How To Build an Instagram Following For Your Small Business
Growing a small business and taking it to the next level is what every entrepreneur strives for. There are many digital marketing tools that help you achieve this goal, Instagram being one of them.
Over the years, Instagram has proven to be a powerful visual channel to build brand awareness and a loyal audience that is actually responsive. With over 500 million users logging into Instagram everyday, the social media platform continues to help small businesses of all types increase their reach.
With this kind of potential, no wonder entrepreneurs are so interested in building an Instagram following!
Furthermore, when it comes to engagement rates, Instagram is known to give much better results. In a Forrester study, it was found that the average engagement rate for brands on Instagram was almost 60 times higher than the social media giant, Facebook.
Using Instagram, a small business can effectively…
- Reach out to potential customers and connect to them
- Build and nurture a stronger relationship with existing customers
- Improve the chances of making sales from within the app
However, in order to reap the true benefits of Instagram marketing, it is important that you focus on building an Instagram following that you can count on. Worry not, in this article you’ll learn the little things that you can do to have a strong impact on your follower numbers.
Post at the Right Times
Getting your content seen by as many people as possible should be on top of your agenda when you’re doing Instagram marketing. Not only because you want exposure, but also because you want more shares that lead to more followers. Building an Instagram following for your small business becomes easier when you post at the right times.
So when is the best time to post on Instagram? According to Later, these are the top 3 global best times to post on Instagram for each day of the week:However, given the fact that every Instagram account is different with a different audience, you still need to find your own best posting time. The idea here is to schedule your Instagram posts at a time when a large number of your followers are online.
Given below are two proven ways to calculate the best time to post on Instagram.
Discover When Your Followers Are Online
Take out the guesswork and discover your optimal Instagram posting time by looking into Instagram Insights, a feature that lets you look into your audience activity.Instagram Insights is very versatile when it comes to helps you understand your target audience. You get see information such as…
- The geographical location of your followers
- Whether they are male or female
- What age groups they fall into
- Above all, when their activity is the highest
Once you figure out what time most of your followers are online, you can start posting at that time. Also look into time zones to see if you can schedule your content for followers from various locations.
Experiment with Different Posting Times
If you don’t want to solely depend on analytics, you can start to experiment yourself. All it takes is a simple spreadsheet to track the times/days when your content is getting the highest amount of engagement. Your aim is to track the number of likes & comments your content is receiving.
Looking into your analytics, you should get a clear understanding of what time frame your followers are active in. For example, let’s say that they are online mostly between 2 PM and 5PM PST, you can have your posts scheduled in this bracket. Keep changing the times on weekly basis to experiment.
After a month or two, you’ll have the needed data to help you select the best times/days to post on Instagram for getting more engagement and website traffic.
Post New Content Consistently
The kind of content you post on Instagram shows potential followers what to expect if they choose to follow your account. But when they see you posting content consistently, they’ll be much more clear and sure of following you.
Building an Instagram following becomes a lot easier when you make consistent effort to put out relevant content. Compared to all other social media platforms, Instagram is known to have the best interaction levels, and that’s something you could use to your advantage.
When someone follows your brand on Instagram, they’re doing it connect and build a certain relationship with you. Your consistency will not only help them get value out of your account, but also increase the chances of them sharing and spreading your content. Which obviously leads to more followers.
And yes, you also don’t want your existing followers to forget that they followed you. If you are inconsistent, they may not recall it and unfollow you. Just the way it’s important to gain new followers, it’s also important to retain the older ones.
So what kind of consistency should your brand be aiming for when posting on Instagram?
According to Union Metrics, most of the brands that prefer posting between 1-2 times per day. They found out that brands that posted more didn’t experience any lower engagement or get any bad rep.
The bottom line is, posting relevant content on your Instagram consistently does pay off. Try to be a brand that cares and gives regular value to followers by posting consistently.
Use the Right Hashtags
Retaining your current followers goes hand in hand with building an Instagram following. Your aim should be to engage your existing followers as much as you can so that they become brand advocates and help you grow your following. But that’s not enough. You need to go beyond and leverage the power of hashtags to get in front of new people.
By using relevant social media hashtags your target audience finds it easy to discover your content, which increases the chances of them following you. But you have to do so without going overboard or else it’ll look like spam.Now, the question is, what type of hashtags should you be using when building an Instagram following?
Your goal is to use hashtags that will help you reach new people. Period. Hashtags can get you a lot of exposure when done right.
The idea is to find hashtags that are highly relevant to your brand and then use them in your posts. Which obviously requires the right kind of research. The hashtags you choose should describe what your brand is about and the same time resonate with what your audience is searching on Instagram.
There are many tools, such as Webstagram, that you can use online to find hashtags that are relevant and valuable.
A more raw way to find related hashtags that are popular is to directly search for the right keywords on Instagram. Make sure you have done your keyword research beforehand.
In order to ensure you are getting consistent results, you may want to use the following types of hashtags:
Branded Hashtags: When you use the name of your brand or company, you would be able to generate more engagement and exposure to your small business. It’s not uncommon for companies to use branded hashtags on Instagram. In fact, over 70% of Instagram hashtags happen to branded.
Trending Hashtags: The Instagram explore page is a goldmine when it comes to finding trending hashtags that are also relevant to your niche. You may want to add trending hashtags to your content from time to time. It not only helps you reach more people but also shows your audience that you are updated.
Popular Hashtags: Most of the time popular hashtags don’t make a big difference in terms of how your content ranks on Instagram. Just like it’s hard to rank for broad keywords in the search engines, popular hashtags are difficult to leverage because there’s so much competition. Still, you can use them occasionally if they are relevant to your post.
Location Hashtags: If your small business targets local customers, then why not use local hashtags? Also known as geotags, they get almost 80 percent more engagement than non-geo tags.
Steal Your Competitor’s Followers
An innovative way to building an Instagram following is to focus on your competition and try engaging with their audience. Attracting their attention makes sense because they have already followed your competitor who’s selling a similar product/service.
Stealing your competitor’s followers isn’t unethical, as long as you are doing it right. Now, by competitor we mean your closest competing brand that is already engaging with their followers.
When it comes to building an Instagram following, here’s how you can leverage your competitors’ audience…
Step 1: Identify Your Closest Competitors
The best place to start off is your local competition, because it’s so obvious. Add them along with other close competitors to your “hit list”. Just make sure you aren’t rushing in choosing your competitors here.
Step 2: Analyze their Following
Instagram is a popular app, and many people are addicted to it. But that doesn’t mean they don’t leave. Instagram users quit using it on a regular basis. Which is why it’s important that you only go for users that is likely to stick around. The more active someone is, the more regularly he/she uses it.
You can also look into their obvious habits that indicate a higher chance of them following you after you engage with them.
- Do they regularly post content?
- Have they made a good number of posts?
- Have they been on Instagram for long enough?
- Are they using hashtags?
- What is their follower to following ratio?
Answers to above question should give you enough clarity on whether they should engage with them or not.
Step 3: Engage with them
As soon as you’re done zeroing down on your competitors’ followers and are confident that they are worth engaging with, you should move towards engaging with them.
There are three basic ways to engage with other users on Instagram:
- By liking their posts
- By comment on their posts
- By following them
Here’s what you can do to engage with the followers of your competitors the right way…
- Ask About their Experiences
The idea here is to connect with them on a personal level, by showing your brand’s human side. Asking questions that are both engaging and in-depth can help you not only garner a response, but also make them follow you.Focus on the experience that they are sharing on their Instagram. So whether you ask about their day or about a particular experience they had related to their picture, make sure it’s worth a reply.
- Comment on their Unpopular Content
If you want someone to follow you back, you have to get on their radar. A smart way to do this is to find a photo or video that they posted with high expectations but it didn’t garner much attention. These posts may have a low engagement rate, but they’re usually worthy enough for a comment. So why not leave a genuine compliment on such posts?
- Like their Recent Posts
Liking their recent posts sends them a notification and lets them know about you. It might sound simple, but it works. This activity will be worth it only if you find time to like a bunch of photos on a regular basis. Expect to get 3 to 4 followers for every 100 posts you like.
- Follow them Strategically
Follow people so that they follow you back. This might be the oldest strategy in the book. It works great when done strategically. Only like those who are on your list, not anybody and everybody. Users who have a 1:1 followers to following ratio are most likely to follow you back.
Give People What they Want
Whether it is Facebook or Instagram, the best growth is organic follower growth. Nothing comes close to having an audience that genuinely likes your brand and is interested in your content.
Building an Instagram following organically isn’t rocket science. All you need to focus on giving people relevant and high quality content. Content they resonates with their interests. That’s the only way you will win their attention and have them like your content, follow you and ultimately engage with you.So what do you do to ensure you’re only sharing the best content? How do you know what your target audience wants from you?
Yes, you can try guessing, but it’s simply not worth it. Instead, you can do the following:
Monitor Your Immediate Competitors
Your closest competition that’s active on Instagram has a lot to teach you. You just have to keep an eye on their Instagram activity. And see what kind of content they post on a regular basis.
Focus on uncovering the gems. In other words, look for posts that have garnered the most attention in terms of engagement. For instance, does your competition attract the most attention with product photos? Or photos with a human element? How do they use Instagram Stories?
Know What’s Trending
If you can track what’s trending in your space, then you would be able to create content that is in demand. So make sure to monitor profiles of your customers and as well as top influencers who post regularly.
- What kind of visuals are they sharing?
- What hashtags are they adding to their posts?
- Are they following a specific trend?
- How are they engaging with their content?
- What questions are they asking in their posts?
Getting some insight into the content that is currently trending and in-demand among your audience will go a long way in helping you produce great content for your own account.
Ask Your Followers
Sometimes the best way to know what content to create is to ask your current followers. They should give you ideas that can lead to organic growth. Here’s how you can survey them…
- Head over to the Instagram Stories feature
- Choose the “Poll” sticker option
- Begin collecting and analyzing ideas/feedback
No matter how experienced you are in your niche, you will be surprised to see the results of such surveys. It’s extremely helpful, especially when you’re in two minds.
Run a Proper Giveaway
The best part about posting content on Instagram is that people can tag their friends/followers in the comments section. It’s basically a way to invite them to view your content. Such comments benefit your account in two ways…
- They help increase the engagement of your content, which puts your posts in Instagram’s good books.
- They help you get more exposure by bringing new people, which makes building an Instagram following easier.
Now, unless you are have hundreds of thousands of engaged followers on Instagram, you can’t expect a ton of people to tag others in the comments. Which is why you’ll have to make it easy for them to do so.
Encourage them to tag their friends by running a contest or a giveaway. Tell them that the only way to participate is to follow your account and tag one or two friends in the comments. This might sound like a very simple strategy at first, but it can prove to be powerful if you execute it right.
Go through the following tips to ensure your Instagram giveaway is a real success…
- Choose a Theme
Your giveaway has to stand out from the rest of the content on Instagram. Which is why you need to have theme for your contest, something people can identify with. For example, if Christmas is near, you could use it as an opportunity to run a giveaway. Or you could celebrate a company milestone such as an anniversary. What you choose depends on your own preference, but see to it that the theme is creative and interesting. After all, you want people to join you in the celebration.
- Set the Rules
The purpose of your Instagram giveaway here is to boost your follower numbers. So the rules of entering could be as simple as following your account and tagging someone else in the comments. The easier you make it to enter your giveaway, the better.
- Select a Deadline
Having a proper deadline is important to make your contest successful. Your focus should be on creating balance when choosing the length of time for your contest. Don’t make it too long or else people may forget about it altogether. And don’t make it too short as it takes the element of urgency out.
- Select a Reward
Make this step simple and not complicated. Selecting a reward or prize shouldn’t be done based on what you feel is right. Rather, choose one that is relevant to your small business.Giving away an iPad is a bad idea because it will attract everybody. Instead, tie the gift back to your own space. You want only relevant and interested people to take part in the contest.
Keep an Eye on Your Followers
Building an Instagram following is only one part of the equation. The other half is retaining them. What’s the use of getting more Instagram followers if you’re just going to lose them quickly?
You want to closely monitor your Instagram following in terms of how they are growing and how strongly they are engaging with your content. The last thing you want is to have followers lose interest in what you’re posting.
There are a number free tools out there, such as Social Blade, that can help you analyze your follower growth along with information on how you’re losing followers. Use them to save time and improve your Instagram marketing strategy.If you have an Instagram business account, you should already have access to Instagram Analytics. Use this free tool to understand your followers better and grab detailed insights on their activity. It tells you everything from the number of people browsing your profile to which of your posts have high engagement rates.
This data is valuable because it is personalized and you won’t get it anywhere else. Whenever you feel that you’re having trouble building an Instagram following or retaining your followers, you can use this data to see what needs to be fixed.
You can also improve your social media content strategy by understanding which of your posts did well in terms of engagement. It’ll allow you to publish better, proven content in the future and attract more followers.
Time to Start Building a Following on Instagram
Now that you have the tools and know what to do, you can start growing your brand and increasing your reach on Instagram. If you really want to take your marketing efforts to the next level, consider hiring an Instagram marketing company. Or maybe even throwing Instagram advertising into your social media strategy.
What have you done to get engagement on your Instagram? Tell us below!