10 tips on how to grow your Instagram following

This month we are focusing on social media and sharing some hints and tips to help you grow your following. With this in mind I am delighted that Alanah Light, founder of Light Social has agreed to share her words of wisdom, on how to grow your Instagram following, here is what she had to say:

Instagram is one of the social media platforms that has taken the world by storm in the last 10 years. It started as a platform to share photos with a small description to people that decide to follow your profile. It has since developed into a platform that shares photos and videos, it has a dedicated TV mode and this summer, it launched Reels in a bid to take on TikTok.

But for many, the question remains, how do I grow my Instagram account?

While there is no right or wrong way to grow your account I believe following an organic (ie not paid for) strategy is the best way to find followers who will connect with you, engage with your content and ultimately become clients. With this in mind, the following 10 steps will enable you to work with the Instagram algorithm to grow your account. 

1.Be clear about your objectives

The most successful accounts on Instagram have one thing in common…they speak clearly to a niche audience with a distinct voice. So, before you start posting, decide what your message or brand is and make sure you are following that message every time you post.   

For example, my business is aimed at helping other small businesses understand through training how to use social media more effectively to grow their audience and sell more.  Everything I post is relevant to this message. I have a separate personal account to share personal photos of my son, memes or other random posts.

2. Optimise your profile

Like so much else in life it’s important to get the foundations right and on Instagram, that means getting your profile (or account ‘bio’) details clear.  When someone lands on your page you have the opportunity to tell them all about yourself:

  • Are you selling a service or a product?  
  • Why would they want to connect with you? 
  • How can they connect with you?
  • Have you injected some personality by using emojis?
  • Have you included a link to your website or latest offer?

I occasionally come across accounts where the bio is blank or is just a quote and I’m left wondering why I should follow them? Are they a business I want to work with?  

Don’t let that be you.

3. Create quality content

This is one of the most important considerations when you are trying to gain followers on Instagram. You MUST have good content. Instagram is a visual platform. If you don’t have beautiful, high- quality images, it will be much harder to grow. 

If your budget allows, hiring a professional photographer for a brand photoshoot will be one of the best things you can do.  Not only will you get some great stand-alone images but, with clever cropping and image editing you can mix them with other graphics to create a huge vault of posts for your account

4. Provide Value

When you have honed your message and are using quality content you then need to make sure you are offering value to your followers, encouraging them to take time to read your captions and engage with you.

For example:

  • If you write a blog – summarise the content and share it. 
  • If you create something, offer a practical guide, tips or a tutorial on how your readers can use it or make something similar. 
  • If you learned something new about parenting share that wisdom. 
  • And if something funny happened, tell the story and share the laughs. 

5. Be Consistent

The next stage is one that can be tricky for small businesses but, to create a loyal following, you need to be present, predictable and smart about when you post. People like knowing what to expect from you. Posting regularly helps to keep you top of mind. 

If you haven’t done so already make sure you have switched to a business or creator account. This gives you access to ‘insights’ including when your audience is online and then best times to post. 

Take a look at when your audience is active and plan your posts to coincide.  By doing this, you stand a better chance of your audience seeing your post and engaging with it.   If you don’t have engagement on the post, the algorithm will decide that it is not quality content and will show it to fewer people. You do NOT want the algorithm to think your content is low quality!

6. Hashtags

Another way to make sure as many accounts see you as possible is to use hashtags properly.   Fundamentally, you need to research hashtags that your ideal audience would be searching for.  How do their needs overlap with what your business provides?  

I recommend you do your research on Instagram itself but, at the time of writing, the search function has been temporarily disabled (possibly until the 2020 US election is over) so, until then you can you one of the multiple sites that exist to help.   I’d suggest https://hashtagify.me/  or https://displaypurposes.com

7. Make use of all of the Platform

As I mentioned at the beginning Instagram has rolled out lots of functionality and to reach as many followers as possible, I’d recommend thinking about if and how you can use each of the different content formats to best suit your business. Here is a quick summary of each of them:

  • Grid posts:  The ‘original’ way to post.  These images appear on the newsfeed and on your ‘grid’ whenever anyone looks at your profile.
  • Stories:  Enables you to share multiple photos and videos that appear together in a “slideshow format”.  
  • IGTV: A way to share long-form vertical video on Instagram. Videos can be up to 60mins in length. 
  • Reels: The new kid on the block allows you to create and share 15-second videos. Rolled out as a rival to TikTok it’s still too early to see how successful this format will be but, as with all new functionality, early adopters are likely to get a large following as there are fewer accounts to compete with. 

8. Be Social

Instagram is a social network, so don’t be shy! This is probably my most important tip to creating your presence on Instagram: networking and connecting with others.

Make sure you dedicate time to look at other people’s posts. Like the content, if it appeals to you, leave a comment.

Remember that all the accounts, no matter how large, are run by people.  And, just because someone has a large following doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a kind comment.

9. Look Back

I mentioned the ‘insights’ tab earlier and I’d encourage you to build in time to regularly review the details provided to understand how your content has performed. 

You should aim to experiment with different types of content and use the insights tab to check if there is a pattern about what your followers like or don’t like.  Do you find quotes always get good engagement? Or did people comment more when you shared behind the scenes content?  By doing this regularly you can refine what you’re sharing and continually explore different and better ways to reach your ideal clients.

10. Be Yourself – Don’t Compare

This one is tough. But don’t let yourself fall into the comparison trap. You’ll hear this over and over again if you read enough Instagram captions “comparison is the thief of joy”. It’s very true and it’s such an easy trap to fall into. 

There will always be something to envy or something that makes you feel less than. So, if you start to feel negative not inspired, depressed not creative, take a break! Do less scrolling and more creating! Or just put it all aside and spend some time with your friends or family. Remember in the end, IT’S JUST AN APP!!

Thank you to Alanah for sharing your words of wisdom on how to grow your Instagram following, to discover more about Alanah please click here to visit her website. And of course, if you have a marketing challenge then please do get in touch to see how we can help.

Sophie Comas

A highly successful self-motivated and results driven, senior marketing professional. My passion lies within developing and delivering marketing solutions which make a difference in today's complex digital market place. A marketeer with a strong academic background and broad ranging level of experience working with small businesses and in the travel and hospitality sector, across the Thames Valley, I love a challenge!

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