It’s been about 8 years since the launch of Instagram and some of us still have trouble using it for our business. The objective today is to show you how to gain more followers on Instagram. No shady stuff, just smart marketing but first, let’s look at a little history.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger created Instagram, initially launching as a free mobile app in October of 2010. It took off quickly, growing to over 100 million active users within a 2-year period. On April 9, 2012, Kevin and Mike sold their company to Facebook. And so far, it’s proven to be one of the most crucial acquisitions for the company.
It’s a rapidly growing network with a lot of potential. Here’re some important stats to consider.
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800 million monthly active users (MAU) – source: Statista (last updated September, 2017).
75% of users live outside the United States – source: Instagram (last updated December 12, 2013).
It has more than 75 million daily active users – source: The Verge (last updated September 26, 2014).
20% of Internet users use the platform – source: Social Times (last updated September 26, 2014).
An estimated 77.6% of users on Instagram live in the U.S (last updated March 19, 2015).
51% of users are male – source: Social Times (last updated September 26, 2014).
49% of users are female – source: Social Times (last updated September 26, 2014).
The average monthly follower growth rate is about 16% for users on the network – source: Venture Beat (last updated March 15, 2016).
The platform is more popular among younger people, with usage at 41% among those aged 16-24 and at 35% among 24-34s – source: Econsultancy (last updated January 6, 2015)
As seen on Instagram’s official blog, on average, users miss 70% of their feeds. But they promised to release an algorithm update that’ll address this issue. By now, your feed should be ordered in such a way that it first displays posts that the AI (artificial intelligence) believes you want to see more off.
So if you see something that you like, make sure you let the algorithm know that you want more of it by hitting the ‘like’ or ‘heart’ button. This is partly how the AI works in many social media networks. The more you express your taste, the more of it you’ll get.
The dangers of this though, is that it can isolate you from other content that’s important to you. However, the issue is being addressed. For example, Twitter recently expanded its news alerts to help solve this problem. It uses my demographic to push important news to me. So even though I don’t often watch mainstream media, I still get the news. Perhaps, other networks will follow suit.
Look, Instagram users are one of the most engaged users ever. If you interest them enough, they’ll go to your profile link and visit your website, which can also be your landing page or subscription form.
How to Gain More Followers on Instagram
You ready? I’m going to do a brain dump of all the ways that you can grow your following. It’s worth noting that like most things in marketing, growth on social media takes time!
If you don’t have the time required to properly manage your profile, then you should consider hiring a social media manager to do it. So that you can focus on other aspects of your business. All right, let’s get right to it!
1. Use Images!
Photos seem to trump videos because roughly 90% of people on the platform use them. This makes sense, after all, Instagram was originally designed for images. But I still recommend using a mix of both for maximum exposure.
2. Use Videos
Despite the content on Instagram being predominantly photos, video still remains a high performing content type. On this network though, you only get a max length of 60 seconds for each video content published.
3. Shoot High-quality Photos
Your profile is only as good as the quality of the images that you use. Make sure you’ve got a smartphone with a decent Camera.
4. Shoot Square Photos
Shooting square will save you time on cropping and ensures that you won’t have to crop out important elements of your photos. Many smartphones have this option in their settings and you only need to enable it.
5. Keep Your Post Interesting
Post images or videos that help your audience in some way. It could be something like a motivational quote (like it or not, they still work) or a video that shares an important tip.
6. Use Trending Hashtags
There’s long been a debate among marketers about how many hashtags are appropriate for Instagram. Well, the truth is that on this platform, users don’t care about how many hashtags you use. But using too many can make your brand seem unsophisticated (if that’s the appropriate word). And spamming is still very much an annoyance.
So the amount of hashtags that you should use depends on the nature of the post. Use tags that are popular and related to your content. I now aim for 1 to 10 relevant hashtags per post.
7. Engage With Others
Use engagement to attract more followers. Like, send or share other people’s post. When you engage with others, you gain more exposure and build new relationships. And some of them will become your customers.
8. Follow People That Use Popular Hashtags
Search for people that use popular hashtags and follow them. Most of these people will follow you back and even if they don’t, you can unfollow them later. I’ve got mixed feelings about following others just so they can return the favor. So I don’t recommend this tactic unless you’re desperate… like really hopeless.
9. Use Customized Link Shorteners
You can use your domain name as your bio link but if you want to accurately track link clicks, use a short URL like this: http://goo.gl/WeVsQg. This will make it easier to track incoming traffic later.
Goo.gl is a 100% free short link service offered by Google. You can also be a bit strategic with your bio link. It doesn’t have to always link to your homepage or home site. Change your link often, based on what you need to drive traffic to.
10. Cross-promote Other Brands
Share the love and promote other people or companies. Promoting others is an effective way of triggering reciprocation, which means they might return the favor naturally.
11. Post On Other Instagram Profiles
Find a company or personal profile that already has your target demographic following it and ask them if you can guest post there. To find out if they accept sponsored posts, check for an email address in their bio or just PM (private message) them.
12. Design Share Worthy Graphics
You can accomplish this by combining graphics with content such as a poem for instance. Or just take really nice pictures!
13. Partner Up With Influencers
Partner up with influencers within your industry and cross-promote each other. Why not?
14. Host Contests
A contest is an awesome way to drive engagement and attract new followers. Host a contest and ask people to like or follow you in order to be entered into it. Just one caveat: If you’re going do this, the winnings better be worthwhile.
15. Promote Your Instagram Profile On Other Social Media Accounts
Create good images combined with text that’ll promote your profile on any other social media account you’ve established. Also, give people an incentive to follow you.
16. Post On Sundays
This Track Maven chart suggests that it’s more effective to post on Sundays. Furthermore, fewer images were reported being posted on this day, which means less competition for eyeballs.
17. Post At 2am and 5pm EST
Research acquired by the Huffington Post showed that the best times to post were between 2am and 5pm EST if you want the most attention. The worst times were 9am and 6pm EST.
18. Quality NOT Quantity
Ensure that you only have the highest quality images on your profile. Not a lot of people want to follow someone that has a bunch of pointless photos.
19. Use Filters to Enhance Your Photos
Use Instagram filters to improve the look of your photos. Filters can also help your images stand out from the masses. However, one study by Dan Zarrella (social media scientist) suggests that using no filter (#nofilter) may provide better engagement.
20. Add Captions to Your Photos
Adding captions to your pictures is a good way of increasing engagement. Some examples of good captions include asking a question, call-to-actions (CTA), suggesting something or tapping into a little controversy.
21. Focus On Your Audience
Focus on your defined target market. Be consistent with your posts and your followers will grow!
22. Post As Often As You Can
Unlike some social media networks, on Instagram, there’s no negative correlation between how often you post and the amount of followers that you receive. So post as often as your budget or time permits!
23. Use Geotagging or Add a Location
This works especially well if you’re a local business. When you locally tag your photos, other users in that location or region may see your images.
24. Combine Your Photos
Combine multiple photos into a single frame to improve engagement.
25. Tag Others
When you tag other people in your photos, they’ll see your post in their feed. But only tag others when it’s relevant.
26. Post Daring or Edgy Pics
Post photos that are daring or make people feel nervous if they had to do it themselves. This can increase your engagement but it highly depends on your niche too.
27. Keep Your Photos Bright
The same study by Dan, also found that bright images received more engagement than dark ones.
28. Create Branded Hashtags
Come up with some cool hashtags and encourage others to use them. This increases your visibility and engagement at the same time. What was that saying again? Yes, kill two birds with one stone.
29. Share Photos of Your Team
These can be called behind the scene pictures. Share photos that people won’t see unless they’re in your place of business. Team building and backstage pics are fine examples.
30. Promote Your Profile to Your Email Subscribers
Expose your profile to people that have subscribed to your email list. You can gain more followers on Instagram this way.
31. Add Your Profile to Marketing Materials
Add it to your business cards, brochures, banners and other marketing assets you’ve got. This will help people find you on Instagram and follow you.
32. Tell a Story
Use your captions to tell a story. Storytelling can help you develop an emotional connection with others.
33. Use The Word “like” in Your Photos
Using the word “like” on your images may increase the amount of love that you get for that post.
34. Post Inspirational Quotes
Inspirational or motivational quotes are a great way of giving your audience value, while attracting new followers and increasing engagement. Add your quotes to visually appealing images that help you amplify the message. Here’s an example:
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