Why follower "hacks" don't work
The days of taking shortcuts to grow your Instagram (like buying followers or using bots) are over. These tricks may boost your follower count visually, but they won't do you any favors in the long run. That's because the only valuable followers on Instagram are real people who care about your brand and interact with it. A fake follower may boost your ego, but it won't help your Instagram strategy.
Monetization and true influence stem from an engaged community. Bots won't get you there. You need a real and interested audience. To help you get more engaged followers and increase engagement on your Instagram account, here are some tips that you can apply today:
Optimize your Instagram bio and profile picture.
Your profile should instantly reflect your brand. You want people to view your brand as something you take pride in, so your profile must show it. Your bio matters, it is your statement of purpose, and potential followers and brands are deciding immediately yes or no on you due to it, does it align with who they are and who they are trying to reach, and then they look at your overall feed.
Your bio should evoke curiosity and inspire people to want to know more about your content.
Most users only take a few seconds to scan your bio and photos before deciding whether or not they should follow you, so your bio has to sell you on the spot.
Writing a compelling bio takes place in 4 short, simple steps.
1. Upload a clear image of yourself as your profile picture
Make sure it is a high-quality and welcoming image. We don't want to give scrubby first impressions.
2. Include a description of yourself
The best Instagram bios include a clear self-description. Consider including your job title, the company you own, some claims to fame, and what makes you stand out.
3. Share your brand value proposition you created
People need to understand the specific topics your account will focus on, what is your niche: for example: nature photography, health and fitness, LA foodie.
4. Share your contact information
Provide your contact email so that brands know exactly where to reach you. It seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don’t do it. Be certain that you take advantage of all the information Instagram allows you to share in your bio. Give people what they need to know enough about you to want to engage with you. Whether it be by email or DM, let them know how you prefer to be contacted.
5. Add a strong call to action
Tell people exactly what you want them to do to further your success. You will dramatically increase the number of engaged followers you gain by having a clear call-to-action. What do you want people to do when they come to your page? "Follow me for XYZ", "Sign up for ABC from me"
The greatest call to action will always be taking advantage of the link box. You can direct people to subscribe to your blog, send traffic to a linktree, lead traffic to your new YouTube Video, your website, your email subscription lead form.
Simple put, don’t guess. Look at your profiles in your niche that are growing. That is your competition. What are they doing? What do they say, what emotions do they evoke? What is their call-to-action? Draw inspiration from their success. Having an optimized bio is so important due to the IG Search Optimization feature. It would be best if you were searchable, so have as many niche-related keywords that speak to brands and potential new followers as possible in your bio.
Ask yourself some questions about who you are trying to reach.
Reaching an audience requires you to know WHO your audience is. Your audience is four core groups of people you should pay attention to:
- Your real audience - the audience you’re serving right now
- Your ideal audience - the audience that is specific to your chosen niche
- Your heroes - competitors within your niche who are excelling
- Your niche-related allies - related accounts and micro-influencers within your niche that are around the same following
These categories of people you need to take time to get to know thoroughly and define the following:
- What do they define themselves as? Labels they use.
- What results do they want?
- What solutions can you offer?
- What do they want to experience?
- What accounts do they follow?
- What hashtags do they use?
- Where do they go / what geolocations do they tag?
- What brands do they love/use?
- What brands do the post about?
It’s more about the authority you build with your audience than the size you have in order for you to build a successful influencer career. So it's really important to know them. Outside of your own personal research, conduct surveys within your audience. Once you figure out the answers to these questions, you can better tailor your Instagram content to that audience.
Be creative and attract attention with Stories
The first step to standing out on Instagram Stories is to be yourself. Be authentic and genuine, and your audience will appreciate it. Secondly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different content formats. Try something new and see what works for you. You could even try a mix of both static and moving content to keep things interesting. Make sure your stories are well-lit and visually appealing. No one wants to watch a dark and blurry story!
Use creative visuals
With over 500 million daily active users, there’s a lot of content competing for people’s attention on Instagram. So how do you make sure your Stories stand out? By using creative visuals, of course! Think outside the box and experiment with different types of content, like Boomerangs, photos with fun filters or effects, and even mini videos. Be creative and have fun with it!
Use calls to action
Calls to action (or CTAs) are a great way to engage with your audience and get them involved in your story. For example, you could ask people to swipe up to learn more about a product or service or use poll stickers to gather feedback from your followers.
Including CTAs in your stories can encourage people to take action and further engage with your brand. Just make sure not to go overboard – no one likes being bombarded with too many CTAs, keep people on the platform for as long as you can. It will increase your engagement rate!
Take advantage of story highlights.
If you want people to be able to easily find and watch your old Stories (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), then you need to take advantage of story highlights.
Story highlights are basically a way of grouping together old Stories so they’re easy for people to find and view. You can create highlight groups around any topic or theme, making them a great way to showcase different aspects of your brand or personality.
Plus, they help give your profile a more polished look overall.
Leaving space for the moment
We are certainly fans of scheduling out your core content for the week. You could create a story upload schedule with a different category for each day that repeats weekly.
However, you should also allow yourself time and space to come up with stories that are inspired by the current moment you’re living in. Creativity, consistency, and building community are your priority.
Create a stunning Instagram grid
Instagram rewards visually pleasing photos and videos. When it comes to your picture feed, you want it to look great even at first glance. Some Instagram users follow a strict color scheme, and some do not. Whichever you choose to do, you want to make your feed look pleasant and is consistent with your niche. What do you like that is working for growing creators in your niche?
When new users visit your profile, the content should make them want to see more. That "wanting more" inspires a new visitor to click "follow" and even “turn on profile notifications”.
Use hashtags that you've researched
Hashtags are not dead. Hashtags are great for local targeting, but they aren’t a main form of growth anymore, although they can still be helpful for additional reach. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn't mean you should cram those 30 in. Focus on using high-quality, well-viewed, niche-specific hashtags.
Specifically for Instagram, 3-5 hashtags is recommended from the @creators account, however, @instagram recommends 8-15.
Overall what we’ve seen work is - Less is more - using all 30 hashtags is confusing to the algorithm because they will be closely aligned.
It’s like going to a job interview and telling the hiring manager the 30 reasons why they should hire you; no, you want to give them 3-5 of the best reasons why. Those they will remember and those they can develop a thorough analysis of you.
Hashtags are not always consistent, you have to determine what works for your account. Hashtags aren’t ever going to hurt your account if you're using them wisely. So for some people, they will see the most engagement with 3-5 hashtags, some niches see more success with 15 hashtags and some might max out on 30 and get the best results.
You want to use hashtags that still hold day-to-day discoverability - so they do not have excessive competition but still hold solid viewership. Research hashtags that are specific to your overall niche and the content you’re posting that have 25,000 - 50,000K views
Don’t stress, do what creates the most engagement and growth for your account. Focus on producing quality content, engaging content, and educational and fun topics.
This means you must be consistently testing to achieve your personal ideal hashtag number for your account. There is no exact science to hashtags anymore. It's all about personalized success with hashtags now.
You can put them in the comments or at the bottom of your post. We have found it doesn’t affect your reach negatively or positively where you place them.
It is simply your preference and personal testing for your account at this point on the gram. Just ensure you don't use oversaturated hashtags, as your chances of getting discovered through them are much slimmer.
Analyze your followers, current and lost
A fundamental element of Instagram growth is understanding who follows and unfollows you. This information tells you what's working, what definitely isn't, and what needs to improve.
Suppose you want to target music enthusiasts, but you are getting sports fanatics as followers instead. In that case, you are probably not conveying the message you want to send. Analyze your reach as much as you can and adjust accordingly.
Post at the right time
The question of when to post is somewhat controversial. Some people will tell you an exact formula, and some gurus say posting time doesn't really matter. However, the best time to post for you is when the highest percentage of your followers are online and engaging.
To figure this out, you need to check your professional dashboard within Instagram and track your engagement. Take notes on which posts do the best. What time did you upload it? Experiment with those times and zero in on the best times for your unique page and audience.
If you take nothing more away from this post other than realizing you should NOT buy followers and likes, we have done our job. Fake followers will only hurt your Instagram in the long run.
The bottom line is that it takes time, experimentation, and consistency to grow an Instagram follower organically, but it is possible! Start by consistently implementing the tips we covered today, and see how your account progresses.
And don't forget to pick up a copy of our book, The Micro-Influencer’s Brand Partnership Bible – it will teach you everything you need to know about working with brands and creating successful partnerships. Thanks for learning!