If you are trying to grow your online business, Social Media is at the top of the list of ways to increase your traffic, and therefore increase your revenue.
Whether you are a blogger, or you are more focused on creating videos to sell, membership groups, or have other plans for your business growth, one thing is for sure, the social numbers matter.
One of my mentors, Jennifer Allwood, suggests that you focus on Facebook, and the other social media that you enjoy the most. She asks “if you were waiting at the dentist’s office, which platform would you be scrolling through?” Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter?
To be honest, I did not care for Instagram very much, I did not understand it, and I thought it was very similar to Facebook, and a little boring. Now, I love it. So many younger people, especially those in their late 20’s to early 40’s, have left Facebook (I guess they weren’t comfortable after their mothers took over?) Anyway, I am a convert. At this moment in my business, I am after the 5k swipe up feature. I aim to get there before the algorithm changes and gets rid of it!
There are many ways to increase your Instagram followers, some are ethical, some cost money, some are a lot of work.
We will discuss the following Instagram Growth strategies:
- Instagram Manager
- Analytics Tools
- Fake or Buying Followers
- Your Niche
- Hashtags Follows
- Hashtags Likes & Comments
If you have a lot of money to invest in your business, it would be smart to hire an Instagram Manager. At least someone to manage your Tailwind, if that is the route you take. Tailwind is one of many, but the most preferred and approved by Instagram, automated posting apps that used to be strictly for Pinterest. It has a proven track record, and you can start out for free. We will discuss Tailwind in more detail in another post. For now, we are going to focus on what YOU can do to increase your followers organically and naturally.
I am not going to talk about buying followers, that is a ridiculous notion to me, and Instagram is onto that crap, and their bots will remove those fake followers (or disinterested followers) and you will be left with nothing. Possibly not even your Instagram account. There are hundreds, probably thousands of small companies that work on your behalf to increase engagement, and potentially reach and followers, but make sure to check them out fully before buying into one. There is a service on Social Buddy that will run a free report for you so that you can see your current engagement percentage and other statistics before you begin a growth campaign. Look up reports.socialbuddy.com and just add your profile link to the analyzer. It’s free and interesting.
The strategy that I use has brought me from 400 to around 2900 followers in the last couple of months. That is pretty fast growth, for an authentic growth strategy.
Instagram is a SOCIAL platform. If you really think about that, and what their algorithms are looking for, you will realize why this strategy works so well. They want interaction. Social interaction, not just salse-y stuff. (I will say here, if you are not yet using linktr.ee, add it, it is free, and an easy way to get more of your links in your bio.)
I spend about 10 minutes in the morning on Instagram, just following those who followed me overnight, IF I think they are a good fit. Block and dismiss all of the fake men who are going to try to scam you out of money. They are not worth boosting your number count. The decision as to whether to follow those who are not in your niche is up to you. I base my decision on this: if they have 5000 followers, yet follow 342 people, they are going to dump you as soon as you follow back. I do not waste my time on them. They are not my people.
I try to “heart” 20 photos in my feed that I find of interest every morning, as well. I heart back anyone who has replied to the comments that I made the night before. I am not really interested in whose accounts I am hearting, if I like the picture, I double tap it. If not, I scroll by. Set a timer. This is no time to get stuck enjoying Instagram. You are here for business. LOL
As a general rule, I do not go on Instagram during the day. If I do, I heart 20 more pictures. Same drill as morning, no more than 10 minutes. (The fun is out of Instagram, it is a business tool at this point.)
My big “work” happens in the evening. I save groups of “relevant to my niche” hashtags in the notes section of my tablet. That way they are easy to access when I need them, and I can just copy and paste. Instagram likes you to post once daily. I do that in the evening. Every evening. Consistency in posting time is key, too. I use a few of my base relevant hashtags, then add new ones. (You are allowed 30. Use 30) If you use the same ones over and over, Instagram considers it spammy and will reduce your reach. I spend about 20-30 minutes on Instagram in the evening.
I have used 2 different methods for growth, and I kind of rotate them.
Growth Method One-Your Niche
I call this one “follow 200”. At one point, I was doing this twice a day with no issues and good growth. Instagram allows you to follow up to 200 new people an hour. A large percentage (probably close to 40%) of the people you follow will follow you back.
Some people keep a spreadsheet of who they follow and give them 3 days to follow back, or they unfollow them. That is a lot of work to me, and I have not done it, Instagram allows you to follow a maximum of 7,500 people, and as a rule of thumb, it is best to always have more people following you, than you are following. That is a goal, but while you are in the growth phase with this method you can’t unfollow willy-nilly, either, because a lot of people have bots that alert them when you unfollow, and they unfollow, too. I lost about 500 followers in one night that way. (Not trying to follow/unfollow, don’t be that girl.) I was unfollowing those who I thought were not in my niche even though I was interested in them; gluten free, natural health, AIP and autoimmune issues, etc., but they did not fit my business niche.) Therefore, I really have no recommendations on unfollowing, but if I find a strategy for it, I will come back and edit this post to include it.
Choose your appropriate niche to follow. I stalked the accounts of people with larger businesses in my niche, that were very similar to mine. Those who were a few steps ahead of me, and I followed accounts on their followers list who had business names relevant to my niche. It almost feels dirty, but it is a proven strategy. (I can’t take credit for coming up with this one, but it is effective.) This is where the spreadsheet would be helpful, if you are so inclined.
The accounts of your competitors. Yep, same thing. Stalk their list and follow their followers. It is likely that a large percentage of their followers would be interested in your work, too. I gained over 1000 followers this way. Very often, these same accounts are increasing their followers daily. They are working to increase their follower count, and scale their businesses. They will be happy for the follow, and to refollow.
So, strategy one focuses on following the followers of those businesses you want to emulate until your business reaches the next level.
Growth Strategy Two-Hashtags
This is my current strategy, and I have gained over 1000 in the past 2 months using it. It is a two part strategy.
Pick 10 relevant hashtags per night. Double-tap (heart/like) images, and follow 10-20 accounts from the hashtag list. These, too, are people trying to scale their businesses who appreciate the follows and will refollow at a high percentage. You will wake to many new followers each morning.
After a couple of weeks of mass following through hashtags, I began the pumped-up social activity. My most successful strategy so far, BE SOCIAL.
Pick 10 relevant hashtags. Double-tap, follow and comment on at least 10 (to 20) images in each hashtag category.
Compliment people. Be truthful, be honest, don’t just go for the first 10-20. It has to be relevant accounts with photos and/or projects that you TRULY like. When you make the first comment, you can paste it into several accounts comments per hashtag. “Gorgeous! Love it! Beautiful!” “Love the bright colors!” are a couple of popular ones that I use in my niche. Another thing to remember, though, is that currently, Instagram likes your comments to be at least 4 words long so, create a relevant 4 word, generic, but complementary comment to use. This is the best “feeling” strategy that I have. You know that you are making people feel good about what they posted. It sometimes takes guts for them to post a piece in progress, or allow their personal creation to be seen by the world. Give them a pat on the back, just like in real life. Make their day better. Help them to feel better about themselves and their work, and encouraged for sharing.
Sometimes I am shocked to see that hashtags that I regularly use, and that I have seen others in my niche use, are mostly made up of another type of art and are not really relevant to me at all. It is good to know. This method really helps you with hashtag research. (I save these in the notes section of my tablet as a go-to list to copy and paste into posts.)
With this method, Instagram sees you as popular and playing the social game, and increases the places where your account is “recommended”. Win, win. You are boosting accounts that you truly like. You are being authentic. Most important of all, you are using a strategy that is proven to grow YOUR account.
One thing I neglected to mention earlier is loops. Loops are groups (sometimes large, sometimes small) of accounts that are used as a strategy to increase likes and comments.
I am in one loop right now, in my niche (#colormovement), that is very good. I have been in a couple of others (decor) that were not niched down enough to benefit my account, and they about drove me crazy.
If you have not been in a loop before, I do recommend looking into one, but only one. It has been my experience that a lot of loops, especially large ones, are mass follow/unfollow people. The type that you don’t want to involve yourself in.
Each loop works a little differently, but the one that I have had success with works like this:
There is a moderator (usually 3-4) and they choose a photo from your niche to be the looped post of the week. Everyone shares the same one, so that you recognize it and know to comment and like it. In my current loop, rules are: Mandatory: follow the moderators, follow 4 listed accounts that rotate each week from the loop. Follow as many of the other loop members as you can possibly follow in the week, and hopefully they do the same for you, and do not unfollow. (That is just uncool.) Like (heart) the image of the week every time you see it. Comment at least 4 words on each liked post.
This is where the loops just seem to fall apart. It is very sad, actually, that some accounts are so narrowly focused on those follows that they neglect the comments. The comments are where it is at. Do not lose focus on the fact that Instagram is “social” and the social aspect is what continues your growth.
For example, if you are in a loop of 100. If you were lucky enough to be refollowed by all 100, you would have 100 new followers. Great, right? But….if you commented on all 100, and all 100 commented on you, then IG would see how “good at being social” you are, and show your account to 1000 more people in your niche, whether they are in the loop or not. Win, win, win. So who loses here? Nobody really loses, but some are going to gain 1000’s of new followers, and some will wonder why they do all of that work for only 100 follows and get stuck. They will have followed, 1/2 of them may have “hearted”, but maybe 20% will have “4-word” commented. They have essentially, in the big picture/long run of things, wasted their time trying to get 100 followers.
I hope I explained that well enough. It is important. It is quick, it is easy, it is effective. Here’s my method:
I go to the actual hashtag (#colormovement in my instance-for painted furniture) I click on “recent” to get the posts of the day, which for our loop is Monday. (I do Monday and Tuesday, just in case) I also like and comment on other non-loop posts while there, but get every single loop post. I double-tap the first one, create a comment “Beautiful piece! I love the colors!” Or similar. Then I copy that comment. Then I do the same on every loop post until I reach the end. Boom. Done. Social as heck, right? Lol
My engagement goes up. (Big point here. Sponsors are no longer looking at just followers, people can buy followers, they are looking at engagement.) So, for example, an account with 100,000 followers and 1% engagement (1000) would not be as effective for a brand as an account with 5,000 followers and 16% (800) engagement. The engaged account, even with smaller numbers, is the better investment. I am working Instagram in a fashion that grows my engagement, not just my follower count.
My suggestion is to look for a loop. You will often recognize them as you see the same image come across your feed from 2 or 3 people (or more) in your feed. It usually has a circle for graphic on it that indicates it is for a loop. Do not join loops with 1000 or more accounts, it will taker a lot of time and effort for very little payback. IG does not like blatant loops. You do not want one where peoples comments are “happy looping, here’s to the loopy-loo” or anything that talks about the loop. Be genuine in your comments. Look for loops that are genuine.
In our look, the moderator sends out a reminder to archive the old image on Sunday. On Monday, through group DM she sends out a new image for the week. We do not alter the image in any way, and it is watermarked by the artist. She also sends out the loop content, which states that we are a loop and people are welcome to join, and what the rules are. We copy and post the image, add the content, and add any relevant hashtags that will get the image shared more.
This is our actual loop content for this week:
Hey friends, we are on the hunt to find new, inspiring people who love painted furniture as much as we do!
Join us on our Color Movement! It runs through Friday!
🎨1. Add your hosts:
And Guest hosts:
- Go to #colormovement and click on Recents.
- Add all accounts that you love with this photo under #colormovement
- Comment with what you favorite things to paint are!
- DM @architique_byneciamyers to join and start gaining new friends!
PLEASE don’t friend to unfriend!
Photo used with permission from the original photographer. Unauthorized usage will be reported to Instagram. -END of EXAMPLE
Oc course, I would love it if we could follow each other on Instagram, as well! sisterhood_of_traveling_brush
I would love to hear of any methods that you have used to increase your social numbers organically, or through work that you have done yourself. The more we help each other, the more we all grow! -Terri
This is a really informative post. I’ll be sure to give these Instagram strategies a try on my own account. Thanks for the great information.
Oh wow I didn’t realize there was soooo much you can do to grow your IG followers!! I’ll have to give these a try !!!
Sure! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!
Thanks for sharing grest tips
Good to know that I’m not the only one that was struggling with Instagram! These are some great strategies and tips to get followers and some traction on Instagram! When I finally dive into it I’ll be sure to come back to this post. Thank you so much!
It definitely takes a little work, but pays off many dividends in the long run!
Great tips! Thank you, and I’ll look for you on Insta!
You are very welcome! See sisterhood_of_traveling-brush on IG. I will watch for you!
I LOVE this post and these tips! Thank you! I’ve been struggling on IG so I will give these a try.
One thing I forgot to add (I will edit the post tomorrow) is loops. They are tricky, IG is not a big fan, but they can help. One good one is plenty, and a good source of hashtag research, but there seem to be a lot of follow/unfollows in loops, so choose carefully. In your niche only.
Awesome stragey for increasing followers. I will give it a go, what percentage of these followers unfollow though?
I have not seen any significant unfollowing at all. I am guessing it is because I am taking the time to make sure they are in my niche, and it benefits their business, as well.
This is great info!