Facebook may have the biggest reach but Instagram has the greatest number of eyes, according to social media gurus. And the number of “eyes” on your content really means the number of followers.
Instagram has become central to the way brands connect with their consumers, grow their influence and notoriety and establish consumer relationships. But it’s not just brands — public figures, everyday “influencers”, experts, artists, photographers and writers are innovating new ways to create visual content for Instagram.
How do these Instagram stars build up a following? Besides time and attention, they use these 5 strategies to hit that special 10K, 100K or even the “1M” mark.
1. Work with Strategic Partnerships
The chance to form strategic partnerships has always been one of the best reasons to establish a presence on social media, using social media.
But “strategic partnerships” on Instagram has progressed far past the initial strategy of having influencers with large followings test, sample and tag brands and products in their photos. Brand ambassadors like Hannah Bronfman for Amex is one form of partnership.
There are also sponsored posts between Instagram accounts and up-and-coming artists. This is when one account with a large following opens the floor for posting by another account in exchange for money.
It’s essentially paid content placement or a sponsored guest post/blog. Accounts like The Good Quote often promote products, artists or authors and poets in line with their posting technique (quotes and esoteric content) for a small, pre-agreed price.
Then, there are collaborations between an Instagram account and an individual who is in line with the brand, ethic, aesthetic or interests that this account falls under. These collaborations can be a “takeover” — where the individual “takes over” or “takes charge” of posting their content to this account for the day.
One Woman Shop on Instagram allows other social media businesses, individuals and influences take over the account for the day. It’s a strategic partnership that allows One Woman Shop to create content without any extra effort while the individual taking over the account gains eyes and followers.
Followers of the business account get to discover a new account and individual online who puts out great content in line with their interests. And followers of the individual hopefully find a new business to add to their feed. It’s a mutually beneficial strategy for both brands.
2. Hashtags — the right ones
Done right, hashtags are one of the best tricks to get more followers. Crafting a hashtag strategy means doing research into understanding which hashtags are relevant to your content and what other instagrammers are using.
Using a combination of hashtags for your pictures, either in the comments or in the caption itself, you can attract new followers and expose your brand to very targeted audiences that are also interested in and using the same hashtags.
Once you’ve gathered a list of relevant hashtags, pop them on your phone in your notes app so you can always pull them out with a quick “copy and paste” to your captions before posting. Then, spend some time each day liking and commenting on other’s accounts and photos that have used the same hashtag. This is how you can use hashtags to not only reach audiences but engage with them.
You can also set up your own hashtag campaign, in conjunction with an Instagram contest or collaboration, to further your followers
And, finally, use hashtags by searching for themes active ones and then using these in your photos. This is a great way to be “of the moment” and trending when it comes to hashtags.
3. Use Live Video
Even though they’re only one minute long, video posts in combination with live videos are what make up artists, food photographers and even writers are using to build their brand.
Live video’s functionality works much like Snapchat’s stories, have familiar filters and can be posted to your “stories” profile. Meanwhile, video posts usually are a teaser trailer into that Instagrammer’s YouTube account, where the full video is posted.
Since Instagram doesn’t allow links to be, well, “linked” in the caption, make sure to update the link in your profile. However, this means that followers will have to stay up to date with your content and be consuming it regularly.
This also means they can expect, from your side, new content to be posted. And consistent posting always means a steady stream of new followers.
4. Perform Your Own “Social Listening”
Instagram allows users the opportunity to connect and engage. It’s less about one-upmanship and “followers” than it is about forming relationships — that’s what social networks are all about, at least in theory.
But they can be in practice as well — it will just require some upfront “time investment”. So how do you find opportunities to join relevant conversations and communities that are ripe for your influence and activity within them?
Use social listening.
This requires targeted and focused action, over time. Don’t expect instant results. However, using this technique will help you build actual Instagram relationships and open the door for collaborations.
Zero in on some relevant accounts. These can be complimentary to yours (ex. a brand about eco-friendly water bottles targeting Patagonia, the clothing company, or a wildlife photographer) or related directly.
Start engaging with these accounts by liking, commenting (in a relevant manner that adds to the conversation) and even re-posting or sharing their content. Make sure to have stellar content in your own profile, however, because chances are they’ll be heading over to your account and you want to make them a follower.
5. Look for feedback and insights
The last step to this 5-step strategy is to take all the hard work you’ve been doing and parlay it into some real-world data. Use Instagram Insights to review the following:
- impressions for each of your posts
- reach, engagement and top posts
- demographic information like gender, age and location
Using this feedback and performing a weekly or even biweekly review means that you can uncover the most unexpected statistics. You can see, broadly, if your strategy is working or not and even identify new areas that you should be tapping into.
What’s even more interesting is that, since Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can use this key demographic information when creating a Facebook audience for successful Facebook ads.
But that’s another story. For now, focus your efforts using these 5 tricks to get more followers on Instagram.