Building A Following on Instagram
Instagram is far from a fad. The platform has grown to over 400 million monthly active users, with no signs of slowing down.
Instagram taps into our endless craving for visual stimuli and plays on our short attention span. When used well, it can serve as a highly-targeted advertising platform for your products and brand. With sky-high user- engagement levels, there's never been a better time for businesses to jump on board.
In this article, we will go through the best ways to build a targeted Instagram following.
Tip #1: Get your hashtag on!
Hashtags are ingrained within the Instagram community. While some can be cringe-worthy, and others irrelevant, hashtags are without a doubt the best way to build a targeted following.
Hashtags categorise content and allow your business to be found by like-minded people who are not currently following you.
The platform permits 30 hashtags per post, and there appears to be no exact saturation point. However, recent research suggests that eleven hashtags per post are the optimum number for maximising engagement. While it’s great to get hashtag crazy, this leads onto our second tip...
Tip #2: Choose your Hashtags Carefully
Popular hashtags will lead to more likes and comments. However, using irrelevant hashtags simply because they’re popular, will not. This is more likely to damage your brand and repel organic followers. You may see a small spike in engagement, but your new followers won’t convert to sales.
Instead, commit your time to finding relevant hashtags that embody your brand and relate to your audience. The best way to do this with good old fashioned research. Check out your competitors and influencers in your market to see what hashtags they are using.
Programs, including our own BabbleHub platform, can help you analyse which hashtags are getting the most traction, and which ones you should avoid. Just remember, hashtags go in and out of fashion, so make sure you revisit your research on a regular basis.
Tip #3: Time your posts
Often, the difference between a post with single-digit likes, and the kind that make your head spin, is timing. Instagram announced last year that they would be changing their chronological feed, with a new algorithm that gives priority to engagement. This means that the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see it!
Timing your posts is, therefore, crucial in boosting engagement with your audience and appearing at the top of your users’ feed.
Research into optimal posting times found that the best times for maximum engagement on Instagram are out-of-work hours. This is lunchtime (between 11am-1pm) and in the evening (between 7-9pm). Weekends are hit and miss for many businesses, but this is highly dependent on your type of audience.
The easiest way to discover your best times to post is to experiment. Post at different times of the day, track your likes/ comments and analyse your results. Various programs incorporate advanced scheduling heuristics, including BabbleHub.
Tip #4: Optimise your filters
Instagram is a visual medium. So, it should come as no surprise, that photo filters affect engagement. While content and quality are important, the filter you choose can make or break your post. A study conducted by Canva recently analysed over 1 million Instagram posts to determine the most popular filters worldwide.
The results were surprising, with Clarendon the most liked filter across all categories. The filter, which turns bland to dazzling, achieved the greatest likes across 119 countries. Why? This is most likely because it brightens, highlights and accentuates colour.
Juno came in second place, being the preferred filter in four countries. Juno intensifies warm tones, injects green tones, and makes whites brighter. Valencia and Sierra drew for third place, and both infuse creamy tones for a more delicate vintage feel. The study by Canva also looked into the most popular filter within different categories including as nature, fashion, food and selfies.
But every account is unique. And the best way to choose filters is to monitor how your audience react. An Instagram analysis tool can be helpful to evaluate the effectiveness of filters on your account.
Tip #5: Share user generated content
User-generated content (UGC) can grow your account significantly. UGC is effectively taking content created by other users and sharing it on your own social account, with full credit provided to the creator.
Incorporating user-generated content can help you build a loyal and engaged community. It allows for users to connect on a more personal level, and can help your brand craft an authentic story. According to research, millennials trust user generated content 50% more than other types of media, as the content is produced with virtually no commercial angle and therefore much more genuine.
But where do you start with UGC? Begin by analysing your business and how you want to be portrayed online. Choose content that fits in with your story and takes your followers on a visual journey. Branded hashtags and contests/ giveaways are a great place to start creating UGC that aligns with your goals.
This post outlined some of the most effective ways to build your Instagram following. However, this is only the beginning. Having a large following doesn't always lead to successful branding and more sales. As with any social media strategy, authentic relationships and hard work win every time.