Instagram followers are the Holy Grail brand marketing right now. And with products on the market like Shopsy and Liketoknow.it enabling brands and bloggers to monetise their posts, Instagram is becoming (and already is) a powerful sales channel. So we've got a few tips and tricks to help you boost your follower count.
1. Engage with potential followers.
This is number one for a reason. It is absolutely, the most important one. Someone once said to me, 'there's a reason why they call it social media'. You seriously have to talk to people. Do this by looking up hashtags relevant to your niche - for us, that's #fashion or #fashionblogger. Then find an image you like, 'heart' it and comment on it. Make the comment positive, compliment the instagrammer or ask them a question. The idea of this is, now YOUR profile comes up in their activity feed, they get curious, click through to your profile and if they like what they see FOLLOW you!! Now you just have to do this hundreds, thousands and millions more times. So yes, this one takes a lot of effort, but gets BIG results.
2. Use the right hashtags.
How do you discover new images and profiles on Instagram? By clicking on a hashtag. So it only makes sense to tag your own images with relevant and popular hashtags to increase the likelihood of other people finding you. Luckily for us, other people have already gone to the effort of finding out which ones the most popular hashtags are. My favourite website and mobile app for this is #TagForLikes.
Instagram will let you have up to 30 hashtags on each image, so #TagForLikes has created lists that you can copy and paste onto your images. Simply visit their website or download their mobile app, find the theme that's best for your image, copy and paste either in the description or comments. Done.
3. Put a widget on your website.
You work hard to drive traffic to your website and when your readers get there, they expect to get a 360degree view of your online presence so that they can interact with you on their terms. So it's an absolute MUST to have ALL of your social links visible. There are also a number of website plugins that will allow you to display the images from your Instagram feed in a banner or sidebar - the visual nature of Instagram catches readers eyes, so displaying images is a great idea.
4. Post (the right thing) at the right time.
There have been studies performed to identify the best times to post on all social media. The mobile nature makes Instagram a "24/7" network so there is no wrong time to post. However it has shown the Sundays and Mondays are in fact the best, so don't exclude these from your posting schedule. There is also a 'best time' depending on your followers, Iconosquare is a fantastic Instagram analytics tool that looks a the engagement patterns of your followers and identifies the best time for you to post as well.
HOWEVER, before posting your content (as you should always do) think, is this something I would like if I saw it in a feed? Make sure your content is interesting and likeable. Better to post one less time per day and make sure it's right, then to post constantly and of no interest to your followers.
5. Sponsored posts and follower exchanges.
Sponsored posts require budget and can return mixed results. A sponsored post is paying money to another Instagram user for promoting your account. The cost can depend on the number of followers the user has and the results can depend on how much influence they have over their followers, and how relevant your profile is to them. It is important to choose profiles in a similar niche to yours so that when they promote you, it sounds authentic. If you are a brand that has a physical product, gifting samples to the influencers whose accounts you would like to be featured on, is also a great way to be promoted without having to outlay the cash. Just remember, samples still have a value and if you haven't agreed to a post before sending them out, you are not guaranteed to be featured.
Follower exchanges are fairly similar to sponsored posts, the only difference is that instead of paying the user to promote your profile, you return the favour by promoting theirs. This can work really well, especially when you are first starting out. Just remember to be selective when picking profile to engage in follower exchanges with, they should have the same theme and aesthetic as you so that it, again, looks organic to your followers. The last thing you want to do is promote another profile and lose followers because they can't relate.