Instagram currently has more than 1 billion active users. It’s one of the fastest growing social platforms on the planet and is especially popular with young people, who happen to be a popular target for a lot of small business.
So if you’re not already using Instagram to reach your small business audience, you probably should be. But it’s not enough to simply sign up for an account and start posting about your products or services. You need to actually get people to follow you if you want your content to be seen.
Here are some practical steps you can take today to get more followers for your small business Instagram account.
Create a Unique Bio
There are plenty of strategies you can use to get people to your profile. But if they don’t press that follow button, they won’t do you any good. Your bio is your first chance to make an impression on people. So tell them clearly what you do and why they should follow you. In fact, try positioning it as an explanation of how you can help them, rather than making it all about you. Have some fun with it too, as people on Instagram are more interested in making connections than being sold to.
Create a Consistent Look
Your first nine photos or posts can also be a big part of that first impression. They give visitors an idea of the type of visuals they can expect to see if they follow you. So try to keep it somewhat consistent so people can actually make that decision. This can mean using a lot of crisp, bright images or simply keeping the filters fairly consistent.
Hashtags on Instagram are clickable, and users can also follow their favorite hashtags. So when you use these in a photo caption, comment, story or even your bio, it makes it easier for relevant people to find you.
Taylor Loren, head of marketing at Later explains, “For example, a food blogger might post a picture of a gorgeous smoothie bowl, and then use the hashtags #superfoods, #cleaneating, and #vegansofig when it’s uploaded to Instagram. By using these three hashtags, the image is cataloged so other Instagram users who enjoy healthy foods can easily find it.”
Tag Your Location
Especially for local businesses, Instagram’s location tagging feature can also help you gain visibility. You can tag your location in posts or stories so people searching for posts in that particular location can easily find you.
Post Your Instagram Account on Your Website
Do people who visit your website even know you have an Instagram account? They’re at least somewhat interested in your business, so include a button or follow link so they can easily find you.
Share It in Your Email List
Likewise, it could be helpful to let people on your email list know that you’re on Instagram. You don’t have to create an entire message about it, but just include a link at the bottom of newsletters or add a little P.S.
Cross-Promote on Other Social Platforms
If you already have accounts on Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms, it can also be helpful to let followers on those networks know that you’re on Instagram, in case they prefer to follow brands there.
When you encourage subscribers or followers on other social platforms to follow you, it’s beneficial to give them a reason to do so that actually benefits them. Tell them about the exclusive discounts you offer to followers or the flash sales you host in your stories — something to get them actually interested.
Encourage Customers to Share Your Account
Neil Patel writes, “Create a team of ambassadors who spread the benefits of your brand to all their followers. Encourage your Instagram followers to post photos and reviews, and you’ll reach many more users.”
Getting others to post about your brand on Instagram widens your reach of potential followers. To do this, you can periodically re-post content from those who tag you or share their experience with your brand, create your own hashtag or offer discounts to those who post about your product or service on Instagram.
Connect with Influencers
You can also opt for paid campaigns with influencers who are popular with your target customers. For small businesses, you don’t necessarily need to find massive celebrities, just people with moderately popular accounts and a lot of influence in their particular niche.
Another way to get your account in front of more potential followers, host a giveaway where you ask followers to repost an image, tag you in their own post or tag friends in the comments of your post in order to be entered. You can even partner with some other businesses or Instagram users to give away multiple items and increase the reach.
Partner with Other Accounts
If you don’t have anything to give away, you can still partner with other Instagram accounts to widen your reach. Connect with another brand in your niche or community that has a similar audience to exchange posts or even do an account takeover for a day.
Invest in Ads
If you want to seriously invest in your Instagram growth, the platform also offers a number of advertising options, including sponsored photos, videos, and stories.
Margot de Cunha shares in a Wordstream post, “Similar to many other social advertising platforms, Instagram gives you the granular control to target specific genders, age ranges, locations, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even target a custom or lookalike audience so you’re showing ads only to your direct list of leads or those who have a similar makeup.”
Share Valuable Content
More than anything, the key to growing and sustaining a large following on Instagram is posting content that provides value to your target audience. No matter how many ads you buy or influencers you partner with, no one is going to follow your business if they can’t gain anything from it. So post content that educates, inspires or entertains them in some way so they’ll hit that follow button when they find your profile and then continue following you for years.