If you sit with your Instagram account and hope it will grow engaged followers by itself, you will wait for a long time.
Looking at the statistic, 30% of Internet users are on Instagram. This platform has the highest level of engagement for brands, with 2-7% percent of users interacting with each post. It may seem like you just need to jump in and post the beautiful pictures, but in fact, it still takes an effort to build your followings.
There are plenty of tips on Internet how to grow an Instagram account. However, many of them work with bigger accounts and won’t work well with a few hundreds of followers.
The first thousand of followers on any social media is usually the hardest one because people are barely paying attention to the small accounts.
Most people who follow you there are usually your friends. That’s fine if it’s your personal account, but for growing your business or personal brand that’s not enough.
You can buy followers, but those are just numbers, and they are useless with the new Instagram algorithm. Now the engagement with the pictures is way more important than a number of followers.
In this article, we’ll go step-by-step how you will get your first 1000 engaged followers on Instagram.
1. Complete your BIO
There are two parts what you can take advantage of when you create your profile:
- Your Username.
- Your Name.
They both can appear in the Instagram search result. In this case, if you create a brand around your name, then your Username should be your name.
For your business pages – it’s the name of your business or if you create the thematic account, include the keyword there so it will be searchable.
For the Name field, include your keyword there too: something, which briefly describes your business or your target audience.
There is no need to double-write your name in the Name field, but you can do it if you like and still add 1-2 keywords for your business.
The rest of your BIO isn’t searchable. However, give the introduction to who you are and what you do, so people will get to know you more through it.
2. Connect to your friends
Follow people who you know. Search through your Facebook and Contact list. They will get the notification about your follow and may follow you back. They are your first followers.
Turn your followers into clients
Don’t forget the ultimate goal of all your Instagram content:
To turn your followers into paying clients.
Make it easy for followers who are ready to book you to do just that. Just add a link in your Instagram bio that connects to your HoneyBook contact form. When a follower hits submit, they’re automatically funneled into your HoneyBook pipeline so you never lose track of a lead again. Best of all, you can set up an automation to respond to your inquiry ASAP (and even send out follow-up emails if they don’t respond!)
3. Look for your audience
From the beginning, describe your potential audience for yourself (create an avatar).
Then, look for other accounts, which serves your audience. Not your competitors. But those who focused in their posts on people who you want to attract.
If you are a designer of kid’s clothes, then accounts for moms, kid’s training centers, kid’s events, or other kid’s fashion accounts may fit your audience criteria.
If you are a fitness trainer, then fitness centers, sports stores, healthy lifestyle account in your area may have the audience you need.
Find the accounts, which post on a regular basis and have a good engagement with their content.
Create a list of such accounts for your brand and then start engaging.
Go to their profile. Comment on their posts. Follow their followers and interact with those new people. You need to get their attention and get connected before they will be willing to buy from you.
4. Communication is the key
Do you know that you see only 30% of the content of people who you follow? So don’t follow more people than you are following.
The same for your followers, they also see only some content of people who they follow. The key point here is to start communicating with people, so they will check your feed, follow you and keep engaging.
The more people engage with your post, the higher it appears in their feed.
Your posts are also competing with each other. This way, the post, which got more engagement, shows first than the one with the less engagement.
5. Post the content interesting to your audience
Testing the variety of posts on different small business accounts, I found that besides of just posting the product picture there are several other types of posts work well:
- Before/after posts in service or work cases.
- Sharing your client’s stories about using your service or product. Whenever you have a chance, tell the story about them.
- Testimonials. Don’t be shy to ask about it or if they post something on social media ask if you can share it on your Instagram too. Every time you want to share someone’s experience, ask for the permission. Most of the time people won’t mind, but if they don’t want it, then you will avoid the unnecessary problems.
- Educational posts about your product or service. Sometimes people don’t know what else they can get or how to use stuff better.
- Including questions or call-to-action to the post can increase the engagement.
- The quotes, which are relevant to your business message. If your company focuses on the service or product, then a lot of quotes look like a spam and will get a low number of likes and comments, but posting it from time to time give some further engagement.
- Implement the branded hashtag and encourage the followers to use them in the capture so they will have the chance to get featured on your account.
- Sharing behind the scene photos or videos showing the process of your work.
Treat your social media as the high-standard online edition. Every time before you tap the ‘Post’ button ask yourself if it fits your social media ‘magazine’ and would you engage with this post? Is this worth to share? If the answer is ‘No’ or you doubt if you would engage with the post, then the post is weak.
6. Be consistent
Be consistent in your posting even if it will be just a few times per week. Pick the comfortable schedule for yourself. Don’t try to run a marathon from the first day or you will get burned out fast.
Once you got used to your optimal schedule, you can post more. When you post regularly, you consistently get to your follower’s radar, so they always remember about you.
When you don’t post for a while, you stop showing up on the people’s feed and even if you will start posting again you may lose the connection with some followers, as you won’t get to that 30 % of people’s posts they see.
7. Start a conversation
If you engage with your followers, start writing a simple open-ended question in the post. Ask them about something.
From the beginning most likely they won’t write anything. However, keep doing that even if it looks like you are talking to yourself for now.
The important part is if you want people to start the communication on your feed, go to them first and comment on their feed for a period of time with the proper comments.
Yes, it’s time-consuming. But when you do that, you will see that people start replying your questions too and the interaction with your other posts will grow.
Till you involve people to the conversation with you, posts with the open-ended question, ‘tag the person,’ ‘fill in the blank’ will get the minimum to zero effect with the low level of engagement.
8. Use the right hashtags
Hashtags help you to be discovered by other people. On Instagram, you can add up to 30 hashtags. Use many or all of them.
Search for relevant hashtags for the topic(s) you post.
Then, create the lists of them for each subject you post about. Pick those, which has a number of images about 500,000 or less. Those search results update is slower. You can also add 1-3 top hashtags to get the ‘quick’ engagement for the post for the first few minutes.
Save them in the phone app. When you publish the picture, just copy and paste them to the capture or the first comment.
9. Get to the Instagram Search Top Results
You can get more exposure and followers when you get to the Instagram top posts for the certain hashtags. This is the area at the top of the Instagram search result with only 9 specially selected pictures.
While Instagram doesn’t tell you the algorithm of choosing pictures for the top, there is something you can do.
The point is to get more engagement with your post within 1-2 hours after it got published and better from the accounts with the big followings.
Here are more tips:
– Post at the time when more of your followers online. If you have a business account, then check your statistic.
If no, then look at your posts, at what time people engaged more with your account.
– Prepare the high-quality image, which will fit your niche. Well, that’s actually what you should always do on your account.
– Pick the hashtags relevant to your niche. They shouldn’t be too popular. The more popular it is, the harder to get to the top if your account isn’t big yet.
– If your picture has other people or brands on it, tag them. They get the notification about your post, and there is a possibility that they will engage with it too.
– It’s good to have the relationship with the bigger accounts. If you don’t have any, start interacting with them. The perfect result is when they follow you and begin like and comment on your posts. When the accounts with a large number of followers engage with your picture, then you get more chances to get to the top.
– Then post your image and track the results. Check the search feed of the hashtags you use.
The post usually disappears from the top within 24 hours.
Also, it’s possible that two of your posts get to the top, but then they will compete with each other.
It seems complicated, and you won’t get to the top every time, but if you do it right, there is a big chance to get there quite often.
10. Post videos and use Instagram Stories
There are two ways of using videos on Instagram: on the main feed or Instagram Stories. Video content can get 34% more interactions than the regular photo pictures.
Depending on the complexity of your product or services, tutorials can go a long way in making sure people know exactly how to use it.
The main feed lets you host longer video, and they stay there till you want.
With the 10 seconds Instagram Stories you can show a quick tutorial or the step-by-step process with each video. For example, for fashion stylists, it could be how to add some stylish accessories to the clothes. The food bloggers can share each part of the recipe.
Share an update about a new blog post or the limited sales. Use Instagram Stories Live feature to connect with your followers from everywhere. Vacation? Conference? Meeting? Stream it right from there.
If you aren’t selling a physical product, host a tutorial covering why your service is essential. Incorporate testimonials and success stories from previous clients.
Show how your product or service is different from the rest. Set yourself apart from others with a little creativity.
Also, if you go to the search feed, at the top you will see the most interesting stories from all over Instagram. They are personalized to the user’s interests, so your story can be shown to entirely new people.
Getting your first thousand engaged followers may be a slow process. You may use one tip from above, decide that it almost doesn’t work and leave it. To make it really bring you the results, use all of them at the same time. Simply go step by step. If you do it right, maximum it will take you a month to get from 0 to 1000.
Want to learn more about how to crack the Instagram code? Check out our Ultimate Guide on how to use instagram for business.