11 Ways to Increase Your Instagram Following and Build Your Authority
Instagram is a powerful tool for promotion, and can grow you or your business from nothing in a matter of months. There are people and brands all over the world who owe their success to Instagram – but how do they go from five or six followers to five or six thousand (or more in many cases) in such a short time? Patience, persistence and perseverance, and there may be a few handy tricks to doing it right!
1. Post often, but not too often!
When you’re building, or have already built, a solid following on Instagram, it’s important that you stay active but avoid spamming. Posting once a day is generally a good rule, but you want to avoid posting very similar or even virtually the same thing every day. While you want to retain consistency in your posts, you also want to maintain a bit of variety to ensure your audience doesn’t get bored.
2. Be active in the community
Just like any other online platform, putting yourself out there is one of the best ways to get noticed. It’s much more likely that people will stumble on your account if you’re liking and commenting on other photos, particularly ones that are similar to yours. You can also repost other’s photos to give them a compliment if you’re struggling for content or want to engage a particular person, but it’s always best to ask their permission first!
3. Don’t just be active – me meaningfully active
It’s not enough, though, to simply write ‘cute’ or ‘cool’ on other people’s photos. It’s obvious what you’re doing and will normally reduce the likelihood of people following through and checking out your account. It doesn’t gage any real attention. The best way to grow your instagram account is by only posting meaningful comments that will actually start conversation, draw attention or spark thought in your audience. Doing this can also help you start friendships or partnerships within the Instagram community, which can be beneficial for your Instagram growth in the long term.
4. Tag, tag, tag!
Tags are the easiest way for people to find you on Instagram, and they’re almost a sure-fire bet if you’re posting quality content. You can use bundles of extremely popular tags, but the issue is that there are a lot of people doing the same thing and your post can quickly get lost without getting any real recognition. You’re better off finding your niche and aesthetic, perhaps even a micro community within Instagram that you’d like to be affiliated with, and use tags that relate to that. This also means that those who do notice, comment or like these photos are more likely to be actively engaged with your content, increasing your chances of building an active and involved following.
5. Find an aesthetic and stick to it
One of the biggest mistakes Instagram rookies make is creating an account which, when visited, looks messy and unappealing. You may have lots of great quality photos, but you need to keep in mind that your audience is going to see them in a collage lined up with one another when they first visit your profile. If your content looks coherent and neat not only is more appealing, but your audience is also going to know what to expect and be more likely to follow you if that is something that appeals to them. It also deters already existing followers from unfollowing if you all of a sudden decide to mix up your content without warning.
6. Promote yourself
Instagram features the ability to cross-post and share to other social media platforms, which can be extremely useful if you already have a following on Facebook or Tumblr, for example. Your followers from there can be easily transferred to Instagram using this method. If you have your own website rather than a social media platform, you can create Instagram feeds or simply provide a link so that your audience knows they can also keep up to date on Instagram.
7. Know your niche
It’s important to understand, once you’ve decided on an aesthetic, what niche your account fits into and what the culture surrounding that particular niche is. There may be large blogs in that niche you might want to attempt to befriend, or there may be certain hashtags that you can use to promote to this specific niche’s audience. This is a great way, again, to ensure your audience on Instagram is real and engaged with your content. In addition, it can also help you to understand your audience better by exploring what other products, brands or interests they enjoy.
8. Drive engagement
Once you have a somewhat solid following, you can use your audience to grow your audience. Sounds silly, but it’s an extremely popular and powerful method of promotion on Instagram. Great ways to doing this include asking your followers questions, such as their opinion or information, as well as by running Instagram contests. These contests work because not only do they have to repost your content, but you can require them to use a brand specific hashtag and tag your account in the post – promoting you to their followers in the process.
9. Know your audience
Once you’ve established your audience, it’s a good idea to know a bit about them. Where are most of them from? How old are they? The nature of Instagram is that your actual audience might be slightly different to your intended target audience, and you need to know how to work with that. The best idea is to be active when they are at their most active – and engage with them to ensure they’ll be responsive to your content.
10. Quality over quantity
It can be tempting to post just for the sake of posting, but there’s millions of Instagram accounts that your audience could follow and you need to show them why they’re following you. If you can’t take a good enough photo, find one that you can use with permission. Never post bad quality photos – use a professional camera rather than your smart phone if it’s possible and try to learn some good editing to ensure your photos are always as visually appealing as possible.
11. Don’t try to sell your product
Social networks don’t work to well for selling. Sure, they can be a great platform from which to promote brand awareness, engage with your audience and spread the word about your product – but never try to directly sell. As often as possible, direct your audience to a website or other platform on which they can purchase whatever it is you’re promoting. Also, people don’t want to actively follow advertisement. They might be alright with one or two ads for special occasions every now and then, but you definitely don’t want your entire account to be ads and straightforward promotion. Take a look at some successful business accounts on Instagram to see how they achieve this ‘promotion without advertising’ technique.