Every company, entrepreneur or influencer who’s investing their time and money on social media marketing cannot ignore Instagram. Why? Because Instagram has 1 billion users.
In 2016, Instagram had just 500 million users. In January 2018, the number of users hit 1 billion. 80% of these users follow a business profile.
Statistics just put into perspective the growing popularity of Instagram. Like Pinterest, Instagram gives users opportunities to explore their hobbies and hence, it’s a great platform on which businesses can engage their audiences.
As of today, there are approximately 52 million business profiles on Instagram. These businesses are the ones that are benefiting from the powers of Instagram. Another statistic points out that 75% of the users take action after looking at the brand’s Instagram post.
Statistical data deduces that Instagram is an important social media platform for businesses. Equally important is it for entrepreneurs and influencers.
How To Gain More Instagram Followers
The key to being successful on Instagram is to know how to grow one’s ‘followers’. Once that hurdle is crossed, it’s then all about keeping your followers engaged.
Using statistical tools, case studies, and examples; we have found 10 proven tactics that anyone can use to grow their Instagram following and engagement. These tactics are given below:
1. Make it a practice to post content regularly
According to a research study that was conducted in 2017, the more often you post, the more likes you get and consequently, your followers too increase.
Follow this simple rule. Make sure that you post at least one piece of content daily. By doing so, you will not just see an increase in your following, your engagement rates too will see an increase.
The study found out that those profiles who posted more than seven times a week got more likes than the other profiles that posted less often. Another interesting find of this study linked higher engagement rates with more frequent posting. Before this research study was conducted, the belief was rather contrary- the less you post, the better your engagement rates.
The reason why the findings of this study concurred with the findings of the previously conducted studies is because in this study similarly sized accounts were monitored and compared– which proved to be all the difference.
The study also proved that posting often can increase your followers’ growth rate considerably.
2. Spend some time and effort in finding and promoting quality hashtags
Did you know that you can follow hashtags on Instagram?
To be popular on Instagram, you need to know your hashtags in and out. The reason why hashtags are so important on Instagram is that Instagram is a hobby exploratory social media platform where people search for content through topics. Hashtags align your content with these topics and thus, ensure that your content reaches a mass audience.
Instagram allows users to tag their content with 30 different hashtags. However, ideally, a post should be tagged with a maximum of nine hashtags.
Online tools such as Display Purpose can help you find the right and different kinds of hashtags for your posts. Like Display Purpose, there are many other free Instagram tools available online that can help you find the right hashtags for your content.
So this is how Display Purpose works. You type in the main subject matter of your post. You will then be given multiple options of the different kinds of hashtags with which you can tag your content.
3. Learn to use ‘Analytics’ to your benefit
Instagram has this feature that’s called ‘Instagram Insights’. However, this feature is available only to ‘Business Profiles’. Instagram Insights is like your Google Analytics for Instagram. It gives you all the information that you need in order to understand how your followers are interacting with your profile.
To get to the Instagram Insights page, follow these three simple steps (remember Instagram Insights is only available for business profiles):
- Head to your business profile page.
- On the top right-hand corner, you will see a ‘bar’ icon. Tap on that.
- Choose what you want ‘insights’ on. You can select between specific posts, stories and promotions that you have run.
Instagram Insights allows you to track three key metrics: Impressions, Profile Visits & Reach.
Learn to use analytics to your benefit. Go through the Insights page regularly. Read the data. Understand what kind of content gains the most impressions, reach and engagement. Try finding out which posts of your reached people who weren’t following your page. Posts such as that can help you gain your follower count. Statistical data can help you improve your efficiency. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the numbers!
4. Implement ‘Cross-Posting’ to your advantage
Cross-posting is the simple practice of trying to integrate the content that you share across all your social media platforms. It sounds like a very complicated task but in reality, it’s simple. You just have to take a little bit of effort.
In fact, since Instagram’s Facebook takeover, cross-posting has become extremely simple. Instagram’s interface itself allows you to easily share content on Facebook, Tumblr & Twitter. As marketers and businesses, it’s your duty now to exploit this feature to your benefit.
The objective of cross-posting is to let your customers know that you exist on different social media platforms. Why? So that your postings get more exposure. The more exposure that your postings get, the more engagement they will entice and hence, new customers will have a better image for your business.
To prove the importance of cross-posting, Buzzmo conducted a research study in 2016. The study found out that images that were posted on Facebook via Instagram generated 23% more engagement.
One tip on how you can go about cross-posting your content. Try embedding the posts that you share on social media with pictures that are linked to your Instagram account.
5. Find out the best times to post at & make it a practice of posting content in those time-intervals only
Okay so here’s the truth. Different social media platforms have different ‘best times’ to post it. Not just that. The best time to post at even differs within a social media platform. What one’s trying to say here is that; there’s no one particular best time as to post at that can be applied by all businesses on Instagram
The best time to post at depends upon your followers.
To find out the best times to post at for your business, go back to Instagram Insights. That’s where the information that you need is awaiting you. In order to get maximum engagement for your posts, you need to find out at exactly what time your followers are most active.
Here’s you get that information:
- Head to Instagram Insights (Business Profile- Click on ‘bar’ icon)
- Click on ‘Followers’.
- Click on ‘See more’.
And more, you shall see indeed. On this page, you will be able to get exactly the kind of information that you need. What time your users are most active, on what days they are the most active, where your followers are from– there’s a lot of data for you to analyze. Analyze this data and find the best time to post for your business.
Instagram Insights is only available for business profiles. So, what do you do if you don’t have a business profile? How do you use analytics to your benefit then? You use other Instagram Analytic tools that are available online. Sprout Social, Simply Measured, Iconosquare are all examples of great Instagram Analytic tools.
Note: This above paragraph applies to ‘Point 3’ as well.
6. Plan regular ‘Profile Takeovers’
In other words, take an effort of collaborating with other businesses or influencers that have a mass following on Instagram. Think of it as a mini ‘co-branding’ process. You are using the following that others’ have to ramp up your own following by giving them also an opportunity to do so. A successful collaboration has to be structured as a win-win deal.
So you primarily have three different collaboration strategies to look at: influencer marketing, sponsorship and partnerships. All three strategies are great. Influencer marketing is the trend nowadays. It’s growing in popularity because of the ‘credibility’ that influencers bring. However, it can be an expensive Instagram strategy.
Make a business decision. Choose the strategy that’s correct for you financially.
A great example of influencer marketing done right is- Coachella. Coachella tied up with 416 influencers. Sure, it was an expensive strategy but it resulted in generating 4.4 billion impressions– more than their events main sponsor H&M.
7. Experiment with different content formats on Instagram
One of the reasons why Instagram has become so popular with the millennial population is because of their innovation. Every now and then, new content formats are springing up. Hence, by doing so, Instagram is able to keep the attention of their audiences and thereby, give businesses new opportunities to engage with their customers.
The popularity of video content is growing. Engagement for video content is growing fast– much faster than what’s happening with static content.
Instagram has some very interesting content formats for business to exploit. Live videos, stories & TV- these three content formats promise great ways to stimulate engagement.
Opel- well-known car manufacturers ran a sequence of carousel ads via the Instagram stories feature- the result was 2.5x greater registrations.
To see the Opel story click here.
Freshly Cosmetics- a cosmetic brand used Instagram stories to drive its consumers to their website-the result direct sales increased by 9 times.
Yes, these case studies primarily focus on driving customer engagement. They don’t directly show how experimenting with different content formats can increase one’s followers. But what they do show is that people respond better to new content formats. And, that’s what can help you gain followers!
8. Make it a point to share user-generated content
Here’s a fact: User-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate than non-user generated content. Take a look at Buffer Social- their Instagram following grew by 400% and they account much of its success to sharing user-generated content.
Apple really uses user-generated content well and it’s proven to be successful marketing strategy for them. Business wise also, using user-generated content makes a lot of sense. Lesser effort-greater rewards.
The key here is to find a way to attract quality user-generated content. The contest route works best here. The prize of the contest need not always be monetary gratification-social gratification works equally well, if not better. What do we mean by social gratification? Give them the credit for their work. Bring them into the limelight through your business.
User-generated content has that authenticity factor to it that’s otherwise found lacking in other posts. That’s why it strikes a chord in people’s hearts and generates more engagement.
9. Host Contests
We humans are selfish beings. Until we see an advantage for something, we seldom act on it. Incentives go a long way in getting people to do what you want them to do.
On Instagram, the best way to incentivize people to follow you or engage with your content is to host contests. Yes, hosting contests is an old and cliched way of getting things done. But it still works and that’s what’s really important here.
Instead of hosting the old regular question and answer contests, identify the person contests-try putting your own spin on the contests to make it more exciting and interesting for the audience.
‘Tag a friend’ contests work really well to gain new followers!
10. Make use of ‘Filters’ & ‘Emoticons’ in your post
Adding ‘emoticons’ & ‘filters’ to your post serves a bigger purpose than fun. Believe it or not, they are great tools to entice engagement and promote the following.
A research study conducted found out that filtered photos are 21% more likely to get viewed than unfiltered photos. The same study found that filtered photos have 45% higher probability of getting a comment. Say goodbye to the days when ‘real was king’.
Here’s another weirdly fun statistic: in the UK, emoji is the fastest growing language. At least 50% of all the captions and comments on Instagram posts contain emojis.
Not to sound too old fashioned but if you aren’t using filters and emojis in your posts, the world will leave you behind.
With that, we come to the end of this article. Instagram is a fun social media platform. Sure, it’s about followers and engagement metrics but more than it’s about being exciting, fun & personal. If your posts encapsulate that, you should have no trouble with gaining a massive following on Instagram!