With 1 billion people using the social platform each month and over 200 million Instagrammers visiting at least one business profile daily, Instagram is a must for businesses. The question really is why wouldn’t you want to grow your brand on this platform?
Especially now, when social distancing is mandated and more people than ever staying home, the time we all spend online is growing. Instagram is becoming both a social home and a welcomed distraction.
Whether users are watching videos of the very trendy Dalgona coffee being whipped together, seeking out an escape from their couch, or just using the platform to kill time between meals, your business has a real opportunity to reach them on Instagram—and an opportunity to grow while doing so. However, this growth is not just going to happen. Here are 10 strategies for Instagram growth that you can start working on now.
1. Post frequently and consistently
Without consistent posting, your audience’s expectations and interests are going to subside. If you post every day for a while but then you don’t post again for a month, your followers are either going to be confused or have forgotten about your completely. In fact, they may no longer be following you when you finally decide to post again.
“Keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates,” according to Buffer. “Any Instagram strategy should clearly outline a target post frequency to help keep you on track.”
M. Flynn is a local Boston jewelry store that posts almost daily on Instagram!
So create a schedule and then make sure you can stick to it. Which bring me to my next tip.
2. Use a scheduling tool
Posting on a consistent schedule is critical for growth, but that’s easier said than done. This is why for massive growth on Instagram, planning ahead and using a scheduling tool is the best way to go. Not only is scheduling your Instagram posts ahead going to save you time, but it is also going to reduce stress and chance for error.
Luckily, Instagram makes this simple for all of you social media marketers out there. Instagram has a scheduling feature withinthe Facebook Ads Manager, and there are several other posting tools available, many of which come with other helpful growth features. Check out this list if you are interested in using a third party social scheduling tool to keep your followers engaged.
3. Try out Instagram Live
Did you know that 82% of people would rather watch a live video than see a social media post?
Lucky for you, Instagram Live makes this possible, and there are plenty of reasons why you should give it a try.
For one, Instagram Live videos give you the top spot on your followers’ story feeds. Instagram Live videos also automatically send push notifications to your followers to let them know you are live. Last, but certainly not least, Instagram’s algorithm appears to be favoring business accounts that use this feature by boosting their organic engagement and making their profiles easier to discover.
4. Partner with other brands
What better way to fast-track your Instagram growth than partner with a brand that already has a large following? This is like two-for-one marketing because not only are you going to expose your content to your current audience, but an entirely new audience as well through a mutually beneficial partnership.
To acquire successful, business growing partnerships, ensure the companies you seek to partner with align well with your business objectives. Their audience needs to be relevant to your own. It is also important to come up with a game plan when proposing partnerships. How will this relationship benefit your proposed partner? What will a joint Instagram marketing campaign look like?
Take the example below from Outdoor Voices, a women’s active wear brand, and a dance class company, Melody Dance Fit. This match is perfect as the product and service here are a natural fit: activewear and exercise classes. The companies also worked together to build a campaign called “Virtual Recess,” where the participants wear Outdoor Voice clothing while providing an Instagram Live dance class. Genius!
5. Run contests
An Instagram contest is another way to drive even more exposure to your page to grow your account. Why? For one, people love free stuff! If you are giving ANYTHING away people are likely to enter. Contests and giveaways work so well on Instagram because there are several ways you can require folks to enter that can help up your follower and engagement numbers grow. For instance, you can ask people to:
- Repost photos
- Comment and tag friends
- Like your posts
- Share your posts or stories
The other nice thing is that these contests or giveaways do not always need to be overly planned or complicated to run.
Here’s a great example of a contest I saw recently run by a wellness blogger I follow.
As you can see the concept for her contest was really simple, and the entry required liking a few of her posts and tagging a friend. In return, she entered folks into a raffle to win two books from her book club.
This is great because the entry to the contest not only increases her post engagement, but it also helps expose her brand to more potential followers as users are tagging new people who may not follow her yet.
6. Become an Instagram Story regular
Just like Instagram Live, Instagram Stories should be your friend! Why? Well for one, 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day with one-third of the most viewed stories coming from businesses. Stories have continued growing in popularity, and showing your brand off in them gives your audience another way to engage with your business. You can also run Instagram Story ads to promote your business to an even larger audience.
The other thing that is great about stories is that they are easy to do. Creating an Instagram Story simply requires a quick photo or video to be shared with low risk, as it only lives there for 24 hours. You can also save older stories to display on your page under relevant groupings if you would like to prolong their life like the example below.
7. Make your Instagram page cohesive
This tip is key for Instagram growth: You need to ensure your page feels wonderfully consistent and relevant to your brand. People like consistency.
The first way to do this is by ensuring your photo backgrounds and lighting remain consistent during the shooting/filming process. For instance,if you are in fashion marketing, do not photograph your clothing items against a different background for every post. Perhaps you’re going for a natural vibe. In this case, you may want to photograph your models in the same forest or field, or on the same streets, to share new styles. Lighter backgrounds typically work well, and if you are using natural light you want to ensure you’re taking your photos either outside or close to a window, but not in direct sunlight as the glare will likely be too harsh.
Take the example below from J.Crew. This feed clearly gives off a nautical vibe with the stripes, blues and whites, and frequent beach and waterfront backgrounds.
Step two to giving a consistent feel to your feed is using the same Instagram filter or editing techniques for each post. This will ensure your images appear cohesive. Figure out what filters work best on the look you’re going for, and even play around with your own editing capabilities. I typically love doing my own edits by brightening up the photo, adding some saturation to bring out the colors, and some tilt-shift to focus on the main subject of the photograph.
8. Use hashtags
The other quick and effective (and free) way to grow your Instagram account is using hashtags strategically. In fact, Instagram posts that use hashtags gain a 12.6% increase in engagement when compared those without.
“Not only do hashtags help social media users organize and categorize content, but they’re also one of the driving forces behind some of today’s best marketing campaigns,” says Maddy Osman on Sprout Social.
Hashtagging is so effective because it helps categorize similar content, which makes yours even more discoverable. This is likely why hashtagged posts get so much more engagement than those without.
If you are unsure of how to use hashtags in the most effective manner, check out this guide to Instagram hashtagging to become a pro.
9. Pay to play
I know, I know, you were looking for growth opportunities that did not involve opening your wallet, right? While it is definitely possible to grow your Instagram account organically, investing even a small amount can have a potentially huge ROI. How so? Well, first of all, Instagram allows you to control your budget, target your ads towards a very specific audience, and select from a wide variety of ad formats (story ads, video ads, photo ads, carousel ads, etc.). Sponsoring just one post can drive a significantly higher amount of exposure.
With so many options and flexibility in the way you can advertise it may seem overwhelming. Therefore, start small by promoting one of your most popular organic posts in your feed to a relevant audience, track the performance, and re-evaluate. Even if your budget is small, the ROI has the potential to be large, so experiment with some paid content to increase your growth rate on Instagram.
10. Give back
Last, but certainly not least, a great way to grow is your Instagram presence is to show the genuine and caring side of your business, especially now. If your company is able to help others then, in even just a small way, then why not help? Whether it’s making masks for healthcare workers, donating to your local food bank, or providing meals for busy nurses, there are so many ways to give back to your community. And if you are doing so, why not share what you are doing with your audience? Not only will it show them the caring spirit behind your business, it could even inspire them to give back as well!
Here is a lovely example from Boston-based restaurant and café owner Joanne Chang who is doing so much to help feed our hospital workers during a time when her business is definitely suffering. Showing this kind of a generous spirit is truly inspiring.
Now, get to work and try out these 10 tips for Instagram growth—who knows how big your platform could get!