Instagram has come a long way since its inception as a simple photo-sharing app in 2010. Having accrued users at an exponential rate, Instagram now boasts of 600 million active users, which is nearly double that of Snapchat and Twitter. This has led to several individuals and brands using Instagram for increasing awareness, connecting with potential customers, and driving sales.
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The user engagement rate for brands is 10 times more on Instagram than it is on Facebook, which has over three times the number of users. That's why it has become essential for every brand and individual to cultivate a healthy following on Instagram. Unless you're famous, gaining popularity on Instagram is not an easy task. But it is possible, and here are six ways you can do so:
Optimise your Instagram profile
The first step to gaining more followers on Instagram is optimising your profile. This involves setting your brand logo as the profile picture and making your profile public to users. You should also make use of the bio to add an engaging or funny description of your business. And since the profile bio is the only place, besides paid ads, where Instagram permits outbound links, it is advisable to provide a link to your blog or website page there as well.
Link back to your Instagram page on other sites
If you're a brand starting out on Instagram, chances are that you're also active on other social media sites as well. Providing backlinks to your Instagram posts or profile page on sites like Twitter and Facebook is a good way to increase your visibility. You can also prompt your followers on other sites to follow you Instagram as well; you can make it worth their while by posting specific content or offers exclusively on Instagram.
Curate and post quality content
Instagram is all about visuals. Posting images with sub-standard quality will cause users to turn away from the post, and hence your account, in an instant. If you absolutely have to post a poor-quality image or video, spend some time using filters or one of Instagram's native tools like Boomerang or Layout to make it slightly more appealing. It's also important to maintain a consistency in your posts, so don't upload images that don't match the general tone of your page. Take a look at The Souled Store's Instagram page and you’ll immediately notice that every single image is in line with the image which the brand is trying to project.
Be witty and engaging while writing captions
You should treat Instagram as a place where your aim is to make as many friends out of all the strangers who view your posts. And the best ice-breaker for doing so is undoubtedly humour. Since everyone on Instagram scrolls through images with great impatience, writing a witty and engaging caption is instrumental in grabbing attention and eventually amassing a larger fan base. But since not every post can have a funny caption, a useful alternative is to ask questions which prompt users to leave comments.
Make use of hashtags
Not only do hashtags give you the opportunity to condense what you want to say into a witty and concise form, they are incredibly important to improving your posts' visibility as well. Using trending or relevant hashtags increases the number of people who will view your posts, while creating your own can add a unique twist to your captions. However, you should refrain from using too many hashtags (more than two or three) and using gimmick-y ones like ‘#FollowMe’ or ‘#LikeforLike’. Doing so will damage the most important thing a brand can have on social media – credibility.
Connect with influencers
Brands on Instagram benefit greatly by connecting with influencers who can introduce them to a whole new audience. To do so, find the most prominent people in your market niche and begin interacting with them regularly. You can comment on their posts or tag them in yours, and eventually, they may just become fans of your brand. Getting mentioned by influencers instantly increases your brand's exposure, which will invariably result in more followers.
Following these steps with dedication takes a lot of time and effort, which might tempt you to take short cuts by purchasing followers. But that only results in follows from low-quality or fake profiles and ultimately damages credibility, and once you lose credibility on social media sites, there's little you can do to get it back. So remember that your goal isn't to simply get the most number of followers possible but to get quality followers who might ultimately use your brand's services and products, or at least refer them to others.