How to grow your Instagram audience
The first step in increasing your reach through Instagram is to establish and build your Instagram audience. This means continuing to get more followers on a regular basis. While it isn’t hard, it takes a little time and effort each week. I’ll quickly run you through some of the most successful ways to grow your following and do so consistently.
Post Regularly With Your Target Instagram Audience In Mind
Your first and most important task is to post regularly and to post content your target audience is looking for. Instagram is at its core driven by content. Unlike some other platforms, the content here is images and to a lesser degree “stories” or short little video clips. It’s a visual storytelling medium, and you need to use it as such to have a chance at gaining and attentive audience.
Yes, you can go online and find people who will promise to add 2,000 Instagram follower to your account for a hand full of dollars. That isn’t the kind of growth you’re looking for though, is it? You’re much better off with 20 people who are interested in what you do and what you can do for them, then 2,000 auto-generated Instagram accounts. Remember, that at the end of the day it’s about connecting with real people that make up your target market.
Instagram is just one more venue to help you do that. One of the best ways to reach out to them, and more importantly to make sure they get involved and start to pay attention to your posts, is to post regularly and to stay on topic.
What posting regularly means is up to you. For some people, it means a couple of image posts per week. For others, it’s multiple times per day. See what works for you and what makes sense considering everything else you’re doing to grow your business. At the end of the day, the key is to be consistent and to put some thought into your posts.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do they want to see? What interests them, and what picture can you paint with your images that showcase what you and your business can do for them.
Hashtags are a great tool to help other people find your Instagram posts and your account. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you write cookbooks and are marketing them through Instagram. You create some of your signature dishes from your cookbook and post the images of beautifully plated food on Instagram. Using a hashtag like #foodporn can help foodies find you and what you have to offer.
While general tags like #love, #funny, #summer and the likes get a lot of use and traction, they aren’t great at getting you in touch with your target audience. Instead, get as accurate as possible, while still finding hashtags that are actively being used. For example, in addition to using tags like #instafood and #foodporn, you could use tags like #eattherainbow or #cleaneating if your product focuses on eating a healthy, whole food based diet. While you may not have quite as many Instagram users find you, the ones that do are interested in what you do and not just looking for the latest brownie recipe. Think quality over quantity when it comes to the reach and use of Instagram hashtags.
Run Instagram Contests
Another great strategy for getting an almost instant boost in your follower numbers is to run a contest on Instagram. Contests are a proven way to gain attention and traction on this popular social media platform and are done by small business owners like ourselves right alongside major brands. It’s something anyone can do and benefit from.
All you need is a concept for the contest, a timeline, and of course a prize or prizes for the winners. If you sell a product, you can use copies of your product as the prize. This has the added advantage of getting more exposure for the items you’re selling and hopefully quite a few extra sales. For example, let’s say you sell cups with motivational phrases or drawings on them. You could hold a contest where you ask people to follow you, like one of your posts, and post an image of their favorite mug to be entered to win. You then draw a winner from among all participants and send them the cup of their choice. If you don’t have a product of your own, you can give away the occasional gift card as a contest prize and still benefit from this attention grabbing strategy. Using a custom hashtag for your contest makes it easy to track participants and helps you reach even more people as your contests gain in popularity.
Play With Paid Advertising
Since Instagram is now part of the Facebook family, getting in front of a larger audience through paid advertising is easier than ever. If you’re already running Facebook ads, consider expanding them into Instagram. If you’re new to paid advertising, Facebook Ads is an easy and inexpensive way to start. You can reach more people on Instagram and invite them to follow you, check out what you do, and click through to your website. Make it a point to learn more about paid advertising going forward. Start with a small daily budget and start to get some hands-on experience. Once you figure out an advertising strategy that works for you and your business, you can turn open the faucet and explode your growth through targeted ads.
Leverage Your Customers To Grow Your Instagram Audience
By far the most valuable asset in your target audience is your existing clients. Why not encourage them to share what they already love and use on Instagram. It’s the perfect way to generate social proof that will draw others to what you have to offer. The easiest way to do this is to simply email your customers and ask them to share a picture and either tag you in them or use a hashtag. Let them know that you love to see how they are using your products. People like to share and namedrop. This alone will get you quite a bit of social interaction that others will see. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can offer them a special coupon code or a bonus in exchange for sharing your products on Instagram. Have them email you with a link to their post to collect their reward. It’s a great way to use your customers as leverage and grow your Instagram reach.
Collaborate With Other Instagram Marketers
It takes time and effort to build an Instagram following, and you’re not the only one doing it to market your business. There are other savvy Instagram marketers out there who work just as hard to reach a similar target audience. Why not combine forces and collaborate with them? You may have done something similar to grow your email list if you’ve been marketing your business for a while. If you haven’t, it’s something you should start to look into. The idea is that you mail for another marketer and they return the favor. The result is that you both grow your list. You can do the same by collaborating with other Instagram Marketers. You repost one of their Instagram posts and invite your followers to check them out, and they do the same for you in return. You can make it a regular thing you do for each other every couple of months for continual growth. Then rinse and repeat with other marketers who are in the same or similar niche. This strategy works best if you can find people who market to the same target audience but have a product that doesn’t compete directly with yours. If it complements what you’re selling, all the better.
Don’t Get Distracted – Stick To Your Niche
Since we’re on the topic of niches and audiences, I can’t stress enough how important it is when you’re using Instagram to market your business. It’s easy to grow a following quickly with funny images and puny quotes that have nothing to do with what you have to offer. It’s easy to attract the general public to your Instagram feed, but that’s not what you want. You want a small, but highly targeted following and for that to happen you have to stick to your niche. Don’t get side-tracked. Review your feed every couple of weeks and make sure you’re staying on message.
Remember: Quality Over Quantity
To sum it up, when it comes to Instagram followers, you want to go with quality over quantity. Sure it looks good and strokes your ego when you can add a couple of hundred new followers per week. If they aren’t a part of your target market though, you’re wasting your time. The wrong type of Instagram followers will add not a single dime to your bottom line.
Sure, you can head to sites like Fiverr.com and buy a bunch of followers to inflate your numbers. That’s all it will do though. It will not help you grow your reach or get your posts in front of any more people for that matter. Go after high-quality followers who are interested in what you have to offer. The same goes for your posts. Focus on a well-thought-out post with quality images, instead of hitting an arbitrary daily number of posts. A few good images with great captions per week will do you more good than five mediocre ones per day.
Keep all these tips in mind and continue to work on your Instagram feed regularly. When you stick with it and use it as a tool to get out in front of more potential customers, your follower numbers and the results you see from your Instagram marketing will continue to improve. Last but not least it’s time to turn those Instagram followers into paying customers and raving fans. That’s where the marketing aspect of the equation comes in. We take a closer look at how to get started with this in the next chapter.
How To Monetize Your Instagram Account
Your Instagram account is up and running. You’re posting regularly to get in front of your target audience. It’s time to take the next step and figure out how to get them from their Instagram account to your website or even better into your email list and product funnel. That’s what this chapter is all about. Instagram poses some interesting challenges for Marketers. It wasn’t designed as a social media app that helps connect people to products and brands. Quite the opposite. The fact that you can’t share clickable links in captions or comments, and that it is best used in a standalone app make it less than ideal for the average marketer. In this section, we’ll cover some of these challenges, and I’ll show you how to use them to your advantage.
The Clickable Link Problem
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Most marketers dismiss Instagram as a marketing platform because they can’t add clickable links to each post they make. While that’s understandable, it’s a big mistake to give up because of this. When you can get past this little clickable link problem, you can stand out from the crowd and gain a leg up on the competition who’s still ignoring Instagram. What you get is one clickable link, and it’s in your profile. We’ll talk more about how to make sure that’s always working to your advantage, and I have some ideas for getting around this. For now, embrace it and work with what you’ve got. Just because you can’t make it easy and give them something to click on in your individual posts (unless you make them paid ads – yet another way to get around the clickable link problem), doesn’t mean you can’t get them to look for what you have to offer.
Pay Attention To Your Profile
Since your one clickable Instagram link is in your profile, you’ll be sending people there frequently. A simple way to get around the link problem is to simply tell people in your caption that the link for what you’re talking about is in your profile. Your profile will quickly become your post visible part of Instagram, so make sure it looks good. Log in and take a look at it right now. Does your username make sense and does it represent you and your brand well? If not, change it early on so you can build your following and have people recognize that particular name when they scroll through their feed. Look at the profile image. Use an actual picture of yourself. This gains you more trust and gives you more leverage than some brand picture. Instagram is personal. It’s social. It’s all about earning trust. A good picture of you builds more confidence than your logo. Read the description and make sure it represents you and your brand well. If you’re feeling awkward writing it, or have a hard time condensing what you have to offer into a sentence or two, get someone else to write it for you. Ask a friend for a favor, or hire someone to write a couple of good bios for you that you can use across several social media accounts and as bi-lines for articles and such.
Change The Link In Your Profile Frequently
Too many people think of a profile as a static thing. They write it once, enter the URL to their main website, and call it done. With Instagram, that’s a big mistake. Instead, you want to change it up and use it to promote one particular thing at a time. Let’s say you’re working on growing your list this week. Alter the link in your profile to your highest converting opt-in page. Tweak the profile text accordingly and include a short call to action to sign up for your list. As you post on Instagram throughout the week, make most of those posts about how your target audience could benefit from signing up. What will they get in exchange for their email address? Post about each of the benefits of being on your email list and in each post invite them to sign up and let them know that the link is in the profile. Yes, this makes it a two-click process to get them to your opt-in page, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Look at it as a filter. Because they have to take the time to click on your profile and then the link in there, those followers who click all the way through and end up signing up for your list are very interested in what you have to offer. They will be a much higher quality lead.
Use Easy Links
Another effective way to direct your Instagram followers to where you want them to go is to use what I like to call easy links. These are easy to remember and easy to type links that redirect to where you want your readers to go. Let’s say you have an opt-in page, an offer, or an affiliate link related to coffee or a coffee product that you want to send your Instagram followers to. Set up a redirect link like www.YourWebsite.com/coffee and use that easy link in your image caption. While it isn’t going to be a clickable link, it’s easy to remember and type, particularly if they are already familiar with your brand and your main website URL. Give it a try and don’t forget to keep the link as simple as possible. Set up a series of easy links that you can use whenever you post something on Instagram where you include a call to action that invites your followers to check out a particular page or offer. If you’re using WordPress, you can set up these redirected easy links through a plugin like Pretty Links. It will keep track of all your easy links and give you stats on how often each link is clicked. Otherwise, consider setting up 301 redirects and keeping track of them through a spreadsheet.
Give Them A Good Reason To Look For You
By far the best way to get someone to take you up on an offer and get them to sign up for your list, read a blog post, watch a video, or consider buying a product is to give them a really good reason. Give them a compelling reason to open their browser, type in a link manually, and check out what you have to offer them.
The best way to do that is to know your target audience and what they need. Then you present it to them in a way that focuses on what’s in it for them. In short, use your marketing chops when you post on Instagram and give them a reason to go out of their way to get what you have to offer. If you can do that, it doesn’t matter that there’s no easy clickable link. Use those marketing skills and give them a reason to take you up on what you have to offer them.
Focus On Results and Good Images
Last but not least, it’s important that you focus on the results you get. Start with good images. Instagram is a very visual platform. If you don’t get the images right, you’re dead in the water. You want them to be beautiful, high quality, and most importantly attention grabbing. Use them to paint a picture and tell a story. Pull them in and get them to stop scrolling long enough to read your caption. Track the interactions and results you get from your Instagram marketing. I shared some great tips in this report about getting started, growing your audience, and use this social media app to market your business and your products. But at the end of the day, that’s just a starting point. What works well for me may or may not work for you. You have to find a way to reach out and communicate with your particular target audience. That means trying things and tracking the results. If it works, do more of it. Tweak it and see if you can get even better results next time. If it doesn’t work, change it up until you find something that does work. Put in the effort and Instagram can become an important piece of your overall marketing strategy.
You have a pretty good idea about how you can leverage the popular Instagram app to get in front of your target audience and start marketing to them. You know what Instagram is and what makes it different from other social media platforms. You know how to start using it and more importantly how to use it for your business. Hopefully you’ve set up your account by now and created a good profile. You’ve started to post and are well on your way to establishing your Instagram presence. Maybe you’ve even begun to experiment with marketing and what you need to do to get your followers to click through to your website, your opt-in page, or your offer. Where you go from here is up to you. I hope I’ve been able to peek your interest enough to get you to give Instagram a real try. Put in the time and effort. Take what you’ve learned in these pages and put it to good use. See for yourself how much fun it can be to market on Instagram. Most importantly, see how profitable it can be.
I’ll leave you with my ten best tips for marketing on Instagram:
1. Use High-Quality Images
2. Post Niche Specific Content
3. Use Hashtags in A Smart Way
4. Encourage Your Audience And Customers To Post For You
5. Use Your Profile And Profile Link Wisely
6. Use Instagram To Tell Your Story
7. Give Them A Reason To Click Through
8. Create And Track Easy Links
9. Do More Of What’s Working
10. Engage And Communicate With Your Future Customers
Good luck and have fun with Instagram!