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Instagram is the star child of the social media scene at the moment. Its popularity is on a continuous rise, and the implementation of Instagram Stories mid last year has only amplified that fact. This week— they announced the addition of their latest feature, IGTV; adding long-form video to the platform’s list of can-dos.
To get the most out of this powerhouse platform, the more eyes on your content the better. However, building up a massive following that isn’t engaging with you will actually negatively affect your ability to leverage the platform.
There are tactics you can utilize to maximize your followers while only attracting your ideal audience, ensuring you’re curating an engaged following interested in your content— and it doesn’t cost you anything other than a little bit of time.
Follow these strategies and watch your follower count climb…
1.) What To Post
Are you using your account for business? Then you need to know what your audience wants to see. Consider your ideal customer, and find out what their interests are; what are they passionate about and what do they like to do in their free time? These are the sorts of topics they seek out on social media.
I always make sure to intermittently post about dogs, travel and exotic cars because that’s what my ideal client is interested in— and I just happen to like those things too.
We like to connect with those who are like us, so utilizing the themes your audience finds interesting will entice them to follow you.
2.) Use Popular Hashtags
Search relevant hashtags on Instagram prior to posting your picture or video. Once you begin to type your search, you’ll see the relevant hashtags accumulate and along the right hand side you’ll see the number of posts associated with that hashtag. Utilize the tags with the highest number of posts!
Another great way to get the eyes of those who aren’t following you on your postings is to utilize timely hashtags. By that I mean hashtags of things that are popular in that moment, like TV show premieres, major sporting events or holidays to name a few ideas.
Overloading your posts with hashtags might be something you’ve been avoiding intentionally but it’s also why your following isn’t growing. It may seem like overkill but try to hit at least 11 hashtags per post with a goal of 30, which is the max for Instagram; this drastically increases the amount of potential engagement you can receive. Posts with 11 hashtags or more can earn up to 75% more engagement per 1,00 followers.
If you’re at a loss for what hashtags to use, download the app Focalmark. It uses authentic user data paired with machine learning to help you gather the most popular and engaging hashtags.
3.) Geotag ALWAYS
Whenever you’re posting and whatever you’re posting, add the most relevant geotag. This is a great way to get in front of local users; whenever someone looks at posts related to that place, they’ll see you!
Posts with a location can earn up to 79% more engagement than those without. The geotag is viewable in the top left of your post, underneath your handle.
4.) Curate Your Content
Create a content calendar specific for your Instagram. Plan out your week’s postings, or the whole month if you’ve got the time, by using a scheduling tool like Planoly, Schedugram or Onlypult. Each of these scheduling tools comes with a free trial so test it out and see how much easier regularly posting gets!
This will allow you to make sure you highlight those specific content pieces or events at the top of your lists, and whatever you post outside of those things will work supplementarily to your social marketing.
5.) Interact With Your Audience
Don’t just say ‘thanks’ when someone comments on your posts, be human! Interact with your audience when they take the time to interact with you. Human connection is no Instagram hack, but it makes a big difference when it comes to user engagement.
However, here’s a hack: pictures with faces in them are 38% more likely to get engaged with than those without.
6.) Stay Connected
That means don’t just talk with individuals commenting on your posts; start commenting on the profiles of others! Social media is a two way street; the more engagement you show outside of your own content the more your handle will be seen and the more potential followers will see you.
Find accounts of individuals within your target audience and like some of their pictures. This may seem odd but it’s been turned into a science. For every 100 likes given, Neil Patel found you get 6.1 follows back.
7.) Follow Creators in Your Niche
In doing this, you’ll find content and posting inspiration as well as an idea of what it is your audience wants to see. Engage with these accounts and you’ll be seen by your ideal followers more and more.
However be careful to not hijack their posts by trying to promote yourself; be authentic! Leave the opportunity open for cross-promotional posts between you and your industry peers.
8.) Cross Promote
Be sure to include your Instagram handle everywhere you are; on your website, in your Facebook profile, on your business card… EVERYWHERE. Chances are you’ve been on other social platforms for a longer time and have been able to develop a stronger audience in these places, so let them know where to find you on Instagram.
You can’t expect anyone to follow you if they can’t find you!
9.) Nurture Your Followers
Don’t let your followers turn into that friend from high school you were glued to but now your communication is limited to awkward conversations about the weather when you run into each other at the supermarket.
Just because you earned a follow doesn’t mean it’s permanent. You need to keep nurturing those followers by responding back to them, posting regularly and being authentic.
10.) Incentivize With Giveaways
You know what your audiences wants, so hold a giveaway where users must tag a friend, follow or do a post tagging you for a chance to win. Be sure whatever you’re giving away is still relevant to your audience specifically, so you don’t end up with a million unengaged users who plan on unfollowing you the second the contest ends.
This will provide you with user generated content while spreading your reach to the audiences of each person that participates.
11.) Utilize Stories
While posting is still the primary function of the platform, stories are viewed much more and receive more engagement than any other feature.
They’re located along the top of your Instagram feed and the process to post them is the extremely simply; swipe right when on your Instagram home screen and you’ll be prompted with your camera to either take a picture or upload one.
12.) Share U.G.C.
Another great way to stay connected with your audience is to share User Generated Content. If a customer came to your brick and mortar and took a picture of something they bought or the inside of your store, share it! Take a screenshot and post their post. Tag them and thank them for stopping by.
Consumers are 7x more likely to buy from a brand their peers suggest, so utilizing content created by happy customers can go along way for your following and for your business.
Test these strategies out on your Instagram account and start leveraging all that Instagram has to offer.