How to Gain Followers on Instagram: 10 Effective Tips to Grow Your Brand Awareness

by: Dustin Hawley | Thursday September 19, 2019

With over a billion monthly users, a complex algorithm, and an abundance of creative brands on the platform, Instagram is an ultra-competitive place for those who wish to build their account and grow their following. When it comes to Instagram growth, it is far more difficult to get more followers in 2019 as it was in the past. And it's getting seemingly more difficult by the day.

Nowadays, if you are trying to stand out and show off your brand to grow your following on Instagram, you have to work smarter and harder.

hand holding a smartphone that displays an Instagram profile with floating notification icons

As the growing platform continues to develop more interactive features like it has with the addition of Instagram Stories, where businesses are frequently using it as a tool to humanize their brand and showcase their products or services. Clever brands have begun to utilize them to also highlight their company culture and generate new business.

But let's be real: In most cases, unless you're already a public figure, it's incredibly difficult to amass a large following on Instagram without hard work and patience.

For those who could use a helping hand in accelerating their brand awareness on Instagram, here 10 tips and useful tactics to reach your target audiences and grow your followers in 2019.

1. Optimize your profile

So you want to grow your following on Instagram and build a large audience. First things first: you need to customize your brand's Instagram profile to make it look professional and engaging, something that tells your potential followers who you are as a brand and what you represent. Content aside (which we will touch on later in this article), your profile has to give people a reason to follow you. Whether it be clever, intriguing, or straightforward, build an interest in your brand beginning with your profile.

person editing Instagram profile on a smartphone

So how do you go about this? You can start by making sure your username is easily recognizable and simple to find — like your business name, for example. In an instance where your business name is already taken, consider keeping your business name as the first part of your username with a modifier to follow, just so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across your profile.

2.  Get creative with hashtagging

For Instagram caption ideas, brands must look beyond the one-word, obvious hashtags. Of course, you may want to still utilize those more universal hashtags as well but try to mix it up and use hashtags to help tell a part of your story to your potential followers. You can be clever, ironic, funny, or even outrageous (if it aligns with your brand image). Above all else, you can't be boring. WeWork is a great example of this, as their Instagram page is both well-branded and includes an often entertaining mix of content.

3. Speaking of which...create a branded hashtag

So your brand created it's own #joesrestaurant hashtag for your company, that's great. But who actually knows about it so they can use it to share content about you? A branded hashtag that no one knows about doesn't do much good in terms of creating brand awareness. So make sure your branded hashtag is listed in your profile, but also take it offline and have it published in print ads, printed on your transactions receipts, even on signage in your store if your business is of the brick and mortar variety. Coca-cola is a great example of this, as they saw great success with their #ShareACoke campaign.

#ShareACoke social media post from Coca Cola

Also make sure you integrate online and offline campaigns by ensuring it's populated on your other social profiles, as well as on your website and in your email blasts. You can't just hope people will happen upon it and start sharing content with the tag. You have to create awareness around the hashtag before the hashtag can create awareness for your brand.

4. Utilize best practices for photography and editing

The quality of your posts is imperative on Instagram. Sure, your brand's Twitter followers may forgive a few questionable tweets, but a low-quality photo on Instagram is far less forgivable. This doesn't mean you have to be a professional photographer to be a good Instagram poster. Those who manage and post for your brand on Instagram should be familiar with basic photography practices and industry-standard photo editing apps, like Photoshop or Lightroom for example.

5.  Be descriptive with your captions

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn't mean you can skip the words in their entirety. As a business, you should look to be descriptive with your captions, not only as a way to detail your products or services but also as a way to tell a story about your brand.

A prime example would be National Geographic, who is fantastic at using storytelling in tandem with their Instagram photos to generate engagement and sharability. In an era where many traditional media brands are struggling to build relevancy on social, NatGeo has thrived across digital and have somewhat quietly become one of the top brands on Instagram, with over 122 million followers.

natgeo instagram post of a blue-eyed black lemur

Storytelling and descriptive captions are paramount to generating engagement for your brands Instagram account.

6. Create a consistent content cadence

It's best practice to have a good number of solid IG posts up (maybe 10-15 or so) before you begin engaging your audience. This way, when visitors are viewing your profile, they'll see at least a full screen of high-quality photos instead of just a couple of generic posts. This presents your brand in a good light, giving your potential followers the belief that you'll be posting great content regularly.

7. Develop your brand voice on Instagram

While it's human nature for us to want to fit in, Instagram rewards those who stand out. After you have set some goals and planned out how your brand is going to shine on Instagram, you need to then determine how you want your account to feel. Many refer to this as the theme of your Instagram feed. Your theme should be aesthetically pleasing and engaging to your potential followers, but also should align with your brand values and image. This is also a crucial element in the best strategies for Instagram marketing.

8. Cross-promote with users who have similar audiences

Instagram is more than just posting breathtaking photos with clever captions. You also need to build relationships with your audience and other users on the platform. Preferably, you should focus your efforts on building relationships with accounts that share a similar audience to that of your brand. If you build a solid relationship with some of the people behind these accounts, you may have an opportunity to do some co-promotion on each others' accounts.

The more natural and organic you can make the content of these cross-promotions, the better (specifically as it pertains to the captions).

9. Post on Instagram at the right times

In addition to using the appropriate hashtags and utilizing the best filters, you also need to consider the timing of your posts. You can also get a lot of great insight from Instagram Analytics for Business accounts for free, under the Followers section. Additionally, there are several great resources online to determine the best posting times, such as SocialBlade.

global best times to post on instagram eastern standard time

Also, consider using a social media scheduling tool as well, so your brand can schedule and automatically publish your posts during periods when your audience is the most active and engaged.

10. Go all-in on influencer marketing! 

Whether you have dipped your toes in the waters of influencer marketing or not, you've likely witnessed the rise of this tactic over the past few years, and have at least considered whether or not influencer marketing is right for your brand. For brands looking to boost brand awareness through Instagram, there may be no better method than influencer marketing.

Influencers have massive audiences that are highly engaged, so the message that an influencer communicates on their social feed never falls upon deaf ears. Want to know how influencer marketing can exponentially grow awareness around your brand? Take a look at our case studies and reach out to us to get started on your next influencer marketing campaign, and see the massive benefits the tactic provides. 

READY TO GET STARTED WITH AN AWARD-WINNING INFLUENCER MARKETING AGENCY?

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