In every traditional rags-to-riches story, there’s a part where the wide-eyed hero gets a reality check: they gaze at their mighty kingdom, overwhelmed by the empire they worked so hard to build. In 2022, the hero is you, and the empire you rule (however big or small) is your Instagram account.
For the brave-hearted brands and creators drowning in DMs, can’t keep up with comments or are just generally stressed by their audience, here are our best no-hassle tips for Instagram follower management.
This post isn’t about how to get more Instagram followers, though these tips will result in a solid social media practice, which never hurts your growth. Let’s get started.
How to manage Instagram followers
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
11 tips to manage your Instagram followers efficiently and effectively
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is an asset, no matter what aspect of your social media performance you’re trying to improve. Use Instagram’s analytics to determine who your followers are—you can see the location, age range, and gender breakdown of your audience.
Beyond that, take some time to do more granular research on your followers—in particular, the ones who DM you, comment on your posts or reply to your Stories (we love likes, but they don’t require as much energy as comments or DMs, and the followers who thoughtfully engage are the ones you want to focus on). You don’t need to do a full FBI stalk of each follower, but a general idea will help get this show on the road.
If you’re not reaching the audience you want to reach, try doing a competitive analysis and compare your account to a heavy-hitting one in your industry (for example, an up-and-coming toy block company might do competitive analysis with Lego’s Instagram).
2. Post engaging content
Once you’ve nailed down your audience, you’ll want to post things they like—as in, like like. And comment on. And share. It’s easier to keep tabs on your followers when you have an ongoing back-and-forth.
We’ve covered both how to get more likes and how to get more followers on Instagram, and one of the key strategies for both is posting content that viewers want to interact with. High quality photos, having a variety of different kinds of posts (the same thing every day is boooring) and posting timely content are all assets when it comes to engagement.
Sometimes, the simple solution is the best solution: if you want engagement, you can ask for it. In this post, Instagrammer Kellie Brown tries on different pairs of sunglasses and asks her followers to comment on which one is their favorite.
View this post on Instagram
3. Respond to comments and DMs promptly
Replying to comments and DMs in a timely manner looks good for your brand. Better yet, it reminds your audience that you’re more than a brand: sometimes, sending a message via social media can feel like yelling into an abyss, and it’s comforting to get a prompt—and helpful—reply.
Raven Read’s Instagram profile is a good example of this interaction. Sometimes, the brand answers a question with an informative response. Other times, it shares in its followers’ excitement by commenting back (even a few emojis will do). And often, the brand simply likes the comment made by a follower.
4. Pin your favorite comments
Often, the top comment that shows up on an Instagram post is different for every user: it might be the most-liked comment, or a comment made by a friend of theirs. By pinning a comment, you’re permanently making it the first comment for your entire audience.
How to pin a comment on Instagram
To pin a comment on Instagram, first tap the comment icon on your post. Then, scroll to the comment you want to pin and swipe left on it. Hit the thumbtack icon to pin the comment to the top of your post.
You can use this feature like a mini FAQ page: pin a commonly asked question, and reply to it with the answer. That way, your followers will see it first.
5. Use saved replies
If you’re finding you’re getting the same kinds of questions over and over in your DMs, Instagram has a built-in feature to make it easier for you to reply. The Saved reply feature is a keyboard shortcut you can set up to quickly respond to simple inquiries.
How to set up Saved Replies on Instagram
First, make sure you’re using Instagram for business or Instagram for creators. From your profile, hit the menu button in the top right corner of your screen.
From there, go to Settings, then Creator, then Saved Reply. Choose a shortcut for your response—when you type this in, Instagram will automatically populate the text field with your predetermined message.
6. Use Hootsuite’s Inbox to manage comments and DMs
You can manage comments and DMs yourself, or use a tool like Hootsuite’s inbox. Hootsuite will automatically file all comments and DMs (from all of your social media platforms) into one place, making it easy to sort, reply, and manage both your public and private interactions.
You can also use Hootsuite’s inbox to set up saved replies.
7. Limit trolls, spam and bots
Ah, here we are: the very worst part of social media (except for 5-minute crafts, maybe). Not only are trolls and spam annoying to deal with, but they’ll also negatively affect your followers’ experience and perception of your brand.
To make sure your Instagram content is a positive experience for all, you can:
- Moderate comments frequently and delete any that troll your account or you suspect come from bots.
- Report those users.
- Create a social media policy so your brand’s team knows how to respond to trolls.
Instagram allows you to automatically hide offensive comments. To do this, you need to:
- Go to your account settings.
- Tap Privacy.
- Tap Hidden Words.
- Select which comment controls you’d like to set.
And there’s a manual filter option, where you can type which words or phrases specifically you’d like to hide, on the same page. You can block comments from specific users by doing the following:
- Go to your account settings.
- Tap Privacy.
- Tap Comments
- Type in the names of the accounts you’d like to block comments from.
Here, you’ll find more details on how to deal effectively to social media trolls.
8. Optimize your account for sales and customer service
If you’re using your Instagram account for business, providing good customer service makes all the difference (no one likes being ghosted, whether it’s by a love interest or a brand). Answer inquiries quickly, provide resources and answers to frequently asked questions and make your follower’s experience as painless as possible.
And if you sell products on services, why not bring the shopping experience to Instagram? Optimizing your account for social commerce can make for a frictionless shopping experience for your customers — and more potential sales for you.
Use Instagram Shops to sell your products
In May 2020, Instagram introduced Instagram Shops — an in-app social commerce feature for retailers. It allows potential customers one-tap access to the products you post, without them having to find the product on your e-commerce website.
This is how clothing brand Lisa Says Gah set up their Instagram Shop:
Use a customer messaging platform to manage FAQs
As a social media manager, being on Instagram 24/7 isn’t reasonable (or healthy). But customers from different regions and time zones may try to get in touch with you at different times of the day.
Customer messaging platforms for retailers like Heyday offer easy-to-use tools to manage communications with your audience and potential consumers. Heyday is an AI chatbot for retailers that connects your online store with your social media channels. It allows you to automate as much as 80% of your customer support conversations. When customers reach out to you on social media with questions regarding your inventory or order tracking, the chatbot assists them in real-time (and passes more complex inquiries over to your support team).
Provide more information in your link in bio
The link in your Instagram bio is the first place your followers will go when they want to learn more about your brand.
Use that link wisely by setting up a link tree that directs your audience to resources outside of Instagram (for example, your company website, blog, other social media accounts like Facebook or TikTok, or timely events and new product launches).
Here’s what you see when you click the link in Hootsuite’s Instagram bio:
9. Track follower growth—and note the corresponding content
Stay up-to-date on what your followers love by using analytics tools.
Instagram analytics can help you determine who your core audience is, and also keep track of new followers. Instagram’s insights spotlight useful data, including:
- Follower demographics
- Interactions with your account on each day of the week
- How many accounts found your Instagram account
- How many clicks your link in bio got from Instagram
You can also use data to track which content is most engaging to your audience. See if there is a pattern between the growth in your following and when you post a specific kind of content. For example, does your following increase when you use geotags, polls or a video? What about Reels? Once you’ve determined what content works best, create a publishing plan to capitalize on those kinds of posts.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that offers scheduling of Instagram posts and Stories and Instagram analytics in one dashboard. (The dream, right?) The unique Hootsuite Analytics dashboard allows you to dive deeper into your Instagram data, showing you information including:
- Past data
- Your response time in customer service conversations
- A ranking of Instagram comments by positive or negative sentiment
10. Decide when to follow or unfollow other accounts
A follow isn’t always a two-way street: your brand shouldn’t follow back every account that follows you.
To make sure you’re following accounts that are useful to your brand, consider:
- Creating brand guidelines. Clearly outline in your brand’s social media strategy what makes an account worth a follow from your brand. For example, do you consider location? The size of the account’s following? Do you only follow back accounts that comment on your posts and have public profiles?
- Using Instagram’s Save function. This will help your brand monitor which accounts interact with your account the most and which accounts you should interact with in return.
- The potential to collaborate. Following back other brands or social media influencers can begin a conversation about working together.
There are also benefits to cleaning up your list of followers, removing bots and ghost accounts and blocking trolls and spammers. To manage Instagram followers effectively, you can make use of apps to clean up your list of followers and help you determine which accounts to follow back.
Mass Unfollow for Instagram, for example, is an app you can use to bulk unfollow accounts that are no longer useful to your brand and bulk block followers if you’re noticing spam accounts.
11. Create highlights for new followers
Instagram Story highlights are an easy way to communicate information to your new followers: they’re usually one of the first things they’ll check when visiting your profile.
Create engaging, visually pleasing highlight covers and name each highlight clearly (for example, FAQ for frequently asked questions).
Fitness studio Aarmy’s Instagram highlights include information on their coaches, pop-ups, and gear for sale.
We’ve put together 40 beautiful, easily customizable Story highlight cover templates — download them here
Save time managing your brand’s Instagram with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can create, schedule and publish posts and Stories directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.