Instagram is a marketing buzz word, and for good reason. It’s a fantastic way to increase brand exposure, generate leads, and close sales, as long as you have a strong strategy. But you won’t get very far without enough followers. If your follower count is down, here are a few strategies to help you increase it in the new year.
- Improve Your Hashtag Strategy
You can’t hope to get more Instagram followers if you don’t have a solid hashtag strategy. Hashtags are designed to categorize your posts and make them easily searchable. Using trending hashtags is a great way to bring heavy traffic to your posts.
They can also be used to enhance your posts.
“When it comes to Instagram caption ideas, you need to look beyond the one-word, obvious hashtags,” writes Larry Kim of Wordstream. “Sure, you want to use those, too, but mix it up and use hashtags to tell part of your story. Be funny, ironic, or outrageous–just don’t be BORING.”
He also suggests cross-promoting a dedicated hashtag, using it on your Instagram profile, traditional print advertisements, radio and TV commercials, email blasts, and other social media platforms. “Don’t just hope people will find it,” he says, encouraging you to make it as accessible as possible.
- Partner Up with Influencers
Influencer marketing may be the most effective strategy to promoting your brand and/or products and services. If you don’t believe it, check out these mind-numbing statistics gathered by the Digital Marketing Institute:
- 86 percent of marketers trust influencer marketing to advance their brands.
- 70 percent of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.
- 86 percent of women go to social media for advice on purchasing decisions.
- Nearly 50 percent of consumers use influencer recommendations when making purchases.
- The return on investment is 650 percent on average.
Partnering up with an influencer in your niche is an ideal method of growing your following, but don’t think you need to seek out those with way more followers than you.
“If you want this to work effectively, you’ll need to find users who have a similar size audience, as well as a similar or complimentary target market,” explains Holly Branch of the blog A Branch of Holly, explaining that those with a smaller following tend to have more engaged followers who are more likely to follow your brand.
- Leverage Filters
Many businesses are wary about using filters because they don’t want their content to appear inauthentic or too edited. This is an important consideration for greater human connection, but that doesn’t mean that filters are entirely off the table. In fact, filtered photos receive 21 percent more views and 45 percent more comments.
Further research indicates that not all filters are as successful as others. In general, Gingham and Clarendon are the most popular filters. But don’t get stuck using just these filters, as the best may vary by category.
Research from Bustle shows that using the right filters according to your image type is ideal. For example, nature posts are best when filtered with Valencia, fashion posts should use Kelvin, selfies should be Normal, and food posts look best with both Skyline and Normal filters.
- Engage Daily
Nothing you do will matter more than engaging on Instagram. This platform is driven by the need for an inspiring human connection, and brands that ignore their followers won’t get far. Engaging will show your existing followers that you’re dedicated to them while also making your handle show up more often in users feeds. When their followers see you commenting and engaging, you’re more likely to get followers as a result.
As a general rule of thumb, spend about 30 minutes per day scrolling through your feed. Respond to interactions with your own posts as well as commenting on and liking the posts of your followers. This constant presence will do wonders for making stronger and more lasting consumer connections. While you can buy Instagram likes, if you want to succeed in the long term on Instagram, you’ll also need genuine engagement.
- Progress Your Content
“The most obvious thing that you can do in the coming year and beyond is to work on the quality of your content,” says Zac Johnson of Blogging.org. “Instagram is just one of many platforms that you should be placing your content with to increase engagement. In addition to posting more often, you should choose your topic carefully and attempt to weave your content around this.”
Use 2019 to take your content up a notch. You might get a phone with a better camera (currently Google Pixel has the best one on the market) or invest in an editing app to improve your images. You might study up on how to write better captions or use the right filters. Figure out what your photos and videos are lacking and invest in ways to improve them.
Instagram may be your most effective platform for driving engagement, but don’t forget that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you want to get more followers, use other channels to cross-promote your content.
“Be sure to include your Instagram handle everywhere you are; on your website, in your Facebook profile, on your business card… EVERYWHERE,” encourages Paul Potratz of Forbes. “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.”
- Join the Conversation
You’re not the only authority in your industry, and you’re probably not trying to be. Therefore, you can benefit greatly from engaging in conversations that already exist throughout your industry. Search for trending topics, marked by hashtags, that are being posted by competitors or complementary accounts to your own.
When you find a topic with good engagement, make a comment, like, or re-gram it. The fact that dozens of people have already engaged with this post means that you’re already gaining greater exposure. You’ll be able to connect with brand new followers who can turn around and follow your account, effectively raising your follower count in the new year.