Instagram is rapidly overtaking Facebook in popularity, especially with Gen Z. Many people have become famous on the site, and it’s the go-to place for influencers, artists, entertainers, musicians, actors, business people, coaches, and anyone hoping to grow an audience. However, the site’s algorithms are stacked in favor of already popular posts and accounts. So it’s no surprise people often look for ways to achieve organic growth. Sometimes, the best way to boost an account is to send 30 likes, which you can buy affordably. In addition to increasing engagement, here are some other useful recommendations from the Instagram world:
1. If You Want to Monetize your IG Feed, You Need to Use it as a Business Account
From your settings, you can easily switch to a business account. (You can still do this if you’re a blogger, influencer, etc.) Once you’ve changed your account status over, you can create ads without using Facebook, as well as use their Insights analytics to learn more about your audience and how to appeal to them. Spending some time tracking changes can help you make better decisions about content in the future.
2. Stand Out From the Crowd
There are more than 25 million business profiles on Insta and even more influencers in many popular niches. It’s important to figure out a unique selling proposition—that is, what you can offer your audience that others in your space can’t. If you can’t think of anything, you may need to consider coming up with a unique hook to set you apart from the crowd. Maybe you’re the historical book reviewer who dresses in period costumes or the fitness guru whose sarcasm and humor is a pleasant alternative to all those happy, peppy people working out.
Not sure how to come up with a gimmick of your own? A good way to start is to look at other successful Instagrammers in your space. Figure out what each of them does that’s different, and what’s missing.
3. Spend Time Scheduling Your Posts
There is a lot of info out there about the best and worst times to post on IG, as well as other platforms. Generally, during the workday is a good time. (Because everyone at work is on Insta, apparently!) Simplymeasured says that Mondays and Thursdays are ideal days to post, while CoSchedule adds that 8-9 AM and 2 AM are good times of the day.
So what should you do? Your audience may differ from the norms, so it’s best to test out different times. Using a scheduling app like Hootsuite or Buffer, you can set your content to go up at any time. So you could try posting at 8:30 AM all this week, then try 3 PM next week, and see which one works out better using your business account analytics. You can also rotate days of the week to determine which one works best. Despite the most popular times overall, it may turn out that you have the best luck at 7 PM or some other off-peak time.
4. Focus on the Right Metrics to Track
At minimum, you should be tracking follower and engagement growth, as well as most liked posts. Going beyond the numbers, you should put together a list of your most popular posts, say for the last month, or last three months, and study them to see what they had in common. Do all or most of them have one or more hashtags in common? Maybe the pictures have similarities, or there’s another common theme like humor, conversation starting-questions, or even the person you tagged. These are the kinds of insights that you can’t necessarily get from a graph, but you can use your data to find a good place to start.
5. Create Your Own Hashtag
If you’re trying to promote yourself or your business, developing a branded hashtag may be a good promotional tool, in combination with other efforts. You want to aim for something fun and catchy, that people will want to share. It also helps if you add some incentive—such as asking your audience to share a story or picture that relates to your hashtag.
6. Don’t Forget Geotags
Posts that include a tagged location have more engagement than those without a location. You don’t have to tag every photo with one, but try to do at least one or two posts a week that you can tag. This helps widen your audience to people in that local area who might not otherwise have come across your content.
7. Build Strategic Relationships with Other Instagrammers
Many of us are familiar with influencers. You may be trying to grow your account specifically for the purpose of becoming an influencer. But these popular posters can also help you gain popularity if they tag you. Make a list of popular influencers in your space, follow, and interact with them. Make strategic, genuine comments on some of their pictures. Participate in challenges where they seek user-generated content. (Be genuine. Don’t ask them to follow you or try to sell yourself.) This may not always pay off, but sometimes it’s a good way to gain new followers or the attention of someone who might tag you in the future.
8. Use Filters Wisely
It’s important to think about branding when you choose your filters. You want everything you post to have a consistent look, although that doesn’t mean you always have to use the same filter or filters. What it does mean is that you should think about whether each filter fits with your brand image. Is your brand personality usually subtle? If so, a flashy filter may clash. Is your brand trying to communicate a classic feel? Then a more modern-looking filter may not fit.
9. Remember the Element of Surprise
Surprise often contributes to the popularity of a post. This is especially useful with humorous posts, or with message posts intended to inspire deep thought on a subject. You might be able to come up with a picture that’s surprising the second you look at it—something unexpected just pops out. Other images look normal, but when you read the caption it says something unexpected and captures your attention so you don’t just keep scrolling.
10. Don’t Forget Other Platforms
Although Insta may be the best place for the audience you’re targeting, you should maintain a presence on other networks too, and periodically share your IG account there. You can host a thread asking your followers to share their Insta accounts as well, or you can share content from IG to another network to let people know what kind of stuff you post.
But don’t post the exact same content on all mediums. If you post the same content everywhere, people don’t really need to follow you everywhere, and increasing follower growth is important. If you do reuse photos on different networks, make sure to resize them for Insta’s ideal size requirements, write a new caption, and add extra keywords. Another idea is to add a filter just for Instagram.
However, it’s best to also have some content exclusive to the site. Stories is a good way to do this—these disappear after 24 hours, and you can use them to share a quick story about your day, a brief performance, or a teaser for upcoming content. You might also create a series of photos or videos just for the site.
These tips should help you make the most of Instagram for growing your audience. Remember also to have fun—if you’re having a good time, chances are your audience will know it and have a good time with you.