One, two, three—connect! Instagram is the ideal marketing channel for your brand since it offers opportunities aplenty for connecting with audiences. Besides being highly targetable, it also provides loyalty, traffic, and growth. Follow a few basic principles to get more followers, and you’ll have Instagram working for you in no time.
The game-changing social app was created in 2010 when founder Kevin Systrom’s wife wanted to find a way to enhance her photos. Instagram was bought by Facebook Meta a few years later for $1 billion. Everyone thought Zuckerburg was making a costly mistake, but it was the best deal he’s ever made.
Instagram generated around $47.6 billion in revenue in 2021, accounting for almost 50 percent of Facebook’s total revenue. Over 500 million Instagram users consult the app daily, making it the domain of a highly engaged audience willing to absorb a multiplicity of content.
And multiplicity is what the app does best. Gone are the days of mega-influencers and their over-the-top price tags. It’s now about meeting the customer where they’re at without the gloss and polish of a pre-Covid world. You’ll find content both mainstream and niche-within-a-niche, with everything from music, fashion, psychology, and even mindfulness filling the grid.
The great thing about Instagram is that as your business grows, so does your Instagram following—and vice versa—making it the perfect tool for maximizing brand awareness. Because Instagram has so many users with varying needs and interests, brands—across various sectors—can find a successful home on the platform. Of course, success doesn't come overnight, but it is a highly efficient way to market your message and connect with potential customers, whether you're an established business, an online store, or an entrepreneur.
Yes, it does take work. You have to keep an active presence on the platform and maintain a consistent routine of posting, ideally once a day. This is exactly what businesses of all sizes do, from Nike to Adidas to Coca-Cola. We've written this guide to show you how to increase your Instagram followers and engagement using honest techniques that won’t get you banned or hacked—producing a following composed of genuine fans and not fake bots. So let's go!
Your Instagram grid is like a tiny billboard for your brand and should ideally capture its essence. People who come across your Instagram page won't follow you because of what you've posted in the past. They will do a super quick vibe check—taking in color, tone, and style—and only hit that follow button if they want what you’re offering.
So check in with your grid page and ask yourself the following questions:
Does it have a consistent theme and a consistent posting schedule?
Are the colors uniform and the design easy to digest?
Is there a variety of content, but not so much variety that someone may think you posted without discernment?
The layout of your grid can portray a sense of rhythm regarding your publishing strategy. When you post on a consistent schedule with a consistent theme and design, this has just as much impact on your Instagram success as many other growth strategies that follow.
Glossier is an example of a brand that has embraced a strong aesthetic on the grid. Notice their pale pink theme, the soft lighting, and the focus on individual beauty. Check out their relatable bio—emphasizing skincare, belonging, and clean and natural beauty. They also have the confidence to use a pale pink color as their profile photo, which we’ll talk about in the next step.
Let's not forget your Instagram bio—the profile photo and those few lines of copy just below. Along with the last five to 10 posts, this is the first impression for viewers.
Not sure what to write? Keep it simple. Think of three words that best describe your brand and go from there. Always try to make it unique and personal. Are the emojis you use on point? Is the language succinct? Engage with present tense language to build focus and momentum. Is there a clickable link that sends people to the same website each time? Do you use something like Linktree to build on click-through activity? Are you offering articles, video and written content, and ideas that stay within the ballpark of your expertise?
Check out the bios across various successful Instagram pages, and you'll see what works.
Instagram Reels are a gold mine for your brand. Why? They’re a great way to build your following. With nearly 90 percent of marketers looking to produce short-form social videos in 2022, video is currently the king of the social media jungle.
You can use Reels to publish content, but there isn't one way to do it. Users and brands work with Reels in various ways, depending on their subject matter and area. You can share Reels both on your feed and also in a part of Instagram known as Explore—this is where new audiences can reach your content without having to follow you.
Making great Instagram Reels is a balancing act. You’ll need to create unique content while also engaging with trends on Tiktok or Instagram that are getting a lot of attention. Rather than simply copying the trends, put your own spin on them. In the best-case scenario, your Reel could become viral and land you new followers.
Take heed, good people: your Reels content must be simple—something people can relate to and learn from. Lower-quality videos don't necessarily perform worse than ones with high production values. Above all else, Reels must be informative, authentic, and entertaining—finding this balance is all a part of the Instagram game.
One way to look at Reels: they are prime real estate for your brand and a great way to discover new followers. You don't necessarily need to sell aggressively on Reels (actually, please don’t). It’s better to share knowledge and information that inspires your followers to engage with your content…. this should ideally lead to conversions.
The Instagram insights tool for Reels is a great resource to work with. With these super responsive analytics tools, you can easily track metrics, checking the data to examine how well your Reels are working for you. You can also use this data to see what your audience like and dislike and what calls-to-action they're hip to engage in.
First impressions. Easy navigation. Easily updated. What's not to love about Instagram Highlights?
Organizing your Stories into Highlights is the best way to convince new visitors to follow you since they provide a glimpse of everything you’re about, while also giving your content a glamorous second life. By peeling back the curtain, you can connect with your followers on a deeper level.
Highlights are the perfect opportunity for you to tell your story so that visitors really discover the essence of your brand. Because the content can be changed or updated, you’re always putting your best foot forward. This is perfect for businesses selling seasonal products, wanting to differentiate the varying look and feel of the merchandise, or for content creators with various offerings and skills.
You can even feature graphic design or text on Highlights, thus further enhancing the visual look of your grid.
With mobile users spending increasingly more time on the apps, video content on social media accounts for the biggest increase in the last few years—the stats are staggering. That’s why cross-promoting your video content is a no-brainer—you're reaching thousands of new people without needing to create content repeatedly. Added extra: you’ll also be increasing brand awareness and growing your audience organically.
One of the best examples of this in recent times is Justin Bieber’s holiday dance challenge in 2020. Bieber posted the same call-out to people on both TikTok and Instagram. The video won 9.8 million likes on TikTok, with Instagram hitting roughly half that. All from pushing the post button twice. So easy.
Companies posting on both Instagram and TikTok find they don't need to use paid media as much as they used to, thus highlighting how truly effective cross-posting content is. The founder of the period brand August—-Nadya Okamato— claims that paid media offers fewer incentives than it used to. “I think the beauty of TikTok is that it cross-pollinates to Instagram and YouTube.” she said. “We don’t believe so strongly in paid media being the answer to everything.”
You can also cross-promote content from Instagram onto YouTube Shorts and Pinterest Stories and vice versa. Take note: Instagram won't highlight Reels with the TikTok watermark. This means you need to make your videos outside of the Tiktok platform—or find a way to remove the TikTok logo—if you want it to be promoted successfully on other platforms.
We’re interrupting regular programming to announce:
Please be real.
A wave of authenticity has taken hold of the social media space in the last few years, resulting in more connection, depth, and honesty. Instagram is even working on a feature—inspired by the app BeReal—that shows what’s happening both in front of and behind the camera at the exact time content is created.
Yes, connecting is key.
Meeting your audience from a place of authenticity is a trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. Connecting with your audience over Reels, Lives, and even comments is great for your business. Essentially you should look at Instagram as a portal to communicate with your customers while avoiding sales talk and cheap selling tactics (that audiences can smell from a mile away).
If you can't afford to pay an expensive celebrity influencer to market your products, it's a great idea to work with smaller brand ambassadors, those with only a few thousand followers.
Remember, keep it authentic.
Traditionally, brand ambassadors have the same values as your company and share a natural affinity with your brand. They should align with your company’s ethos and philosophy and broadcast those values to their audience.
Some of the benefits of partnering with a brand ambassador include increased brand awareness; more qualified website traffic; and an increase in sales and leads. Although it can be challenging to track the efficiency of brand ambassadors, they are a wonderful way to begin spreading your message.
An increasingly popular way to add more followers to your Instagram following is to use your personal Instagram account alongside your business account. In other words, you become the influencer. Your company account provides information about the product, while your personal account gives an up-close-and-personal glimpse into your life, work, and ethos.
Followers love to see day-in-the-life-of content. This works well for Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon. In addition to the brand’s Instagram profile, Bacon gives us plenty of glimpses into her personal life, engaging with her audience, asking them questions, and explaining how she stays healthy.
Bacon invites followers into her home, takes them through her daily health rituals, and even asks followers questions about what topics they want to explore. This level of engagement is a hallmark of wellness accounts on Instagram.
Any pages that curate the best content in a specific area are called Instagram feature accounts; it’s a grass-roots community term used by Instagrammers for accounts that don’t take the actual photos but rather find the images and videos using a hashtag. Instagram feature accounts are known for quality, breadth, and consistency. Some feature accounts have huge numbers, with new Instagram followers sent over daily—so appearing on their feed is a great way to amass a sizable following.
Every niche has feature accounts; art, politics, design, fashion, travel, and others. For example, @passionpassport curates impactful travel content worldwide for 1.2 million followers. Their profile is strong too, so take note.
If you want to grow your following on Instagram, using hashtags is crucial—they can make or break your strategy. Since hashtags make it easy for people to explore a niche area, many people searching for similar themes or products can find you.
So what exactly are the rules for using hashtags? Instagram provides a few guidelines to consider. If you have a private profile, your posts won’t appear publicly on hashtag pages. While you can use numbers in hashtags, you can't use spaces. Also, you can use up to 30 tags on a post, but if you use more than that, your comments won’t post.
Which brings us to the question: how do you choose your hashtags? At the time of this writing, these were the top 20 hashtags on Instagram:
If you are thinking that none of these words suit your brand or product, you've got the right mindset. That’s because using hashtags is one thing, but using the right hashtags is another. You could just go ahead and use popular tags like the ones above, but they likely won't net you long-term engagement or interested new followers. Sure, they may bring additional likes and surface engagement, but that isn't what you're going for.
So if you want to use the right tags for your posts, you need to think long and hard about what they are. Do the appropriate research and ensure the hashtags you want to use are highly searchable on Instagram.
You can also use the Instagram app to search your target words and see what comes up, but this can be time-consuming. Go ahead and look at your competitors’ choice of words and try them. Remember, you can always go back to previous posts and add hashtags—and then watch as the likes come pouring in. Tools like Webstagram can help with this if you're lacking time.
Remember, you can also use hashtags in Instagram stories for an opportunity to court users who follow that hashtag. You never know—your brand could be included in a hashtag story.
By seeking out your competitors' followers, you can access people interested in your niche. So go ahead and engage with these audiences, liking and commenting on their posts as you wish. You can also look at the Instagram ads your competitors’ placed and see what worked for them. Remember, the more work you put in engagement-wise, the more you’ll likely get out of Instagram.
It’s great to grow your Instagram organically, but sometimes you need to shell out for real results. Optimized posting to your account is wonderful, but to increase your Instagram followers, it’s a great idea to engage in some influencer marketing to reach a wider audience.
So what's the best way to pay for sponsored Instagram posts?
Firstly, you’ll list all the sizeable accounts in your particular niche. You could already be following these accounts but if you're not, do so now. Then search for your desired keywords and look for the top accounts that use them (you can also use Webstagram for this).
In the profiles results, you want to find the following:
Accounts with as large a following as possible, around 20,000 to 30,000 people, are key.
An email address is included in the account profile. This means the account is happy to get sponsored post offers.
Now you can inquire about their sponsored post pricing. When deciding how much to pay for a sponsored post, you can start with a formula that charges $10 for every 1000 followers. Usually, it’s around $30 to $50 a post.
You can also send your product to the influencer so they can review it and post about it. If this is done with subtlety and style, the engagement and response can be quite good.
Live video is the most efficient way to use social media for marketing. Instagram Live videos are a great way to hook new followers and build high-intensity engagement. It also humanizes your brand, allowing you to engage with followers on a more meaningful and authentic level.
You can use Instagram Live to launch a product, do a product tutorial, do a Q and A, host a talk show or go behind the scenes.
Some say Live broadcasts are a great way to hack the Instagram algorithm and gain fast attention and engagement. But remember, when you do an Instagram Live, it’s interactive, so you will need to be prepared for viewer comments and questions. Getting the audience to participate is yet another way to cater to people’s longing for connection in the digital world.
These are steps you can take to grow your following on Instagram and gain maximum exposure and interest. Remember, it’s not always a numbers game but rather a challenge to win your potential followers—one that exposes them to your brand authenticity.
Focusing on engagement is the best way to approach Instagram; this will, over time, lead to more conversions and robust revenue streams for your e-commerce business. For more tips on making social media marketing work for you, check out our blog on writing persuasive product descriptions and the e-commerce seller’s ideal photography setup.
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