Ah, Instagram. . . with over a billion active monthly users, there’s no doubt of its belovedness and influence as a social media outlet. What began as a purely personal venture turned into a business opportunity very quickly. Having a strong IG following means a stronger community for your brand, more hits on your blog or website, and more sales for your business. The “magic number” of followers is 10,000. Once your followers reach that number, your IG opportunities multiply. If you have fewer than 10,000 followers, you can place a link in your bio and THAT’S IT. Once you reach the magic number, however, Instagram offers you the “Swipe Up” feature that allows you to add links to your stories, which leads followers where you want them to go. So how do you get to the magic number?
OPTIMIZE YOUR IG NAME
Instead of using only your business name on your bio, consider following it with a slug featuring search-optimized text related to your specific service or product. For example: Acme Marketing, Inc. | Los Angeles Trade Show Displays Adding your core product at the end of your bio name increases the chances your business will show up in search results when people are looking for similar services and/or products. You can add to your slug your locale, your specific or general service/product, and anything else that will help people find you.
GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT
Do a little research. Go back through your photos and see which ones got the most likes and comments — and of course, the least. What clicks with your audience and why? How can you incorporate more photos and content like that into your feed? You need quality content and you need to engage with your audience. It ain’t called “social” media for nothin’! Respond to comments you receive and leave comments on other accounts, too. If you’re into analytics, you can use Tailwind to help analyze results, track conversions, and discover new content.
LINK YOUR INSTAGRAM TO OTHER NETWORKS
And don’t just add an Instagram button to your website. It won’t drive visitors there like you might hope. Instead, share a tweet or a Facebook post encouraging people to follow you on Instagram. Make a quick YouTube video with a shout-out to your IG account. This will help your followers on other networks find your IG account and follow you there, too. Because they already know and like and follow you elsewhere, they are the easiest to recruit on other networks.
Hashtags are a great, organic way to build community and to gain new content for your account. First, create an original hashtag with a specific purpose. Come up with some variations of the hashtag groups you use – this keeps Instagram from shadow banning your account (basically hiding your posts from hashtag results because they interpret your account as spam). Periodically check to make sure your hashtags are unique enough that they aren’t getting too much competition and driving your posts to the bottom of the pile. Finally, post with your hashtags at peak user times so that your followers will see you, interact, tag you, and drive your content around the web.
USE INSTAGRAM STORIES
Once thought of as fluff, stories are now a staple of users’ IG accounts. Many users say they prefer watching stories to scrolling their follows’ feeds. Stories have that “gotta watch it now” effect on viewers. Take your viewers behind the scenes, show them your biz, ask questions, take a poll, use filters and GIFs, have a contest! Get comfortable using stories and playing with your audience in this way. It really ups your fun factor and everyone loves that!
Although this method is generally frowned upon by IG users, there is a way to use it that is intentional, ethical, and effective. Instead of following hundreds of random, loosely-related accounts en masse and immediately dropping the ones who don’t follow back, do this: spend some time carefully perusing IG using search words you want your own audience to find you with; follow the accounts that look worthwhile, that truly interest or inspire you, that you think your audience would appreciate. This will take more time, but it will also build your account and not water it down. If your follow/followers ratio is out of whack, you can purge accounts that don’t follow you back by using one of any number of apps that identify such accounts. Be aware, however, that using automated bots to “clean up” your account are against Instagram’s guidelines and can result in a ban. Don’t let your account get caught in the crossfire.
PAY FOR FOLLOWERS
Social optics are important to people looking for IG influencers and businesses. If people see that you have a low number of followers, they are less likely to want to jump on board. To boost your image and communicate that you are worth following, consider buying a few thousand followers. There are lots of places that provide that service. Remember, though, that this move is pure optics – you don’t really have that many followers, and you’ll need to work to boost your REAL numbers. There are countless ways to gain followers on your Instagram account, and you’ll need to use a lot of them. There’s no one, sure-fire way to grow your audience. Try all of them. Try a new one a week. Think outside the box to come up with creative ways to get to that magic number of 10,000, which will ultimately allow you to drive actual sales and leads on your website.