Social media influence allows a singular account to reach hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers with a single post. Connecting with these kinds of numbers does not happen overnight. In fact, it rarely happens at all. Outside of celebrities, the ability to grow any social media platform takes time, continual posting and a way to stand out from the pack. Instagram remains one of the most popular social platforms around. As a visually based tool, it’s excellent for sharing visuals of a business, including everything from posts of upcoming products to behind the scenes videos. While now owned by Facebook, Instagram does exist as its own platform. But how can an individual or business increase its number of followers without stooping to buying the numbers? Here are 11 reliable ways any account can grow their audience.
1) Public Account
One of the fastest ways to derail any kind of Instagram following is to have the account set to private. This blocks all visuals from non-subscribed members and many will not take the time to request being able to follow the account. So it’s best to avoid this problem and have the account set to public.
2) Post Frequently
It’s difficult for other Instagram users to discover someone if the account isn’t actively posting. Active posts keep the account front and center (especially with the use of varying hashtags). Consistency for any social media platform is important. However, the number of posts needed for optimal performance does vary from one site to the next. With regards to Instagram, according to Tailwind (2017), it’s important to post at least once a day. The marketing service monitored over 100,000 Instagram profiles to see how the number of posts affected the number of likes and new followers. According to the research, if an account posts one visual per week, they will receive, on average, around 1,056 likes per month. If the account increases this to between one and six posts, they will receive 4,383 likes per month, on average. However, if the account posts at least seven times a week, they will see their total number of monthly likes increases to 13,677.
In terms of followers, the research also suggests posting at least seven times a week has a major influence on new subscribers. Posting one time or less per week results in a 14 percent increase in followers. If the account posts between one and six times per week, they’ll see a 26 percent increase in followers. Lastly, if the account posts at least seven times a week, they will see an increase in followers by 56 percent per month. This illustrates a sizable improvement by simply providing a few extra visuals per week.
3) Go Live
The live Instagram feed option is one of the newer features on the platform. It’s one of the ways the service has improved in order to compete with other social media platforms (namely Snapchat). With the live feature, subscribers are able to watch live audio and video. Unlike other live features, such as that on YouTube and Facebook, the video doesn’t record and remain on the platform, which can be useful, depending on what a person is using the video for.
It’s difficult to quantify the exact numbers of interaction and viewership based off of going live as only the creator sees all interaction numbers, and as these features remain only for a short period of time during the video feed, it’s difficult to measure exact exposure. However, the importance of going live is it instantly highlights the profile. At the top of the Instagram news feed, the service highlights both updated stories and live videos. The live video stands out with a play icon over the profile.
In a social media world where consistency is important, having an account that appears on the top of every follower’s feed helps remind the follower of the accounts presence. Now, live video feeds do not directly increase followers. After all, it’s not possible for a non-follower to watch the live video. However, by increasing exposure to current followers, it helps highlight future posts, which will boost the number of interactions. This, in turn, can increase the number of new followers attracted over to the account through current subscribers (as one of the main search features within Instagram allows a user to see exactly what people are liking and commenting on).
4) Best Times to Post
The right time to post to Instagram depends on the study looked at. According to Buffer Social (2018), Huffington Post, CoSchedule and Marketing Profs, all came up with different optimal time posts (although between 5-6 PM seemed a bit more universal). While focusing on this time is beneficial, it’s best to study Instagram Insights for the most popular times based on the account. In the “Followers” section in Instagram Insights (accessed through the profile icon on the account), it shows the highest interaction numbers based on location, time and day. By looking at this information it’s possible to determine when future posts should go out.
5) Know Hashtags
Hashtagging instantly connects a single post to all other posts using the same hashtag. By attaching hashtags to a video or image posted to Instagram, it instantly increases the chance of discovery while also increasing the potential of building followers. Unlike Twitter where every post is limited to a certain number of characters, there are no character limits in Instagram. Now, the number of hashtags included per post is limited to 30, but according to TrackMaven (2017), the optimal number of tags included per post sits right around nine. Anything more than this and a post begins to look more like spam than an actual post.
When posting hashtags though it is always best to know what tags to use. While it may seem obvious, some hashtags, like keywords, perform better than others. So identifying these tags is key. Thankfully, there are a handful of hashtag tools available for finding and identifying the best tags for a particular post. Services like AutoHash and Display Purpose provides relevant hashtags specific to included keywords. These tools demonstrate the keywords generating the most user engagement and the overall number of similar posts. By using these tools to identify tags, a poster can easily connect to a larger audience and, in turn, build their own following up.
6) Location Tag
The location tag is similar to a hashtag, but it functions in a slightly different way. When posting to Instagram, if the mobile device has an active GPS, Instagram will pick up the nearest location. This can range from a specific store, restaurant or landmark. It also will include town and neighborhood options. Taking advantage of the location tag is important, especially for a local business. Much like the standard hashtag, people will search visuals based on location. Perhaps someone wants to connect with others who have visited a specific restaurant. Others may want to view posts taking place within their community. The location post is a great way to connect with people. Geotagging for websites is a powerful tool for local businesses looking to boost geographical based search engine optimization. In a way, the location tag works in the same way. The location tag is just another way to increase connectivity with other Instagram users, which is exactly why it needs to be taken advantage of.
7) Embed the Instagram Feed
Sharing the Instagram feed is one of the most crucial ways to grow a following (especially with valuable customers and followers who will actually comment and interact with the posts). There are a few different ways to do this. Sharing some visual posts to Facebook can help attract Facebook followers to the Instagram account. It’s best to not share all posts on Facebook, otherwise, there’s no reason for the Facebook follower to also follow the Instagram account. Another way to share the feed though is directly on the website. Website building platforms such as Squarespace and Wix make it easy to embed an Instagram feed directly into the site. This highlights a singular post, the last several posts or the most popular post from an Instagram account. A skilled website designer also has the ability to include the Instagram feed into the site.
The entire purpose of doing this is to drive traffic from the website to the Instagram account. Many of the visitors to a website will have an Instagram account, yet may have never considered following the company before. The feed embedded into the website offers a sneak peek at what the individual can expect from the account (which is why posting quality visuals are important). It’s an easy and quick way to build a social following directly from the company website.
8) Conduct Contests
Some of the best ways to reach new followers are to offer giveaways and contests on Instagram. Everyone enjoys receiving free goodies, especially when all they need to do is comment on a given post. There are a few different ways Instagram contests can be performed. On Twitter, contests often request a user to share a post. Instagram doesn’t make it easy to share posts (while also maintaining the original feed). So the best way to do this is to have current followers tag one of their friends and share a short comment. This way, every single person who comments on the post will also tag a friend, who will then see the post. If the friend discovers the giveaway is something they’d be interested in, they, in turn, can follow the company account and repeat the same friend-tagging action.
9) Remain Engaged
There’s a reason why it’s called “social” media. It’s about interacting and connecting with other users. Followers want to be acknowledged. Now, when a user has millions (or even hundreds of thousands) of followers, responding to every single post, question and comment is impossible. However, while the channel grows it is important to comment back on initial comments. This helps the individual feel engaged. It also increases the chance of future engagement, which can prove helpful with regards to market research. Some of the people who comment on a post may not follow the account initially. Direct interaction and engagement may change this and convert the commenter into a follower. Social media accounts like Instagram are not designed to be onesided. It’s a complete, interactive experience that needs to be shared.
10) Facebook Posting Increases Engagement
Sharing every single Instagram post directly to Facebook is a bit of a no-no. There needs to be a reason for someone to follow the Instagram account and Facebook account. However, sharing the best visuals from Instagram to Facebook can increase user engagement. In fact, Instagram visuals generally receive more user interaction on Facebook than native Facebook posts.
According to Buzzsumo (2016), native posts on the company’s Facebook page receive, on average, around 400 total likes and around 450 total interactions. However, posts shared through Instagram receive a total of around 500 likes and 550 total interactions. As Instagram allows for quick and easy sharing to Facebook (by simply enabling the “Share to Facebook” feature prior to publishing), it takes no additional time to share the content on Facebook. Plus, every Facebook post from Instagram shares a backlink to the original content, which in turn can increase followers on the visual platform.
11) Instagram Analytics
Always look at the data. Most people just post content on a whim without any rhyme or reason. This may be best at first or for account holders who are not interested in building a strong social following, but in order to understand what drives traffic and engagement, looking into Instagram analytics is crucial. Analytical data is available directly through the service itself. While there are far more powerful third-party applications available for dissecting the information and providing an effective analysis for Instagram posts, analytics offered directly through Instagram provide a window of information any user can rely on. When bringing up Analytics (which can be accessed by selecting the profile photo, followed by “Instagram Insights” (which is a bar chart icon). The posts can be broken down into photos, videos or both. From there, the application will highlight the posts with the most comments, engagement, impressions, likes and reach. By looking over these posts, it’s possible to see what kind of posts are the most popular and bring in the most engagement (which directly impacts the newest subscribers as most of the likes likely come from pre-subscribed individuals performing searches on Instagram).
For power users on Instagram, it is recommended to look into third-party applications, but for building the account, Instagram Insights should work just fine.
Building a strong social influence increases the ability to connect with hundreds of thousands of followers with a single post. This can prove to be a powerful tool for any business. A strong social influence doesn’t happen overnight though. It takes time, consistency and a considerable amount of effort. However, by following these 11 top ways to grow an Instagram audience, it is possible for anyone to build a success Instagram profile. Instagram can prove to be a powerful marketing tool, so there’s no time like the present to begin implementing these methods. In return, the ability to bring in new customers into the company’s fold may increase right along with it.