What makes Instagram an interesting Social Media Platform ?
Quite a few things turn out…
- There are over 1 billion monthly users on Instagram, and it’s still growing every month. You can target the EXACT set of people who LOVE the things you want to promote and post about.
- 35% of US internet users are on Instagram, and they spend more time on Instagram than any other network besides Facebook (and most people use Facebook to connect with family and friends, and NOT to follow brands and businesses).
- Through Instagram you can have a fantastic engagement with your audience – Instagram has HUGE engagement rates compared to other social platforms: with 2-7% engagement compared to Facebook’s 0.1-1.5% and Twitter’s dismal 0.02%.
Therefore, Instagram is an AWESOME platform on which you can interact with people and create loyal fans!
Further, Instagram is an incredibly powerful platform that many people use to:
- Attract thousands of targeted new followers.
- Get hundreds to thousands of likes on every photo you share.
- Massively increase traffic to your blog or website.
- Have a steady stream of new subscribers signing up for your email list.
- Receive merchandise and products sent to you from related brands.
- Get raving fans to mention you and tell all their friends and followers about your awesome product.
- Generate a steady stream of passive income that flows into your bank account every day.
Therefore, many people have a great benefit of using Instagram to promote their business. But the case is also, that many who start up with Instagram struggle with things like:
- You want to get serious with Instagram but you have no idea how to get started or what to focus on first.
- You’re familiar with Instagram and have a personal account, but you don’t know how to use it professionally to grow your business.
- You’ve been posting to Instagram like crazy but you’re not seeing much growth in follower count or sales for your business.
– You’re stuck in a rut and can’t seem to break past the 100, 500, or 1,000 follower mark.
If you want to be successful on Instagram you have to take care of these issues:
- The most successful people on Instagram don’t waste time on trivial tasks that have minimal benefits — they have a system in place that brings them the BIGGEST influxes of followers and sales possible.
- However, the average person on Instagram does the opposite — they spend a lot of effort on time-consuming strategies that have little to no benefit. They HAVEN’T systematically figured out what Instagram strategies are worth their time.
- In other words, you can be highly motivated and consistent, but if you focus on the WRONG things you won’t get anywhere. You’ll just end up frustrated.
Here are some helpful tips for getting your Instagram account up and running effectively:
Your Instagram Profile:
Setting up your profile in a professional and efficient manner is STEP #1 in creating a successful Instagram account that attracts hoards of followers. This is KEY to getting people to take you seriously and will help you retain followers later.
There are 4 key things you absolutely MUST do to set your Instagram profile up for major success:
1. Choose a great USERNAME + PHOTO
The first thing to consider when starting fresh on Instagram is choosing a good username.
Make sure it is catchy and easy to remember, and if you plan on using other social media channels check to see if the name is available across all platforms you plan on using. This can make it easier for people to consistently find you across different channels of communication.
You also want to include a great photo of you, your logo, or something else that really represents your brand or what you do. Make sure your photo is brightly lit, and that any text is large enough to be read.
2. Write a descriptive HEADLINE
After your username and photo, your headline is the second thing people see when your account shows up in the Instagram search field.
Your headline, or what you put in the ‘Name’ field when editing your profile shows up beneath your username when you come up in the search.
This is a good place to put some keywords or a description that lets people know what you do or what your account is all about.
If your Instagram account is relating to Social Media Tips you could set your headline to ‘Social Media for Creatives’, to let people know what kind of content they can expect to see. Now, if someone comes across your account in search, they’ll be more likely to click on through to your profile if they are looking for tips using social media for their business.
3. What to include in your BIO description
In this section, you should elaborate on who you are and what you do — you really want to let your audience know what you’re all about!
If potential followers are confused when they land on your digital doorstep, they are MUCH LESS likely to follow you. Keep things clear and concise.
Another good thing to include here is a ‘call to action’ or CTA. Use a CTA to get people to tag their photos with your hashtag, sign up for your email list, or visit your website! Whatever it is you want people to do, you should let them know with a CTA in your bio description.
4. Use your BIO LINK effectively
When combined with a good call to action, your bio link is THE most important thing on your Instagram profile if you’re running a business. It is generally the only clickable link you have on Instagram, so make sure you use it wisely!
Your bio link is your ONE chance to direct people from Instagram to your own platform such as your shop, blog, or email list.
You can use your bio link to achieve all sorts of goals:
- Want to build your email list ? Send them to an opt-in page with a gift they can download as an incentive to sign up for your newsletter.
- Want them to buy from your store ? Send them straight to it with a special coupon reserved for your Instagram followers.
- Want them to follow you on Pinterest ? Link them to your Pinterest profile and ask them to follow you.
Once you’ve completed Steps 1 – 4 then your Instagram account should be optimized for success! Now you’re ready to start posting awesome content for your followers to enjoy, and start attracting new followers to your account.
Create great content for your Instagram followers:
Next step is to create great content and great content can be a wide variety of things, but great content is a MUST to grow your followers on Instagram.
For your account to succeed on Instagram, content creation needs to follow these 3 basic principles:
– High Quality
1. High-Quality Images and Content.
High-quality images show that you care about your account, that you value your audience & you’re putting in the effort to provide them with great content.
High-quality content doesn’t mean you need to become a professional photographer… If you are one though, it does of course help!
But let’s say you’re not a pro, how do you create high-quality images ?
Here are a few tips for creating better images.
- Watch a few basic photography YouTube videos to understand how the lighting in photography works.
- If you have a DSLR or mirror-less camera, try using that. I.e. Use the best camera you have available.
- Take multiple images. We’re in the digital age, you CAN & SHOULD take loads of images, just delete the ones you don’t like.
- Make sure your subject is in focus, I.e. sharp.
- Look for unique angles. If you’re taking a photo of the Eiffel tower, introduce something to the image that will make it unique or find interesting angles and put your own spin on it.
- Practice, practice, practice!
- You can create amazing content using only your smartphone, you just need to plan your images beforehand, work the light & learn to take advantage of beautiful moments.
Creating content yourself is just one of your options.
Another would be to hire a photographer or a graphic designer. These professionals can create high-quality images for your Instagram and/or business for a fee. This can be a costly affair, especially when starting out, in which case you may prefer using stock photography.
When going the stock photography route, you can use free or paid services.
Free stock images can be limiting and are often well overused on the internet already. You can find some great images using sites like Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels, etc. but try cropping & editing them to your unique look to set them apart.
Paid stock images give you a wider variety of options, with often much more images on a particular topic or place. The costs for stock images can start adding up, so look for good images that you can use more than once (by cropping intelligently) or in other projects (like blogs, business, etc.).
Your Content doesn’t have to be images only, however! It can be information, quotes, videos, etc. Any means that you can provide your audience with value. These other forms should follow the same criteria, however, & more importantly, the 2 below!
I recommend using Canva – https://www.canva.com/ – as a free social media graphics tool. There’s plenty of templates to give you inspiration & the intuitive interface makes designing your own social media graphics a walk in the park, even for novice designers.
This has nothing to do with blurriness, although as mentioned, try keeping your subjects sharp.
Your focus is the niche/topic that your IG account follows. If your account is all over the place, people visiting your profile will have no idea what you’re all about and they will not know why they should follow you. When you post randomly, people don’t know what you’re going to post in the future and they have no incentive to follow you.
By providing your audience with a focus you’re telling them this is; who I am, what I do & why you should follow me.
Your account can focus on a few different things, but they need to fall into a certain niche and you shouldn’t step out of it! I.e. If you’re a wedding planner, your niche would be weddings and your focus can be the beautiful arrangements, the happiness of the day and of course the rings!
If you find the urge to post a mix of images, create a personal account and post them there.
A theme is the glue that holds everything together. Your branding, style of image, layouts, colors, borders, fonts, etc. These can all be used to implement a theme on your account.
If you follow some successful Influencers on IG, you can most likely tell that an image is theirs immediately. This is because their accounts most likely follow a certain theme.
By following these 3 pillars of great content your Instagram feed will be transformed into an account with clear value and gives your audience a reason to follow you and want to get to know you better. Building trust, relationships & eventually even sales.
Using Hashtags at Instagram
So far I have mentioned how to make your profile look great for new visitors and how to make the perfect first impression and some tips about making great content for your followers. Next up, well, you need to get your content in front of people. One of the best ways to do that is by using hashtags!
What are hashtags ?
They are Instagrams way of sorting content, grouping similar content and providing a way of easily finding similar posts & accounts.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a right way and a wrong way to hash-tagging your posts and they can bring in a ton of viewers if done correctly!
It’s not all about landing on the explore page, although if you follow my recommendations, it will be helping your chances of landing there immensely! Hashtags are searched by users on Instagram and results are split into popular posts, which is what you’ll see by default and a chronological sequence of posts.
Popular posts are the best performing posts for that hashtag in the last 24 hours, these are generally posts that the Instagram algorithm thinks people searching the hashtag will like to see.
You can increase your chances of getting into popular sections by creating focused and high-quality content, having high engagement on your post and having good amounts of engagement within the first few minutes of posting.
You can also increase the amount of engagement within the first few minutes by posting when your audience is most active and awake.
How many Hashtags can I use ?
You’re allowed to include up to 30 Hashtags in your posts caption or comments. I recommend using all 30.
It makes absolutely no difference to Instagrams algorithm if you use 1 or 27 hashtags with your posts. If you have 30 chances to win the lottery, why only use 5 or 6 of them ?!
Aesthetics ? If no-one is going to see your post what worth does an aesthetically pleasing caption have?
Where to put your Hashtags ?
Should you put your hashtags in your caption or in your comments ? Should it be the first comment, beginning of your caption or at the end ?
There is no difference in your hashtag ranking if you post them in your comments or in your caption.
There are a few benefits and drawbacks for each option, however.
Hashtags in your caption
- You can schedule your hashtags and don’t need to be active when your post goes live.
- Your post will have hashtags immediately, important for gathering engagement within the first few minutes of posting.
- Your captions can look cluttered and spammy if done incorrectly.
- If you only post hashtags in your caption or post them at the beginning, it can make your feed look unorganized.
Hashtags in the comments
- Neat and tidy captions.
- Uncluttered Instagram feed.
- You have to be immediately active when your posts go live in order to post the hashtags as a comment within the first few minutes. This can be especially tricky when using an Instagram post scheduler like Tailwind or Hootsuite.
- If you haven’t pre-written your hashtags, you could lose valuable minutes by writing out the hashtags in the comments manually, decreasing your possible engagement.
I prefer using hashtags in the caption of the image, at the end of the caption to reduce the visual impact it has.
To further reduce the visual impact, insert a dot and then a line-break (enter) and then repeat that 8 or 9 times to create a gap between the end of your caption and your hashtags. This will create a read more button on your caption and the hashtags won’t be visible unless someone clicks the read more button to view your full caption.
If you do decide to post your captions to your comment section, write them up beforehand on your smartphones notepad. Copy them before you upload a post to Instagram and then immediately copy them to your comment section as soon as the post is live.
Use Quality Hashtags
What are quality hashtags ?
These are hashtags that your account could rank for and ones that you have not overused.
What I mean by being able to rank for, is to use hashtags that aren’t being used by millions and millions of people already.
Just have a look in the popular section at those posts, you’ll see that those accounts have massive amounts of followers already or massive amounts of engagement. If you look in the chronological results you’ll see that your post will just get lost in the swarm with so many people using these overused hashtags every minute…
There is no point in posting there, as after 2 minutes it will be so far down the list, no one will ever see it!
If you have a small account, use hashtags that haven’t been used more than 500,000 times. Don’t use hashtags that no-one is using at all though, aim for ones that have been used at least 1,000 times to make sure there’s actually an audience for said hashtag.
A top tip is to not use the same hashtags over and over again on each post, spice things up!
This not only helps you reach a different audience in your niche, but you’ll avoid the infamous Instagram shadowban (where your posts become hidden from everyone that isn’t following you).
The shadowban doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but safety first! To save time, create a few groups of Hashtags & then just copy different groups of hashtags into your captions or comments.
Now hopefully you’ve gotten a greater understanding of Instagrams hashtag use & the difference between a good hashtag & a bad hashtag.
Growing followers on Instagram
Growing a HUGE following is easier if you avoid these five common problems that most people struggle with when trying to grow an Instagram audience:
Problem #1. You are brand new to Instagram and have no idea how to get started
We all start from the bottom at some time or other. I was completely lost in the beginning and had NO CLUE how to get Instagram to work for me.
And I want you to know that the beginning is (normally) the hardest part. But don’t let that discourage you.
Your first 1,000 followers will be your hardest to gain — but it gets much easier after that!
“Why is that” you ask ?
There’s something to be said for the social proof you get when potential followers see a bunch of other people already following you. This often gives them the green light to follow you, because if a lot of people are already following you, you must be legit!
But if you’re brand new to Instagram you obviously don’t have much social proof working for you.
As mentioned before Here are 3 things you want to focus on to build your account up instead:
- Get your profile set up properly. That means a great profile picture, keyword-laden headline, and a description of you or your brand that tells your audience what you’re all about.
- Post high-quality content on a consistent basis. You can use apps like Snapseed or A Color Story to edit your photos and make them look professional. Aim to publish content on a regular basis, at least 1x per day if you can manage it in order to gain the most exposure.
- Start interacting with potential followers. Focus on the followers of your competitors, and get social with them! That means liking their content, leaving comments on their photos, and following them. If you start doing this every day you’ll soon see your follower count steadily increase.
Problem #2. You have no idea what to post to Instagram
You’re not alone — I wasted months figuring out what kind of content my Instagram audience would love most.
The best way to find out what you SHOULD be posting to attract new followers is to start stalking your competition.
Take a look at your competition’s content and ask yourself:
What kind of posts garner your competitors the most likes and comments? This is the type of content that is getting a reaction, getting engagement, and getting them new followers.
Try posting similar stuff on your own Instagram.
You DON’T need to create all of your own content either — you can CURATE great content instead!
This is what I do with both of my Instagram accounts, and it hasn’t held me back at all. You can curate and share other people’s content on Instagram just as long as you ask first (ideally) and give proper credit!
Most people don’t mind if you repost their content as long as you give them proper credit in the caption and tag them in the photo (they’re usually glad to get a little extra traffic and exposure).
Problem #3. You’re stuck at a standstill — you gain a couple followers then lose them again a few days later.
Every Instagram account loses followers from time to time, but for bloggers and entrepreneurs, every lost follower represents lost income.
If you want to stop that perilous downward spiral and start growing your audience instead, you’ll need to determine the root cause of the problem.
Try switching up your hashtags. Try posting at different times. Test out some different growth strategies.
Are you consistently posting high-quality content that resonates with your audience?
If you’ve started posting LESS often, that could be the root of your problem. Or if you’re posting content that is generating fewer likes and comments from your current followers, you may want to take a look to find out what it is they don’t enjoy.
To help make posting easier, you can use an Instagram scheduling app to schedule all of your posts in advance. This is a great way to make sure you are CONSISTENTLY providing your audience with great content, even through busy times and holidays when you may be inclined to forget or run out of time.
Plus, by scheduling, you’ll be able to post at your most optimal times when your audience is active, even if it’s an inconvenient time for you.
I currently use the Later app – https://later.com/ – to schedule about a month’s worth of posts in advance. As a bonus, this doesn’t cost you anything to use it for up to 30 posts per month!
Problem #4. Are you stuck in a rut on Instagram, failing to hit that 500 or 1,000 follower milestone ?
Instagram can be a tough nut to crack, and sometimes you just get stuck.
In order to succeed on Instagram, you need to have a SYSTEM that automates your growth. This can take many forms, and often looks a little bit different for everybody depending on what your goals are.
Here’s what it may look like for you:
Maybe your system includes publishing a great high-quality post 5x per week, interacting with potential followers 15 minutes every day, and using 30 descriptive niche specific hashtags in your caption for every post.
Or maybe it’s publishing a 1x high-quality post every day, doing share for share exchanges with similarly sized accounts in your niche 3x per week, and participating in an Instagram engagement group every time you post.
There are TONS of effective growth methods you can mix and match in order to get out of your rut. If certain strategies aren’t working for you, do test out different combos.
Some strategies work great if you’re in a certain niche. Some methods are super powerful if you have a big account, and are less helpful for smaller ones. And of course, there are lots of strategies that work to slowly bring in followers on a consistent basis even if you’re starting from zero.
The only way to find out what DOES work specifically for YOU is to test, test, test!
Getting out of your rut often means simply switching things up!
Problem #5. You are posting to Instagram like crazy, but failing to see an increase in followers, traffic, or sales.
You’re putting in the work, but the lack of results makes you feel like you’re wasting your time.
I get it — I was in your shoes at one point, posting 2-3 times per day and struggling to get more than a handful of visitors to my site. Making zero sales.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — you need an effective SYSTEM to truly master Instagram and grow a large following.
If your end goal is to turn your followers into paying customers, there is a whole other system for doing that in addition to your growth system.
The system basically works like this:
You systematically impress your followers on Instagram, send them to your website with an irresistible offer, get them to sign up for your email list, and hit them with value until you succeed in turning them into paying customers.
But what do you offer them to get them to click on over to your website?
How do you entice them to sign up to your email list ?
What do you send them once they’ve subscribed to your list in order to get them to buy ?
I could go on all day talking about this topic, but we don’t have the time to cover it all today.
Methods to get followers on Instagram
Here are my top five methods, broken down in simple terms:
Find your focus — Make sure your account has one focus in a specific niche. Provide value to your followers only on that topic of choice. Unless you’re already a celebrity, people don’t want to see your everyday life on their Instagram feeds.
Interact and comment more — Engage your audience by liking and commenting on their posts. Compared to the number of people who like posts, almost nobody comments. This will help you stand out.
Get featured — Try reaching out to other accounts in your niche and offer a feature-for-feature type deal. It’s very useful to both accounts’ followers because you’re introducing them to similar brands and pages whose content they are likely to enjoy and follow.
Clean up your hashtags — Don’t use dirty hashtags #likeforlike or #followme. The followers that you gain from these hashtags won’t be “real” followers who have a genuine interest in you. Use 5–6 relevant and specific hashtags in each post.
Post regularly — The majority of Instagram users struggle to create enough high-quality posts. The ideal number is one post every day. But if you don’t have a solid post, don’t post at all. You’ll end up annoying your followers and losing them due to low-quality content.
How to ENGAGE with your followers
What exactly are engaged followers ?
These are people in your audience that have an interest in the things you post & say.
Engaged followers are much more open to liking your posts & commenting on them.
These followers are also more likely to indulge in whatever you may have to offer, or even make a purchase through your account.
Why are engaged followers good for your Instagram account ?
They’re great because they interact with your posts, which in turn shows Instagram that your posts are getting good activity & they’re more likely to rank your posts higher.
When your followers engage with your posts more often, Instagram will push your new posts to them whenever they log on, helping to maintain your engaged followers if you post regularly.
Having an engaged community is also very important when it comes to sponsored posts. It’s not as much about the number of followers you have, but the size of your engaged audience when it comes to sponsored posts. If you have 1 million followers and get less than 1000 engagements per post, that waves red flags for marketers, either the account is buying followers or they have no account focus.
P.s. You can work out engagement percentages with the following formula:
Engagement = (Average Likes + Average comments/Total followers) x 100.
For example, If there is an account with 10,000 followers and they get on average 1100 likes and 20 comments on their posts: (1100+20/10,000) x 100 = 11.2% Engagement.
How to grow your audience of engaged followers
The first steps we’ve already covered above. Your audience should know what they can expect from you so that they look forward to new posts and your other uploads.
This is where your content plays a big part.
The hashtags build your presence in the niche and you gather followers and grow your audience from those viewers. These are more passive ways of growing an engaged audience, to grow your account fast and get a foothold in your niche,
you need to be active!
Get social in your niche
This means you should be liking other quality images in your niche and commenting on posts in your niche. Thoughtful and useful comments though, Instagrammers can see spam from a mile away and it can be extremely annoying.
Find similar accounts in your niche, have a look at their content and if they’re posting similar content to yourself, go ahead and like some of their posts and leave some thoughtful comments. They might check out your Instagram and their audience may also find your comment useful and visit your Instagram Profile.
Any followers you get from these accounts will most likely appreciate your opinion or comment and when they follow or like your images, other Instagram users that are following them can see they’ve followed you or liked your image and may be inclined to follow suit.
You won’t see instant results by just liking one person’s image, or commenting on one post, but it’s the start.
Stay active & dedicate 15 or 30 minutes a day to engaging within your community and building relationships within your niche. These engaged followers are far more valuable than people that just stumble upon your account, as you’ve already left them with a good first impression.
Don’t forget to respond to comments in your posts and to questions you may get, it’s not just about being active in other people audience, but also in your own!