Instagram is on its way to becoming the most preferred destination for brands and people alike, to share their message. That comes as no surprise, as the platform now boasts over a billion users. But as it is with any social media, your influence is majorly determined by your follower base. It’s often called a social currency. So here is a guide for how to grow on Instagram, without paying for ads.
It is said that the first few thousand Instagram followers are the most difficult to obtain, as you try to make your voice heard as a brand or influencer to people who have no idea who you are. Increasing your Instagram followers can act as a huge motivation too, towards putting out more and better content, which can help you grow.
Following are the best ways to grow Instagram followers, without having to pay for ads –
1. Work on your captions
For young profiles, it is very important to have a clear message about who they are, and captions will help you accomplish that. The captions should complement your post, convey the message and initiate conversation and engagement. They should be the correct length to put forward the story without the viewer thinking of it as a waste of time. Be sure to incorporate hashtags.
2. Interact with the community
Take out time to respond to as many people as you can, who took the effort to leave a comment on your post. Not only does this increase the number of comments on the post, but also make the commenters feel more welcome, thus increasing their affection towards you.
3. Post consistently
We all love to try and create the most beautiful pieces, but that should not slow down how often you upload. Consistency in uploading can prove to be the fastest way to grow. Another smaller advantage that comes along with this is that you can diversify your content if you are posting multiple times a week, or even better, multiple times a day.
4. Get Featured
This one is like a hack for Social media growth. There are profiles for each genre that curate content from all over Instagram and share it on their feeds. Yes, it is not easy to reach there, but putting in that effort towards making content worth sharing will always come handy. Profiles that participate in this usually have the hashtag mentioned in their bio. This acts as an easy way to gain access to a lot of new viewers.
5. Crowd-sourced content and stories
Going hand in hand with the previous point, you can also use media from your community for your feed. Depending on the size of your following, it can range from requesting a fan for a photo, to even hosting contests for an opportunity to get featured. Decide on an easy-to-remember hashtag that you want to associate all your content with, and want people to submit their posts with. This goes a long way to help people recognise your posts and engage with them. Get creative with this one. People are likely to share a post if they are mentioned in it, or credited for.
This is a great way to make your page feel more human. Think about it, how do you make your page feel more human? Get humans to vouch for it! Talk to your past customers/top fans, get to know what they like, and what they appreciate. Viewers will enjoy hearing about you from someone who is not you.
7. Study your Analytics
Every Business profile on Instagram has access to analytics, which helps you better understand your audience, their preferences, how they discover your content, what do they like, etc. in times when you can not figure out what to post, this can serve as the deciding factor.
8. Do NOT cross post
Instagram gives you an option to also share the image with the caption on Facebook, Twitter and other places, in the last step of uploading. This may seem like an easy step to have it shared in various places, but you can not forget that each platform is unique it can turn out to be counter-intuitive. Understand the context of the platform and change your storytelling accordingly. No one likes to see an image on Facebook with 25 hashtags in the caption.
9. Learn to use hashtags
Hashtags are another easy way to reach the correct type of people for your posts. Every post can have up to 30 hashtags in the caption, which will get your post featured in the Explore section. Do some research to find which are the most relevant hashtags for your content, see how many posts they have and start experimenting. Do not use the most common ones, or your post will get buried amidst many others. Throw dirt enough and some will stick.
10. Engage with hashtags
Once you have identified the prominent hashtags for your type of content, go and check them out. Leave a comment posts that are relevant to your brand, have conversations, and interact with other users. Looking at the top 9 posts for each hashtag will also teach you what posts are more enjoyed, which you can use as inspiration. Try to bring value to the other commenters on these posts, and see your account grow! This is one of the best ways to grow Instagram followers and reach the correct people.
11. Geotag your posts
Adding a location to your posts gives you a chance at getting featured for when someone clicks on the location or searches for it. This works like hashtags in a way, to gain the views of people for something specific. You can also get creative with custom locations and not actual places, to give your posts an edge. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a Pizza post at ‘in your belly?’
12. Embed posts on your website
Did you know that you can have your Instagram posts directly accessible from your blog, without making the viewer click on a link and leave the website? All Content Management Systems (WordPress, Wix etc) have an option to embed posts to make them directly view-able. The method varies a little for each platform, but starts with clicking on the 3 dot menu of a post, selecting Embed, and copy-pasting the code in your blog post. If you happen to have a sizable audience on your website, this will come in handy to easily send them to your Instagram. They can like and comment n the post without having to leave your website!
13. Develop your style
Getting people to see your content is just the beginning. How you get them to check out your profile and actually hit Follow is the second step. That is why your feed and the entire profile should be top notch. Try to have a consistent theme with your profile that clearly states what your profile is about, and what sort of content a person can expect from you in the future. Don’t forget about the bio and the links, while you are revamping your profile.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can try to follow a color scheme, and grade your photos in a similar way. Might not be applicable for every type of profile, but look undeniably cool.
14. Content for the future
On the subject of planning out your content, keep an eye on all upcoming events or activities of interest. For example, if your content is for the Indian audience, you can have posts planned out for upcoming festivals. Adaptive content like this more likely to be enjoyed by your audience, or even shared. Be opportunistic.
15. Make content that is shareable
How cool would it be if your Instagram followers help in gaining new followers! Try to make content that is very shareable in nature, enjoyable, strong on emotions, funny etc. Content that is quick to understand resonates with views faster. With the ability to send a post to your friends in a single click, means you can easily increase your reach manifold. Example: learning how to make ice cream in less than a minute.
Invite other people/brands in your genre to come together and create content for your page. This brings in variety for your content, and also exposes you to a whole new set of audience. This is beneficial for both the parties. Have an influencer come and talk about their experiences. Have a guest contributor for a day. Start ideating!
17. Stories takeover
Instagram Stories has added a whole new dimension of possibilities. Still not very prominent, but stories takeover allows you to spice things up for a day. Get a customer or a friend to take over your Instagram stories and share their perspective of the whole thing. Ask them to announce the takeover on their profile too, to bring in their followers to you. Example: Profiles of Travel destinations are known to invite creators and influencers to take over their stories, and share their experiences during the stay.
18. Instagram Stories for getting explored
Instagram Stories can also be directly sent to anyone via DMs, with a single click. Stories also get featured on Hashtags and Locations. So the rules for posts are also applicable here. Try to make stories that encourage sharing, add a clear call to action, add Hashtags and Location stickers to get featured. You can also share posts in your Stories, to bring those viewers to your profile.
It is often said that Instagram gives the best ROI for ads that is far from the only way to reach the people you want. With some research, planning and effort, you can realise the potential of your Instagram.
- Add meaningful, crisp and engaging captions which also include the relevant hashtags.
- Get more consistent and regular with uploads.
- Always engage with your fans, reply to them and get to know them better.
- Target to get featured on crowdsourced pages of your niche.
- Geotag your posts and stories.
- Understand what type of content works best, and optimise your posts for Instagram.
- Instead of sharing the same image on your website, embed it in the post.
- Interact with some of the major hashtags that you have identified for your content.
- Plan your content calendar based on upcoming events.
- Collaborate with other creators, influencers, guests and your fans to bring in a fresh perspective.
- Try to maintain the aesthetic of your feed to make it look more appealing.