With more than 1 billion daily users globally and an estimated 10.4 million Canadians users in 2018, Instagram is understandably one of the most important social platforms your business should be using. However, if you don’t have a lot of followers or active engagement on the network, the likelihood your digital marketing campaigns will be successful is limited.
You could take a shortcut and buy an audience of followers – there’s no shortage of online services that will provide that service – but it’s not advisable. After all, you get what you pay for, and in the context of purchasing social media followers, you will likely end up with hundreds of bots (not real people) peddling digital porn. Moreover, when real people using Instagram have a look-see at your list of followers and see mostly bots, it can detrimentally affect their perceptions of your business and hurt your brand’s integrity.
In other words, if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. In the case of growing your business’s Instagram followers, that means putting in the effort to grow your audience organically.
One thing to remember, though: as rewarding it may be to have a large number of followers, that digit isn’t necessarily increasing the number of guests who visit your establishment. Like in so many other facets of life, quality trumps quantity. In the social media realm, the quality of your followers will influence whether or not others choose to follow you, and your engagement metrics.
Ways to Accelerate Your Instagram Growth
Here are a few ways you can grow your Instagram followers in a natural, authentic way:
- Use Hashtags. Hashtags categorize your content with other similar material, making it easy a wide audience find and interact with your posts. Take the time to research what hashtags you should consider using by taking note of the tags other players in your industry use and the captions they include in their posts. By recognizing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll have the underpinnings to craft your hashtag and content strategy.
- Update Your Profile. Make an effort to take or get a high-quality photo for your Instagram profile. Depending on the nature of your business, the photo could be your company’s logo, a shot of your venue, or an image that represents what you do. In addition to sharing your location to make it easy for people to find you offline and online, post photos of yourself and your staff and do so regularly. Don’t just post selfies, show your team in action. For instance, rather than sharing just an image of a meal that was prepared by your kitchen staff, also show how the dish was prepared along the way.
- Build Relationships. It takes two to tango, or so the saying goes. The same sentiment applies to social marketing. If you want someone to follow your Instagram account, start by following theirs first. Like, share, and comment on what other users have posted on Instagram. Be genuine and encouraging with your comments. Taking the step to engage with others will help drive others to follow you and engage with your content. Should someone who is following you and vice-versa sends you a direct message privately (aka a “DM”) make sure you respond to them as quickly as you can. Not only is that a hallmark of customer service excellence, but it also shows you value your followers. Fostering your social relationships will help ensure the followers you gain remain followers forever.
- Quality Content Rules. Your content needs to resonate with your target audience. If it doesn’t, they won’t follow you much less pay attention to you. Creative, intriguing, and humorous content, on the other hand, drives engagement and increases audience retention. Lest we forget, social media gives everyone the opportunity to be content creators whether they do it to promote a business, or to have fun. Excellent content can also help lift your rankings in Google searches. Since Google wants to show the most relevant results to users of its search engine, it relies on websites and social media accounts providing valuable information and engaging content.
- Analyze the Results. If you have an Instagram Business profile, use the platform’s analytics (called Insights) to get an overview of your activity, audience, clicks, profile visits, website clicks and impressions (the number of times people on the network see your posts whether they follow you or not). If you don’t have an Instagram Business profile, convert your account to one and give it a try (signing up and using Insights are both free).
Written by: Liam Lahey