We all know that Instagram isn’t just a social app for pretty pictures anymore. When used properly, it can be an extremely valuable tool for your business. So I’ve gathered allllllll the growth hacks – that I’ve tested and continue to use myself – in a single place to help you uplevel your IG game. Let’s dive right in.
1. Know your audience
If you’re speaking to everybody, you’re speaking to nobody. So you have to understand who you’re targeting in order to post content relevant to them.
Those who are starting at ground zero have the benefit of deciding who their target audience is from day one and creating content that applies directly to them. And if you’ve already acquired an audience on the ‘gram, take a peak into the analytics and see who follows you! From there you can create a buyer persona and optimize your content to fit their interests.
2. Post regularly
If your brand is going to be top-of-mind for your customers, it has to be consistently seen. Which means you have to consistently show up and post regularly.
And with the help of content calendars and planning apps (aka my best friends), “not having enough content” is not an excuse! Stock up on photos one month and schedule them for the next. This way you’re ahead of the curve and avoid any Instagram dry spells.
Pro tip: You can even check the analytics and see what day of the week and time of the day most your followers are online and schedule your posts to go out then.
3. Choose your style, and stick to it
Someone who comes across your profile will judge it within the first ten seconds of looking at it. Those first nine squares make an immediate impression on the viewer, so it’s important that your overall Instagram feed packs a punch. Here are some ways to keep those individual squares part of the larger picture and captivate your audience with a cohesive feed:
Use a preset to keep the editing style consistent
Only post photos/graphics within your color scheme
Use branded templates
Implement a pattern in your feed (i.e. every other post is a quote)
4. Engage often and engage well
More important than gaining followers is building a community. You don’t just want high numbers, you want an active audience that shares your values and takes interest in your message. And to attract that high quality tribe, you have to give before you get. There are plenty of ways you can interact on Instagram to both increase your own exposure and start to build relationships – but there’s one rule. Your interaction has to be genuine.
Here are some ideas:
Going to the profile of your followers and liking some of their posts that catch your eye
Leaving thoughtful comments on photos that stand out to you
Liking comments left on your photos
Taking the time to reply to questions or especially meaningful comments on your photos
Reaching out via direct message
Re-posting to your stories
Searching and following accounts in your niche that you find inspiring or educational
Turning on post notifications for your favorite accounts and being one of the first one to interact
Pro tip: try scheduling time in your day to sit down and engage. There’s no shame in being intentional about it!
5. Consider your captions
I always preach that your humanity is what’s going to sell your audience on you. Your unique personality is your differentiator. Hopefully you’ll be able to express your value through the content you post, but Instagram also allows you to express it in words by adding a caption to your post. I highly recommend you take advantage of this. Explain the moment the photo was capture, what it means to you, the behind-the-scenes. Or maybe you offer advice or information relevant to the post.
‘Pro tip: Try including a call-to-action in the caption, like “comment if you’ve done this too” or “would love to hear your thoughts” to increase engagement.
6. Tag, tag, tag!
If your content features other brands you’d like a relationship with, tag them! Not only does it increase the chances that they’ll see your photo (and possibly re-share or reach out to collaborate) but it’s also valuable for your audience, in case they were wondering where you got that phone case or what hotel you were staying at.
Pro tip: Arrange your tags neatly so they don’t clutter your photo.
7. Choose your hashtags carefully
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post, but make sure you’re switching them up! I recommend doing some research and making a list of all the relevant hashtags so that you can simply copy & paste the 20 most relevant ones in the comments of your new post. The other 10 should be specific to the photo (location, outfit, activity-specific hashtags).
Also be sure to pick hashtags that aren’t overly-saturated. You want something popular, but not so popular that your post never has a chance of making it to the top. So for example, instead of using #business (that has 67,825,837 posts associated with it) try #contentmarketing instead (3,439,697 posts).
Pro tip: Just as you should be using hashtags for every post, also make sure you’re including a location for every post! We’re taking advantage of every feature that can help us get discovered.
8. Don’t sleep on stories
Stories are your friend, not your faux! Because they aren’t pinned to your permanent feed (unless you want to use the highlight feature), you have a bit more flexibility with the content you post here.
My favorite way to use stories is to show my face and allow my audience to see that there’s a real human behind the biz. But you can also share behind-the-scenes snippets, inspiration, polls & questions…the possibilities are endless!
9. Be conscious of your impact & the brands you work with
With social media comes an audience and with an audience comes responsibility. It’s your decision what to post, but I want to make sure you’re aware of the impact you can have now that you have a platform.
Are the clothes you’re promoting sustainably sourced?
Is the location you’re sharing going to be overrun and littered by tourists wanting to capture the same shot?
Does the brand you’re promoting share the same values you do?
This aspect of Instagram is often overlooked, but more important than ever. Please remember to shop (and influence) responsibly 🙂
Don’t focus on the numbers, focus on the value you’re bringing to your audience. This might be one of the most important hacks of all. You are not your following account.