Instagram followers are one thing, but gaining followers who are your potential customers is a whole lot more valuable. If you’re planning on expanding your marketing to one of the fastest growing and most engaged audiences online, you need to approach building your followers in a results-oriented, laser-focused method to get the ROI potential available.
Building your business through social media marketing takes time and effort but statistics show that it’s one of the most effective ways to grow your online presence and increase sales in today’s mobile market.
You can buy followers, you can hashtag, comment, like and then re-comment all you like to fill up your feed with users who may like and post random unrelated comments on your pictures but if you’re a business looking to use Instagram for its mammoth marketing power, to promote and sell your products, services, and events – you need to build your list with a precise, targeted, laser-focused approach.
1. Get Smart With Your Like’s (L4L)
It’s basic, we’re reciprocating creatures: liking other people’s Instagram photos generates more followers and likes for you. If you’re starting from scratch or a small account, the like for like method is probably the easiest way to start building your Instagram following.
Basically, all you need to go out and do is start liking people’s photos, they see that you liked their photo and if they are interested, they will go to your profile and check you out and maybe follow you.
It’s a shotgun approach but can work at a small percentage (expect about a 1% on your “Liking” efforts – 1 follow for every 100 photo’s liked). The reason I call this laser focused Like4Like, is even in your random liking, it’s important to stay in your ideal customer space.
You want to be liking photos of potential customers, not every joe posting random pictures. Take time to search an area or hashtag and then like the photo’s there.
You want to build a following that’s full of potential customers and people interested in what you have to offer so take the time to find them. If you want to take this strategy to the next level… start commenting.
2. Comment With Heart, For Hearts
Statistics show that Instagram users prefer commenting over liking. What does that mean? If you comment on other people’s photos with relevant and interesting comments, they are much more likely to click on your profile and reciprocate the love with a follow.
So if you want to up your ratio of follows for your time on Instagram, writing great comments can build your followers a lot faster than only double tapping on images.
3. Become A Hashtag Ninja
Hashtag monitoring is basically finding niche hashtags that are in your genre and following and watching for posts with that hashtag. You can do this by signing up for a hashtag monitoring service, and select popular and relevant hashtags.
It can be a topic, interest or location. Watching these will help you gain insight on market trends, keep an eye on your competition as well as show you people who are likely your ideal customer.
When you see a relevant post, you can comment (about their post, not yourself!) and your comment may entice them to find out more about you and maybe eventually follow.
Schedule time every day to comment on posts with hashtags you’re following and your consistency will build a following or help your see which hashtags draw ideal, active clients.
As a general rule on Instagram – Authentic Commenting will draw you more followers than just ❤️ tapping. Repeat this method, whenever applicable.
4. Regram With Love
If you start looking around, and you’ve been sharing great pictures, you may be surprised how many Instagram users are already sharing photos of your products, services, quotes or business.
These same users will be delighted to let you share their great photos with your followers if you ask. And users will be happy to let you share their photos with your followers if you ask nicely.
Re-gramming a photo of one of your followers is a great way to give back to your community, create a vibe of mutual respect and also get in front of their followers in an authentic and fun way.
Tip: If you’re asking someone who isn’t a follower (yet) to regram their photo, they most likely will follow you to see how you regram their picture, as well as take the time to comment and tag themselves as their own form of promotion.
It’s a win-win, you get a great post and a follower, they get a mention and a chance to promote their own account!
5. Regular Posts Bring Regular Growth
Trends and statistics on Instagram over the last couple years show that accounts with the most followers post a bit more than once a day up (on average these accounts are posting 2 – 3 photos/day).
A company doing very well at this is CV.Gallery, who not only have great posts, they share amazing photos in all of their Instagram posts. Having high quality imagery in particular can help you increase engagement. So make sure you add a little more effort to your photos to make them really pop.
Setting up a regular schedule, or using a posting service such a Buffer, will help you maintain your frequency but remember, above all else, post engaging content because, especially on Instagram, which is such a visual application – quality matters more than quality.
6. Promote Your Instagram Account Off Line
Start by making sure you have links and feeds to your Instagram account on your website. Now, your website visitors who spend most of their online time on Instagram will have an immediate and far more engaging platform to follow and learn about you.
You’ll immediately go up in their interest if they are seeing your posts and connected to you on their favorite platform. Add a widget that shows your most recent pictures and a quick follow button.
Set up signs in your physical location, add images on your products. If your customers are “Instagrammers”, they will recognize the logo right away and look you up if you’ve piqued their interest (especially if you have a contest to enter … more on that later).
Find followers on your email list too! Let your subscribers know about your Instagram account and give them a direct link to follow you in your email footer.
There are Instagram integrations in both Constant Contact and Mailchimp so that you can easily show your Instagram account in your emails.
7. Get Brand Influencers
Find your most loyal customers who are also on Instagram, and have a following. Ask them to be brand ambassadors.
This may cost a little money, especially if they have a large following, but is definitely worth your dollars. Influencers can then share your product or message in their own style that will resonate with their followers.
Get them to post and tag you. If you run this along with a contest that they can mention, you’ll be sure to build your list a lot faster. (See next point)
8. Run A Contest
Create a contest that attracts followers but also creates excitement and sharing! There are a lot of different ideas for contests, here’s a great list of Instagram contest ideas.
Most Instagram contests include incentivising people to upload and share pictures of themselves (selfies!) linking themselves to you with a specific hashtag plus tagging you (your account name) in the picture so you can see their entry. The key is to make the contest fun and interactive.
Make sure your prize is exciting, make the images advertising the contest fun and simple, and of course, make sure that whatever you’re asking your entrants to share makes them look good. Humor is a great key element to a successful contest, as well as current memes and shareable content.
Remember, people only will enter socially if it’s worth it for them.
9. Hashtag It Up
A TrackMaven study discovered that posts that got the most interactions have 11+ hashtags! Time to get busy discovering the best hashtags because creating your list is very important.
Spend time searching through Instagram, check out businesses and posts similar to yours. Make a list of those hashtags and save them in your notes so you can easily copy and paste them when you need them.
When you’re ready to post your images, write an original description of the photo, add a question or request a response from your followers. Next, copy and paste your list of hashtags into the end of the end of your post.
Leave a little space or add some emoji’s between your post and the hashtags so that they don’t all mashed together. You want your message to stand out, the hashtags are for linking and searches only.
Click on the hashtags you used, and view the pictures that come up. Click on the most relevant and see what other hashtags they have. Add any new ones into your post or as a comment below your photo.
(The jury is out on whether commenting hashtags vs. adding them into your original description is better). There’s no clear evidence yet so take your pick!
10. Ask Users To “Tag A Friend”
This is a simple, yet very effective strategy, especially for events or launches. Ask your followers to tag a friend they want to share whatever experience/product you’re showing with.
The response is usually great because you’re giving a point of connection, a way for people to build their relationship. Use images that are common and shareable – food, quotes or beautiful locations are great for that!
11. Use The Right Filters
As if your mind isn’t swimming with TMI (too much information!) by now, but Instagram sharing has some psychological science behind it as well. There are certain pictures that affect our psyche better than others, and that comes from the magic of the colors and filters.
Researchers from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs analyzed millions of photos and all the viewing and commending data on them and came to the conclusion that filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones.
What kind of filter works best? Researchers shared that the top filters to increase chances of views and comments are those that create higher exposure, warmer temperatures, and higher contrast.
What does that mean? Warm up your pictures and use contrasts to stand out in the sea of Instagram photos.
In conclusion, jumping on the Instagram can feel daunting and you may feel that you’ve already missed the boat but fear not, this platform is here, for now, growing in popularity every day.
Taking a methodical approach to building your following will open you up to a wider audience and can increase your impact when it comes to online promotions and sales.
Instagram sales are in their infancy as far as a sales platform, there will be many advancements in using Instagram for direct sales in the next 3 years, so start building your audience today.