Instagram averages 500 million monthly users, providing a platform for organic social media marketing at its finest. The free social media app essentially markets for you, if you can only figure out how to get more followers. But you’re freaking busy. You don’t have time to research how to get more followers on Instagram. When AdobeSpark first went live on Instagram, we faced the same challenges. The fledgling Adobe Spark project wasn’t branded under Adobe. The project had to create an upwell of followers—now 30k and counting—from scratch and without the brand recognition the name Adobe provides. Here are six organic growth strategies that worked for us and that you can employ too for your personal brand or business.
1. Post content that evokes a lifestyle
We learned early on in our Instagram journey that product-centric posts don’t perform well. Whenever we talked about ourselves, no one cared. While we will sometimes celebrate milestones or announce new features on our Instagram, 99% of what we share is lifestyle photos that will delight people; not sell to them. Seduce your users with beautiful content that offers them value, not a series of photos hawking your wares or services. If you sell body lotion, don’t post endless pics of your line. Instead, inspire users with gorgeous lifestyle shots, uplifting quotes, and imagery that aligns with your brand. When it comes time for a promotion or an advertisement, your community will be more likely to listen. Tools like Spark Post do the work of creating artistic or interesting posts for you. The visual story you tell is what earns you an invitation into people’s newsfeeds each day. Instead of selling your cookbook, post beautiful photos of food with a link to the recipe. If you can hook ’em with free content, people will be more likely to buy. Provide value and entertainment to sell your brand, not your products. This isn’t to say that if you run a business that you should never offer your Instagram a special deal or tell them about a sale or let them know when you’re open, but make sure you’re following the rule of “give 60% and take 40%” in order to foster loyalty and meaningful connection.
2. Use hashtags to aid discovery.
#Prime quality, with a #unique variety. For more information or reservations, please contact our team at (248) 737-7463 #WatermelonSalad #Prime29 #P29 #WestBloomfield #MetroDetroit #Detroit #SpringMenu #NewMenu #Foodpics #Foodporn #Foodie #Chef #Wine #Champagne #Cocktails #ChefsOfInstagram #DrinkMichigan #Steakhouse #Seafood #FoodieChats #MichiganFoodie #DetroitFoodie
Prime29 Steakhouse perfectly mixes high (#Foodie) and low (#Detroitfoodie) competition hashtags along with geographic location hashtags to help users find them.
Most people can get confused by hashtags. What are they? Do I really need them? Isn’t that just for wedding receptions? If you’re just starting out or have less than 1,000 followers, hashtags are your key to getting people to find your feed. Here are the basics:
- What is a hashtag? A discovery engine that helps interested people find your content.
- Where do hashtags go? Write them into your caption organically, place them in a group at the end of your caption, or place them in a group as a comment under your post. In the caption, it’s easier for the search engines to grab, in the comments, it provides a cleaner aesthetic for your post.
- What hashtags should I use? It’s similar logic to SEO strategies. You want a nice balance of search volume and hashtag traffic coupled with low competition. Say you’re opening a yoga studio in NYC, build your list of hashtags to target with a little experimentation and simple searching. Think about location, theme, and trending hashtags in your industry. For instance, #NYC has been tagged in nearly 65 million posts, meaning you will get lost in the noise, while #YogaNYC has 26k tags. It’s much more likely that you’ll be found by someone who’s looking for exactly what you’re offering
- How many hashtags should I use? Experiment to learn what works best for your brand. Often a few, brand targeted hashtags work better than a slew of generic ones
- Should I create my own? Sometimes it makes sense to create a branded hashtag for your business or a special project, especially if you’re hoping to inspire your customers or community to post about you on their own accounts. For us, because we want to see what our community make with our tool, we ask people to use the #adobespark hashtag to help us find great content to feature. Just make sure to also use high-trafficked, general hashtags in addition to your branded one.
3. Use tools to scale follower growth and hone your content.
You’ve got good-looking content, you’re using hashtags like a champ, but your mom’s your only follower. Never fear. These tools build followers. They worked for us and will work for you, too.
- Marketing Tools: Programs like Boost-Gram help you scale. Although not thee most authentic way to build your tribe, the tool will kick you out of the double digit realm quickly. By searching relevant hashtags, you can target all the followers of other users. The engine then trolls for the specified hashtags and likes posts of those who use them. The goal is for users to notice you and your carefully curated content, and follow along. Be wary of relying solely on engines to build “vanity metrics.” High numbers of followers are meaningless without a real chance of conversion to customers.
- Like for Like: Setting aside 20 minutes a day to search, follow, and like relevant users also builds your base, often in a more meaningful way. The book Secret Sauce, by Adam Houlahan claims you’ll have a 25% conversion rate using the Follow, Like, Like technique. It’s a simple as it sounds. Spark a user’s interest by following them, then liking two (or more) of their posts. The idea being they’ll scope your page out, see your engaging content, and follow back. This is how you build real community. How then, to know if they’re engaged?
- Measurement Tools: Know your audience with a powerful analytics tool like Iconosquare. See your followers (and see your followers’ followers), who you’re following, and your growth over time. See the number of followers you’ve gained and lost, who’ve you lost, and the number of likes received. Track if you’re trending up or down. Look a weekly report, or dive deeper and see the lifespan of an individual post. Based on your followers’ activity, learn the best time to post or comment. You can even see which filters perform best or how your competitors are doing. The most important part of this tool? It allows you to see what is and is not working and then adapt your output to maximize your Instagram account. You’ll grow when you respond to your target audience and how and when they best receive your message.
- Instagram Takeovers: Bringing in a guest-grammer for the day (or week) is perfect for cross-promotion. You’ll both find new targeted followers and you’ll get some fresh content. Maybe you’re a wedding florist and you invite an event planner to lead your community for the week. You’ll cross pollinate in the best of ways. The planner’s followers will learn about you, and you’ll pat their back by introducing your followers to them. It breathes fresh life into your feed and helps you build real community. Just make sure your guest stays on brand. We recently started a takeover series. Read more about how it went for us!
4. Ask questions, respond to comments, and engage your community.
As we continue our journey together, I often wonder what you guys want to see more of? What do you find helpful and inspiring for your daily lives? I'm not here to entertain (although if that's a residual effect of Yogancing fun I'm cool with that) but I post to inspire you to see how freaking incredible you are! So what will help your process? What do you want to see more of as we continue this conversation? #YOGANCE YOGANCE.COM
Ok you’re seeing some followers. Now you need to keep them! Unless you’re Beyonce, your presence is required to manage and engage your new community. Reply to their comments, even if only with an emoji. It’s not a one way street, and you need to bring value to them as a user. You can do this by being authentic and treating people as part of your tribe. Ask them what they want to see more of, invite them to participate in your brand, and respond to what excites them. Encourage them to respond to questions you pose. Even the Beyhive gets props from Queen B now and then.
Another growth and engagement tactic is to ask users to tag a friend in the caption. This will increase engagement on your page with comments and encourage your followers to share your page. Boom—organic growth, plus it’s fun!
5. Use Instagram Stories to drive traffic to your page and stay at the top of the feed.
Don’t be daunted by these Snapchat-like stories. Consider these mini videos or albums as another opportunity to have your brand in front of your followers and to get your logo up top whenever someone launches the app. The short clips are short-lived, and not as lasting to your visual brand as the top six photos on your page, so this is your chance to experiment while also staying in people’s mind. Instagram Stories are gone quickly, but while live they remind people of you and draw people back to your brand. Use the space to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your business, show a personal face of your business, answer questions from the community, or remind people about a promotion. Direct users to your main feed in order to gain more traffic to where your brand shines.
6. Celebrate your community or customers.
#Repost @hothouse_marketing ・・・ Don't just create random content for your Social Media, stay focused on your plan. Make sure you're on brand and stay on track with your marketing plan. 📷 @lebackpacker _____________________ #smm #socialmedia #socialmediamarketing #stayfocused #plan #creativity #ideas #lebackpacker
Re-posting content from your community, profiles your admire, or highlighting loyal customers can help you keep up with the speed of social content, while also getting the added benefit of fostering deep connections. We love showcasing what our users create and helping others discover their work. Use a re-post app or tag the creator to properly attribute the work. Chances are someone will do the same for you, too.
Our Favorite Time-Saving Tips
You’re a business owner, not a teenager with endless time on their hands. Instagram is just one of many items on your to-do list. How to do it all? These time saving techniques and style strategies pay off big time with just a small time investment upfront.
- Save key hashtags in your phone’s Notes. No need to retype 15 hashtags each time you post, just copy and paste your power players. Time and carpal tunnel saved.
- Write your captions in Notes to create the spacing you want and line breaks that serve your aesthetic, then copy and paste the entire text into your Instagram caption.
- Write #hashtags into your caption to give the copy a more #organic feel and read less like marketing and more like a story.
Remember to include your #location or #neighborhood in your hashtags. More and more consumers discover services via Instagram and geographic hashtags. It’s a free way to let them know where you are.
Learning how to get more likes is ultimately about finding your tribe online. An engaged community becomes your source of organic marketing, your converted consumer base, and the way you’ll gauge in real time how your brand is doing. Yes, you can use tools that boost metrics early on and quickly, but in the long run you want to build real community…that loyal base is the reason to get more followers on Instagram in the first place.
Follow @AdobeSpark on Instagram and tag your Spark creations with #adobespark for a chance to get featured!
By, Annie Crawford