It’s one of the most common questions out there: How do I grow my Instagram following?
Many people start an Instagram account, start posting content, and then they don’t understand why they don’t have 10,000 followers overnight. The thing is, even if you are a well established brand, even if you are posting amazing, high quality content every day, people won’t magically find your account if you don’t put yourself out there.
I’ve managed Instagram accounts for one of the largest publishers in Vancouver. I’ve taken accounts from 0-30,000 followers, so I know a thing or two about how to grow your following. The thing is, there’s no magic secret – you actually have to put in hours of work EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Below are some strategies I’ve found success with, but I’m warning you – the first two steps especially will take you hours of time.
1. The 9×9 Strategy
To grow a social following, you have to – guess what – actually be social! The 9×9 strategy is a strategy we developed based on this article from Gary Vaynerchuk. Do some research on Instagram, and find the top 9 most used, most relevant hashtags in your industry. For example, if you run a restaurant in Seattle, you might find hashtags like #seattlefoodie, #tasteofseattle, #eatseattle, etc. Make sure they have a large number of posts using this hashtag. Now like and leave a comment on the top 9 photos under each hashtag. And make it a meaningful comment – not a just shallow comment like “Great pic!”, but something that shows you are actually read and engaged with their content. Or, if you notice another user asking a question in the comment section, chime in if you know the answer. The idea is to get your name out there as much as possible. Not only will the person who posted the picture notice you commenting on their post, but all of their followers will notice you as well.
2. Follow 100
In conjunction with the 9×9 Strategy, the second most effective strategy I have found is to follow 100 people per day. Now ideally, you’d like to gain followers who might actually be interested in your product or service, right? These are the people you need to start following. Start by finding an account similar to yours, and start following some of the people who have recently liked their photos. If they’re interested in a similar account, they might be interested in you too. It’s a good idea to view their profiles first, to make sure they are an active user, not a bot.
The thing about this strategy is that not all of these people will follow you back. But even if 40% of them follow you back, that’s still a huge growth rate. You can always unfollow those who never followed you back. Some apps to help you do this are:
3. Shoutout for Shoutout
You may have seen people on the Internet use the shorthand “s4s” before. This is short for shoutout for shoutout. Basically, you find an account with a similar size to yours, with similar content to yours. Reach out to them and propose a S4S! You make a post on your account telling your followers to follow them, and they do the same for you. Now your account has been exposed to a whole new group of people who had previously never heard of you! And again – if they liked the content on the similar account, there’s a good chance they’ll like your content too.
If your business provides any sort of product or service, run contests! Offer to give away something for free, and ask entrants to follow you and tag a friend to win. Tagging a friend (or two or three friends!) spreads the word about your contest to people who may not have heard of you. They might enter the contest and follow you too. You can also consider partnering with influencers to spread the word about your contest. This might cost you some money, but it could be worth it to spread the word to a larger audience.
5. Keep it up
Give people a reason to follow you! Produce great quality content regularly. Keep your followers engaged. Stay active on Instagram, answer their comments and reply to their messages. Start conversations with people. After all, the best way to gain followers on social media is to be social!
Does all this seem like a lot to take on by yourself? That’s what I’m here for! Check out my Services page to find out how I can help your small business.