interest, but the algorithm rewards consistency. Posting every day in conjunction with targeted hashtags is the fastest, most effective way to grow you Instagram.
Although Instagram does not allow any third-party apps or websites to post for you, Later and Planoly are extremely helpful time saving, apps to plan your posts in advance so that you have your content scheduled and ready to go.
With the number of Instagram users growing daily, it is important to remember that although Instagram is an app over-saturated with accounts.
If you are innovative and care deeply for your audience and spend a certain amount of time on Instagram daily, growing your Instagram audience will become easier.
Remember, it’s not about how many followers you have, but how engaged they are with your content.
It is better to have fewer followers who trust you, than thousands who are not interested in your brand.
Let me know in the comments section which of these strategies you’re most excited to implement.