Building followers on Instagram can feel like a numbers game – there will always be someone with a bigger account than yours and it’s easy to feel like you’re not getting anywhere fast.
For a long time, the magical 10,000 followers mark was the ultimate goal. Hit 10k and you can unlock some of Instagram’s most fancied features – mainly the ‘swipe up’ function in Stories that allows you to link directly to your business website.
But for most small or new businesses, getting to 1,000 followers can be a big enough challenge and 10,000 can feel astronomically high.
But thanks to Insta’s update in late 2021, all accounts now have access to the Link Sticker.
The sticker replaces the need for ‘swipe up’ (previously exclusive for those with over 10,000 followers). Removing that exclusivity has allowed us to feel a bit more comfortable with our followerships and removes some of the ego attached to building followers.
Instead, small businesses should focus on building a relationship with their real followers and the people who are actually going to buy their products.
These are our tried-and-tested ways to increase your Instagram following with quality followers in 2022 without paying for followers.
NEVER pay for followers, as the algorithm will know and you will be punished for it. Besides, if they aren’t genuine followers, then they won’t buy into your business, so what’s the point?
Do your housework
First things first, make sure your bio, username and links are all optimised for search. Think of Instagram as its own search engine. All the information contained in your bio is searchable.
It is vital that everything is relevant. Be clear what your page is about. Before you start, make a list of the keywords your customers might search for and make sure they are included.
Start with your username. This should be as close to your business name as possible. Remember you can use _’s and .’s if your exact name is already in use.
After your username is the name field. Use this space to describe your niche/industry/target customer. For example, “Newborn photographer, Essex”. This makes it clear to someone who comes across your profile where you work, and what you specialise in.
Next is the bio. This is your opportunity to tell your audience what makes you unique. Do you have any awards or specialist qualifications? Be specific here. End your bio with a strong call to action (CTA), such as “Sign up to our newsletter 👇”.
Follow this with a web link that relates to your CTA. This could be a link to your home page. If you have more than one website link to add, we recommend using LinkTr.ee or similar. A LinkTr.ee account allows you to add multiple links to your profile. Perhaps you want to direct followers to different landing pages on your website? Or maybe direct them towards products recommended on your grid.
Make use of Instagram’s features
Your bio is not the only feature that is searchable in Instagram. Geotagging means people can find you by searching posts tagged in a location. This is particularly useful for venues and restaurants. Potential new customers can see your (and existing customers’) posts to get an idea of what to expect.
Hashtags. Instagram is known for hashtags for a reason. Each post can include up to 30 tags which can help your ideal clients find you. So make use of them. A great hashtag strategy should incorporate tags relevant to your industry/ location/ brand. It should also have some relevance to that particular post. You could even create your own hashtag and ask your followers to use it. Again, hashtags are searchable so consider keywords or phrases for your organisation.
Does it matter where you list hashtags? Yes it does! Instagram Creators recently cleared up the debate raging around where to post hashtags. They made it clear that hashtags should be in the caption where they are searchable. Hashtags are NOT searchable in the comments and so add nothing to the post’s discoverability.
Give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes with your Stories. We’ve written a whole blog about getting the most from Stories here
Reels are the fastest-growing way to get your content seen on Instagram. And you don’t need to sing, dance or look silly to do them well. You don’t even need to be seen at all.
With Instagram’s new push towards video content, the exposure and reach you can get from Reels is phenomenal… we’re talking thousands of views in minutes! Unlike static grid posts, Reels are ‘evergreen’ which means you might notice a sudden boost in views months after posting.
When creating a Reel for your account, look at what’s trending on the Reels tab. It won’t take long before you notice trending tracks- save the audio and use them in your Reels. The algorithm prioritises trending tracks so this is one way to give your content an instant head up above the others. Watching other people’s reels will also give you an idea of what works and perhaps what doesn’t work.
If you don’t want to be in the video, try using a trending track as background music for a tutorial video, or to show off a product or range you have. Here’s an example of how we used a trending track along with stock images:
With Instagram Reels you can either film and edit your video in the app, or upload an edited video to Reels where you can then add text, stickers and the all important audio track.
Our top tips for getting your Reels noticed: use hashtags and calls to action, have good lighting and play with transitions.
Believe us when we say, the more you do them, the easier they get.
Engage with your people
We’re not saying you have to personally reply to every single comment, tag and DM that you get, but you do need to do it. Spend time engaging and replying to followers, especially when your following is small. It is this that will help boost your brand. A personalised reply will stick with people.
Ask followers to tag you in their posts using your product or service. Then respond to them. Accounts that do this really well create a bank of user-generated content to use in future posts.
A quality following needs to be nurtured, and that is a two-way street.
Consistency is key
What you post, the tone of voice you use and when you post – it all matters. Find your brand personality. It may be humorous and cheeky like @Innocent, or professional and informative like @NHS. Your brand personality should reflect your business, your content and your goals.
Often, the best sales posts don’t mention the product at all.
Build it and they will come
We’ve mentioned (a few times) about optimising your page for search. That isn’t just a way for other people to find you. Search is also a way for you to find your people. Searching hashtags, places and keywords relevant to your brand, allows you to engage with your ideal customer.
‘Like’ pictures. Follow your ideal customer. Comment on their posts and enter into discussions. Engaging builds a link between you both which will spark a memory next time they are looking for something you provide.
Tagging other pages is another way to get seen. Beware to only tag suitable pages; no one wants to be spammed.
Once again, and we cannot reiterate this enough, NEVER buy followers. It is not worth it and can actually do more harm than good.
Want help doing all this? Chat with us