If you want your brand to be seen by more potential customers and drive sales, you need to capitalize on the power of social media marketing. Every day, over 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile. It’s no wonder, then, why so many business owners are turning to Instagram to promote their brand and reach new audiences.
However, with so much competition in the field, it can be difficult to make your brand stand out and accrue a notable following. Although it takes some work and dedication, there’s a proven strategy that I’ve used to grow my clients’ Instagram follower count several times over in a week or less. In this guide, I’ll show you how.
Far too often Instagram isn’t given the respect it deserves. Especially among more traditional business owners, Instagram is seen as a toy used primarily by Millennials and Gen Z’ers to flaunt their lifestyles. However, Instagram is a serious tool for bringing people together.
In fact, 11% of Instagram users have used the platform for shopping. With over one billion people using Instagram every month, that means over 100 million people have used Instagram for making purchases. Clearly, then, Instagram is also a powerful platform for connecting consumers to the products they want.
Below, I’ve outlined the ten elements that I think every small business Instagram account must master to improve their follower count.
Forget about hashtags and flashy ads. If you want to grow your Instagram follower count, your first priority is to pump out excellent content that adds value to your followers’ lives. The content you post on Instagram should vary according to the three content types that Instagram currently supports:
Make sure that you provide your audience with a mix of the three content types listed above, and ensure that every post adds something of value so non-followers have a reason to subscribe to your feed.
Although some content creators swear by emphasizing frequency over quality, this is terrible advice. You do not need to post twice a day, or even once daily to grow your account. Instead, focus on providing regular content of value. If you can only afford to post once or twice a week, but produce excellent original content, this strategy will trump a daily output of mediocrity any day.
The graph below depicts the rapid growth that Instagram has experienced in recent years. As the platform continues to expand and experiences a glut of content, it’s important that you emphasize the quality of your content to help distinguish your brand.
Believe it or not, the objective of your Instagram account is irrelevant. Whether you want to drive brand awareness, increase sales, or merely stir up hype for a new product launch—it doesn’t matter. Instead, focus on who your audience is and tailor your content to appeal to their interests and needs.
This step requires a bit of market research. Start by searching on Google and web forums about the interests of your target demographic, then ask your friends, colleagues, or even people on the street about what matters to them. Find out what drives peoples’ curiosity, and capitalize on it by basing your content on questions or issues relevant to those hot button topics.
There are a number of steps you can take to optimize your posts for Instagram’s algorithm. The problem, however, is that Instagram’s algorithm is constantly changing and nobody fully understands how to game it to promote your posts over others.
A simple rule of thumb to understanding the basics of the Instagram algorithm is to regularly post photos that appeal to your target demographics, and not just promote a product or service. For example, if your target demographic is middle-aged men and you sell lawnmowers, you will have more success with Instagram’s algorithm if you post a variety of photos around middle-aged men’s interests, rather than merely photos of lawnmowers.
When it comes to hashtagging your posts, there’s a simple rule that you can follow to maximize your post’s reach. This is called the “10/10/10” rule, and it involves using 30 hashtags (the maximum allowed by Instagram) broken into three categories that vary by size.
You can find hashtags relevant to your niche by using the Explore page. Search for high-performing posts within your niche that generate significantly more engagement than others, and use those hashtags in your own posts.
On Instagram, your captions are your voice. Don’t merely list hashtags and emojis in your captions. Instead, provide a thoughtful and engagement-provoking message that includes a call to action at the end. For instance, ending your caption with “Let me know what you think in the comments below” will encourage followers to share their thoughts and drive engagement which, in turn, will promote your post on the Explore page.
Don’t buy followers or engagement. Not only is it usually obvious when a company has purchased their followers (which looks unprofessional), but Instagram is cracking down on purchased followers and sometimes bans accounts that use them.
Instead, stick to a consistent posting regimen that includes valuable, original, and entertaining content and you can grow your follower base organically. Plus, organic followers are much more likely to engage with your content in the form of ‘Likes’, comments, and reposts than bots and other inorganic followers.
It’s a lot of work running a successful Instagram account. Fortunately, there are social media management services and content creation services available to take much of the heavy lifting out running an Instagram account. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help improve your brand’s awareness and engagement on Instagram.
Tech Entrepreneur, Author, and CEO of Little Dragon Media. Passionate about entrepreneurship, philanthropy, digital marketing, blockchain, health & nonprofits.