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How to grow your Instagram following

Instagram can be a highly targetable, visual marketing channel for your brand and an opportunity to build a loyal audience that grows with your business.

In fact, over 500 million Instagram users browse the app every day, making it home to some of the most engaged audiences around.

But like any social network, there are right ways to use your Instagram profile, wrong ways, and clever ways.

In this post, we’ll show you how to grow your Instagram profile and increase engagement with a massive following over time—one that’s full of real fans, not inactive fake followers.

1. Content is King

Instagram is all about the quality of your posts and stories. If you’re able to have great photos and stories on your account most likely you’ll be able to grow your following fast. Having a feed with a consistent theme and a consistent posting schedule can have just as much of an impact in growing a following as many of the other growth strategies we’ve covered above. Even a simple pattern can entice new followers, as long as it’s communicated at first glance to anyone who lands on your profile.

The layout of your grid is an often-underestimated way to get creative with the aesthetic of your feed while adding a rhythm to your publishing strategy and consistency that’s worth following.

In fact, many accounts that adopt this approach are often able to spend less effort on creating content by focusing on converting visitors into followers, producing text graphics or other content with a faster turnaround, and streamlining the overall production of their Instagram content.

2. Use the right hashtags

Your goal on Instagram is to engage your current audience on a regular basis while also growing your number of real followers. Posting new, interesting, and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement, but to begin growing you’ll find hashtagging your photos extremely important. Hashtagging makes it easy for people searching for specific terms to find your photos.

So which hashtags should you use? Just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram choose certain hashtags over others. If you use popular Instagram hashtags within your photos, you’re much more likely to reach new users and be discovered.

3. Use the right filters

Keyword hashtags aren’t the only thing you should pay attention to. The Instagram community responds to certain photo filters more favorably than others. Using these preferred filters can have an impact on your engagement.

Here are the current 10 most popular filters on Instagram, according to Iconosquare:

· Normal (No Filter)

· Clarendon

· Juno

· Lark

· Ludwig

· Gingham

· Valencia

· X-Pro II

· Lo-fi

· Amaro

TrackMaven ran a study on Instagram accounts to see how filters affected engagement and found that Mayfair, Hefe, and Ludwig drove the most interaction.

4. Post at the right times

Beyond adding the appropriate hashtags and using the best filters to get more Instagram followers, you should also consider the timing of your posts.

A targeted approach involves analyzing what has and has not worked for you in the past. By visiting IconoSquare’s optimization section, you can get a detailed analysis of your posting history vs. engagement. This report will also highlight the best times of the day and days of the week to post.

The dark circles indicate when you usually post media. The light gray circles show when your community has been interacting. The biggest light gray circles represent the best times for you to post.

5. Organize your Stories into Highlights

Whenever a potential follower lands on your business profile, you have a short span of time to convince them to follow you.

One way to do this is by using the Highlights feature on your profile to organize your Instagram Stories in a way that communicates what your account is about.

Since Stories have a 24-hour lifespan, Highlights can be used to give them a second life and entice others to follow you so they don’t miss out on more Stories in the future.

Use Story Highlights to grow Instagram followers by:

· Creating trailers that tease what your account is about

· Organizing your Stories into themes (like countries you’ve visited, for travel accounts)

· Explaining your products through pictures and videos

· Promoting your products using swipe-up links (you need at least 10K followers and a Instagram Business account to do this with your Stories)

6. Hop on trends

When the opportunity presents itself, aligning your content with trending topics or hashtags can improve discoverability and engagement. For example, you can ride the wave of a trending topic or event, such as a holiday, in a relevant way to boost your engagement and brand awareness. Or you can participate in one of the many “hashtag holidays” that exist, such as #NationalCoffeeDay (falling on October 1 every year). Mark relevant events in your calendar so you can prepare quality content in advance.

Be sure to join the conversation in a meaningful way, and when in doubt, ask yourself if your target audience would actually pay attention to the trend.

As with any social network, the most successful strategy overall is to be authentic, social, and know what to post on Instagram. If you focus on engagement, not just followers, Instagram can be a great home for your products and brand and can lead to a healthy stream of revenue for your ecommerce business.

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