Over time, I’ve read a lot of different Instagram growth strategies, many of them promising you hundreds of new followers every day if you follow their advice. Some work, but most don’t – at least, not to the extent advertised.
However, most methods have some very striking similarities, which numerous marketers are employing – and that work.
In this blog post, I want to look into the effectiveness of some of these proposed methods – and find which tactics can actually help you improve your Instagram growth strategy.
Using Instagram Hashtags, the Right Way
If you’ve been using Instagram for a while now, then you probably know the importance of using the right hashtags. They are the best tool you have at your disposal to help you reach more people and, consequently, also drive more engagement and activity on your posts.
In a recent test made by the Social Media Lab to find out whether they could get 100 new followers on Instagram in 24 hours, the tactic they used for hashtags was as follows:
- Pick 30 relevant hashtags
- Make sure they’re not too popular, bust also not too infrequent – the sweet spot, in this case, was having anywhere between 50k to 300k images per hashtag. The goal was to get the images in the top 9 for the hashtag in order to increase visibility; if there are too many images for that hashtag on Instagram, it’s close to impossible to achieve this, particularly if your profile isn’t hugely popular already
- When you post your hashtags, don’t put them in the image caption – rather, put them in a comment. Neil Patel, too, recommends this – it looks better, for one, and secondly, as he puts it, hashtags aren’t there to be seen so much as they are there for people to be able to find your content.
Your Instagram Schedule
OK, brace yourself; you’re probably going to have to increase the amount of content you publish on Instagram on a daily basis.
One image or 2 a day is simply not enough; there’s too much content, too many people who are posting more and better content and if you can’t keep up, yours will probably just get lost in people’s Insta feeds.
So, apart from the obligatory 1-2 photos per day, Instagram experts recommend:
- 5-30 Instagram Stories
- 1 live video per day (Neil Patel also recommends you start it at the exact same time each day, so you can get more people to join in every day)
This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be; Stories are easy to create and live videos don’t have to be too long.
Ideally, you should plan your Instagram content strategy in advance, so that you are ready for anything, anytime:
- Candid shots from around the office as well as from outside the office (teambuilding trip, anyone?)
- Photos of your lunches – there’s nothing that performs better on Instagram than food. Except maybe for cute dogs. And cute cats. And other cute animals. But apart from that, food rules social media, and particularly Instagram.
- Motivational, funny, and interesting quotes
- Sneak peeks at upcoming products
- Branded content – promotional shots and videos, photos of your products or services, and so on
- Interesting stats (just turn them into an image)
This way, you can keep an eye on the top posts being shared with these hashtags, which helps you understand what kind of content resonates with audiences.
A social media listening tool will collect additional data that will help you grow your Instagram presence.
Let’s discuss the benefits of social media monitoring for Instagram growth.
All the examples are based on Brand24, a media monitoring tool. Brand24 collects only publicly available mentions and is 100% compliant with Facebook API and GDPR rules.
To boost your Instagram growth, it’s vital to track the performance of your hashtags online. That way, you will get some important Instagram metrics:
- the social media reach of your posts — to see how many people could have seen your post
- the total number of type of interactions — to see whether your posts are engaging your community
- trending hashtags within your industry — to boost your social media reach and find new users interested in your content
Moreover, Brand24 will help you collect all mentions with your predefined hashtag. That way you can react to all posts mentioning your brand.
The more you mix up your Instagram content strategy, the better – and some of this content, you can prepare in advance to make things easier on yourself.
For example, some of the materials that you can prepare ahead of time include: product images, motivational, interesting, and funny quote images, and any promotional content. For the rest of them, keep your eyes open every day and take in the world around you: what would your audience like to see from your world?
Follow Targeted Users On a Regular Basis
Another essential step in a successful Instagram growth strategy is to find and follow targeted users.
Instagram allows you to follow as many as 50 users an hour before they get angry. But, it still might not be the best idea to follow 50 people every hour, 8 hours a day – a few dozens a day is great to start with.
First, start by locating some of your top competitors, who share an audience with you – preferably, a very engaged audience.
Look at accounts that not only cater to the same audience, but that also gets lots of engagement on their posts – that usually shows that they have an engaged audience, which is the best kind of audience to have.
Otherwise, what’s the point? You could have loads of followers, tens of thousands, but if they couldn’t care less about you, your business, or what you post, what’s the point? It might look (and feel) good to see you have so many followers, but it’s actually much better to have fewer, but very engaged followers.
Surprisingly, I don’t find this to be the case on other social networks – or, at least, not to the extent they were before. For example, in my case, some of my posts that have the least engagement actually drive the most traffic, while posts with plenty of comments and likes, barely get any traffic. It’s a strange time for social media marketing; but alas, I’ve digressed enough – Instagram, as opposed to Facebook and Twitter, still thrives on engagement.
So, as I was saying earlier, find top competitors who have over 50k followers and plenty of engagement on their posts.
Once you’ve found at least 10 accounts, write them down in a spreadsheet and start following their followers – as I mentioned before, never more than 50 per hour, as per Instagram’s regulations.
Be Active and Engage
I’m not going to spend too long on this as the headline really says it all: be active and engage.
It’s not enough to just post content, you also need to engage – and it’s a great way to reach new people and get targeted users to follow you and engage with you back.
Always put 5 or so minutes aside every day to engage: leave comments, respond to each and every comment you get on your content, like images and videos, and so on.
It will not only help you boost your Instagram engagement, but it can also help you get more followers – so, if you find any users that fit with your audience, reach out to them by liking their content and leaving comments. It will put you on their radar – and it could lead to a follow-back from a genuinely interested and engaged user.
To sum up, a solid Instagram growth strategy requires:
- A solid daily content schedule: 1-2 photos a day, one live video per day, and at least 5 Instagram Stories – the more, the merrier
- Always use relevant hashtags – find up to 30 relevant hashtags and post them in a comment, rather than in the posts’ caption
- Follow targeted users – find top competitors and follow their followers (up to 50 per hour)
- Engage – engage with other users on a daily basis and be an active user on the platform
What other Instagram growth tactics work for you?