Before we get started, if you're new to the whole online influencing scene and aren't that clued up - perhaps Instagram isn't even the right platform for you and your brand to begin with! If you want to get a little bit wiser, read our blog How to Become a New Age Influencer in 6 Simple Steps. Now, lets get down to the nitty gritty:
As of 2017, Instagram began their fight against automation (Instagram bots). Since then this has affected a lot of people, as many accounts have either been 'shadowbanned' or have, at some stage, encountered action blocks. 'Shadowbans', according to Wikipedia, can be defined as the following: "Shadow banning, also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting, is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community so that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned". So basically, you won't even be aware of the fact that you have received a ban, unless you know what to look out for and take note of the sudden drop in engagement.
These blocks can also come when using your account organically without the use of a 3rd party because Instagram has a set of restrictions for follows, likes and commenting (engagement). Instagram is on a hunt to get rid of fake accounts and to improve the overall quality of the online Instagram community. So with all this in mind, where do you even begin?
1. Know your Target Audience:
Firstly, one would suggest that you do some research on your target audience as one needs to know what their current followers like and what their potential followers will like to keep the current followers and to gain new ones. One would need to gain information such as demographics (age, gender & location) and when your followers are most active online. One also needs to look at accounts similar to theirs. Keep a look out for your competitor's tone of voice in their caption as you can form your own and make it uniform in all your posts through keeping the same or a similar tone of voice.
2. Stories, Stories & more Stories:
The use of stories is another big one. The use of stories gives your audience unfiltered and immediate footage of you or your surroundings. According to statistics, Instagram stories are used by more than 500 million users every day (Instagram internal data, January 2019). One third (1/3) of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses, with 50% of these businesses on Instagram worldwide posting at least one story within a typical month. Stories give of a humanistic feel, that makes it easier for your audience to relate to you. Stories can also be used to get your audience's opinion and do a little research through the use of the questions bubble and polls.
For more information on the many benefits of using Instagram Stories as a marketing tool, read our blog: Instagram Stories Marketing for Businesses in 2020.
3. Content & Copywriting:
Another great way to grow your following is to have great content with capturing captions. The content needs to be of high quality, taken by a smartphone or a camera. Well taken photos can be manipulated really well when it comes to editing, but the cleaner look seems to work better on Instagram. Consider a consistent theme or design for your Instagram feed as well - the more consistent and appealing the better. Remember, your Instagram feed is the first thing that viewers will see when the stumble across your Instagram profile - so you want to make as much of a great first impression as possible!
4. Engage with your Audience:
Engagement is a big one. Liking and commenting is very important. This hyperconnectivity will help you top the ranks of the explore page. Liking and commenting on profiles similar to yours will definitely boost up your chances of getting new followers. Liking and commenting back on the photos you have posted also improves your likeliness of being discovered, but also maintains your current followers and creates a community around your profile. When commenting remember to use more than 4 words as if fewer words are used, the Instagram platform usually takes the comment as spam.
5. Hashtags are your #Friend:
The use of relevant hashtags is very important. Hashtags help you appear when a certain hashtag is used, be sure to use between 5-8 hashtags, do not exceed the limit of 8 as your post could be reported as spam. Use hashtags that are relevant to your content but also remember to use hashtags that aren't too popular as that will interfere with the visibility of your post so opt for mid-range or niche hashtags.
6. Promote & Collaborate:
Promote your Instagram profile on your other platforms. Place your Instagram profile link in the bio of your twitter, facebook, Linked-In and any other social media platform you have. Another trick is adding a widget to your facebook page, eg which actually embeds and displays your Instagram feed. A big one is also getting yourself on featured accounts. These accounts usually have a big following and them posting about you and giving you a shout out will direct a lot of people to your account with some becoming part of your new followers, basically being on a featured account makes a bigger reach for you and your personal brand. Also consider branching out and approcahing some brands to collaborate with! If your're not sure where to get started, read our blog on how to create The Perfect Brand Collaboration Proposal.
So there you have it. If you've checked all your boxes and have all your ducks in a row then you should be well on your way towards cutting through the ever changing Instagram algorithm and growing your presence and following! The next step involves taking this all a little bit further and monetising your online presence! That's right - get paid for your passions! Read our blog on How to Monetize your Presence & Make Money on Instagram to find out more.