Wondering how to manage your Instagram followers? Not sure what it even means to manage your Instagram followers?

You’ve come to the right place.

But before we get started, know that managing your followers doesn’t mean trying inauthentic growth hacks like Instagram automation or buying followers. Those are just a bad idea. Always.

Managing Instagram followers means:

  • Interacting with your current followers consistently
  • Growing your Instagram following and gaining new followers
  • Maintaining a happy, engaged community
  • Following or unfollowing other Instagram accounts
  • Blocking trolls and handling spam

Keep reading for tips to make this easier and more effective.

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.

How to manage Instagram followers efficiently and effectively

Maybe you’re just starting out on the platform and want to get more Instagram followers. Or maybe you already have a large following and want to improve how you interact with your followers.

Regardless of where your brand is at, these 10 tips will help you manage your Instagram followers.

Post high-quality, engaging content

To keep your current followers engaged with your brand — and to entice new followers — be selective. Only post thoughtfully selected, appealing content that reflects your brand.

For example, take the time to:

The outdoor brand Cotopaxi posts a careful selection of photos that are inspiring and relevant to its overall vision and values — to get people outside and to “do good” — even if its products aren’t shown.

Same with Dove. As well as posting images and video, the beauty brand creates fun, graphic elements to change up how its followers interact with the account.

To make posting great content a little easier, create a content calendar to organize the planning, creation and posting of your content.

Interact with your followers to create a sense of community

Take the time to be social! Manage your brand’s Instagram followers by entering into conversations with your followers and creating a sense of togetherness.

Respond quickly to questions and comments

Don’t leave your followers’ comments and questions unanswered. Engage with what they’re asking. And be sure to do so in a timely way.

Olympic National Park’s Instagram account 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. And other times, it simply likes a comment made by a follower.

Write captions that encourage interaction

Reese’s Book Club often asks questions in its captions. Its followers then answer in the comments. There’s a conversation between the brand and the followers, meaning it’s a chance to show your business’s personality. Plus, back-and-forth dialogue adds a personal element.

Encourage mentions and hashtags

Your caption can also encourage followers to use your Instagram content to interact with their friends. Geotags, hashtags and mentions expands the conversation and creates a sense of community.

When the outdoor brand MEC launched a week-long social media campaign encouraging its followers to remember their favourite camping memory, it also inspired users to tag their friends who were there. This brings people together — and might even earn your brand some new followers.

Respond to direct messages promptly

If followers engage with your brand using a direct message, keep your followers happy by responding quickly. Don’t wait days or weeks to answer a question!

As long as you have an Instagram business account, one useful tool to help you manage direct messages in an efficient way is the Quick Replies function.

Simply, these are canned responses to common questions. To select a canned response and reply to a follower’s direct message, just type the one-word shortcut. Then the entire canned response will auto-fill.

With Hootsuite, you can make replies even more effective and efficient. You can assign replies and follow ups to different team members. This ensures no comments fall through the cracks, that all direct messages get answered, and that the best person is assigned to answer a question.

Hootsuite assign replies 1Hootsuite assign replies 2In Hootsuite, you can also create Saved Replies to answer common questions.

Welcome new followers

If your brand is new to Instagram, manage your followers with a welcome message. This is a personal introduction to your brand:

Welcome new followers via personal introduction

That being said, it’s not realistic to personally welcome each new follower if your account has thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of followers.

If you already have a large following, take the time to incorporate an introductory Instagram post into your content calendar to welcome new followers. That post will explain who you are, what you do and what you hope your followers will get out of your social media interactions.

For example, the fitness influencer Michaela North has more than 38,000 Instagram followers and more than 2,500 posts. Despite having a healthy following, she recently shared a personal introductory post to create connection with her new followers:

Limit trolls, spam and bots

Another way to manage Instagram followers is to moderate offensive comments by trolls and limit spam. These will negatively affect your followers’ experience and perception of your brand.

To make sure your Instagram content is a positive experience for all, you can:

  • Report users who troll your account or who you suspect are bots
  • Moderate comments frequently
  • Create a social media policy so your brand’s team knows how to respond to trolls

You can also update your settings to automatically hide offensive comments. And there’s a manual filter option where you can type which words or phrases specifically you’d like to hide.

To do this, you need to:

  1. Go to your account settings
  2. Click Privacy
  3. Click Comments
  4. Select which comment controls you’d like to set

Instagram comment controls

Here, you’ll find more details on how to deal effectively to social media trolls.

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.

Get the free guide right now!

Track your follower growth and monitor post performance

It’s easier to keep your followers engaged with your content if you know who your followers are and what content they are most interested in.

Tracking data will help you get to know who your core audience is on Instagram and whether your account is gaining new followers. Using Instagram analytics tools, such as Instagram Insights, will help your brand find useful data such as:

  • Follower demographics
  • Interactions with your account on each day of the week
  • How many accounts found your Instagram account
  • How many clicks your website 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, or polls or video?

Hootsuite combines the scheduling of Instagram posts and Instagram analytics. The unique Hootsuite Analytics dashboard helps you 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

Find more details on Hootsuite Analytics here:

Use your own branded hashtags

As well as incorporating popular Instagram hashtags into your post, creating a branded hashtag can encourage users to participate in a conversation with your brand.

Branded hashtags can also be an effective way to grow your following. A branded hashtag that encourages action or participation can create a sense of fun and a sense of togetherness.

For example, Patagonia unites a community of outdoor-lovers with its #ComfortIsRelative hashtag:

And in 2018, in honour of Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday, Disney encouraged fans to show their love of the brand by posting a picture of their Mickey Mouse ears with the hashtags #ShareYourEars:

screenshot of the #shareyourears hashtag page on Instagram

Not really sure how to use hashtags or why? We’ve outlined everything you need to know about how to use hashtags here.

Decide when to follow or unfollow other accounts

To be clear: 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.

Make the most of Instagram Highlights

Instagram Highlights, the permanent and grouped Instagram Stories that appear below the bio section of your Instagram profile, are a great way to manage new and current followers.

For example, the baby goods brand Hello Bello uses highlights to post content that is useful for both new followers and current followers:

Screenshot of Hello Bello's Instagram page with highlight icons

In its FAQ highlight, common questions are answered. This is useful for new followers looking to learn more about the brand. This is an efficient time management tool — new followers can find the answer to their question without sending a direct message, and employees don’t need to spend time answering the same questions via direct message.

Hello Bello FAQ Highlight
Source: Hello Bello

Its other on-brand highlights, like the “Vitamins” and “The Gods” reels, announce new products and are useful to all followers. And the “Camp HB” highlight compiles announcements of its Instagram Live events, useful for its loyal and current followers.

Hello Bello Camp HB Instagram Live Events announcements
Source: Hello Bello

Be flexible and adapt

Keeping up with social media trends is important, but keeping up with what’s happening around the world is just as important when it comes to managing Instagram followers well.

For example, the dating app Bumble adapted to the global pandemic by recognizing that dating isn’t “business as usual.” Posting content as normal could feel tone deaf and wouldn’t be useful for its current followers. Instead, it connects with its target demographic and creates a sense of community by posting content that is reflective of current affairs and its impact on its followers:

Other brands turned to live streaming, like Instagram Live, and Instagram TV to manage Instagram followers and maintain a sense of community during the global pandemic.

3 apps to help you manage Instagram followers

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.

Cleaner for Ins

This is an app to manage Instagram followers as it allows you to bulk unfollow accounts that are no longer useful to your brand, bulk block followers if you’re noticing spam accounts and bulk delete posts if you’re going through a rebrand.

Mass Unfollow for Instagram

This app also helps you clean up your list of followers. Bulk block or bulk unfollow accounts that aren’t useful to your brand.

Followers Track for Instagram

Apps to track Instagram followers can help your brand manage followers. This app helps you track unfollows, new follows, blocks and deleted likes.

There you have it! Now you should have a great sense of how to manage Instagram followers in a way that’s both effective and efficient.

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