Insta-what? – Instagram, of course! If you are trying to build a strong and engaging social media presence, you simply cannot miss out on the world of Instagram. Being the social media platform with the highest percentage of fan engagement, you will be crazy to skip Instagram as a means to promote your business, blog or brand.
In this article we’re going to go over 10 of the most strategic techniques (that are proven to work) to grow your Instagram following as rapidly as possible. We will also cover how to successfully generate content that will have your fans commenting and liking everything you post.
Like and Comment on Everything
This is one of the easiest ways to grow the traffic to your Instagram account, though it can be very time consuming. You will need to like hundreds, if not thousands of pictures in any given day – and comment on some of these as well. This is likely to gain you tons of likes and potentially a few comments on your own photo’s every day.
Liking and commenting on photos can easily be done at random points in the day when you would normally be scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed (admit it, we all do it!). Instead, you can cruise through Instagram, searching relevant hashtags to your industry and start liking away at some great content. These people are all likely to at least like one of your photos; that is if they don’t just start following you because of your great content.
The idea here is that you are taking the time to notice their content and even comment on it, therefore they feel in return they should check out your photos and probably comment back. If you impress them with a few great images then they are likely to start following your Instagram feed regularly. Some people will even think to tell their friends to check out your page, which is great too.
So, even though it is a long road to big growth, it is still a very productive use of your spare time and will gain you a decent bit of traffic to your images on a daily basis.
Reposting Quality Content
When you first joined up to Instagram you probably started following everyone in your area of expertise, correct? Well now it’s time to make great use of that – find the most popular and engaging (and emotion evoking if possible) content and use a repost app to “share” the content as you would on Facebook. The repost app automatically credits the original poster of the image so you don’t have to worry about any copyright issues.
This is really great for a couple of reasons. Number one, you are sharing content that you already know does well – someone else has already posted it with success, now it’s your turn! You are likely to see about as much (or close to it) traffic as the original poster did. Especially if you use the same hashtags (more on hashtags later in this article!).
Number two, is that now the person you reposted for, is likely to do the same for you. They will see that you thought their content was worthy of a repost which will lead them to check out your profile. Most of the time, it’s a common curtiousy to help someone out in this way. Kind of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.
The original user will gain traffic from your followers and any additional hashtags you use when reposting and you will gain traffic not only from the post but hopefully from the other user eventually reposting one of your images. It really is a win, win situation!
Integrate Your Social Media
Another great traffic booster is to integrate all your social media. When you are trying to build a brand it is important that you have a consistent look and feel to all your social media platforms. You can do this not only with a logo or a consistent profile picture, but also by integrating all your accounts. By doing this you authorize (for example) Instagram to post all your photo’s automatically to your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
When you do this, you will instantly start seeing a spike in followers as well as engagement with your fans. The reason for this is simple, you may have followers that have found you on only one social media platform – and they may not think to go search you on another. So why not just let them know you are there? At good portion of your Instagram followers will also be fans on your Facebook page or Twitter followers.
This will also promote your Instagram through people retweeting your Instagram images or sharing them on Facebook. Once this happens, friends or followers of your fans or followers will then be exposed to your epic Instagram feed and hopefully that image is enough to get them to follow you too. There is almost no end to how beneficial it can be to integrate all of your social media platforms like this.
The Importance of Hashtags
Okay, so hashtags have been around for a while now, but still not everybody seems to know how they work (and how amazing they are for generating likes, comments and followers!). A hashtag is a way people search social media sites. Using hashtags will increase the chances of your images being found (and it will do so A LOT). There are certain hashtags that are searched more often than others though, so do your best to pick your hashtags wisely.
To use hashtags you simply put a pound sign (#) in front of a word or phrase that has no spaces in it. For example if you are promoting your floral arrangements business you might use #flowerarrangements or #flowers, #flowersforher #floralarrangements #bouquets, or many other options that pertain to that picture. Then anyone who is searching one of those phrases is more likely to come across your particular image.
Some of the most commonly searched hashtags are #love, #instagood, #me, #tbt, #photooftheday and #cute. If there is any way for you to incorporate any of these into your photos, then you are pretty much guaranteed more traffic.
Outside of being a way to search content and allow followers to find you, hashtags can be used for contests as well. Many brands do contests on Instagram. A great example is the “Sierra Mist Selfie Sweepstakes”, where people who take a selfie with a 16oz of Sierra Mist and hashtag #SM16Sweeps are entered automatically to enter a prize.
Many companies use this as a marketing technique because then they have tons of people representing their product in a positive light. This makes for some great advertising, I think.
Timing Really Is Everything…
Just as with all social media, there are spikes at certain times of the day for Instagram users. This is generally around 3-5PM PST (6-8PM EST) for Instagram users. Chances are, this is when most people are headed home from work on the pacific coast and settling down after dinner on the east coast. While Facebook seems to get more traffic in the morning and Twitter in random bursts throughout the day, Instagram viewers seem to be doing most of their viewing in the late afternoon to evening time.
Posting your photos during these peak times can greatly increase your traffic by simply being in the right place at the right time. If you post in the morning, hundreds of other pictures have probably been posted between then and when the peak viewing hours are in the afternoon. If you want to maximize your engagement on Instagram, then the best time to post is definitely during those peak hours.
After all, most of your comments and likes will be within the first 4 hours of when you posted the image. Once you get past those first few hours, your picture is not likely to gain much momentum from that point onward. So really, if you are trying to get the most out of your Instagram you should do your best to post during those peak hours to increase the engagement with your images.
It may be awkward at first, sharing bits and pieces of your life or lifestyle with complete strangers but the thing is, the more realistic you seem to your viewers, the more likely they are to stick around, like and comment on your images. People like to see the team of designers working at a big desk together, or the office birthday party or work BBQ. It’s not always about promoting the products or services you sell, but also about making your company seem as approachable as possible.
This is a great way to give your viewers sort of an inside look at what you and your brand do. If you run an online store then yeah, go ahead and feature a product once in a while – but you should also be posting pictures perhaps as you are working on a design, or while you’re having a coffee break. Something to show the more human side of the company – something that says I’m not just here to advertise my stuff.
After all, we all get bombarded with enough advertisements as it is, not all your Instagram photos should seem like marketing (if you’re really skilled, even your marketing photos don’t seem like marketing).
Use a Combination of Stills and Video
Ever since Instagram added videos to the mix the possibilities have become nearly endless. Using a combination of stills and videos throughout the week can also help increase visibility. Make sure to keep your videos short – your audience doesn’t have that great of an attention span and will scroll on down if the video is too long. It’s safe to say that anything under 30 seconds to a minute is a safe time for your video usually.
Using a video is a great way to say, launch a contest, or let someone know about a big upcoming sale in your online store. Maybe you are just trying to give them a quick look into what it’s like to be you for the day. Have you ever had one of those moments where you just would have had to be there? If you can catch that moment on video, you are likely to get a lot of attention on Instagram.
You don’t want to flood your feed with too much of one or the other – rather you want to use a nice balance of both or lean more towards images since not everyone will stop to watch a video. If you post daily (which can help you to incorporate #photooftheday every single day) then make every other day or every two days, a day you upload a video instead. If you upload multiple times a day, (more than 2-3 is probably too much, you don’t want to spam people after all) the consider making one of those each day to be a video.
Use Analytics Software (and other tools)
While this will not help you directly to grow your following, using analytics software (such as Iconsquare) you can see which of your posts are working best for you and how you can improve your efforts based on previous trends. Iconsquare goes the extra mile to make it easier and quicker on you to be able to respond to other user’s comments. This can be helpful when you are trying to get in those couple hundreds of likes every day!
You can also use a similar type of system like Twtrland in order to see how your competitors are doing. After all, there is no harm in using their feedback as a tool for your own. See which if their posts are doing well and consider what those images have going for them. Were they still images or were they videos? What time of day was it posted? What hashtags were they using? This system will be able to give you all that information and more with just a few clicks.
If you are going to go the reposting route, then this is also an exceptional tool in helping you choose which content you should repost. Remember, you want it to be some of the most engaging content you can find that is based in the same niche as you. If that task seemed daunting before, you will love using these kinds of software in order to make those strategies a breeze.
Make Your Images Stand Out
Using apps like picstitch is a great way to maximize the use of your Instagram. After all, what’s better than one photo? That’s right two or three all smooshed together into one! Images that have 2-3 smaller images combined often get more likes than a standard photo. The same goes for any image that has text on it – having gone the extra mile to create the spectacular content will reflect in your following. It only takes a few seconds to put a photo together in one of those apps and then a few more to post it to Instagram.
You can also use the standard filters that are a part of Instagram in order to bring a little more life to your images. While for some things like products a no filter photo is going to be best, for other things it can help to add a little dramatic effect. Some lighten, some darken, and you can add borders and fade out the edges of the photo. Though the editor is rather simple for those who are photo editing pros (who know that Instagram is nothing compared to Adobe Lightroom) it still gets the job done and gives your photo a whole new look and feel.
Of all of the filters on Instagram, the five most popular seem to be no filter, Early Bird, X-Pro II, Rise and Hefe. Even though I personally often end up flipping through all of the filter options, I do generally end up using one of those in the end. (Strange because I didn’t even know those were the most popular until I started writing this…)
Ask Your Followers for Engagement
The last tactic is really the most simple and it is a common practice among bloggers. Using action statements in your comments such as “Like if you agree”, “Like if you relate” or “Tag your friends” are all going to cause users to do exactly those things! It is as simple as putting the idea in their heads and off they will go. This is really one of the simplest and easiest ways to help promote your following!
Time to Take Action!
Now that you have a good idea of many different ways to start growing your following and traffic on Instagram all that is left to do is implement one or more of these strategies. If you are only going to choose one strategy, my suggestion is to like and comment on as many images as you possibly can each day as it seems to be one of the fastest ways to grow your following.
Realistically, using all of these techniques, all the time probably won’t happen. But if you use just three or four of these techniques in any given week then you should see significant results in a pretty sort period of time.
My recommendation to like, comment, post in peak hours and ask your followers to join in on the fun – these to me, are the easiest and most effective ways to grow your Instagram network.