Wondering How to Increase Your Instagram Followers? Here Are Some Suggestions
For many, if not most, businesses, Instagram can be a very effective means by which to build a brand, drive traffic to a website or landing page and ultimately convert Instagram users to followers who ultimately become customers.
It’s also a long-held principle that it’s the level of engagement and not the sheer follower size of an Instagram account that matters most and that’s true — for the most part. Amassing a huge legion of passive but disinterested followers — by legitimate means or otherwise — won’t do much for your business. But attaining a large, active following has its definite advantages, and that makes growing your Instagram followers an important objective.
With all other factors being equal, having a big following makes it easier to promote your business (without being too heavy-handed, of course), position yourself or your company as a thought leader and/or be an advocate for a specific cause or outcome. People are more likely to want to follow an established IG account with lots of followers — just like walking into an empty nightclub, a long-standing account with few followers confers the notion that there’s just much worth hanging around for.
Let’s take a look at some proven strategies to grow your Instagram followers. But first, let’s note that it’s not worth BUYING that following. Not only is it against Instagram policy and grounds for cancelling your account, but you also won’t get proportional engagement and the imbalance it creates will look very suspicious. Rest assured that engagement still figures as heavily as ever into the IG algorithm, as Hubspot explains in this post.
Get Your Entire Instagram Feed in Order — Especially those Elements that Are Visible to the Public
The look of your Instagram feed can almost instantly confer a sense of quality and interest or dissuade visitors with the notion that providing a valuable social media experience really isn’t all that important a consideration for you or your company.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential visitor and pay particular attention to those elements of your Instagram account that are most readily seen and consumed.
For example, your Instagram bio is often the first thing a visitor/soon-to-be follower will review, whether they arrive at your feed via a hashtag, an Instagram story or any other means. First impressions matter. A lot. Your bio should instantly convey what your business is about, without leaving any confusion. Striking a balance between descriptiveness and brevity is difficult, but it’s essential in this case — you only get a scant 150 characters to work with here. That’s not much, so you must make each character count.
It’s common practice to change up elements of your bio from time to time while leaving essential wording intact, so as not to cause confusion. Many businesses use their bios to convey new information that might otherwise get lost on their feed and drive traffic to specials that are linked via temporary URLs. In the midst of Covid, restaurants also often used this space to convey their ever-changing hours and accessibility in order to keep their clientele informed.
In the case of most businesses, your profile photo will consist of a logo — except in those cases where you are literally the face of your business. In either instance, would-be followers glean a lot of information from the quality of that photo. Is it crystal clear and properly centered in its allotted space? Does it render well, regardless of the device a follower might use? Most business logos weren’t created with these considerations in mind, so modification of an existing logo — and sometimes even creating a purpose-based logo especially for Instagram — might be necessary.
For example, if your logo was originally created with a horizontal orientation, it may well appear nearly microscopic after reducing it to fit the confines of IG profile specs.
Beyond these primary considerations, just what constitutes an effective profile photo is subjective and varies with the type of business it represents. This logo.com blog post gives some insight into best practices.
Take an objective look at your Instagram feed and see what impression it leaves you with. Does it convey a consistent brand identity, with image colors, a recognizable narrative posting “voice” and an overall appearance that’s cohesive but not redundant? Are your images consistently compelling or are there some duds in there, too? How about any video thumbnails that just didn’t come out looking right?
Potential followers take these factors into consideration. If they think your content will be disposable and your brand voice will be all over the map, they’re going to be far less likely to be willing to take that plunge and hit the “follow” button.
As a side note, Instagram allots 30 characters for your username. That’s enough for most businesses, but there are situations where a business’s Instagram username will be abbreviated in order to make it more easily memorable.
Your logo space should include a full display of your actual business name and not just an abbreviated variation. There are many businesses that share portions of a business name — the Titan Network is a mastermind group for Amazon sellers, whereas Titan Fitness sells home gym equipment. Sprout Social is a media management platform, while Sprouts is a supermarket chain.
Alleviate confusion — don’t cause it.
Provide Value and Quality, Above All
Sure, this has been a cornerstone of sound social media practice from the very start — regardless of the platform you might be using — but it’s still important enough to reiterate.
You might justifiably feel a little pressure from time to time as you create and execute your Instagram content strategy. After all, that strategy is certain to include frequent updates on your part, and with that frequency comes an increased likelihood that you may feel that you’ve run out of quality content to work with.
It’s well worth continuing to put in the extra effort to create and share quality content. When you find yourself posting just for the sake of being consistent and little else, you’ll almost always notice right away that people don’t respond well.
Visitors, who will hopefully be converted to followers, rightfully ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Perceived value can take a number of forms — it might be pure entertainment or the dispensing of knowledge of various types, but nevertheless, that perceived value has to be there.
Shareable content is especially vital. When Instagram users share your latest content via their IG stories, for example, it not only provides tangible evidence that your content is resonating with current followers, but it also tells Instagram that your content is valuable, and that can make a substantial difference in how widely it’s distributed among users.
Think of Instagram followers as a Community, Not Just a Passive Audience
Whenever possible, try and stay away from the “I post and you consume” Instagram dynamic.
Instead, take opportunities to augment your content with genuine engagement. This doesn’t include phony, robotic “thanks for your comment” responses to any comments you might receive — those wreak of desperation, anyway — but actual, specific responses.
This will spur still more engagement that will ultimately get Instagram’s attention, while also telling current and potential followers that yours is an account that doesn’t just position itself as a one-way street — very few mega accounts can afford to position themselves that way and businesses are rarely among them.
Go live from time to time, while letting your followers know in advance that you’ll be doing so. Answer questions and offer more detailed knowledge, as well as the personal element that’s all too often missing from social media content.
Optimize Your Instagram Captions
This one might seem a little obvious, but we often lose sight that Instagram users frequently use the search bar to find the content they’re most interested in.
As content providers, we do our best to compose captions that are as conversational and user-friendly as possible. But in the process, we shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to include appropriate and effective keywords in our accompanying captions.
When those keywords match the terms Instagram users enter into the search bar, the likelihood of your content coming up in their feed goes up dramatically — especially if the keywords involved aren’t monolithic terms with huge search volumes.
Use Hashtags, but be Selective
Gone are the days when standard posting practice included loading up on a mélange of hashtags just below every post — many of which were too broadly used and heavily searched by people with an altogether different purpose than your followers would ever likely have.
It could be because Instagram got tired of people trying to game its algorithm improving their reach in the feed, or maybe IG just wanted to make a change, but nowadays including a preponderance of heavily searched, overly general hashtags is more likely than ever before to land you farther down the feed, as mega accounts have a much better chance of showing up for those terms than your account likely does.
Instead, keep your hashtags relevant. You don’t want to be overly obscure with them, but relevance is of increasing importance nowadays.
Consider The Other Instagram Options to Expand Your Overall Reach
Over time, it can become easy to fall into a behavioral rut where Instagram — as well as other social media platforms — are concerned. We realize that maintaining a consistent posting schedule is an essential ingredient in building and maintaining a following, so we do just that, regularly sharing impactful images to our feed with compelling, thoughtful captions, interspersed with some video content. Maybe we also augment those with some IG stories a couple of times each week.
But there’s more territory to be mined. More importantly, it’s territory that can provide you with the opportunity to include a more varied array of content that tells your business’s story more thoroughly while adding to its overall perceived personality.
Whenever any social media platform — IG certainly included — tries to bolster one of its relatively new platforms, it will invariably place more emphasis on that offering in its algorithm. Content providers who take the leap and start using that platform — Instagram Reels, for example — then get rewarded with markedly better reach than they would otherwise receive. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook — now Meta, of course — launched Instagram Reels in 2020, followed by Facebook Reels in 2021 as a response to TikTok’s meteoric rise in popularity.
Fast forward to the present and we see that TikTok hit an astounding one billion users about 8 months ago and shows no signs of slowing down. But at the same time, Instagram Reels has definitely caught on with the public, surpassing Instagram stories in search popularity earlier this year.
Reels remains a big deal now, and it definitely plays a major factor in the IG algorithm, so consider making it a regular part of your content creation strategy. The utility offers several distinct advantages over IG stories — even though the latter isn’t likely to be shelved anytime soon — including a longer potential shelf life.
Also, whereas IG stories has a life span of just 24 hours, a given Instagram Reel can live on for quite some time — theoretically, even indefinitely. IG Reels allows for the inclusion of captions, as well as some editing functions that aren’t available via IG stories — you can speed up or slow down your video content, for example, which makes IG Reels a good place for brief tutorials of 30 seconds or less.
Arguably just important, if not more so, IG Reels allows for public comments, so you’ll get immediate feedback as to how your content is being received.
As always, the key is to be both consistent and qualitative with your efforts. Regardless of the offering’s advantages, uncompelling content will still languish on IG Reels and certainly isn’t likely to be shared. Shareable content is a goal here too — when Instagram users share your reels via their IG stories, for example, Instagram will take notice and reward you accordingly with more reach.
Public accounts should also make sure to display their Reels in the “Explore” section, as recent studies show that up to 50% of all Instagram users use that section at least once per month.
Launched back in 2018, Instagram’s IGTV never really took off, and in 2021 IG replaced it with Instagram Videos. This relatively new format offers some distinct advantages, including the ability to upload content up to 60 minutes long that can be viewed right in the Instagram app. This utility’s distinction from Reels, Stories or even the Instagram feed — where you can also post videos, of course — is largely centered on its allowable content length, as videos in the IG feed top out at 60 seconds.
Of course, the prospect of having a full hour to work with can be daunting prospect for some, and the format certainly isn’t for every provider. On the other hand, there’s nothing compelling you to fill an entire hour and, if your business lends itself to more detailed instructional or product demo videos — or any other themes that might resonate with your potential audience — it promises to be a good way to stand out from the competition.
Growing an Instagram account consistently over time isn’t an easy task, despite all the videos out there that espouse magic shortcomings for doing just that. It takes a sound strategy and consistent WORK. But it can be done and the results — a large and engaged audience — are well worth it.