Instagram is unlike all other social networks. I’ve been recently getting more and more active and LOVE the interaction and connections to be made here. However, it is not as easy to get engagement and to grow your account as it used to be. First, Instagram was purchased by Facebook. Then, the Instagram algorithm was put into place. Lastly, Instagram announced not just that it has 800 million users, 500 million of which log on daily and 200 million who advertise. This means that there is more competition and that you need to be smarter than ever in how you use Instagram.
How to Grow Your Instagram Following
As a brand or local business, you may be a little concerned on how to get started with your Instagram account and how to grow your audience. But if you take it step by step, you will be just fine.
Understand Your Audience
If you are going to grow your Instagram, you need to know your audience. Instagram’s demographic has changed tons, especially with its rapid growth. Let’s look at who uses Instagram today:
- 80% of Instagram users are outside the US
- 31% of American women and 24% of men use Instagram
- 32% of all people who use the Internet use Instagram
- 59% of people between the ages of 18 & 29 who use the web use Instagram
- 33% of people 30-49 years old who use the web use Instagram
- 38% of women who use the internet use Instagram
- 26% of men who use the internet use Instagram
- 17% of teenagers say Instagram is the most important social network
Start by making a user profile. Then begin to think about what other accounts like yours they will like. Check out the followers of those accounts and engage them. This is your audience. One Socialdraft user, Cognac Maniacs, represents the Cognac region. Since this beverage is very popular within the male urban market., Instagram was the perfect platform for them. They were able to grow their account organically on the platform by 5,000 followers in just 3 months by engaging followers of similar accounts.
2. Make Things Personal
Instagram is all about passion…and pictures, of course. Make sure your content expresses that passion, be creative. This is the last place you want to be boring, repetitive, or overly salesy. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind and don’t bore your audience with constant product shots. Instead, highlight your team at work, take pics of your neighborhood, or of silly things that happen. A repost campaign is perfect for this. With a repost campaign, you are publishing other people’s content. They are the ones creating the message, not you. It’s all about rewarding your audience for being loyal. If you use Socialdraft, scheduling these reposts is super easy.
3. Take a Photography Class
Yes, I said that. Instagram is all about visuals, and high-quality photos and videos can make or break your marketing efforts. Luckily, you have the internet at your fingers and there are tons of great tutorials out there. Start off with learning about the rule of thirds.
4. Get Appy
There are tons of apps out there to help you create amazing photos, check out Afterlight, VSCOcam, PicFrame, and PhotoStudio. These are a few of our staff’s favorites photo editing apps to get you started.
5. Post Daily
We polled Socialdraft users, and the overwhelming opinion was that not posting daily can result in lower engagement. This is dangerous, as your fans can lose interest, or your competition could swoop in and steal them from you. Make sure to post on a daily basis, twice a day if possible. Don’t overpost either. Once a day is good for most brands but look at analytics. Your brand is not average, so make use of the info given to you by Instagram’s analytics dashboard to figure out what is best for you.
6. Engage (Lots)
With all the extra competition out there, you can’t rely on hashtags and the algorithm to get people to come to you. The best way to get followers is to get out there and engage them. Find other accounts that are similar to yours (same industry or brand type). Find the people who engage them by checking out their latest images. Click through to their profile and engage them. Comment on their images, but make the comments good. “Great picture” is not going to get you anywhere. Engage them, like their image and comment. You will begin to see them reciprocate.
7. Get Organized
You create a calendar and strategy for Facebook and Twitter, you should do the same for Instagram. Yes, I know you can’t “publish” posts, but with Socialdraft you can schedule your posts. They will go to your phone and you can schedule from there. It is the best way to make sure you publish daily.
8. Repost Community Content
This is especially powerful if you are a brand (as in the cognac example above) or even a local business. Search for content created about you on Instagram (super easy to do on Socialdraft). Then, share this content not just to Instagram, but the rest of your social networks. We recommend that you ask permission before you do. When you do this you are both complimenting the content creator, and starting a conversation. This is a fabulous way to build brand advocates.
A game is no fun if you don’t keep score. This also applies to Instagram. The one issue with Instagram is that it only gives you 7 days worth of analytics, so make sure to keep track of them on Google docs.
10. Shorten URLS
Since you can’t add links to pictures on Instagram, you can use a URL shortener (like Bit.ly) to create easy to remember URLs that will help point people to where you want them to go. This will also allow you to measure if people are actually going outside of Instagram to your website. If you can get them to do this, then you’re an Instagram success.
Got questions about Instagram? Need help with Social Media? Ask for an invite to our Facebook group. We’re there to help!