Instagram recorded one billion monthly active users in June of 2018 – a number that continues to accelerate. If you’re looking to grow a following and engage with other users, Instagram is the platform to focus your energy on.
With a simple visual approach, Instagram delivers content to users in a highly satisfying way. It’s easy to discover content you love through hashtags, and even easier to express that love with a “double-tap.”
Being successful on Instagram depends on more than your follower count and a number of likes. There’s a strategy involved.
Keep reading for tips on how to be successful on Instagram.
Make a List of Competitors
Before getting started, think about what content you like to follow on Instagram. Is there anyone doing what you want to be doing with the platform?
Make a list of your competitors, then analyze their profiles. How do they engage with their audience? Which types of posts perform well? Which ones seem to fail? Are there ways you could post similar content – but better?
Interact with your competitors when appropriate. Maybe even exchange shoutouts if possible. Remember, keep your friends close, but enemies closer! This sentiment rings as true in social media as it does in real life.
If a competitor with a high follower base likes your content or leaves a comment, your post has a better chance of showing up in the “explore” feed.
Don’t Be Lazy with Your Bio
When a new user visits your profile, they should immediately understand who you are and what you’re all about.
Make sure your targeted audience has a reason to follow. Identify the type of content you will post and include a call-to-action (CTA) if possible, such as asking them to follow you on another platform.
Instagram gives users the option of adding one clickable link to their profile. It’s worth putting some thought into which URL to use.
A popular option is a redirect URL. This URL can be used to direct users to any page you want, but make sure the content is fresh.
Many pages link to a custom landing page with a link tree to recent content, products, or services. This method allows you to direct your audience into an effective marketing funnel.
Choose a Theme
Instagram is built on aesthetics, so you need to have a cohesive look, or theme, to succeed.
It’s hard to stand out on a content platform bombarded with food bloggers, travelers, and indie lifestyle enthusiasts. Try to pick a color or style that you will consistently use. Think about what makes your content unique and use it within your branding.
The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. The more authentic your page comes across, the more apt people will be to follow you.
If you’re struggling with a theme, there are plenty of graphic templates out there to inspire you.
Create a Content Marketing Plan
Followers aren’t going to stumble upon your profile by accident. You have to do the work to get them there, and then impress them to make them stay.
A content strategy will go a long way in improving your post likes and engagement.
To get started with a content marketing plan, start collecting content around a particular theme. Create post drafts that you can use to plan out a month or two of content.
Use a social media calendar to plan your posts and make sure they are cohesive visually.
It’s a good idea to invest in mobile editing tools for your photos to further enhance your content. It doesn’t have to be a complicated app; there are simple photo editing apps such as VCSO that will add a “wow-factor” your photos didn’t have before.
If you don’t have a mobile editing app, and you want to share photos from your computer, it’s easy to learn how to post to Instagram from Mac.
Impressive content drives engagement. While planning content in advance might seem tedious, it is worth the effort and increases your chances of converting a profile visitor into a follower or customer.
Consistency is Key
A content calendar will also help you maintain post consistency.
Decide how often you want to post per day or week, then stick with that plan. The most successful Instagram users post 2-3 times per day.
Only post your best content if you’re posting this often, as too many posts in a day can look spammy. Make sure each post contains value and introduces something new.
Consistently posting will cause you to rank higher within Instagram algorithms, which means more potential followers.
If you’re not able to post daily, aim for three posts a week and keep your engagement high. Build up meaningful relationships with your followers so they will look forward to engaging with you.
The easiest way to maintain consistency is to follow your content calendar strictly. Always have backup content, so you’re not struggling to find content throughout the week.
Include a Call to Action in Every Post
Your followers won’t engage with your content if you don’t include CTAs in your posts. Make it easy for your audience to identify the next step.
Use captions to give your audience context and then include calls to action to drive the conversation.
Some examples of effective CTAs are:
- “Tag a friend who needs to see this!”
- “Double-tap if you agree.”
- “Let us know what you think in the comments!”
- “Comment and tag a friend to enter the competition.”
- “Leave a comment below!”
Strategically Use Hashtags
Do you know which hashtags are relevant to your brand?
If not, you should start doing some research.
Use analytics tools to gain insights into the top keywords and hashtags used by Instagram influencers. These tools will also show you which keywords are attracting your target audience. You can also pull hashtags that are mentioned alongside your brand so that you can gain context into the conversation around it.
Never assume that your hashtags are working. Analyze your results and switch things up now and then to know what works best.
Collaborate with Friends and Influencers
Instagram is a great place to collaborate with friends and influencers who can help push your brand.
When possible, join forces with friends to promote one another’s profiles. Keep in mind that these friends don’t need to be “Instagram famous” to help you gain exposure.
Find social media influencers that share your niche and engage with them to make yourself visible to their followers. Don’t know where to find influencers in your market? Search hashtags or use social media tools to identify industry leaders.
Engage with people before asking them to collaborate. You don’t want them to think they’re being used. Have conversations with them in their comment sections. DM them to say hello. Get to know them, then ask if they’d like to work with you.
Don’t start with mega influencers and expect them to want to collaborate right away. Start with users who have smaller followings, then work your way up. You can connect in any number of ways, just be authentic and your efforts will pay off.
Engage with Users
We’ve talked about the importance of engagement, but do you know how to interact with users effectively?
The first step is to follow your fans. Consider these first fans your “power users.” If you’re loyal to engaging with them, they will always push your brand for you.
Some brands find success in sharing fan content. This user-generated content from designers, photographers, and artists can add depth to your profile. It also exemplifies that you care about your audience.
Always try to reply to questions and positive comments, but avoid sounding like a robot. Users will know your replies are copied and pasted, and they will stop responding in the future if they don’t think your responses are genuine.
Consider Buying Followers
If all else fails, you can still buy Instagram followers.
There are mixed feelings about buying followers within the social media community, but there’s no denying that it works.
How does it work? Social proof. Users are more likely to follow accounts that are already popular — the ratio between the number of posts and follower count matters.
For example, if you have five posts, follow ten people, but buy 50,000 followers, your account is going to look fake. Someone who stumbles upon your account will know that you haven’t put in the work to gain those followers organically.
However, if you already have 10,000 followers who engage with your page, and you purchase an additional 10,000, you start to look more like a true authority.
While this strategy does work, nothing can replace real engagement with actual people – not robots. If your page is growing on its own at a steady pace, put in the work and you will be rewarded.
You’ve Discovered How to Be Successful on Instagram
So, armed with these tips and tricks, you can start curating content for your Instagram profile.
Never be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you and your brand. The social media landscape is continually changing. You might be writing a new guide on how to be successful on Instagram one day!
For more social media insights and best practices, check out our “cases & causes” section.