A strong Instagram following is important, but there is a right way and a wrong way to build one. There’s more at stake than just follower numbers, including brand awareness and engagement. How can you speed up your Instagram growth without paying for followers (which you never want to do)?
A Reminder: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Instagram Followers
When you are just starting out or in the middle of a social media push, it’s tempting to purchase lists of followers. However, it’s almost never worth doing so. For one thing, artificially collecting followers (or engagement) is against the Instagram Community Guidelines. Generally speaking, buying followers can get your account banned. Just as important, though, is the fact that fake followers won’t help engagement or other goals you have for Instagram. They are unlikely to engage with your firm or use your services, so it’s basically pointless to market to them. Plus, having a large follower number where several people don’t interact with your content will drag down your engagement metrics, which isn’t helpful for optimizing. The bottom line: just don’t do it.
13 Steps for Growing Your Instagram Audience Organically
If you can’t buy followers and you’re new to Instagram, then what should you do? Luckily, there are several tactics that you can employ to make the most of Instagram and grow your follower numbers.
1. Enhance your profile visibility. Before you dive too deep into posting, you need to make sure your profile is optimized. This will help it appear in search and can also inspire new followers. Understandably, an incomplete profile isn’t likely to attract many followers. Review your brand name, a tagline or description, and keywords. Use the bio to add more keyword-related information that people may be searching for. The bio is also a good place to add social proof like client testimonials. Make sure to add branded hashtags to help users find more of your content.
2. Create a series of introductory posts. Begin by creating content that will resonate with your target audience and encourage them to follow you. If you’re just starting out, create a series of introductory posts to publish right away. Introduce your firm, your services, and your staff. At this point, don’t worry too much about timing, just publish during business hours.
3. Add relevant hashtags. Hashtags can help with visibility and getting your brand on peoples’ radar. They add context to your posts and ensure content gets delivered to more people. When you add hashtags, your posts and reels are more likely to appear in related hashtag feeds. Use three to five hashtags (no more) for each post, and make sure to include a branded one.
4. Use Geotags for content. A local audience is important for law firms, and Instagram geotags can help put you on the map for potential clients. Research local geotags by performing a search on Instagram. Geotags are particularly important for events or other location-specific posts.
5. Develop a recognizable aesthetic. The grid still matters on Instagram, even with the popularity of reels and stories. Sticking to a common color scheme or theme will always be in style. The more recognizable your brand is, the more likely it is to stand out in a busy feed. Be intentional with the overall tone, color schemes, fonts, and filters to use for your content.
6. Include compelling CTAs. People need to know what to do next if they enjoy your content. Make sure they have a prompt. Include (CTAs) in captions, creatives, and copy to encourage viewers to follow your account. Bonus points for including a good reason to follow, like lives from your founder or special event invitations.
7. Drive traffic from other sources. Do you already have a presence on other marketing channels? Help them to work together to drive more traffic. For instance, provide a link to your Instagram account on Facebook or in your email signature. Again, include a compelling reason why people should follow, like access to premium content.
8. Create more content that engages. If you create content consistently, then you should be able to access data about what is resonating with people. Use your Instagram insights to figure out what’s working best. Instagram insights will show you how many followers your account gained for every story and feed post you publish. Review your metrics to see how your posts attract followers and then create more of that type of content.
9. Respond to follower engagement. If you don’t pay attention to people engaging, they’ll soon stop. When users take the time to interact with your content, make sure you take the time to respond. The more engagement you get, the more you can grow your audience. It’s a cycle that you should try to continue. Time is always limited, so be strategic with responses. You can always set up saved replies so that you can copy and paste them later if needed (but don’t make this too obvious – there should be variations in responses).
10. Be more proactive about engagement. While you wait for engagement to start happening organically, make sure to interact with other content. Engage with other content creators in your niche in meaningful ways, like asking a follow-up question or adding a thoughtful comment to a post. To streamline these efforts, create a list of content creators that you want to follow and add them to your favorites list so you see them regularly.
11. Collaborate with complementary partners. It never hurts to partner with more established brands in order to reach new eyes. Ask around about creating collaborative content such as a co-branded contest, or a case study featuring both companies. You can use the app’s “Collab” tool to automatically display content on both brands’ feeds, which will increase your reach significantly.
12. Give influencers a try. Thought leaders in your industry can be ideal for partnerships. Look for people whose audience aligns with yours. You can use Instagram’s search function or third-party influencer marketing platforms to seek out other creators in your niche. Engage with their content authentically and then reach out to begin building a relationship.
13. Run Instagram ads for more reach. All the steps we’ve covered so far are no-cost. However, if you have an advertising budget, you can take things a step further. One of the easiest options is to use Instagram’s in-app “Boost” tool to encourage people to visit your profile and hopefully follow your account. That being said, this shouldn’t be your first (or only) step toward building an audience. Try to build a following before doing this, because while an ad may get someone’s attention, if they visit your profile and don’t see much action, they’re unlikely to follow you. The best plan is to begin building your audience organically and then supplement it with targeted ads.
A good number to shoot for when you’re starting out is 1,000 followers. That won’t happen overnight, but with proactive and thoughtful time spent on Instagram, you can build an engaged audience organically. Keep serving content that is relevant and interesting, and your following will grow over time. Don’t have time to wait? Reach out to us about maximizing your reach and engagement on social media in the shortest amount of time possible. Contact us today to get started.