5. Pay for sponsored posts and product reviews
All this optimized posting to your account is great but if you really want to make an impact, you need to take advantage of influencer marketing on Instagram, exposing your brand to a wider audience.
So how do you do that?
First, unlike the tactics above to grow your account this one usually isn’t free. However, if done correctly, it’s good value.
To get started, you’ll need to make a list of large accounts in your niche. For example, if you sell beauty products, you’ll want to find large accounts from beauty bloggers.
You may already be following these accounts, but if not you’ll need to find them. One of the best ways is to use Webstagram (mentioned earlier) and search for some of the closest hashtag keywords you uncovered in the beginning of this post. When you do a search for your keywords, not only will it show you the related keywords, but it also shows you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.
There are a few things to look for in the profiles results:
- A large following—usually 20k to 200k
- An email address in the profile
If there is an email address in the profile, it usually means they’re open to sponsored posts or a shoutout in a sponsored Story.
You’ll want to email them and ask them their sponsored post pricing. In general, I have found the average rate to be around $20-$50 per post, depending on the size of their following.
However, if you’re selling a unique and original product, you may also want to consider sending them your product to review and post. The more natural and less advertisement-like the image, the greater the engagement and response usually.
You don’t necessarily need influencers with a massive following, but rather ones with a high engagement rate (likes and comments relative to follower size), which many influencer marketplaces can provide.
6. Use geotags for local discoverability
Besides hashtags, you can also make your Instagram posts and Stories discoverable by tagging your location, either the city you’re in or the venue where the photo or video was taken.
Locations not only have their own feed on Instagram but also their own Story just like hashtags that you can contribute to when you use the location sticker in your own Stories.
Local businesses can get the most value out of location tags by posting regularly to these feeds and also engaging with posts from prospective customers who are physically in the vicinity.
7. Organize your Stories into Highlights
Whenever a potential follower lands on your profile, you have a short span of time to convince them to follow you.
One way to do this is by using the “Highlights” feature on your profile to organize your Instagram Stories in a way that communicates what your account is about.
Since Stories have a 24-hour lifespan, Highlights can be used to give them a second-life and entice others to follow you so they don’t miss out on more Stories in the future.
Use Story Highlights to:
- Create trailers that tease what your account is about
- Organize your Stories into themes (like countries you’ve visited to for travel accounts)
- Explain your products through pictures and videos
- Promote your products using swipe-up links (you need at least 10K followers and a Instagram Business account to do this with your Stories)
It sounds obvious, but it deserves to be said: Don’t be afraid to occasionally ask your audience to follow you.
The same way YouTubers ask their viewers to follow them at the end of their videos, you can also ask viewers to follow you for more content.
Sometimes people might really enjoy what you put out on Instagram, but need a nudge before they actually follow you. Sometimes you just need to remind the users of a platform that they can subscribe to get more in the comments of a post.
You can also do this in your captions or even work it into your content by pitching what your audience will get if they follow you or hinting at content that’s coming up that they won’t want to miss.
9. Hop on trends
When the opportunity presents itself, aligning your content with trending topics or hashtags can improve discoverability and engagement.
For example, you can ride the wave of a trending topic or event, such as a holiday, in a relevant way to boost your engagement and reach. Or you can participate in one of the many hashtag holidays that exist, such as #NationalCoffeeDay (falling on October 1st in 2018). Mark relevant events in your calendar so you can prepare relevant content in advance.
Be sure to join the conversation in a meaningful way and when in doubt, ask yourself if your target audience would actually pay attention to the trend.
10. Run a giveaway
One of the best kinds of comments you can get on any social media post, not just Instagram, is a comment where one user tags a friend. Not only do these comments contribute to your post’s engagement, which in turn makes it favorable to the Instagram algorithm, but each tag brings you a new audience member who arrived through a recommendation and who you could potentially win over as a follower.
One way to encourage this behavior is by posting relatable content that begs for 1:1 sharing (e.g. A gym meme that asks you to tag a friend who skips leg day). But a more reliable way to get your audience to tag their friends is by running a giveaway that encourages your audience to tag a friend and follow your account.
Be sure to check out our post on running a giveaway for more, as well follow Instagram’s promotion guidelines and any legal requirements for running a contest that apply in your country of operation.
For inspiration, here’s an example of a successful product giveaway from the5th that incentivizes people to follow their account and tag a friend for the chance to win two free products for the both of them.
11. Be consistent
Most of your followers won’t follow you for what you posted in the past but for the promise of what you’ll post in the future. Your audience wants to know what they’re going to get if they hit that follow button.
Having a feed with a consistent theme running through, where you publish at a consistent pace, can have just as much of an impact in growing a following as many of the other growth strategies we’ve covered above. Even a simple pattern can entice new followers, as long as it’s communicated at first glance to anyone who lands on your profile.
Consider your bio and your last 9 posts as your first impression on Instagram. Do they effectively communicate some degree of consistency through personality, filters, colors, or layout?
The layout of your grid is an often underestimated way to get creative with the aesthetic of your feed while adding a rhythm to your publishing strategy and consistency that’s worth following.
In fact, many accounts that adopt this approach are often able to spend less effort on creating content by focusing on converting visitors into followers, producing text graphics or other content with a faster turnaround and streamlining the overall production of their Instagram content.
You can use a tool like Later to easily plan out and schedule the look and layout of your feed in advance. Sonnet Insurance is just one example of how far some brands go with the aesthetic of their Instagram layout.
12. Closely monitor your following over time
It’s not enough to get more Instagram followers if you’re losing them just as fast. Keep an eye on the rate at which you’re growing as well as how engaged your following is overall.
Social Blade is a great free tool for analyzing the growth of your following (or your competitors), showing you followers added and lost over time and on specific days.
With an Instagram Business account, you also get an Instagram Analytics dashboard which offers valuable insight for free that you won’t get anywhere else. You can see how many people are checking out your profile, how many people your posts have reached, what your most engaging posts are, and where most of your followers are from.
You can use this data to diagnose where you’re falling short and where you could do more.
Look for patterns in the posts that were the most engaging and try to replicate that in your future content.
13. Use the Instagram tools at your disposal
There are hundreds of Instagram tools out there that can help you and your Instagram strategy, but I mentioned three key ones to help you build your audience and engage with them over time:
- Later Schedule and automatically publish your Instagram posts from your computer or mobile device.
- IconoSquare: Info, analytics and insights into your account and followers.
- Webstagram: Find the best hashtags for your posts and people for your sponsored posts.
You can find more in our list of top Instagram tools, as well as some apps to help you with creating and editing your content.
Once you’ve built up a large following on Instagram, you might also want to check out these tactics for making money on Instagram.
Grow an Instagram following that grows your business
In this post we talked about the most effective ways to use Instagram to build a targeted following, but it’s not always a numbers game. As with any social network, the most successful strategy overall is to be authentic and social.
If you focus on engagement, not just followers, Instagram can be a great home for your products and brand that can lead to a healthy stream of revenue for your ecommerce business.