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Most entrepreneurs agree that real followers and engagement on Instagram are some of the most powerful audiences you can build on social media. I’ve been helping business owners turn their dead Instagram accounts into a multi-million dollar business for a few years now, and I’m starting to get tired of seeing snake oil sellers touting their “Instagram growth secrets.” I think it’s time to put things into perspective when it comes to Instagram growth for businesses.
I’ll tell you this now: there are no secrets. Growing on Instagram simply takes time, patience and hard work. Whether you’re promoting your yoga classes or selling T-shirts, these tips will help launch your Instagram business.
1. Post engaging content
One might think that this is the most obvious step companies take to move forward, but this is where 90% of companies fail. In order to grow properly on Instagram, a business needs to be able to consistently post highly engaging content.
Even if you do not have a large audience at the moment, you should strive to get as many likes and comments as possible for each post. Post engagement is what drives growth on Instagram. Some people think that they can simply post promotional materials and gain their followers in another way – this is not the case.
Here’s the hard reality that Instagram business owners will face: No one wants to see unnecessary promotional material on their feed.
Instagram users want to follow the characters. They want to follow identities. They want to pursue content that offers value. Most companies will struggle to produce a character worth following. If you’re struggling on Instagram, you should rethink your entire content strategy and ask yourself this question: Does my business have a likable identity or is it just a promotional face for my company?
Let’s say you run a coffee shop. It is not enough to post your daily specials. It is not enough to post pictures of your clients. It is not enough to post pictures of your store. That’s what every coffee shop in the world does, and that content probably won’t increase your engagement.
You should try out each type of content and see what attracts the most engagement. Create funny Instagram Reels with your coffee maker. Livestream a latte art tutorial. Run a giveaway where people have to like and comment on your post to win a year of free coffee. If you really want to stand out on Instagram, you will need to create a unique identity by producing highly engaging content. If you notice a piece of content that has received unusually high engagement, try to replicate that success.
The Instagram algorithm only works in your favor when your engagement goes up. When Instagram realizes that your content is getting more attention from your followers, your account will get the exposure it deserves. Your account will then be pushed forward in hashtags, on sites, on similar accounts and on the explore page.
Related: 15 ways to improve your Instagram profile
2. Pursue high quality accounts
Following Instagram accounts strategically is another key to success that is often seen as controversial. Many people have dismissed the idea that the “follow/unfollow” strategy (when you routinely follow and unfollow Instagram accounts in an effort to gain followers) is a valid growth method, but I think it’s incredibly effective when done right.
Most people simply don’t use following/unfollowing strategically. In essence, this method should be used to immediately put your account in front of the people who will support you. Follow/Unfollow method should be used to build a base of attractive followers who will help you push your account into the eyes of more people. Instagram algorithms don’t favor smaller accounts as much as they do other social media platforms (like Tik Tok), so using this strategy to build a core audience can help you grow your account significantly later with your engaging content.
Most people don’t follow/do not follow properly, and I think that’s the reason for their loss of credibility. I personally trained someone who used follow/unfollow to gain a follower base of 10,000 people, and then they turned that number over a million once they posted engaging content.
Finding the right people to follow is the biggest problem people face when implementing this strategy. It’s important to find people who are likely to be interested in your particular type of content. This can be done in different creative ways.
For example, I often work with personal fitness trainers who are very searching for clients. They post good educational content on Instagram, but they don’t seem to gain any new customers in their local area. We will then use a follow/unfollow strategy where we strategically follow members who engage with specific gym locations in their city. This is basically like handing your business card over to the local gym goers, then they instantly check out your Instagram “landing page.” This leads to hundreds of new followers and dozens of new clients for personal trainers.
Follow/Unfollow simply succeed in the field of gaining qualified followers. Sure, you can’t earn 5000 followers per month on following/unfollowing on your own, but you can earn 500 followers per month, this will help you carve out your Instagram space.
Related: 3 Organic Instagram Marketing Strategies That Will Help You Thrive During a Pandemic
3. Be very social
Simply put, Instagram is a social media platform. Rewards social people. If you’re running a business, you have something to offer people – whether it’s a product, your services, or just your expertise – there are plenty of ways to share your value on Instagram. If you leave high-quality comments, send helpful direct messages, and interact with others in your niche (private engagement is important), you’ll likely start gaining followers from your contributions.
If you interact with others, people are more likely to start dealing with you. As I said earlier: Sharing leads to growth. The Instagram algorithm won’t bother you with your credibility to leave really helpful comments on 30 posts every day. If 10 post authors return the favor on your last post, you will likely receive an impression increase. It is a win. You get to help others, and you grow on Instagram.
Related Topics: 5 Ways You Can Turn Your Instagram Account Into A Revenue Generating Machine
Whenever I tell people these steps to growth, I often meet disappointed faces. People often search for the “easy way out” because they are usually convinced that other people must have used some sort of “secret” that explains their rapid growth. And while the secrets of black hat growth that have succeeded in the past are true, most accounts that used these methods ended up facing consequences one way or another.
In the seven years I’ve been doing Instagram marketing, I’ve always seen accounts that refrain from shady tactics succeed in the long run. If you really focus on interacting with others and creating great content, you will also find Instagram success for your business.