Creating a massive engaged Instagram following isn’t easy but its certainly worth the work. Foundr Magazine has reported generating over 20,000 monthly CTA clicks from its bio alone. I have found that there is really three main keys to truly building a massive organic Instagram following. Those are:
- Aesthetic & Content Creation
- Utilizing Influencers
- Consistent Engagement Outreach
This post will walk you through the specifics of each one of these steps. Giving you the information you need to create your businesses Instagram strategy.
Aesthetic and Content Creation
Instagram is a visual social network. Everything is based around pictures. This creates a unique opportunity to create an aesthetic that appeals to your target audience unlike most social networks. I am going to go over the main things you should focus on when it comes to posting and captions. Pretty much Instagram content creation best practices.
Ensure The Content Of The Post And The Target Audience Are One In The Same
Too many times business try to gain followers on Instagram by posting whatever they feel like instead of targeting their audience. Posting anything can be easy, but you lose the opportunity to gain a loyal follower and maybe a potential customer. The idea is to create powerful images, quotes, and ideas that people will relate to. From there you begin to create a small community of committed followers that may eventually purchase products or subscribe to a service.
For example, if I was to own a gym or be a personal trainer and was posting motivational quotes I would do something like this:
The image captivates the idea that working out will relieve stress, and can inspire the audience of the photo to finally hitting the gym. The same idea works for anything. Remember what the target audience is and align your post with that same concept.
Consistency is the Key
Whatever it is that you’re posting, you need to be consistent with it. If I was a follower of yours and you would sometimes post once a week, or once every couple of days then I wouldn’t really know when to expect new content. People are creatures of habit and they like to keep it that way. Typically you would want to post at least once a day, but ideally 3–4 a day. By posting multiple times a day, you will be able to learn when you have the highest interaction with your followers. With that information you can more accurately determine specifically what time of day you should be posting.
This approach can be time consuming, notably because your followers will begin to await your next post. To accomplish this, you will need to be planning out your posts in advance, obtaining the quotes, and images that will be be used in the post.
The app that I have used most frequently and have found it to be easy to use is called WordSwag and it allows the user to create beautiful images with a quote in just minutes. The app can be downloaded on an iPhone so you can do it on the go. The images that you create will be saved to your camera roll which of course can then be transferred into Instagram. You can even set it up so the images are saved into your dropbox which will allow you to see them on any device. The image above with the “Therapy” quote was created with that app. Below are photos that other people have created:
Prompt Follower Engagement
The most basic interaction you can have with follows is asking them a question. For example, here is Foundr Magazines most recent instagram post:
You can see on the side of the picture the amount of interaction is occurring among the community, people are being tagged constantly which of course brings them new followers. In this example Foundr didn’t even directly prompt users to tag someone. In this example:
Here they actually ask the community to tag a friend and this post receives 1,560 more comments than the one posted above. You can clearly see that by calling your followers to action will increase the amount of engagement dramatically.
Another basic idea that you should use is the “double tap if you agree” as part of your description on the picture that is being posted. No matter what, there should always be some type of action that you are telling or asking your followers to do.
Appeal To The Emotion Of Your Followers
Something to consider when posting content is how you can appeal to the emotion of your follows. By triggering emotion, you will increase the amount of people that will engage with your posts. For example, I found this Instagram post by Fitness:
This post appeals to most people when they are thinking about going to the gym. You can appeal to many different emotions, such as desire, joy, surprise, pride, etc.. The point is to have the followers feel like they relate to that specific post.
Don’t Worry About the Hashtags
Don’t clutter your photo description with hashtags. Make it plain. Make it simple. However, hashtags can be important because it will link that photo with any other photo the the same hashtag. But you don’t need it in the description, if you’re going to use them, put them as one of the comments on the picture.
Increase Reach Through Competitions
A successful way to gain new followers or increase awareness of what you are selling people is the idea of running a competition. Essentially you are giving your current followers an incentive for telling their friends about what you do. Here is an example of MVMT watches running a competition.
As you can see the requirement is to tag two friends (possibility of new customers that don’t know about the watches yet) and the also entering your email into their database (giving them an email list of people that have some sort of interest in their products). You don’t always have to give away something this large, but something big enough to make the followers tag their friends and give you their email address. Another requirement many of these competitions do is also share the picture on their own pages. There are many different ways to be creative with this. Try to find your own way.
Okay, you have created the perfect Instagram for you niche. It has the feel, look, and content your target demographic resonates with. Now you want to turn on the flood gates. You’re getting some followers and likes from the hashtags you’re using but not near the growth you want. That’s where utilizing influencers comes in.
Finding and identifying influencers can be a fairly time consuming step. First you have to decide what type of accounts your target demographic follows. Now for some products this is a lot easier than others. If you’re selling workout clothes then it’s pretty safe to assume that most people following a fitness motivation account are in your target demographic. But what if you’re selling a coding course or a luxury car? What type of accounts does your target demographic follow?
Unfortunately Instagram doesn’t make the process of finding accounts like this very easy. They allow you to search by hashtags or “keywords” but there isn’t a way to filter accounts by follower count or photos by the number of likes they have. Obviously the more followers and the higher their interaction per post plays a large role in identifying them as an influencer or not.
I use two different methods to find influencers.
First way: I have to know of at least one influencer already. Go to their profile and to the right of where it says, “Following” click on the arrow that points down and it will show you similar accounts. I will continue doing that until I find a couple accounts to reach out to.
Second way: Google is the key. Go to google and type in, “inurl:instagram.com entrepreneur followers” in this specific example I have the entrepreneur as the keyword I’m searching.
Switch out entrepreneur for whatever you’re searching for. You can continue using google to find profiles, or once you find one use the first method with the drop down menu and let Instagram suggest similar accounts.
Now that you have a list of some accounts with high follower counts in your niche we need to make sure they are worth working with. Visit each account in your list. Once your looking in the account there are a few things you want to pay attention to, first is the account bio. Read through the bio and see if there is a KIK or email address for business inquiries. Next you want to look at their posts as a whole. is this an account your target demographic would follow? How does it correlate with the aesthetic of your own account? Lastly you want to look at a good sample size of their posts individually to get an idea of post engagement. Typically a healthy large account will have a 1% to 2% engagement rate. That’s likes/comments per post divided by followers.
After you view the accounts profile, like the aesthetic, verify engagement, and think it’s a place where your target market is hanging out you’ll want to put the account name and the contact info in a spreadsheet. I also like to create a column for follower count.
From my experience there are two main pricing structures most Instagram influencers use. They both have their pros and cons so I will try to break that down for you.
Shoutout: The account will use its own photo & text to “shoutout” or encourage followers to go follow your account. These are the cheapest options, however the CTA is always to follow your Instagram account and you don’t have the option of a branded image. These work well if you are simply trying to acquire real followers quickly. Allowing you to market to them through your own account later. These usually cost half to one third the price of a custom post.
Custom Post: The account will post an image you supply along with any copy you write, typically for a set time period. Time periods vary by account since it’s all up to who runs it but usually range from 6 hours to 24 hours. After your time period expires the account will delete the custom post from their account. This makes it so their post history is not riddled with ads. Most accounts require the picture or video used in the ad to conform to the theme of the account.
Consistent Engagement Outreach
Inastagram feeds function a little differently than most other social networks. They will only show you content from the people you follow however they show you every post from every person you follow. This is good and bad for business. The good is if you have 10,000 followers and post something, it will show in all 10,000 of those feeds. However the bad part is your content will never show in someone’s feed that doesn’t follow you just because their friend liked or commented on it. This limits some of your natural reach, that means you need to do some natural outreach on your own to really expand your footprint.
Follow, Like, Like, Like
Austen Allred shared a strategy called follow, like, like, like in an article he wrote about using Instagram to generate income. This has turned out to be the most effective way of getting followers, but not just random followers, followers that apply to your specific market. The concept is easy to follow and replicate. Simply start by deciding what your market is, if I was a workout company trying to sell protein then I would go to Instagram and search #fitness. Go into the first picture that you see that you feel would apply to your demographic, then follow that person and like their three most recent pictures. What this does is tell the person not only that there are similar interest but that you searched a little bit of their life and that you enjoyed what you saw. I have read reports of people getting follow backs as close to 25% which of course is out of every 4 people you follow 1 of them follows you back. Once you have manually done this for a time and you have seen it be successful, then you can start looking into automating the whole process. We use the website called *Instagress which allows you to sit back and relax while it does the work for you. Instagress doesn’t do the specific follow, like, like, like, but there are many different ways it lets you set up how you want it to be automated. It can get very close to replicating the process.
* warning:while running a bot you do run the risk of getting your account banned.