So, I’ll take a wild guess and assume that you care about growing your Instagram account. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Long story short there are two main ways of doing this: organically or, not so organically.
If you are the owner of a business account, like me, then, organic growth is the key to growing your brand. This will never happen overnight so this is not a success recipe, by all means. Reality check: there is no “silver bullet” that’s going to bring your engagement rate to the sky because It’s more of a combination of different strategies that make that happen.
Here are some basic tips that work in 2019 (warning- super long post):
Create a System for User-Generated Content
User-generated content feels more authentic to the average Instagram enthusiast and is therefore essential for building trust. Unfortunately, implementing a user-generated strategy can be tricky, as each user brings a unique perspective to the table – and not all are guaranteed to fit in with your established brand.
Ideally, you will develop a system early on that will ensure that all user-generated content abides by your standards and is posted free of hassles. Also, keep in mind that user-generated content must be carefully solicited, edited, and promoted to ensure that it actually resonates with followers. Create a hashtag and encourage others to use it. Shoutout account that use your hashtag.
Remember the algorithm? It’s funny how people complain about it every time something goes wrong: “It is because of the algorithm”. Truth to be told, if you understand the algorithm you will understand that it’s not built against you. We’ll talk more about the algorithm in another post.
One thing that the algorithm really likes is consistency. First of all, make a schedule to post regularly. Please notice I didn’t say every day, twice per day, etc. because it’s not my choice. Pick a schedule that works for YOU (every other day, Monday and Friday, Only Wednesday) and follow it.
Update your hashtags game
A good part of my impressions is from hashtags. It took me a while to make the most out of hashtags and I still have tones to learn but there are a few things that I apply and that work pretty well. As organic reach declines and paid impressions rise with the algorithm changes put in place to push brands to pay for exposure, hashtags still represent the single best way to organically drive your social marketing campaigns, by leveraging your Instagram posts to boost reach on the platform. Some ground rules are:
- Research! I am drop dead serious. Here’s an amazing tool to do that! Use it wisely and thank me later. Above all, use the 30 0 30 rule: 10 hashtags that have roughly 30% less engagement, 10 that are pretty much the same and 10 hashtags that have roughly 30% more engagement on average on their top performing posts than you do.
- Add a minimum of 11 and try to go close to 30 hashtags: research shows that engagement goes up after the use of 11 hashtags.
- Include hashtags that are relevant to your niche: attract your target audience as a result.
- Try a mix of big, medium and small hashtags depending on your size. Bigger get more visibility but a lot of competition. Smaller, more niche hashtags contain less competition, which makes it easier for your own content to rank higher in the search results. This increases your chances of appearing in the “Top 9” grid results of a particular hashtag. The downside is that fewer people engage with that hashtag.
- Create a branded hashtag. Branded hashtags are an easy way for other people to share your brand, build brand recognition, and get your name on as many different feeds as possible.
Update your caption game
Writing captions can sometimes be a pain. What do you do when maybe you have no idea what to say? Get inspired. Go to other influencers in the niche and see what makes their followers comment back, for example. It’s 2019, your captions need to be smart and engaging. How? Glad you asked:
- Paint a picture of what it was like to personally experience your post. Is it a city? What feeling did that location bring up? Is it an amazing shot? What gear did you use? how about the settings? Did you do a badass editing? What app did you use? How did you do it? You need to tell a story that your followers want to read. Yes, every now and then a funny caption is enough too. Just remember that having daily captions like “Just my cup of coffee” is a big no, no!
- You need to keep your audience involved. Ask questions. It’s a simple trick to increase audience interaction. For a vacation post, for example, you could ask something like “have a friend who needs a vacation? Tag them in the comments!”. Due to so many Instagrammers out there you need to connect.
- Have a clear call to action. Do you want to draw your followers to do a specific action? Tell them! If you have a new blog post a simple “Link in bio” does the job. Need more likes? Just tell them to like the post if they feel the same “Double tap on the picture if you feel the same”.
- Place the most important part of the caption at… the beginning. Remember that your caption is truncated and you only see a few lines. You want to make sure that info is seen even if they don’t read the entire caption.
- Add some emojis in there. Even if you like simple text, use emojis because it has been proven to lead to a higher engagement on your post. They also add some more empathy.
Get out there on offer what you want to receive. Take time out of every day to interact with random people’s accounts within your channel’s niche. There’s a rumour out there that says that for every 100 likes you might get around 3 new followers.
Take care of your existing followers. Because there’s no point of gaining new followers if you are losing the ones that are already following you. Try to build up a relationship with your followers and keep them close. You want them to become your friends.
Avoid or… get involved with drama. I am always trying to avoid it. Smart and thoughtful responses are a good way to keep things peaceful rather than starting a new fire. But that’s me. I truly believe that there are few better ways to garner attention and potential Instagram followers than through drama and controversy. But you know what they say: any attention is welcomed. It’s really a matter of choice here.
Comment, Like, Respond and follow people who are engaging with others from your niche. You are simply making them aware that you exist and that you are aligning with their passion. Even more, you might find some greats accounts to inspire you. Win-win.
Respond to the comments you receive. Or, if there are hundreds, at least like them. Because if someone was nice enough to take some time to say something you should be nice enough to respond to it.
500+ million people are watching Instagram stories every day! Whaaaat? If you are not using stories you are missing out big time on engagement. If you are having my problem and you are shy, don’t worry, there’s still plenty you can share: show behind the scene, how you do something, ask questions play games.
Show up consistently and I promise you will see results. You don’t even have to go nuts: it’s said that after seven Stories, the completion rate drops to below 70 percent. And let’s not forget that Instagram Stories are Discoverable by people that don’t follow you.
Post portrait over landscape
I cannot even stress enough about this! I said it a million time before but it’s so important. Posts that are within 1080 px wide and 1350 px high will appear on people’s feeds without any borders or cropping. Posts within these dimensions appear bigger in feeds, drawing more attention and potentially leading to more engagement. Easy as that!
Look at things differently
Take pictures and videos of common pictures (landmarks, tourist attractions, etc.) from a different perspective than has already been seen a million times before. I am so tired of seeing the exact same spot, the same angle with the only thing being different being the person in it. Even if, sometimes I do the same. One way to make this process easier is by using only one fixed camera lens. Because of the restriction of not being able to zoom and/or switch out to another lens encourages you to be more creative in the way you frame your content.
Here’s, for example, one shot where I did that:
Is Instagram your traction social media channel? If it is, no worries, it’s mine too. But this year I decided to expand the game and I have approached other social media channels and I… cross promote everything. posting the same post over several social media with links between them.
One quick thing you can do is adding an Instagram badge or Follow button to your website, and ask your subscribers and fans to follow you on Instagram.
Rock that BIO
Are you a business? Here’s a free tip: capitalize that name in the bio, because that’s going to allow you to rank higher in SEO. Realistically, nobody will search your name (if you’re not a celebrity) and adding next to your name a traction key work for what you do will do wonders. I attached my bio as an example below.
Right after your awesome content, the bio is the second thing that the people will check out on your profile. Make the best out of it.
Do small giveaways. See the bold on small? Don’t do the 30, 50 accounts to follow giveaways. Nobody will follow you and other 49 accounts because they like you. Well… nobody will follow you because they like you anyway- they are here because of the prize. At least try to team up with similar accounts, at least that will increase the probability of retention.
This is a not so organic method. It’s not an automated one either. Take it with a grain of salt and don’t expect miracles. Not all the folowers will stick with you, that’s for sure.
The algorithm is not a monster. But it has changed. You have to work a bit, update your game, but guess what? It’s not that hard to do it.
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XO Stories of a Brunette