With over 1 billion monthly users you would be a fool not to leverage Instagram to promote your brand in 2020. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to grow a following than it used to be and it’s far more competitive but with the strategies and tips I give you in this article you will see growth in no time.
In this article I lay out the blueprint to gaining new followers organically without spending money in 10 steps. These are easy actionable steps anyone can take to grow their Instagram following.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #1: Create Memes That Resonate with Your Audience
If there's one thing you can't go a day without seeing on social media it's a meme. Meme's are popular right now, like, really popular. Probably why Instagram accounts like fuckjerry & mytherapistsays built their brand around memes. They have both massed over 4 million followers thanks to memes. Brands are starting to realize the power of witty Instagram memes, especially when it comes to building brand identity, driving product interest, and gaining more Instagram followers.
Memes will typically have some kind of cultural relevance, they’re often clever or funny, and they typically feature a combination of text and imagery (this can be a photo, a GIF, or even a video).
Take for example my meme on models choosing what to wear. It got 49 shares, 25 saves with a reach of 6,146 and 57 profile visits. These are the insights that matter. and they are better than most of the photos I post. Don't worry about likes as Instagram is taking those away soon anyways. Likes and comments don't convert to new followers. Shares, Reach, and Profile visits do.
Like my meme above your goal should be to generate a meme that is relatable to you audience, funny, and on brand. For example, my audience is mainly models, photographers, cosplayers, and anyone who loves photography. So any meme related to those 4 things will be relatable and preform alot better than if I posted a random meme about car owners or video games. All you need is a meme generator to get started. The App I use is Meme generator shown below.
Grow your Instagram following tip #2: Collaborate With Kickass Brands
The power of collaborating with like-minded and complementary brands is undeniable and will introduce your brand to a completely new and hopefully engaged audience you may have never reached on your own.
When another Instagram user discovers you through a collaboration you’ve done they are more likely to crush that follow button because odds are if they found you from a collaboration they are the demographic you’re looking for.
Collaborations with complementary brands will double your organic reach and are 25 times less expensive than digital advertising! Just make sure that your collaboration is mutually beneficial and both your audiences will benefit from your collaboration.
On brand collaborations for example: Because I shoot alot of fashion it makes sense that I would collab with influencers, models, designers, and makeup artists because their audience will be similar to mine and thus mutually beneficial. 7 things I look for in a collaboration (meaning not paid). What's their following like? Whats their engagement like? Will their audience connect with my work? Will mine connect with theirs? Do we have similar values? What kind of connections do they have? How skilled are they? I try to find people and brands that have a similar or bigger following than me but will collab with someone with little to no following if they are incredibly talented. The 7 things I look for are important. If you're just collabing with anyone and everyone with no intention you will fail in your industry, miserably.
So how do you find people and brands to collab with? Do your research, join local facebook groups related to your industry like Portland Models. Search local hashtags like #portlandmodel or #portlanddesigner or portlandMUA
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #3: Promote Your Instagram Content on Other Platforms
This might be one of my favorite tips on the list. If you want to grow your Instagram following you should really promote your page outside of the Instagram app. I have gained a majority of my following this way. Promote your Instagram page on your website, email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Tiktok.
My favorite platform to cross promote my Instagram content is Facebook groups. For example, I joined the Halloween 24/7 Facebook group because there is a big audience there who will most likely like my horror cosplay content. So when I post in that group I always link to my Instagram account to see more. I do this in multiple groups and every time I do I notice new followers who came from that post on Facebook.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #4: Get in front of the Camera More
Don’t forget social media is still social and your followers want to see the person or people behind the brand. It’s extremely important to make your account as relatable and personable as possible not to mention photos with faces get 38% more likes on Instagram.
People want to know who is behind the brand just as much as your business and products. If you have a team why not have them post and share content about the business from their personal pages. You never know, your employees followers may have an interest in your brand and people love behind the scenes content.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #5: Post more Videos
In 2014 the future of social media content was video well the future is now. Every brand is now creating video content for Tiktok, Youtube, IGTV and their feed to drive business because that’s what people want to see. Video has by far become the most popular form of content in 2020. IGTV is a great place to post your video content and behind the scenes. And if your video appears on the explorer page they appear four times larger than photos. Video content isn’t going anywhere so if you really want to start growing your audience you must start incorporating more video content into your social media strategy.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #6: Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a great place to interact with your audience. Post things that don't need to be in your feed like a new post, behind the scenes, polls, quiz's, shout outs, tips, funny memes, everyday life, and questions.
Give people a reason to follow you besides your work by posting more personal and fun daily content on your story. As far as photos go keep your feed business and your story personal. I'm also told that Instagram shows your feed to more people if people are interacting with your stories.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #7: Post long captions or multiple photos at once.
The Instagram algorithm knows how long people are looking at your post. A post will be more successful the more time people spend on your post. If everyone is scrolling right past it you wont get much engagement or reach. Long meaningful or entertaining captions do better than short and sweet ones. And posts with multiple photos seem to preform better than one photo.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #8: Check your Insights!
How do you expect to find out what's working and what's not without data? The only way to get that data is through insights and the only way to get insights is by making sure your Instagram profile is set to Business or Creator. To check and or switch your profile open Instagram and go to your profile, then click the top right 3 bars, then click settings, then click account, and at the bottom you'll see your options to switch your account to Business, Personal, or Creator. Once you see your insights you can see your followers age, gender, location, and most popular time of day your audience is online. Most importantly you can see what posts were shared, saved, and commented on the most as well as the reach of each post. This information will tell you what your audience is connecting with.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #9: Use Hashtags!
Potential clients are using hashtags to search for what you have to offer. This is how they find you. For example someone might be looking for a local MUA for their wedding so they might search #OrlandoMUA. The key with hashtags is to use quality over quantity. Instagram allows 30 hashtags but I have been told posts preform better with 9. but however many you use make sure they aren't all too popular. When choosing a hashtag Instagram tells you how many people are using that tag. Try choosing 4 relevant hashtags below 100K and 4 between 100K-500K and 2 Super relevant hashtags like #PortlandWeddingPhotographer or #PDXphotographer. I've had multiple people find me and follow me from searching #Portlandphotographer.
2 Apps I use for every post is Focalmark to find relevant hashtags and IG LineBreak for clean spacing between paragraphs.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #10: Always Comment Back
I’ll never understand why brands with under 20,000 followers don’t comment back. If you’re getting under 100 comments on a post you can make the time to comment back to your community. I understand if you have 1 million followers being overwhelmed and not being able to comment back but for most of you this won’t be the case. Your fans notice if you never comment back and before you know it they will stop commenting altogether.
Show your fans you appreciate them by at least saying thank you to each comment. Don’t forget you wouldn’t be anywhere without them. And go a step further by interacting with them on their posts. It is called social media for a reason, you can’t succeed without being social. If you have to time block 30 minutes each day just to make sure you are interacting with your community I promise in the end it will be worth it.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #11: Bonus tip, Stop buying followers.
Buying followers and joining engagement groups and Instagram pods is the quickest way to be shadow band or even having your account disabled. All of these things are against Instagram rules and guidelines but more importantly they just don’t work.
It’s blatantly obvious when someone has purchased followers, I see it all the time. 100,000 followers with little to no engagement on each post makes your account worthless. You’re not fooling anyone and it’s not helping you gain clients. So stop it. Not to mention purchasing followers is a waste of money.
I know this all may seem like alot of work and it is but if you're trying to succeed in your industry you must grow your reach and these tips will help you do that. Let me know in the comments below what tip helped you the most or if you have any to add :) Connect with me on Instagram HERE
Lance is a well known published Portland based Portrait photographer.