You’ve probably heard it all before and clicked on articles that led you on a wild goose chase and really didn’t help you at all. I know I have!
So I launched my Instagram last year – before my website had even launched and learnt step by step by doing, picking up plenty of tips along the way and learning what actually works for gaining followers.
No magic tricks. No gimmicks. Just tried and tested strategies you can start implementing today.
But first of all, let’s get to know Instagram a little more personally. We’re going to look deep into what sets Instagram apart and what it’s all about!
Since being purchased by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has had a massive 2300% growth increasing from 30 million to 700 million users.
Talk about a good investment!
Instagram is a social media app designed to help you share your life (or in this case your business) through photos. I remember when it first launched, my sister was the person to put me onto it and I hesitated. But she sold me on it, on the basis that “it’s just photos – not all the noise and negativity you can sometimes get on Facebook”
So I joined and quickly learnt that Instagram is a visual journey through people’s lives.
Instagram is a booming social media platform for brands currently housing 1 million advertisers and that number is growing. I hear a lot the argument that Facebook is still the number 1 platform for advertising and I don’t necessarily agree, what I can agree on is that it still stands as most used social media platform.
However, if there’s one single fact to know about Instagram it’s that engagement rates on Instagram are 10 times higher than Facebook!
Why drown in the big ocean when you can easily swim to success in a smaller sea. There is huge growth potential for brands right NOW on Instagram. Now is the time to capitalise on the growth of Instagram advertising.
Let’s begin with the simplest (and often most overlooked) strategy of them all.
1. Profile optimisation
Your profile on Instagram should be very clear and defined with an identifiable theme. Make sure you choose a colour scheme and design that is recognisable in the timeline and stands out from other brands.
Start with a clear profile image that is either your logo or if you are the brand – a head shot.
Your name field is prime real estate so don’t use it for your brand name but instead include a description of what you do. Why? It’s very simple really.
When an Instagram user searches for a business in the search bar they will enter the service they are after. For example, if someone is after social media marketing they might enter social media manager.
It’s clear. It’s defined and it immediately represents your skill set. You want to make it as simple a possible for people to find you.
Below your name, include a short catchy description on your business and include your brand unique hashtag, I’ll touch on this later in the guide.
2. Theming and content consistency
Try to establish an individual colour scheme early on that defines your brand. Take for example the account @ihavethisthingwithpink. They have built their brand solely around the colour pink and trended a hashtag now housing over 163K posts.
Your account doesn’t have to be all one colour – it can be a combination, a palette of colours that work in synergy.
It’s completely ok to ‘colour out of the lines’ every now and then but on the whole, you want your account design unified.
This is one of the most defining elements of Instagram and the best accounts on the platform all have a clear theme.
Content should also be consistent – this makes it easier for users who click onto your profile to decide whether they are going to follow you.
Say I’m inspired by travel pictures and come across a lifestyle blogger who travels for a living and constantly updates their account with images from across the world – they win my follow!
If you skip out on this – you won’t grow. Full stop. It’s easier to see the bigger picture and remain within your theme if you plan in advance.
Aim to plan monthly.
If you’re serious about your long-term growth, impressions, organic reach and success on Instagram you don’t want to be using a fully automated scheduler.
So what your friend told you that they do it and it hasn’t affected their engagement – Instagram tells you not to and that’s the final word!
There are alternatives to automated schedulers such as PLANN and Later which are apps that send you a reminder when to post.
When I first began scheduling all I used was Google docs. One document with the name of the image (which was in a separate folder) caption and hashtags.
I would then access my drive on mobile (images pre-downloaded) and just copy and paste the caption straight from the document onto my Instagram.
It’s not as pretty as some apps available now but it’s simple, cheap and effective.
Although these days I do use a planner app – either one of these methods work, just don’t use an automated scheduler.
Create consistent engagement via weekly scheduled interactive posts. Ever seen posts such as ‘Tuesday Thoughts’ or even ‘Throwback Thursday’? If you can think up your own creative version that you run weekly – followers will catch on and even begin looking forward to it.
Help them become loyal to you.
4. Build your tribe
In the same way that Lorna Jane built her Active Living nation and turned her active wear line into an international institution for women to gather and inspire each other to live their fittest lives – you too need to build your tribe.
This will be the defining factor between being just another account on Instagram or becoming a brand powered by a loyal following, part of a unified community.
Are you the type of gym goer that needs a training partner to stick to your routine.
Branding works the same way – people want to belong to a community and not go at it alone. Also, having a loyal tribe sells the idea that you are successful and worth following.
When it comes to building your tribe – you want to create a ‘bey hive’ just like Beyonce!
5. How to trend a hashtag
Simple – build a campaign!
Trending a hashtag really isn’t that difficult if you do it right and commit to the promotion of it.
I once trended a hashtag in 5 days simply by asking people to use said hashtag during a month long Yoga challenge that involved users uploading photos of them executing Asanas. And it quickly caught on.
Building a campaign around a brand-specific hashtag is a surefire way of increasing the number of posts to the hashtag thereby trending it.
How do you know if a hashtag has trended?
When you search for your hashtag you will notice 9 “top” posts at the top of the page followed by the remainder of posts. When your hashtag trends, Instagram will sort through the content, ranking the top posts followed by a chronological order of all other images.
Building a campaign is a diverse area of exploration and very individual to your industry, service or product. Firstly identify your target demographic and their browsing habits.
What are they interested in and what are their hobbies? You may already have analytics and market research to work with, and if you do great!
But if you’re new to Instagram and not quite sure – refer to your analytics on other social platforms. Furthermore – start investigating.
Did you know that by typing into the Facebook search bar “posts liked by” or “pages liked by” followed by a user’s name it will come up with the most recent posts and pages liked by that user?
It takes all of an hour to have a little look through a number of your followers to see what takes their interest and what is engaging them.
Then do something similar – but do it differently and better.
Gather information around brands they follow, what type of post they are liking (photos, memes, recipes or posts asking their audience a question), are they commenting etc
What you want to do is build an interactive campaign so interesting to your audience that they stay actively engaged during the promotional period.
Avoid one-off entry requests such as comment, tag and share competitions. Not only is this against Instagram’s competitions rules, it really isn’t the most optimised strategy for a business and offers little ongoing return.
Think month long engagement.
People love to talk about themselves and everyone loves their 15 minutes of fame.
Watch how in under 100 words I will design the smartest campaign for you.
Let’s say you sell sportswear products, so we’ll use a related hashtag such as #sportyhealthynfit
We’ll run the campaign during the month of July with an appealing prize (this is crucial or people will not participate). You ask users to upload a video of themselves executing their best plank in the “Who can plank the longest challenge”, to be entered into the competition they need to use the above hashtag.
As the month progresses and people get competitive they will upload second and third videos as their planks get better and your hashtag will be trending as quick as you can say kale chips.
This can be tailored to any industry for any company adjusting the challenge to which users participate in keeping in mind that whatever the challenge may be – make it one that can evolve and be repeated monthly.
6. Instagram stories
Join in on the Instagram stories bandwagon to gives your audience a behind the scenes look at your business.
You can be silly, you can be informative, but whichever way you go – start using this newly introduced feature by Instagram today!
A few ways to use stories:
● Introduce team members to your audience in a creative way such as 5 things you didn’t know about….
● Further promote your campaign or giveaway. You can use Instagram stories to send reminders to your audience to enter or to tease them with a snippet of the prize
● Delve deeper into your recent post. So you just posted a social media tip with say 100 characters. Get to recording on stories and further delve into the subject matter to provide your audience with more value.
● Are you in the food industry? Did you just post a recipe? Get on stories and start snapping away photos of the ingredients, the cooking process and the final product.
7. Join a follow pod
This can be done through either Facebook or Instagram.
There are many resourceful Facebook groups for business now that you should really jump on board with. Whether they have 10,000 members or 300 – I have joined an array of groups and find that the number of members isn’t the most important factor but the level of engagement is.
In these groups, you will find theme days such as Instagram Thursdays or Pinterest Mondays where there will be a thread dedicated to sharing your page and reciprocating by following a selected number of other pages.
When I first joined Instagram I was a part of a follow pod with a very effective process, I have seen so many versions of pods since then but this specific one worked perfectly.
An Instagram user uploaded a random image – I can’t really remember what it was but let’s just say it was a sunset. In the captions, they simply include a short message on the steps to follow.
Basically, you had to like the image to join the pod – then click on who liked the image and follow all those accounts. Simple!
If you don’t come across a suitable pod create one yourself and promote it in any Facebook business networking group that you belong to.
8. Engage with Your Target Niche
The easiest way to gain more followers is to identify your target audience and engage with them.
And where do you find them hanging out? Start by looking at your competitors’ account. If you follow the followers that follow your competitors (wow that was a mouthful) they will be more than likely be interested in your services and follow you as well.
We don’t want to annoy Instagram and throw your engagement off whack by mass following 5000 people in one day. This will get you shadowbanned, but, you can indeed follow a couple of hundred a day and watch your account grow.
Wait a week before unfollowing the accounts who didn’t reciprocate the follow.
That concludes the 8 best tried and tested strategies to excel at Instagram and gain 1000 followers along the way. Think of the aforementioned strategies as pieces to the puzzle and if one piece is missing you won’t enjoy the bigger picture.
Every strategy is complementary to the other and they work best in synergy.
Users want to engage with active brands that are consistently supplying them with useful content, funny memes and beautiful images to awe at.
There is no ONE single magic trick that goes boom and there you have it – 1000’s of followers. It takes hard work, consistency and clever smaller tactics that grow your account slowly but surely.
You don’t have to buy followers (and please don’t) if you put in the hard work users will pick up on the value you have to offer and will soon become loyal followers.
We’d love to know how the above strategies worked for you. Are there any key strategies that you use for your Instagram account but we haven’t mentioned?
As always, you can also reach us on Twitter (@thewebsitegroup ← Click to Tweet Us).