Whether you’re an SMB or a start-up, getting your Instagram account up and running isn’t as easy as it may seem. Success can be had for your brand, product or service as long as your photos and videos are captivating, well done and high quality. With a simple strategy and bullet proof tactics, your brand can thrive on this channel.
Let’s start with some Instagram Stats:
53.62% of Instagram accounts have less than 1,000 followers
38.03 of Instagram accounts have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers
Chances are that if you’re reading this blog post you’re in the 53.62% group. On a shoe-string budget and using the strategy and tactics outlined in this blog post below, we created and grew an Instagram account to over 1,500 followers in a year.
With that said, let’s get started on organically growing that Instagram account.
Optimize Your Profile
Simply state what your company does, services or products provided with a link to your website at the very minimum. Include a relevant branded #hashtag in your profile. This is a hashtag you will include in every post or a hashtag that is unique to your brand. For the record, this hashtag is not searchable and will not bring traffic to your profile but is a way to increase engagement in your posts. Any hashtags you use need to be a part of your overall Instagram strategy.
Post Great Original Content
You may be thinking, duh, of course I will post great original content and I like your confidence. However, some brands post photos or videos that are NOT their own and do NOT give credit to the source of that original photo or video. Do not do this. If you post content on Instagram that is not your own, then give credit to the original source. Why, you ask. Because you will be flamed and called out for it and that will organically shrink your Instagram account. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the positive.
David Ogilvy once said that ‘you cannot bore your customer into buying your product’ and that still rings true today, especially on Instagram. Your Instagram photo(s) or video(s) need to have a purpose to be there, and it needs to be relevant to your intended audience. Build out your content calendar a month in advance to ensure Instagram supports your other online and offline marketing activities. Look at some Instagram food accounts, and you will see some amazing photos of burgers, ice cream, entrees and all things delicious that make your mouth melt. Can you photograph your product or service is such a way that it excites your followers? Work towards that and be genuine to your brand.
Okay, now you’ve optimized your profile and have a plan for the content you will be posting so now we get into how to grow your followers.
Hashtag all of your posts
Instagram users follow and search for #hashtags to find relevant content they like. By adding relevant hashtags to your posts, you will attract people who are interested in your content via those hashtags. Note that I said relevant, if your hashtag each of your posts with #love, which has 1.8 billion posts, then you are just screaming into the ether and will not get new followers and alienate your brand – lose/lose. If your hashtags are relevant to your brand and your audience, they most likely will follow you.
How many hashtags should be used in an Instagram post?
The limit to the number of hashtags you can use in an Instagram post is 30, you can use 10 hashtags in an Instagram story. Research these hashtags to do two things – promote your brand, product or service – and attract like minded people who will turn into followers.
There are some great hashtag apps on the market to help you improve your hashtag strategy. One app that I personally use and highly recommend is Hashtag Expert. Each time I create a post on my hobby Instagram account, I use this app to add additional hashtags to my post. It has increased both engagement and followers and the price are affordable for all SMBs or start-ups to use. If you don’t have a hashtag app, I highly recommend it especially if your social media person wears multiple hats on the marketing team.
How many likes is good for an Instagram post?
A good rule of thumb for a ‘good’ number of likes on your posts is about 10% of your followers. So, if you have 300 followers than getting 30 likes is considered ‘good’. If you get more that than you should be happy with your Instagram strategy. If it is lower than that, consider adding more relevant hashtags to your post or look at your followers and purge what look like ‘fake’ accounts. Purging your followers should be done quarterly and it will ensure the ‘likes’ and comments you receive are from real people.
Once you start posting great content with magnificent hashtags you will start to cultivate a group of relevant followers. Look at these followers on a regular basis and follow the ones you believe would be good customers or future influencers. The rule of thumb is about 1/3 of people you follow on Instagram will follow you back. Following accounts on Instagram is another way to grow your following but would be near the last of the tactics I would employ to increase your number of followers.
Use Instagram Stories
I could write 1,000 word blog post about this topic alone but Buffer has already done so. Use your 10 relevant hashtags and wield these to sell and promote your brand. Instagram stories simply amplify your brand to your followers and should be done so on a regular (weekly) basis.
To Meme, or not to Meme, that is the question
Everyone loves a good meme and Instagram is a great place to post one. Ideally the meme you’re considering is relevant to your audience and they would enjoy it. Memes are a temporary boost to engagement on your account and can lead to long-term follower increases but wield them carefully. I used a meme once on a personal account that got 4,600 likes – more than 10x my followers at the time! It was funny, all good memes are, and it was properly hashtagged but only a fraction of those engagements became followers.