You recognize the importance of Instagram when it comes to making ecommerce sales, you know Instagram gets more engagement than other social channels and you regularly post content on your Instagram account but somehow, your company’s Instagram growth just isn’t as impressive as you’d like it to be — and you aren’t sure what to try next.
Growing a business Instagram account might seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the top 8 Instagram growth hacks that can make any marketer’s job much easier and will also make both your numbers and engagement skyrocket.
Instagram Growth Strategy #1: Have a Strategy
You won’t get very far with your Instagram efforts unless you have an in-depth strategy that clearly outlines your Instagram goals. Sit down and think about how much you want your Instagram account to grow — list exact numbers — and how you’re going to get there.
Tactics you write down as part of your strategy might include things like using influencer marketing, an Instagram account growth tool, or focusing on user-generated content (we’ll talk more about all of these tactics later on). As you get started with Instagram growth, it doesn’t really matter what’s on your startup strategy; you can tweak and refine things later as you figure out what works for you. Just write something down now so you can get to work.
If you need some ideas for what to include in your strategy, check out your competitors, such as companies that offer a similar product or service to yours and that are about your same size. Look at their Instagram accounts and take notes on what they’re doing and what they’re not doing: Is their Instagram account bigger than yours, with more followers and more engagement? If so, draw inspiration from the tactics they appear to use.
Your Instagram growth hack strategy should be comprehensive, covering every aspect of your Instagram growth efforts, but it should also be realistic. Think about your resources: What size of growth campaigns can you handle? More importantly, what size growth campaigns can you not only handle but also sustain? Less is more, at least to begin with. Later, you can branch out into more advanced Instagram growth hacks and tactics.
So, what tactics should be a part of your Instagram growth strategy? Here are a few ideas:
Instagram Growth Strategy #2: Focus on SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a common tactic used by marketers as it’s the practice of using keywords to help content rank as high in search engine results as possible. SEO is most often used for blog posts and web copy, but SEO can actually be used to help your Instagram account show up in search results, too. The higher your Instagram page ranks in search results, the more followers and growth you’ll get so it’s not something to overlook.
For example, when you type “fitness clothes Instagram” into Google, many of the results on the first page are Instagram accounts. The other results are Instagram hashtag webpages, as well as some roundup posts from third-party websites that list the top fitness apparel brands. Many people use Google to find Instagram accounts — searching “fitness clothes” in the Instagram app’s search feature only produces a list of hashtags and not really a list of relevant accounts — so it’s important that your account shows up for relevant keywords in Google search results instead.
According to Search Engine Watch, Instagram accounts are difficult to display in search results because Instagram blocks search engines from indexing your Instagram photos. But, even though your images can’t be indexed, your profile can be — so showing up in search results is not impossible.
First, make sure your profile is set to public, not private. Next, include your most important keyword in your username. For example, influencer-led creative shop Village Marketing has their username set as @villagemarketing so they’ll show up in searches for the keyword “marketing.”
Finally, because search engines will also crawl your Instagram bio, that’s the most important place to put in some keywords that will help you rank. You only have 150 characters in your Instagram bio, so it’s a tall order to clearly explain who you are and what you do while including lots of keywords. The Home Depot, for instance, has just a single sentence in their Instagram bio but it includes the important keyword phrase, “home improvement retailer.” Photographer Evie Rupp has the keyword phrase “elopement photographer” as the top sentence in her bio. Listing these key words and phrases help search engines identify what you do so they can list you as an option in the most relevant search results.
The “name” field is equally as important as your bio. It should include a key phrase that’s distinct from your username, but one that can still function as a keyword and describe what you do.
By getting your Instagram account to rank in search engine results, your page will see more traffic and more growth.
Instagram Growth Strategy #3: Curate User-Generated Content
According to Sprout Social, consumers are 7 times more likely to buy from a brand their peers suggest — plus, tags from your customers on social media content can help you identify new prospects that you might not have reached on your own. In short, User-Generated Content (UGC) produces growth, growth, and more growth in a myriad of ways.
When you set out to launch a UGC campaign, create a specific hashtag that your customers can use so all your user-generated content will be in one place. Women’s clothing company Aerie, for instance, uses the hashtag #AerieReal to generate some serious UGC — currently over 176,000 posts.
What do you do with all of this user-generated content once you have it? Repost your favorite photos, or hold a competition and give one photo a gift card as a prize. You can also add your UGC hashtag feed to your website so your website visitors can find your Instagram and UGC content easily.
Here’s one more foolproof tip if you’re struggling to get your customers posting: Make sure your product is Instagrammable. Coca-Cola, for instance, added names to their bottles, while Snickers added adjectives to their candy bars. These single, small changes instantly made an everyday product new and fun, and now images of personalized Coke bottles and funny Snickers bars are being shared all over the Internet.
Instagram Growth Strategy #4: Utilize Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is an effective way to grow your Instagram account and get more eyes on your content. Influencer marketing is the practice of using people with a big social platform to promote products, and it’s a marketing tactic that’s growing very quickly — by 2020, it should be an $8 billion industry.
With the growing popularity of social media, celebrities are more accessible than ever. High-profile people feel like our friends because we see the inside of their home, what they eat for breakfast, and their daily lives via Instagram. That’s why influencer marketing works, because people trust recommendations from friends, so people also trust recommendations from influencers who feel like friends.
People also tend to trust micro-influencers just as much, if not more, than big celebrities because micro-influencers generally produce content themselves, making it feel authentic and real instead of glossy and staged.
The one drawback of influencer marketing is that it can get expensive. Some influencers charge thousands of dollars per post featuring your product so if you can’t afford big influencers yet or you just want to dip a toe in the water, try working with micro-influencers first. Micro-influencers have a smaller following, but their followers are generally more engaged. They’re also easier to find; according to HubSpot, mega-influencers (over 5 million followers) account for less than one percent of all influencers, so there are definitely more micro-influencers to choose from.
Most micro-influencers have a follower count that’s in-between 10,000 and 100,000 users and where celebrities tend to post about multiple types of products, micro-influencers are niched down; they’re focused on a specific industry. So when you choose a micro-influencer that’s in the same industry or sub-industry as your company, you can feel confident that the target audience of the influencer will be your target audience, too.
To find influencers, consider using a tool such as HYPR. HYPR is free for the first 100 searches and helps you find data on over 12 million influencers. It’s a great way to save time as you narrow down the list of influencers that could be right for you.
Email your chosen influencers and offer to send them free products in exchange for their honest thoughts shared on social media and/or ask for their media kit. When micro-influencers begin posting on your behalf, make sure they clearly state which posts are sponsored. The Federal Trade Commission has made this a rule — if a “material connection” exists (such as you giving the influencer money or products in exchange for the post), the influencer’s followers are required to know about it.
Finally, one of the best things about influencer marketing is that it works fast. You don’t need to wait for days, weeks, or months to see results — instead, you’ll start seeing more Instagram growth almost as soon as an influencer posts their first photo about your brand or products.
Instagram Growth Strategy #5: Use a Third-Party Tool
Many savvy Instagram marketers use a third-party growth service so they can focus their time on other things while their account continues to grow. Kicksta, for example, is an Instagram growth service that helps you get more organic followers. The way it works is simple: You sign up, tell Kicksta who your target audience is, and then Kicksta uses your account to begin engaging with people who might be interested in your company.
Before you know it, many of those users will start following you back and you’ll see increased Instagram growth. Kicksta saves you over two and a half hours of time each day with these growth tactics used to increase your brand awareness and get you more followers. Kicksta also provides you with an analytics dashboard so you can figure out what’s working, leading to even more growth.
With Kicksta, consistent growth is a big focus. You might not see your follower count instantly explode, but that’s a good thing — because moving forward, you will see a steady trickle of real followers, and slow and steady wins the race.
Over five thousand brands and influencers use Kicksta to get more followers. It’s one of the best Instagram growth hacks you’ll find.
Instagram Growth Strategy #6: Tell a Story
Storytelling is powerful, there’s no doubt about that. Our brains are wired for a story — we instantly connect to them. The I-Scoop blog explains that by capturing and sharing stories, you can take your target audience on a journey and this will help them form a personal connection with your brand. In short, telling stories through your brand’s Instagram profile can help your account grow.
There are four big steps to creating story-based content:
- Define your target audience. Think about who they currently are — age, gender, location, education level, profession, hobbies, and all those other details.
- Think about who your target audience wants to be. What are they striving for? Where do they want to end up in life?
- How does your product or service help your target audience reach their goals?
- Finally, create content that tells the story of how your company will help them get there.
Here’s a good example: Dating app Hinge caters to single people — that’s who their target audience currently is. Users of the app, however, don’t want to stay single; they want to be in a relationship. So, Hinge launched an NYC campaign based around the question, “What makes a good date?” The campaign told authentic stories that explored the power of human connection — something that Hinge’s users crave. People who were seeking something deeper in their dating lives were drawn to Hinge because they felt like Hinge could help them find what (or who) they were looking for.
Your product helps your customers live their dream and achieve their goals so the content you’re publishing on Instagram should make that clear.
In addition to telling your customer’s story, tell your brand’s story. Share your company’s “why” — the vision that first inspired you to get off the ground. You can also share individual stories of your employees and what they’re passionate about. If you tell the story of what inspires your company, your Instagram followers will leave feeling inspired, too — and they’ll also feel as if they know you better than ever.
Instagram Growth Strategy #7: Run Sales Campaigns
Sales campaigns — such as contests, giveaways, and discount codes — all serve as Instagram growth hacks because they can help you grow your account. Let’s break down each type of sales campaign and talk about the best way to execute them.
Sales Campaign Tactic #1: Contests
When you host a contest on Instagram, your users typically have to perform an action such as like one of your photos, follow your account, or tag a few friends in order to have the opportunity to win. Some brands also run contests where fans have to post a photo in order to enter. For instance, you could run a contest where your fans have to share a picture of themselves holding or using your product. Contests like this have a huge reach plus they also help create User-Generated Content (UGC) which we discussed above as being an effective Instagram growth tactic on its own.
Sales Campaign Tactic #2: Giveaways
When it comes to Instagram growth, you can’t just give products away at random. Instead, to enter giveaways, your followers should be required to do something that will help get your brand in front of more eyes.
For instance, chef Andy Hay gave away a four-layer cake on his Instagram account. To enter, his followers had to tag at least one friend in the comments. Less than 24 hours after posting about the contest, Hay had over 2,000 comments on the photo — and that equals out to a lot of new followers (or at least, a lot of brand awareness) for him.
Sales Campaign Tactic #3: Discount Codes
Discount codes will help boost engagement on your Instagram profile and can lead to more traffic through word-of-mouth. Consider running a one-day-only 50% off sale for a certain product, or offer seasonal discount codes and encourage your followers to tag friends and spread the love.
Instagram Growth Strategy #8: Utilize Video Content
YumYum Videos says user-time spent watching videos is up more than 80 percent year-over-year. To add to that, compared to last year, four times as many videos are being uploaded to Instagram each day. The demand for video content is only continuing to grow and videos in Instagram Stories are equally as popular. In a nutshell, people like video content — so by posting more videos, you can help grow your account.
There are several types of videos you can post on Instagram: Videos in your feed, videos on Instagram Stories, and videos on IGTV. Post videos of your products, share videos that tell your brand story, and curate User-Generated Content (UGC) in the form of videos. People also enjoy watching tutorials or how-to videos (these are especially popular within the beauty, fitness, and food-related industries).
Netflix’s Instagram account utilizes video content both in their feed and on IGTV. The streaming service often posts interviews with actors to promote upcoming movies — one recent video received almost 5,000,000 views. Netflix also uses IGTV to post movie trailers because many movie trailers run longer than the sixty seconds Instagram allows for videos in-feed, so users who get hooked in the first sixty seconds of a trailer can go to IGTV for the rest.
With Instagram Stories, you also have the option to start a live stream. This can be a great way to announce a new product. Some accounts, such as Playbill, also hold an Instagram Live at the same time each week and often interview an actor on their weekly show.
As you plan a video strategy, strive to produce content that makes people feel something. That could be a funny video that makes your followers laugh or an inspiring video that motivates your users to get up off the couch and do something big. The type of video content you produce will probably depend on your industry but make sure that your videos leave viewers feeling some type of emotion — those types of videos are more likely get the most views and shares.
Yes, Instagram growth can be hard but by following these 8 Instagram growth hacks, you’ll see more followers, more engagement and, ultimately, more sales.