How to grow your email subscribers
Marketing & Social
How to get more Instagram followers
by team Holly & Co
Depending on how you approach it, Instagram can offer life-affirming connections with like-minded people who love what you do, or it can feel like an anxiety-inducing popularity contest. And on some days, it can feel like both of these things within the space of a few minutes. Ultimately though, if we flip the question of ‘How do I gain more followers?’ to ‘How can I really help the followers I have?’ we can also up-level our approach. Thinking of it like this makes it less about increasing the figures and more about really reaching out to the people making up the numbers you already have.
Consider Instagram as a community – the stronger the individual bonds you build, the more scope that offers you for growing your base of dedicated followers based on real trust. Those followers who feel a connection with you and your work will be your advocates. Instagram is the perfect platform for offering a glimpse into your world and who you are, if you look at it and think about it through that lens, it takes the emphasis off numbers of likes or focusing too much on the celebrated milestone of hitting 10K followers.
Getting the basics right when using Instagram will help you get into the rhythm of using it in a way that suits you, but which also has it functioning as the wonderful business tool it can be. Read on to see if you’re ticking all the boxes in your usage of the ‘gram to gain followers:
Consistency is key
Make sure you post regularly. Holly posts every morning which means the Holly & Co community knows to look out for it. The Instagram algorithm also looks for regularity. Publishing a few posts in quick succession, for example, may mean fewer people will see them, as the algorithm thinks it’s spam-like and will limit reach. Going back in and editing text will also affect reach, so be sure you’re happy with everything before hitting ‘Share’. If you’ve made an error, sometimes it’s best to delete the original and repost with your corrections.
‘Your voice is unique, your products are unique, and your interests are unique. There may be someone else doing something similar, but they’re not you – your followers will come because your content is not available anywhere else.’
Write a clear bio
Your Instagram bio might not seem like something that needs much attention, but it’s often the first thing on your profile that a potential follower will see. Make it count by using:
- A clear profile photo or brand logo
- A call-to-action (think: a #hashtag to share, a link in bio, contact info)
- Natural language that is on brand
- The blue tick badge that shows you’re verified on IG
- Emojis, which can help break up bio text, just be sure not to overdo it for those in your audience using screen readers.
In short, don’t let your bio go to waste – it can do some real heavy-lifting for your brand.
Hashtags help people discover your posts, but you don’t want overused hashtags and conversely, you don’t want something too niche. Search in Instagram to see how many people have posted under a hashtag and if it’s in the millions be more specific. Choose words or phrases with a few thousand tags that people will be interested in, but which still let you stand out. You can also look at competitors or people you admire who have a similar audience for hashtag inspiration.
Knowing what to post
When thinking about what to post, it’s good to have a vague plan. You don’t want it to be so rigid that there’s no spontaneity or fun, but you also don’t want a scattered approach with little coherence, just for the sake of posting. Here are our top points to remember:
Write from the heart – you’ll probably find that your tone of voice is a bit more relaxed and informal than say, on your website. It’s good for posts to feel like they’re written by a human being rather than a brand. Think about how the content of each post fits into the bigger picture of your story – is it about raw materials, your workspace, how you get inspiration? And of course, create a certain style of your imagery. You don’t want to overthink things and become overly concerned with what your grid looks like as a whole but have in mind a trademark aesthetic that is recognisably yours.
Carve out your niche
You don’t need to please everybody with your posts, and often, when trying to do that, we stretch ourselves thin and end up attracting nobody. Your voice is unique, your products are unique, and your interests are unique. There may be someone else doing something similar, but they’re not you – your followers will come because your content is not available anywhere else.
Make people feel part of a community
Can you give your community or followers a name? This is a great way to create a sense of belonging amongst your followers. You could also come up with a unique hashtag e.g. #FriendsOfHollyAndCo so your community feels part of something bigger.
‘Instagram is really about dialogue, you can’t just post and expect to gain traction instantly. So schedule time to reply to comments and DMs – and of course, enjoy it! This is an invaluable direct link to your customers, their wants and needs, and their feelings about your brand.’
Post with a purpose
Likes are nice but use the ‘so what?’ test. What’s the value in what you’re communicating? Will it motivate customers to find out more? And are you directing them to where they need to go via your Bio or a Linktree? Are you posting information or ideas that people are likely to share? When people share your post or tag someone new into it, you’re going to have far greater reach.
Try out new features
The way that the Instagram algorithms work, means that people who use new features usually get their content prioritised. Being an early adopter can help you be discovered.
Engage by using captions
People follow accounts because they want to engage in some way, shape or form. That means you need to inject some creativity into your Instagram captions. For example, consider these caption formats to encourage responses from followers rather than simply likes:
- Question-based posts
- Recommendation requests
- Personal stories
- Tag-a-friend posts
- Photo-sharing posts
From questions to humour, using captions effectively is a great way to encourage interaction with your posts.
How to retain your existing followers
It’s perfectly normal to lose followers and unfortunately, there are a lot of fake and spam accounts which Instagram routinely deletes (even more reason why we want to focus on quality not quantity). You’ve probably also noticed that some accounts follow you with sole intention of getting you to follow back, before unceremoniously dropping you! These are things we don’t have control over, but you can help keep your numbers up by posting good quality content every day at the same time and then genuinely engaging with your followers.
Initiate conversations and respond to comments
Instagram is really about dialogue, you can’t just post and expect to gain traction instantly. So schedule time to reply to comments and DMs – and of course, enjoy it! This is an invaluable direct link to your customers, their wants and needs, and their feelings about your brand. Follow people who you think will be interested in what you do, whether as customers or creative allies, and engage with their posts.
Promote your Instagram everywhere
Remind your mailing list that you’re on Instagram by linking via your emails. Don’t forget to tell people in your shop about your Instagram – perhaps they can see new stock there first? You could even make a social media business card that customers can take with them and which you can drop into orders. It’s also a good idea to include your handle on your packaging – a custom rubber stamp is all it takes – and encourage people to share images of their new product on their Instagram (tagging you of course!).
Inspired? Get planning those posts and remember, always take the opportunity to promote your account! And of course we practise what we preach so…if you enjoyed this article or learnt something new, why not share it via Instagram? Tag @hollytucker and @holly.co to share the love.
Images: ‘Instagram Feed’ bottles – Vinegar and Brown Paper.
Top Tips from an Instagram Insider
Holly spoke to Gord Ray, Brand Development Lead at Instagram, to debunk some myths, find out where to stay up to date with the latest features and get some top tips for small businesses using the platform.