(Disclaimer: Many factors will be important in determining your actual results on social media and no guarantees are made that you will achieve results similar to ours from our ideas and techniques presented in our blogs or videos.)
(Transcription from our FB Live Video)
Hello and Welcome to our Fine Tune Friday FB live show today where we’ll be discussing a few questions we received about Instagram. My name is Alicia and I’m the owner of Aliro Marketing – I hope you’ve had a great Friday so far!
If you are watching live, be sure to drop questions in the comments as we go along and I’ll try to answer them live. And if we’re running short on time, I’ll be sure to answer them after the show has ended.
Today I’m answering the following Instagram questions:
- How do I grow my Instagram followers?
- What strategies should I use for Instagram hashtags?
- What other best practices should I do for my IG account?
So… are you tired of trying to figure out Instagram hashtags and how to grow your IG followers? Maybe you’ve gone long periods of time without posting because it seems overwhelming and time consuming.
If that’s you, then stick around for a few moments so I can show you how to grow your IG followers the right way, what you need to know about hashtags, and some other best practices to de-mystify all that is Instagram so your life is easier!
Growing Your Instagram Followers, the RIGHT Way
What I’m presenting here today is what I’ve learned from Jenn Herman from Jenn’s Trends over the past couple of years. She is *the* Instagram expert to know and follow and she’s so real and awesome. I hope you check her out at @Jenns_Trends.
We all want more IG followers because that’s what we think will get us more business. But if your total customers are 3000 people, why would you expect to have 10K followers? It’s not a realistic expectation to have 10K followers if you’re a small brand/company. Instead, you need to be concerned with the question: “Are the followers I have the right followers for your business?”
You can be just as successful with 1000 followers because those people are ones who want your product/service. Mass exponential growth that is irrelevant won’t do anything for you; it’s better to grow 10 new followers each month who want you and your content.
I would rather have few followers who genuinely listen to everything I say & engage with my posts vs. just following, never liking/commenting/sharing. A lot of times when you have thousands of followers, your engagement is smaller than someone with less followers. I know this is simplistic, but you just need to focus on creating the content your audience wants to see.
Pro Tip: Sometimes people don’t want to engage publicly for fear of sounding dumb, or maybe they’re just a private person. They still want help, but they want more private help. This is not measurable/tangible! So, you still need the quality content so people can reach out to you privately. You need to make yourself available on platforms/content (video) so people can respond & engage.
It’s hard not to compare our IG account to others, but think about this: how long have you been on the platform & been consistently putting out quality content? Maybe your competitor has been at it longer and why they’ve worked out their own bugs/issues. You need to compare your numbers with your OWN benchmarks & set goals to improve that way.
You can also stalk hashtags to grow account. Find events your audience might be attending, even if you’re not attending & use those event hashtags. Like/comment on those event posts to gain extra exposure & followers – but be real and authentic!! Don’t just comment with a spammy comment! Smaller conferences can generate a few dozen followers; larger conference can gain around 100 followers. But you have to engage on the posts to be noticed; it takes time. This strategy works because there’s no sales/cold calls, no selling products, no spammy comments; they’re interacting with you of their own volition because you gave them positive engagement by simply liking & commenting on their posts. It’s virtual networking.
Similarly, find hobbies/interests your audience likes/follows & engage with those posts too. Nothing can be automated, just put in the time & effort & you’ll see growth.
Pro Tip: Instagram now lets you add “alt text” description for photos; it makes them more accessible to the visually impaired, and you can see a small uptick in growth, seo rankings, & exposure. You can even go back & edit old posts too.
This isn’t a popular thought, but you do not want to use 3rd party tools or apps to grow your audience! The experts don’t use growth tools because they know growth needs to be organic to have real followers. You have to put the work in & like/comment on other people’s content – that’s how you get engagement & following in return! Find your tribe that is interested in the work you do. Today 3rd party apps to grow followers can get your account shut down – don’t take that risk!
User-generated content another good way to build following; when you share & highlight customers, they tell their friends & it shows the rest of your audience you care about what your customers have to say, thus encouraging them to engage more. Just be sure to get their permission before you repost their picture!! And document their approval for safe-keeping, just in case something comes up later. I’ve never had anyone turn me down; they’ve always said yes!
It’s ok to tag other companies & accounts, but only tag other companies if they are related to the photo & is content is related. Otherwise, you’re being annoying & spamming them in a way; that’s a sure fire way to get your account reported, so don’t risk it!
Finally, you can give away something for free in order to get their contact info so can remarket them with additional quality content that they will pay for.
A word about the popular and widely practiced but severely disapproved tactic of “Following/Unfollowing”: What is follow/unfollow tactic? It’s when you follow a bunch of accounts, wait to see if they’ve followed you back, and if not, you unfollow them. I know a lot of marketers think this tactic works, and I suppose if you don’t care about how you’re perceived on IG or willing to put in the manual effort for several weeks, it does eventually work, but a lot of experts feel this is a rude and irrelevant tactic.
It’s irrelevant because while you are playing this game, the accounts you’re following are other bot accounts playing the same game. So again, when you’re using an automated tool or app to grow your followers, you’re likely following other bot run accounts and not your actual customers who would buy from you and engage with your content. Most of the time the people that you’re following/unfollowing will not engage with your posts & you need the engagement or they won’t see posts anyway.
You could have 10k followers but only 100 engage with your posts, so only those 100 people see your posts – that’s how the IG algorithm works. IG shows you posts from accounts that you engage with, AND it’s personalized to your activity! So if you & I both engage with dog posts, but I engage more with golden retriever posts, and you engage more with poodle posts, you’re going to see poodle posts, and I’m going to see golden retriever posts.
Again, IG is shutting down accounts who use 3rd party tools/apps to do this, so just don’t do this so you don’t get caught!
Instead, focus on liking/commenting on accounts & posts you want to connect with to get exposure & new followers. Use a proper hashtag strategy. Gain interest authentically with people you want to do business with & provide content that solves a problem; that’s how you grow. Better to have 1000 followers with 800 potential clients, than 10k followers with 200 potential clients who will engage with you.
Hashtag Strategies that Work
Use a mix of popular hashtags (hundreds of thousands) & less popular (High tens to hundreds of thousands) & branded tags. Popular hashtags are for an immediate reach boost, but your posts won’t be found there because there are too many posts showing up under that hashtag. You want to be found in the less popular hashtags. Don’t worry about using too small of hashtag – the smaller the better, because if people are searching for it, and you’re the only creating content for that hashtag, you’re basically own that hashtag & will corner the market!
You will get new growth & show up to new people whether or not you’re the top post; you’ll still show up in searches.
Feel free to use all 30 hashtags; the limit is 30, but might as well use all that you can to try show up in as many searches & more exposure.
DO NOT USE hashtags: #love #superbowl #valentinesday – they’re too popular to be found. Similarly, do not use hashtags with over a million – won’t show up & only be seen by bots which will spam your account and not do anything of value for you.
Think about “what is your audience looking for?” and use those hashtags. Example: you sell car insurance. You might want to use #insurance #insurancebroker #carinsurance, but no one is searching IG searching for that (that’s what google is for), but people who need car insurance have cars, so use #dreamcar #myfirstcar #firstcarsmell – create content that they’re looking for so you show up in your audience’s searches, you’re using your targeted audience’s interests as hashtags that are related to your business. Again, use car related things, music related things for bands, etc. hobbies, venues that are of interest, clothing/style, etc. What does your audience enjoy? If your brand is a nonprofit thrift shop, capitalize on Marie Kondo fad of downsizing stuff.
Do not worry about switching hashtags up – use what’s working. If you use different types of content, ok to switch a few out, but use consistent hashtags to show up in more posts so it will benefit you in the long run (the more posts your posts show up in helps you be found better).
Other Pro Tips to Know About Instagram
There is no difference in reach/engagement when use scheduling tools like Hootsuite. The way the algorithm works, posts are showing to people who engage with your stuff, it doesn’t matter when you post because they will always be seeing the posts. Sometimes can see a higher engagement if you use the IG insights to post when it says your followers are on IG, but over time it’s the same.
Use location tags: they work really well in stories & posts for exposure & to show up in searches. Use the smallest possible location; it works best for stories – can show up in multiple locations. EX. If you tag a location like National University, you might show up in Torrey pine golf course, Torrey Pines, & San Diego searches all because tagged small location. If you tag only San Diego, your post wouldn’t have shown up in smaller locations. Only works 1 way. Doesn’t work for regular posts – only will show up in 1 location, where you tag.
Tag friends in comments: tag someone in comments below who would find this helpful. Don’t do this all the time, tie it to something of value so you’ll get extra exposure & followers on content that matters. Don’t tag for the sake of tagging, only if it’s relevant, not to get attention. You want them to come over naturally. Send DM instead if you want someone to come over, but again, don’t make it salesy or spammy.
Use IG Live/Stories – share posts & stories to someone’s stories/posts to get new exposure & followers. Ask people to share with someone who needs it. Ex. Jenn won’t get notification that I shared story but it’ll show up in insights. Plus, stories are hugely popular right now because short videos are easily consumable & it’s fun to know what’s going on with the people & companies you follow.
Partner with other local businesses that aren’t competitors. Ex. A florist could partner with a photographer to take advantage of each other’s partners. It can be a regular post, contest, shout outs, etc.; cross exposure to each other’s audiences that augment but don’t compete work well.
Cross promoting: use other audiences from FB, LI, etc. tell them you’re on IG & follow you there too. Same for email list. Tell them what you’re doing on IG to make it valuable for them to follow you there. It could be for something like doing IG Live once a week, etc. Put up signage at physical locations to let people know you’re on social media; take advantage of audiences already have.
Finally, there’s always paid advertising for special events, new releases, new features, product launches, etc. to gain new exposure & followers.
Please message me if you have any questions – I know this can be confusing. I hope you found this helpful and will come back next time we have another Fine Tune Friday live video! Thanks for tuning in and Stay Social!