With over 800 million active daily users on Instagram, it is no wonder Digital marketers, brands, influencers and content creators are looking at ways to grow their Instagram followings.
In this post, we go through how to gain followers on Instagram, how the Instagram algorithm works and all about Instapods; we myth bust everything you thought you knew about Instagram.
Instagram has been hitting the news lately with its new algorithm updates and the launch of IGTV, it is clearly moving into a more serious platform than just pretty pictures, with business accounts, targetted sponsored posts and links to products, Facebooks pretty baby sister, Instagram is growing up and getting commercial.
Whether you are a business, brand or content creator this opens opportunities for exposure and, of course, getting in front of new customers.
How do I get more followers on Instagram
First things first, to make Instagram work for you, you need followers and the right followers.
- Stick to your niche - post content around a niche, whether it is fashion, travel, photography or even families, to grow a successful following you will have a clear niche
- Build and join communities in your niche - following, commenting and engaging with other accounts in your niche will help grow your Instagram followers
- Log in to Instagram regularly Post and log in and engage on the platform often, leave genuine and interesting comments
- Use a mix of hashtags Use a mix of popular and niche hashtags, include smaller hashtags where you could become a top post as well as the popular hashtags that get a lot of exposure and have large followings
- Collaborations and contests – for quick growth, collaborating with other influencers, brands or content creators in your niche works great, you can also do contests and giveaways but make sure you have a contest that attracts the right audience that will appreciate your content/brand
- Use stories Stories can help you generate views, using hashtags and local pins can help you appear in those stories as well.
- Make the most of your bio – you can use hashtags and creative bios to help attract new followers
- Post engaging captions – an interesting caption and story gets more real engagement than just hashtags and a sentence
- Ask people to follow you - No we don’t mean comment and spam people asking them to follow but on your other social profiles cross promote, you may even coin a hashtag you can cross-promote via facebook, email or in videos.
How does the Instagram Algorithm work?
There are no quick wins with Instagram, Instagram regularly looks for fake accounts, and the algorithm is geared up for engagement metrics, similar to YouTube metrics. You can’t buy a load of likes from Fivrr as these will just be removed over time, and could actually hurt your engagement as they are not real followers, even if it is tempting to get 10,000 followers to unlock that swipe up functionality in stories.
The top metrics Instagram uses
- Engagement Instagram will predict based on your previous activity how you will engage with a post and tries to show you the posts it thinks you will find the most interesting
- Recent - Instagram will try to show you the most recent posts, the more often you log in to Instagram the more likely you will be to see newer posts, they will always prefer to show posts from the past few days to those that are a few weeks old
- Relationship with followers - not just people who are close by or in your contacts, but people you engage with a lot on Instagram, do you always heart someone’s posts and leave a comment, this is a key factor in their posts being shown to you.
In addition to these 3 important signals Instagram tracks your usage very carefully, monitoring how often you open up the app and how you browse will also determine the posts you are shown. For example do you open the app 10 times a day for a few miutes, or do you only log on once a week for an hour searching lots of hashtags and people.
Instagram wants you to spend more time on the app, it is better for advertisers to have you on there, so based on your activity the machine learning algorithm will do it’s best to show you content it thinks you want to see. If you follow a lot of people but don’t engage with them, you will start to see less and less of their posts, if you want to see more of their stuff and them to see your content then you need to interact with them, genuine and interesting comments are the best as well as a heart or 2.
Instagram recently held a press conference where they helped put some of the old instagram myths to bed.
Instagram will not shadowban an account for using too many hashtags, they have confirmed that this is not real, if you keep scrolling you will see them eventually.
Business account Vs Personal account
When business accounts came out many people thought they would get preference for having a business account, then some people thought personal accounts were being prioritised, however neither are better or worse than the other, the benefits of a business account is the analytics, insights and contact features as well as being able to use the sponsored ads platform.
Posting to often
Instagram wants you to upload content, they will not persecute you for posting too frequently, however they will often split your content up if you post in rapid succession.
Prioritising people who use stories
Stories take up some really good ‘eral estate’ at the top of the feed and are great for keeping front of mind, however Instagram will not prioritise any of your feed posts because you are using stories or any other features, such as live or IGTV.
Video does get some preference on certain platforms organically, however, Instagram is machine learning based only on engagement, if you enjoy videos and watch them, you will see more videos in your feed, if you don’t, and always scroll past, you won’t see as many videos.
Instapods are a commonly used technique used to try to gamify the algoritm, Instapods are a network of ‘grammers’ who all like and comment on each others posts, whilst this looks good for engagement if you are an influencer trying to secure a brand deal, the algoeithm is getting smart to it and you can potentially be limiting your reach to other people.
The amount of work involved in a successful instapod with the cooperation of a lot of people is rarely worth the time spent doing it. You can learn more about instapods here.
Making instagram work commercially can be very hard, you need to focus on real engagement and also use all the tools available to convert to enquiries or sales. To find out more about Instagram marketing and other social media strategies get in touch with Falkon Digital today.