Whether you are just starting out with a new business idea, planning to grow your business and expand into other sectors, or target a specific audience, social media is definitely the tool one should get accustomed to using on a regular basis.
Instagram now has over 800 million active users, and your potential customers, users, and referral partners are all most likely there. Beginnings can be difficult, and there is nothing more frustrating than posting – and thinking you’re doing a great job – but still not being seen.
Let’s look at how to turn those casual browsers into followers and customers. But before I get started, let me tell you this: a silver bullet strategy that will immediately bring you 10, 50, or 100k followers does not exist. It all takes time and patience and consistency to gain a (real!) following on a social media channel.
How to start? As with so many other things, it starts with a goal. Ask yourself questions like, what do you want to do with Instagram? And what do you want to get out of it? You might decide you want to use the tool to build brand awareness or you want to use it to portray your product(s) and focus on that. Whatever path you choose, remember that Instagram is made up of two demographics: customers and partners.
Partners are people, brands, or products from the same industry that can relate to your niche, which this doesn’t mean they are automatically competitors. For instance, if you are a founder of a workout app, a sports brand (whether well-known or less well-known) could be a great partner for you, and can most likely help you promote your business. By commenting on and liking your content they help you get more visibility.
Once you have identified your partners and your target market, it’s important to start gathering information about them. One of the most important things to find out is who they already follow on Instagram. Knowing this can be beneficial, as you can then imitate those accounts in order to attract their followers. Find around five accounts your potential users and partners follow, and analyse them. What kind of content do they post, and who do they follow?
Look at their bio and check out how they portray their business, scroll through their posts and analyse what hashtags they use, and take note of the most popular ones. Make sure to then use some of those in your own posts.
Create an attractive bio with an incentive to follow – an offer, the posts themselves, or both. And then stick to it.
Create an editorial calendar, which many other brands don’t do. An editorial calendar is a schedule of your upcoming posts. It tells you what you’ll post and when you’ll do so, making the content much more controlled and planned. Get the ball rolling with your posts, by going over the successful posts you learned about while defining your goal (point 1). But keep in mind: even if you do want to imitate, much content is copyrighted, and make sure to stay away from problems due to copying content.
Make sure to not come across as a sales representative on Instagram – there are many of those, and they are way more annoying than anything else. Mix your content up a bit. Post funny memes, have your followers re-post your giveaways, and have them double-tap on their favourite flavour of lemonade. Give them something to do in order for them to feel involved and valued. And remember, never forget those hashtags!
Have a consistent style and/or identity that hooks people. Having consistency on your page is more than just branding play; it’s creating expectations for your followers. Meaning, if you have a pitbull fanpage, and you constantly are posting the best content of cute pitbulls doing cute things, your followers will look forward to and expect your quality content to continue. The best example for this is 9gag, who never goes wrong with a post, and is also constantly engaging their followers.
Ask to mention and repost. When and if a follower is satisfied with your product, ask to repost, and when they do, make sure to loop it into your stories as well and mention them as well. This gives them importance, as well as some sort of appearance on the platform as an individual. Following that, take some time to sincerely comment and engage with other accounts that have common interests with yourself and your company.
The question is … How many posts should a page have before one starts some serious social media outreach? I would say between 10 and 20, but posted in a short period of time (around 1 week maximum). A page needs to look like it has things happening on it and should already show all of the points listed above – a theme, followers, descriptions, and comments. If that is built up and someone lands on your page, then the brand is already portrayed and easier to read. Remember that the posts need to complement each other in order to create a cohesive grid and feed aesthetic. Yes, having nice images is a plus – but it’s actually all about the way your grid looks and how attractive your (potential) followers find it.
“Tag a friend” posts and giveaways are two easily done ways to extend your reach immensely! It not only gives potential users a way to find and see your page, but it also gives you extra insight into people who could eventually be customers. Remember: the captions still need to be good and catching. Most likely the “Tag a friend” posts will only be shared if they are really worth commenting on or sharing, and if you target the same audience. Offer prizes in giveaways that followers can’t refuse, and make sure to get some more information on how to run an Instagram contest before you get started.
The truth is, it’s a long haul and a lot of commitment to get to your goal. Nothing happens overnight, and success stories conveniently leave out the time and effort put into it. But, I really do believe that it does not take 10 generations to reach 10k followers. It just takes determination, tactics, a very focused strategy, and patience.