With so much competition on Instagram and its ever-changing algorithms, businesses must learn how to grab a user's attention well enough to keep them from scrolling past.
July 13, 2020 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
This article was written by Alex Sixt, an Entrepreneur NEXT powered by Assemble expert. If you are looking to take the NEXT step in your business then we encourage you to check out Entrepreneur NEXT powered by Assemble.
It’s time to face the truth: achieving more Instagram followers is not as easy as it once was. Long gone are days when posting a photo with a few hashtags to Instagram was enough to earn at least another one hundred followers. But social media trends move quickly, and growing followers isn't what it used to be. There are still techniques you can apply to greatly increase your brand’s Instagram followers in an age where it seems impossible.
With so much competition on Instagram and its ever-changing algorithms, businesses must learn how to grab a user's attention well enough to keep them from scrolling past. We've compiled a list of the best tips for increasing your Instagram followers and gaining your brand the attention it deserves, making you an Instagram pro in no time.
1. Find the right time to post.
Believe it or not (but you should), the time you decide to post your Instagram content can largely impact how it performs. However, with 24 hours in a day and seven days a week, the decision of when to post your content can seem completely overwhelming. To avoid the inevitable headache from trying to figure it out yourself, a simple online search can help you to build the foundation for your Instagram content schedule.
Many social media blogs and social media management tools have already done the digging to determine the best times to post on Instagram, giving you the freedom to post with confidence while saving you hours of research. But don’t settle with the standard recommended times. Every audience is different and may be active on Instagram at hours that slightly deviate from the general “most popular” times. Use the general data as a foundation for your scheduling, and adjust the times you post as you begin to determine the best times for your specific following.
2. Be smart about hashtags.
If you’re looking to reach new audiences on Instagram, hashtags are the way to go. But it isn’t enough to simply pick a few random, popular hashtags and call it a day. As magical as that would be, popular hashtags can only take your post so far; luckily there’s another type of hashtag that will help grow your Instagram followers.
it's called the “niche hashtag.” A niche hashtag focuses on a very specific interest: for example, a photographer in New York should consider using #newyorkphotographer in addition to the widely popular #photographer (which has already been used on over 168 million posts and counting). By putting niche hashtags to work on your Instagram posts, you’ll gain followers who are already interested in your industry and increase awareness of your brand within the Instagram community.
3. Go beyond the typical post.
Beware of limiting yourself to just photos; Instagram has a variety of features to help create an experience for your followers. By utilizing features such as video or IGTV, you’ll be able to offer more ways for followers to interact with your brand.
IGTV can be a great way to experiment with long-form content on Instagram and can help you to understand how your followers prefer to engage with your brand. However, don’t feel obligated to dive right in and post a seven-minute video. Ease into it by posting one video per week, and watch how your followers interact with it compared to a regular post. Use these findings to update your Instagram strategy and stay up-to-date on the type of content users are most interested in seeing.
4. Utilize geotagging.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “location, location, location”? While it may typically be used about real estate, it certainly applies to Instagram as well. This is where the geotagging feature comes in: it allows users to store their content at a specific location and tags the post to those coordinates. By using a geotag, your Instagram posts are instantly more visible to users who are searching in that particular location.
There are more ways than one to use the geotagging feature beyond standard posts. Instagram also offers users the option to geotag through Stickers on Stories or through location hashtags. Curious about where people are talking about your brand the most? Use Instagram’s explore page to search your brand name or physical storefront, if you have one, and select the “place” option. This can help you gain a better understanding of where your followers are talking about your brand, and how far your brand’s reaches, geographically.
5. Upgrade your photos.
Instagram is a visually-based social media app, which means that your photos need to be of excellent quality to compete with other brands and attract new followers. Do you only have a smartphone with you? No problem! When used correctly, smartphones are capable of taking Instagram-worthy pictures, and you don’t need to be a professional photographer to figure it out.
Lucky for you, there a few quick hacks you can use right now to start taking better Instagram photos. Start with using the camera in the back of your phone; it’ll be easier to steady the camera and the quality of your Instagram photos will be noticeably better. Check the lighting to make sure it’s not too dark or bright—natural lighting is best for pictures as it’s not too overpowering.
To make your photos eye-catching to users as they scroll through their feed, play with a variety of angles, and use the gridlines feature to balance photos. Last word of advice: avoid the temptation to over-edit photos before posting, as many users can tell when a photo isn’t real. A good Instagram photo will speak for itself and need little editing.
6. Partner with other brands.
It may seem counter-intuitive to partner with other brands that are competition, but collaborating on content can bring you new Instagram followers from a different audience. Partnering with a brand on Instagram can introduce you both to a new audience through one another’s Instagram followers, and grow your reach on social media.
If you’re new to Instagram or have never partnered with another brand, have no fear. It’s easier than you’d think to reach out, and a big step toward building your Instagram following. Begin your partnership adventure by identifying brands that your audiences would likely be interested in. It’s a good practice to double-check their brand values to ensure they align with yours; this can help to prevent any issues that could harm the future of the partnership.
Once you’re sure they’re a great fit, reach out and ask to partner with them. If you secure a partnership, take advantage of the new exposure by creating engaging Instagram content that showcases both brands. Consider creating a hashtag specifically for the partnership, or offer a giveaway to pique their follower’s interest. Overall, the goal of your partnership should be to promote both parties’ brands, resulting in new Instagram followers that could become customers.
7. Gather feedback through Stories.
Everyone loves to feel that a brand cares about their fan’s opinions; and Instagram users are no exception to this rule. Lucky for you, Instagram offers the ultimate tool to receive feedback easily: Stories. Use polls to gauge interest or the question sticker as a suggestion box to learn more about your audience. Engagement will be positively impacted when followers receive the content they asked for, and your brand posts about what they’re interested in.
As you begin to receive feedback, put it to use in your Instagram content to help create a more engaging experience for users, making them more likely to follow your page. And ask for feedback consistently! Instagram (and the world itself) changes rapidly, so its always a good idea to ask your fans for feedback to stay relevant.
Growing your Instagram following can seem like an intimidating challenge, especially if you’re new to the platform. But if you take the time to learn more about your audiences, and what type of content they want to see, increasing your Instagram follower count will begin to seem like much more of an achievable goal. You got this—now go and try some of these tips.