You’ve started your Instagram account, created a content strategy, and are posting high quality content regularly. All that’s left now is to just wait and the followers will come running, right? Well, it’s not always that easy.
Something that successful Instagram influencers and brands have learned is that the best way to grow your following on Instagram is by building a living, breathing community of users that are actually interested in your content. But for marketers and small business owners, sometimes it’s a challenge to find out where their community is and how to engage with them. Here are three tips on how to steadily increase your following and build your own community on Instagram:
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
1) Leverage hashtags
The quickest way to build a following on Instagram is to monitor and engage with different hashtags. To do this, you’ll first need to find popular hashtags that your community is adding to their photos and engaging with. Research which hashtags other industry influencers or competitors are using, and then spend time each day monitoring the content of each tag.
One popular hashtag in the photography community, for example, is #vsco, which users tag if they’ve used the VSCOcam app to edit their photo. If you’re a business that wants to market to photographers, a smart move to build community around your product would be to search the #vsco tag and spend time engaging with that content through likes and comments. Every time you comment on a photo, other users scrolling through their feed can see your comment, which can lead to more profile visits and potentially new followers.
The manual work of liking a ton of photos may make your thumb sore, but it effectively makes other users aware of your profile. Every time you like a photo, the user who posted the content sees your avatar and handle, and some will click on your profile to learn more. If they like what they see, then you’ve just scored yourself one more follower! However, be careful not to “troll” hashtags: remember to acknowledge your new followers with a comment, additional likes, and a “followback.”
2) Collaborate with other Instagrammers
Something everyone’s learned since creating their first Facebook account is that people are really curious. Some may call it creeping, but users of all social networks spend time browsing the profiles of many people they don’t actually follow, and Instagram is no exception. The introduction of photo-tagging on Instagram has made this easier, and clicking on “tagged photos” is the quickest way to get a sense of what someone looks like, who their friends are, and what they like doing. The more your profile is tagged in other users photos, the more exposure you can receive through users perusing the tagged photos of their favourite Instagram stars and brands.
One look at the popular #makeportraits tag proves that Instagrammers love taking photos of their friends. A feed of #selfies gets old fast, and many Instagrammers like to use portraits as a way to introduce their friends to their followers, exposing them to a whole new audience which can result in an increase in followers. So whether you’re a blog featuring another blogger, a small business featuring another local company, or just an Instagrammer showing off your best friend, collaborations are an organic and natural way to increase followers for the both of you.
3) Smiles, snacks and sunsets
Posting lifestyle content that represents your brand’s persona is a great way to market the emotion of your brand on Instagram, but sometimes it’s not enough. The surefire way to gather a ton of likes and attract new followers is to post photos that fall into so-called Instagram cliches. Everyone loves a sunset because everyone can relate to a sunset. There are thousands of users who want to find photos of #sunsets, and they might just be a future customer of yours. The same can be said of pictures of food and of people smiling. By integrating these common themes into your content strategy, you’re able to engage with different tags that you wouldn’t normally, which extends the reach of your Instagram profile and increases your audience.