Starting your Instagram journey can be daunting – especially considering it’s a space that is dominated by influencers and brands with 100k plus followers. Yes, the numbers do get that high! Not to worry. You can also make an impact and rally more Instagram followers to your cause by following these steps.
Instagram is where you need to showcase your brand and product. Because here’s the thing, 83% of Instagrammers discover new products or services using Instagram. Instagram is where buying decisions are made and brand loyalty is fostered. So, what are you waiting for?
How to Grow an Organic Follower Base
The keyword here? Organic. Building a solid Instagram following isn’t a walk in the park and we’ll tell you why: your growth needs to be organic, or it won’t last very long.
What does organic mean in terms of social media?
It means that people found you and followed you because they found you interesting and worth engaging with. It is the opposite of buying followers (sies) or gaining followers through a spam-like follow-for-follow technique. All that leaves you with is a follower base that appears to be a sold-out stadium when, really, you’re talking to empty seats.
Buying followers and likes is a dated technique people use to appear as if they have a large following. Here’s why we suggest you skip this process altogether:
- It’s expensive (and not a once-off cost kind of expensive, but continuously expensive)
- You’ll be wasting your time churning out content. When you have ghost followers, you’re posting for yourself and yourself only.
- You won’t see a boost in engagement.
- It won’t bode well for your brand if you’re caught out. It’s very easy to tell when a brand has bought followers and likes because things just don’t add up – how can an account with 22 000 followers only have one comment on every other photo?
That begs the question, how do you get followers who want to engage with your brand?
Before you decide what you’re going to put out, you need to do a scan of what’s going on internally. A watery internal strategy results in a watery social media presence.
Conduct a Social Media Audit
If you’re already on social media, you’re going to evaluate what you’ve done so far. Ask yourself and your team the following,
- What profiles are already out there?
- What’s working?
- What isn’t working?
- Who are you currently engaging with?
- Is this network/account helping you reach your business goals?
If you already have social media profiles out there, you can get to work on those. Make sure they are updated, have all your relevant information and have been optimised for your audience. Also, make sure they’re the only ones out there. You don’t want any imposter accounts imitating your brand or old, unfinished accounts floating around in social media space. You want to make sure there is one clear touchpoint that is easy for Instagram followers to find.
If you don’t have any social media at all, this step still applies. Instead, you can audit any digital communication you use or use this time to align your business goals with your Instagram strategy. The two aren’t separate and using the one to uplift the other is an integrated, effective approach.
(Hint: There are plenty of social media audit templates you can download online)
Who Are You Hoping to Reach?
A big chunk of your internal research will revolve around who you’re trying to reach. Are they on Instagram? Most likely. What content do they engage with and what are they expecting from your brand?
This comes down to your core value offering and how it can transfer to a digital space. Digging into your target audience is an internal and external process, which we’ll explore further with niche research.
This is the part where you work with the Instagram algorithm to gain information about your industry and competitors. If your feed is a clean slate, this is going to be easier. Spend a couple of days searching for accounts that look like yours or look how you would like your account to look.
For example, if you’re in the fitness industry you can search for personal trainers, gyms and fitness influencers. After you’ve done this for a few days, Instagram will start to curate your For You Page to fit into your interests. This gives you access to hundreds of thousands of accounts that align with your vision.
Once Instagram starts sending similar accounts your way, you can start doubling down on your unique account. Find an account that runs along the same lines as yours, but with a significantly bigger following.
What are they posting? What does their feed look like? Do they have a posting schedule, and which are the posts that bring them the most traffic? There is so much you can learn just by scrolling through a few feeds.
What Can You Borrow from Them?
One thing you need to borrow from substantial accounts is their hashtags. Hashtags are a way for potential followers to find you. When people are looking for brands or accounts to follow, they’ll search various hashtags to find relevant pages. Posts with at least one hashtag receive an average of 12.6% more engagement, so, they’re worth using properly.
Finding the right hashtags is easy if you’re looking in the right place. Scroll down through a page you find inspiring to see what hashtags they use. For large accounts, you may find they’ve dropped their hashtag uses. But this is not for you, a small growing account! Scroll down to their posts from when they were in a growth stage and take heed of the hashtags they used, even if they were used a few months or years back.
Another thing you can borrow from larger accounts: the people they follow.
When you’re just starting to grow your account, you must follow accounts before you expect them to follow you. But how do you know who to follow? Instead of looking at who follows the large account that you’re eyeing out, look at who they follow. The people your competition or industry peers are following are the people you want to follow and subsequentially introduce yourself to.
Making Instagram Followers Stay
It’s all good and well gaining new followers, but how do you make them stay?
By using the most important social media tactic: authentic engagement.
Authentically engaging with your audience, or even with people who don’t follow you, is paramount for growing a substantial follower base. When you’re exploring your target audience or conversations online surrounding your industry or service, get involved!
Skip third-party replies or generic emojis. You’re a human being with valuable input to add, remember? Use comments, likes and stories to create a sense of community.
Content: Video is the New Photo
Content needs to be front of mind if you’re on a journey to get more Instagram followers. Your feed is your first impression, and here’s how to make it work.
If you’re even remotely active on Instagram, you would have heard of the infamous algorithm. 2021 saw a shift in the app, one that is for the better.
Whilst Instagram remains a platform that supports photographic content creators, it has set its sights on supporting content-in-motion more and more.
If you need evidence, 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day. And stories aren’t stagnant, they’re engaging. Moving content is easier to interact with and creates a more in-depth brand story.
Be Yourself and Be Smart About It
The title of this blog says these techniques will get you to your first 1000 Instagram followers, but truth be told, if you use these strategies consistently, you could easily climb to 5000 in a few months.
Here’s what it all comes down to. Doing your research, knowing the social landscape for your industry, being yourself and keeping ahead of content trends.
At iKhokha, we’re all about making business easier. That’s why we’re always writing content to help you grow your hustle. If you’re yet to launch your Instagram journey and want a step-by-step guide on getting started, take a look at our article on How to Start an Instagram page.