5 easy ways to boost your Instagram following

With more than a billion users worldwide and over 500 million using the platform daily, Instagram is a force to be reckoned with. And as the social media platform continues to roll out ad and business tools, it’s changing the way brands interact with their customers.

According to Instagram Business, there are currently over 25 million business profiles worldwide on Instagram, and over two million advertisers.

A recent study has shown that brands get three times more engagement on Instagram as compared to Facebook. More than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily. Also, 60% of people have reported that they discover new products on Instagram and 72% say they have purchased a product after viewing it on the platform.

With these impressive stats, it’s clear that businesses big and small, have much to gain from Instagram. Here are five easy ways to boost your Instagram following.

#1 Come up with creative hashtags
When it comes to Instagram, hashtags are a must. Niche-specific hashtags make your posts discoverable to people searching for content related to your brand or industry, which increases your exposure and followers.

Beyond one-word hashtags, you should also mix it up and use hashtags to tell part of your story. The key is to be funny, witty or even outrageous. A great example of creative hashtagging is tungstenfrenchie.

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That said, be careful not to go overboard. Too many hashtags distract your audience, dilute your message and can make you appear desperate. Most importantly, don’t use hashtag gimmicks such as #likeforlike, #tagsforlikes, or #followme.

#2 Cross-promote your Instagram account
If you want to gain more Instagram followers, you need to promote your account in as many places as possible. Share a link to your Instagram profile and posts on your other social media accounts and all your online communication tools such as your website, blogs, email signature and online newsletters.

Promotion can also be done offline. Print your Instagram ID on your receipts, print ads, flyers, business cards, or even your product packaging and store signages.    

#3 Use Instagram analytics tools
Instagram analytics tools such as Instagram Insights, Iconosquare and Keyhole provide you with key information on your followers. Besides data on post impressions, reach, clickthrough rates and engagement, you can also get insights on follower demographics such as gender, location and age.

Depending on your conversion and engagement goals, reviewing this information on a regular basis enables you to adjust your content strategy so you’re always pushing out relevant content that appeals to your target audience. The higher the engagement, the more followers you’ll get.

#4 Encourage customers to share their photos
Getting followers on Instagram is a lot easier with customer photos in your feed. That’s because it adds social proof. More importantly, user-generated content (UGC) has been proven to be extremely effective in driving engagement.

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A study of 1,000 US shoppers by TurnTo Networks found that 61% of respondents reported that UGC encourages them to engage with brands, with almost two-thirds believing that UGC creates a more authentic shopping experience.

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Likewise, you can encourage your customers to share their shopping experience by enticing them with shopping vouchers. This not only provides good brand endorsement but also encourage repeat purchase. When other customers see customer photos on your Instagram, they will be inspired to take their own and tag your Instagram account to share their experiences. If you comment on or repost their content and follow them, chances are they’ll also follow you back.

#5 Work towards Instagram verification
Businesses have much to gain from the coveted blue checkmark. Being verified on Instagram offers instant credibility and assures users that your account is authentic. More importantly, it establishes your presence as a globally recognised brand.

While the Instagram verification process can be tedious, the long-term benefits far outweigh the hassle. Verified profiles also appear at the top of search results and suggested accounts.

Finally, do keep in mind that while growing your followers for brand exposure is crucial, it is more important to try and convert those followers into customers. And the only way to achieve that is by building lasting engagement through relevant and authentic content.

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