14 Tips and Strategies for Growing your Instagram Following in 2020

Marketing - Coaches, Marketing - Influencers, Marketing - Nonprofits, Marketing - Social Media

You’ve heard all of the stories and taglines by now: how to grow your Instagram to 1 million followers in 90 days, how to triple your follower count overnight, and our personal favorite (because it’s so ridiculous) how to buy followers without being penalized (ah-hem, impossible).  Despite hearing all of these stories, and probably trying some of these “growth hacks”, you just can’t seem to tip the scale on the follower count. Does that sound familiar? Perfect, you’re in the right place. These are 15 things that we do to all of our client’s profiles to optimize them for growth. We don’t call it growth hacking, because we don’t believe there is such a thing. These are good, sound marketing principles that have proven effective over time. 

Brand your profile 

You need to treat your profile as a business. The first thing most people think of when starting a business is a logo/brand. The same goes for Instagram. It needs to be a brand that represents the kind of message you’re sending to your audience. For the sake of this post, we’re going to use an at-home foodie baker as an example. Sally, the baker, would brand her profile from top to bottom as being an at-home baker. 

  • Her handle would be @Sally_Bakes_At_Home. Because this is an easy to understand name that clearly translates what she’s doing. 
  • She would make sure that her profile picture shows her in a baking capacity. 
  • Her profile bio would make sure to utilize all 150 characters to the best of its ability, describing what her feed is going to be about, and the type of content she’s going to share.

Optimize your Profile for Search

Not only does a branded profile speak to the right audience, but it also tells the Instagram algorithm what your profile is about, allowing it to better determine where you should rank in searches. The days of posting random things about random topics are way past and now profiles that have no direction also have no growth curve.

Ensure that your profile name, bio, and your posts are keyword sensitive. To use the right keywords, take a look at what other profiles in your niche are doing. 

Be original in your posts

Resharing pictures you find in other people’s profiles will not cut it. You want to be authentic in the message you are putting out there. People know when you’re trying to fake it ‘til you make it and don’t respond well.

Sally would benefit most from using her baking skills to create her own, unique desserts to share with the Instagram world. She has the opportunity to use stories to bring her audience behind the scenes and give them a glimpse into her process, something audiences love. 

Get into Microblogging 

Instagram is no longer only about the images posted, now it is also about the caption that goes alongside the post. Try writing a longer caption about your image, a microblog of sorts. Instagram allows 2,200 characters so use that opportunity to talk to your followers about the content in the image. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but luckily with captions, you have 3,200! 

To encourage more engagement from your audience try ending your captions with a question. This will get people to comment and once they do, ensure that you respond on a human level. This means having authentic conversations and doing more than commenting 3 generic emojis in a row and calling it a day. 

Post Several Times a Day

Just like all other social media platforms, an Instagram profile will thrive when there is plenty of activity on it. So, to get that followers number up, you have to spend time actually building your profile, posting three times generally what we tell our clients.

Find a pattern that works for you keeping in mind the above points which emphasize the importance of sticking to a theme, authenticity in your posts, and the value your posts give your audience.

Utilize IGTV 

IGTV came, and it was interesting. It didn’t gain as much traction as they had anticipated, but it shouldn’t be disregarded yet. For certain types of businesses, it may still be a good strategy. 

For an average Instagram account, IGTV will only allow videos that are fifteen seconds to ten minutes long. If your account is a bigger, verified brand the time limit extends to sixty minutes at a time. This can allow you to create your own series and connect with your audience further. 

If you’re going to capitalize on IGTV, keep your audience engaged and even anticipating for either the launch of your series or maybe even the next episode, use the countdown sticker found on Instagram stories. The sticker counts up to midnight and those who click on the sticker have the option of setting a reminder for when it runs out or for sharing it to their own feed. Remember to name the count down so people know what they are counting down to. 

Follow Other Similar Niche Accounts 

Doing this will make the algorithm notice the similarities in your accounts and will help you to grow in the same field. Once that is done, they will now start suggesting your account to others who are interested in your field. This is an organic method of increasing your following and doesn’t require much input from you. All you need is to make sure your profile is branded accordingly, and the right people will come if you implement a combination of these methods.

Videos are Attention Catchers

Videos work better than images because they capture your audience’s attention and also keep them on your profile, or post, long as they watch the video. Videos also encourage more engagement and your audience is more inclined to comment on a video than an image. So, ensure that your profile has its fair share of videos. And don’t worry, there are tons of options to choose from for Instagram video editing.  

Get Personal

The whole purpose of social media is to connect with other people. That’s why MySpace was created (there’s a throwback for ya!) back in the day, and why every new platform that comes out still has an element of human connection to it. That’s the entire purpose. Those of us using it for business, are utilizing its secondary function. For your audience to feel more connected to you, they need to see you: the person behind the brand. 

You might be wondering how will a bunch of selfies help Sally, remember she’s our example, baker, grow her Instagram account. It’s simple – she can post pictures of herself with her creations, she can post stories showing her mixing up delicious treats in her kitchen, or she can showcase select behind-the-scenes/day-in-the-life type moments to show people that she is more than a baker. All of these will show the personal side of an account, and help the following to grow.

Announce Your Presence

Come in like a wrecking ball, seriously. After you make sure that the other aspects of your profile are giving off the right vibes, it is your time! Let everyone know you’re here – just not in an annoying, spammy way. Do it tactfully, by being active on other people’s profiles. Engage other commenters in conversation, ask a thoughtful question, leave a kind comment. Just get yourself and your profile out there, and start making connections. 

Learn the Art of Hashtags

Hashtags, in our humble opinion, are the single most important aspect of growing your account organically. Hashtags get you in front of the right audience. We generate 30 interchangeable hashtags for our clients, based on their business goals and ideal audience. You can also do this on your own. There’s tons of tools to help you. Make sure that you have a good mixture of hashtags that are compeitivie (meaning, lots of people are trying to rank for these same keywords) and niche keywords, that less people are trying to rank for – we try for a 50/50 mix of each for our clients. 

To take your hashtag game even further, create a custom hashtag. We created #voxturonline, and tag all of our posts this way. Then, when your ideal audience finds you, they can easily search or follow your hashtag and stay updated on what you want. 

Create Polls on Your Stories

Be open on your stories and ask your audience what they would like to see more of from you. You can do this by creating polls, which give you the option of asking a question and even lets you set multiple choice answers for your audience to easily pick.

This will encourage engagement from your followers and it will even earn you points once you have followed through on their suggestions and created content that they want to see. People remember what they suggest to you, and they appreciate when you use that information in your work.  

Collaborate with Other Influencers for Brands

This is an effective way to get your brand out to other audiences that are still within your ideal area. Take a deep breath, write a nice (again, not spammy) message to someone you’d like to collaborate with, and see if they’d be open to collaborating. We’ve got a blog post coming next week all about collaboration, so stay tuned for some more support on that next week.

Connect to Other Social Platforms 

Make use of the sharing to other social media platforms and engage the audience you have on those other platforms. Promote your brand and Instagram content there too and encourage them to follow you back to the platform. Make your Instagram profile a go-to if anyone is interested in seeing more of your brand!

While it does take time to grow your account organically, the possibilities are endless once you put in that sweat equity, in the beginning, to get it rolling. Tailwind, the business-love-of-our-life, recently became able to publish automatically to Instagram business accounts, and we’re obsessed because it makes some of the ideas above so much easier!