Instagram is a social media platform where you have to prove your authenticity for followers to commit and stay committed to you. Thankfully, the Instagram platform offers plenty of opportunities and features to help you do so. These marketing experts share their tips on how to get more followers on Instagram.
1. Take Advantage of Instagram Stories for Quick Wins
Michael Guberti, Founder, Michael Guberti’s Digital Marketing Services
Micro-influencers in your niche have small but targeted communities they communicate with. If you have a resource or quote that can provide some value to that community, offer the micro-influencer a payment for promoting your picture to their Instagram followers. Look for people in your niche with less than 10,000 followers and strong engagement for their Instagram pictures. In most cases, you won’t have to pay much for each promotion because micro-influencers are rarely approached in this manner. Ask them to include your Instagram username in the description and brand the image using a free tool like Canva with your website logo or URL in the bottom right-hand corner.
2. Emphasize Engagement
Lauren Petermeyer, Editor-in-Chief, More Than Glam
Growing a relevant Instagram following is all about engagement. Respond to your followers’ comments, engage with other accounts similar to yours and be present in your stories. When engaging, be as authentic as possible and try to get to know your audience as people, not just followers who might get you a paycheck.
3. Run Group Giveaways
Jonathan Gorham, Founder, EngineScout
Team up with similar businesses in your industry — in my client’s case it was natural products — and agree to put together a goody bag containing various products and services you each offer to use as a group giveaway. All the brands you’ve teamed up with, including yourself, announce the giveaway by posting the same picture of the goody bag with instructions on how to enter across all of your Instagram accounts at the same time. The key here is what you write in the caption below the image. For example: “Here’s your chance to win all of these incredible goodies! To enter simply like this post, tag a friend and follow every business hashtagged here.” When you all share the same post, it creates a round robin effect where you all share your followers. The more brands you can get on board for the group giveaway, the more followers you’ll receive.
4. Don’t Miss Tagging Opportunities
Ana Milosavic, Marketing Coordinator, HEXONET Services
Tagging doesn’t happen as often as it should, and it’s a huge miss for small businesses. If you are talking about another brand, an event or an influencer, or you are at a specific location, don’t forget to tag them. Not only will that person get notified of the tag and, hopefully, choose to share it with their followers, but you will also show up in their tagged photos section, giving you visibility to their follower base.
5. Run Giveaways Even If They’re Small
Joseph Coulburn, Marketing & Customer Support Specialist, BrainZyme
Use giveaways to grow your following. This is great especially for small businesses and startups that are still establishing themselves on social media. We have run giveaways where we have given away hundreds of pounds worth of products in one go, and we have run giveaways with just one pack of our product. Both had the same effect, so keep giveaways small, especially for micro-influencers, and be sure that the conditions of entry are on your page.
6. Focus on the Best-Practice Do’s and Don’ts of Publishing
Mitt Ray, Expert Marketer, Social Marketing Writing
My most important “do” for Instagram is to create more relevant and entertaining and informative content. When you “don’t” post relevant content, it leads to a loss in followers and being too promotional can decrease reach and engagement. So, spend more time trying to understand your audience and create content they will want to interact with. Keep promotional posts to a minimum. For every promotional post, you should publish at least three to four entertaining and educative posts.
Another important “do” is to take great care in publishing each post. By this, I mean making sure the image is properly optimized for Instagram — finding the best time to publish and add in other important components like location, hashtags and a caption that expands on the image. Adding these extra details will take a little work, but they will ensure you get more out of every post you publish.
7. Tap Into Authentic Influencers
Philip Kushmaro, Digital Marketing Advisor, Philip Kushmaro Digital Marketing Ambassador
Now more than ever are people not only faking followers and likes but comments as well to make engagement look legit. In a test done with a new state-of-the-art algorithm by the Social Chain, a leader in influencer marketing, the results were disappointing. More than 25 percent of very well-known influencers they ran the test on faked their engagement and followers to make their profiles look more enticing and demand higher prices. Some profiles showed 95 percent fake engagement. These are influencers that worked with companies like Coca-Cola and Nike. So, before even deciding how to pitch an influencer you need to make sure they aren’t scamming you!
8. Contribute Value to Targeted Hashtag Conversations
Kim Eastin, Fortune 500 Social Media Specialist, Upward Social Media
Using content-specific and popular hashtags puts your content in front of more eyeballs than you can imagine — if you get it right. You must be intentional in how you use hashtags: researching what keywords are important to your intended audience and relevant keywords for your niche. Don’t discount using trending hashtags! You don’t want to hijack a hashtag, but posting your content in a way that brings value to the conversation will attract engagement — and more followers.
9. Make the Most of Captions
Kara Harms, Co-founder, Whimsy Soul
One of my go-to ways to grow dedicated followers is by creating long, personal captions. The Instagram space is so competitive these days. Everyone can take a nice photo, but you — the person or brand — behind a profile is utterly unique. I find that being real, sharing interesting tidbits, maybe a story of what happened two seconds after I snapped a photo — anything that makes someone stop, read, learn about you and form an emotional connection equals a high chance of a new follower.
10. Show Behind-the-Scenes Glimpses
Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation
Our most successful social media posts on Instagram are the ones where we are showing a behind-the-scenes look at our company culture and team. We tend to get the most comments and likes on these because it gives our followers a glimpse into how we celebrate events and the overall vibe of being in the office, which is very much a work hard, play hard mentality. People love the atmosphere — it’s incredibly authentic. If a small business wants to gain more followers and keep them sticking around, they should consider sharing behind-the-scenes Instagram posts and stories that relate to their company culture.
11. Treat Followers Like You Treat Your Friends
Molly Smithson, Digital Marketing Expert, Arete Media
Treat your followers like you’d treat anyone you meet in real life who you want in your life. Don’t demand too much to start, but instead introduce yourself regularly with behind-the-scenes updates and what led up to founding your brand or account. Your existing network is also your number one best friend. Ask your audience questions in polls or share inspirational graphics and memes, which social users are more likely to share. Ask your followers to tag friends who may be interested or who are just their squad. Partner with other pages to run giveaways that require the entrants to follow both brands.
12. Create & Keep a Consistent Style
Kristine Neil, Founder & Creative Director, Markon Brands
I’ve slowly built my personal following from around 600 to 700 to just more than 3,000. One of the most helpful tips is to find a visual style that you can consistently stick to. Whether that’s posting pics that are mostly within a well-defined color palette, in the same photographic style or that all use the same filter, people will follow you if they know what they can expect after doing so. Nothing is worse than following someone who posted one cute pic you liked only to find out that it was the diamond in the rough and the rest of their feed looks nothing like that!
13. For Long-term Growth, Don’t Buy Followers
Ryan Wells, Marketing Director, AG Diesel Repair
The number one mistake you can make while trying to build a relevant Instagram following is buying followers. It can be tempting, but two things happen. One, none of those followers are actual potential customers and provide zero ROI [return on investment] on your time spent taking photos and updating your Instagram page. Two, a savvy Instagram user can spot an inflated follower count immediately. This will automatically make your account seem phony and corporate, rather than local, personal and organic. Instagram can be a great marketing resource precisely because the audience doesn’t feel as if they’re being marketed to. So, don’t buy followers. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.
14. Engage Brick-and-Mortar Customers
Timothy Bach, Founder, The Creator Factory
The key to successful small business Instagram accounts is to make them personal! The biggest advantage small businesses have over large corporations is that local organizations can get to know the customer. When you have a good in-person interaction, encourage the customer to follow your account and continue to engage with them online. Get to know them and point out or mention steady engagers during live streams and Instagram stories. As for content, again, focus on the people. Post images that feature customers, employees and any other personal assets you have!
15. Create a Tribe Around Instagram-shareable Reviews
Jim Milan, Communications & SEO Manager, Auto Accessories Garage
Our most fruitful Instagram strategies encourage customers to share photos in their reviews that the business can then share across Instagram. With automotive upgrades, customers are typically proud to show their project off and like-minded individuals are usually eager to look at other peoples’ vehicle upgrades. The result is that we at Auto Accessories Garage have carved out a small community of vehicle upgrade enthusiasts within the larger community of car nuts on Instagram.
16. Be an Active Engager
Lauren Crain, Digital Marketer, HealthLabs.com
After you post, engage with anyone who has engaged with your post. Reply to their comments, like their posts and follow their page. This lets people know that your social media is active and not just scheduled out through a scheduling system. This is imperative to get followers; people don’t want to follow small businesses that just drop content. They want small businesses that care about and engage with their customers, so show them that you do!
17. Don’t Get Discouraged by Follower-count Fluctuations
Emily Rowe, Chief Executive Sensei, Social Sensei Marketing
The biggest key is to stay aware of the bigger, long-term picture and to avoid being disheartened by changes in engagement. At the launch of an Instagram page, you need to focus on the most exposure possible to get out there and be heard. Posting daily and wholeheartedly go hand-in-hand. Put out real content with fun engagement tactics like giveaways, stories and more, and you’ll see your niche start to catch on. Everyone on IG is experiencing a decrease in the engagement at the moment, and people love to get disheartened.
18. Feature User-generated Content
Conor Ryan, Chief Innovation Officer, StitcherAds
When building your following on Instagram, consider ways to build that trust and relationship between the brand and consumer. One way to do this is to engage the followers you already have by utilizing their content. Encourage your customers to share images about your brand, get their permission to share it, and then use it to craft an authentic brand narrative. Not only will this excite the fans you feature, but it will incite new shoppers to explore your offerings. In fact, 44% of consumers say they trust user-generated content more than any other form of content.
19. Get an Instagram Business Account
Nathalie Noisette, Founder, Credit Conversion
One mistake that business owners make is not having a business account. Instagram business pages allow you to have analytics to show you how well your posts are converting. It even tells you which posts resulted in a new follower. That allows you to post more of that kind of content and it converts. If you can’t measure it, it’s harder to manage it. Get a business account with analytics.
20. Invest in Targeted Promoted Posts
Beth Cooper, Director of Marketing & Social Media Specialist, KNB Communications
There seems to be a prevalent theory that if you don’t grow organically, it’s not as good. I never advocate buying followers, but I am a big proponent of using promoted posts for businesses on Instagram. You can make target audiences so that the posts that you spend time and money creating are shown to the people you want to see them. This also gives posts a longer life than an organic post. It just makes good business sense.
Anna Dizon, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
When Instagram followers love your products and are loyal to your brand, they’re more likely to stick around. Create landing pages for your running campaigns. Add your call-to-action link for them in your Instagram bio and hashtag your post with #LinkinBio.
Leadpages makes it easy to pair custom landing pages with matching ads. You can create custom landing pages on your website or from the Leadpages site. From there, Leadpages creates custom Instagram ads automatically to pair with your landing page. It has a drag-and-drop editor so that you can design your own landing pages or tap into its more than 100 templates for a professional look. You can try it via its 14-day free trial.
22. Don’t Trick People Into Following You
Jeneeit Jeyakanthan, CEO, Vilampara Media
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when using their Instagram Business account is following a business to gain their follow-back, then unfollowing them a few days after. There are tools available that can help figure out which accounts have recently followed and unfollowed an Instagram profile. Tricking people to gain popularity will not result in long-term gain.
Instead of trying to trick other people, businesses must create and deliver engaging content. Use that content to promote the page to the target audiences and ask them to follow the account. This will be beneficial in the long-term.
23. Tap into Email to Grow Instagram Followers
Tracy Gibb, Founder, The Marketing Shop
I personally use email to promote social media channels. I do this across all businesses. If I start a new channel for a client, I host a contest to get new followers. For example, if I start a new Instagram account for a client, I’ll send an email announcing that whoever follows them on Instagram is entered to win a $100 gift card.
24. Promote Events You’re Attending
Nicole Lindfield, Founder, Devin’s Delights
Use Instagram to promote events you are attending. I always tell people what I’m doing on the weekend if I am going to an event. This way, you can let people know you are there, and maybe the account of the event will follow and share your posts as well. I have had this happen!
The Bottom Line
Instagram offers a plethora of opportunities to authentically engage with your followers, industry, and target audiences. To win the hearts of target Instagram users and build their loyalty, focus on high engagement with them both on and off the Instagram platform, create authentic relationships, collaborate with other brands, and stay consistent.