Instagram – some people love it, others loathe it. It can be a great way to market and grow your audience BUT it can also be a massive time suck and motivation killer (hello comparisonitis!). And if you are like me, you get endless DMs from accounts on a daily basis offering to help you grow your Instagram, but they all just feel kinda shady.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow your Instagram audience, although I do believe that you’re better off having a smaller following who are super engaged than a large one who aren’t. But of course there are benefits to having more followers.
Growing your audience doesn’t need to be sleezy. Yes, there are some pretty questionable tactics out there that can grow your following fast. But if you want to grow and connect with people who are genuinely YOUR PEOPLE (rather than russian bots) then here are some tips that have helped me:
1. Define Your Target Audience
It’s all well and good to want to build your audience, but when it comes to Instagram growth, too many people are focused on the number of followers rather than WHO is actually following them. If you want your Instagram to be a tool to market your business and to generate enquiries rather than just something that boosts your ego, then you need to be attracting the right kind of people. You want your Instagram followers to be people from your target audience.
When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no-one. Identify who your ideal Instagram audience is, you can create the content they want to see rather than what you want to show. What other accounts do they follow? What accounts do they interact with the most? How can you show up in the places where they are being the most active? Does your audience want to just see pretty pictures or do they want to learn more about you and what you do?
2. Become A #Hashtag Pro
There are two primary objectives for using hashtags on Instagram:
- To get discovered
- To find your ideal followers
What hashtags are your ideal followers searching or following? Don’t just think about hashtags related to weddings. What other things are they interested in that they might have in common with you? Get creative and think outside the box. Knowing your ideal client is invaluable here because you’ll already have some ideas of their interests to get you started.
Next, look at what hashtags your ideal clients are using in their own posts. Not only can you start to use these hashtags in some of your own posts, but you can also start interacting with other recent posts using these hashtags.
As you are conducting hashtag research, create a document with your target hashtags so that you can refer back to them when you are scheduling your posts.
3. Start Conversations & Build Connections
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, but social media was designed for people to be social. When you step back from thinking of it as a platform to market your business and think of how the average person uses it, it’s all about creating connections with likeminded people.
Once you know what sorts of other accounts & hashags your ideal followers are using, go and interact with them. Show up by commenting on posts from other accounts that your ideal clients are likely to be following. Look who else is engaging with these other accounts and identify people who could be your target audience. Visit their accounts and leave some likes and meaningful comments. And by meaningful comments, I mean using actual words! Dropping a ton of emojis isn’t a conversation starter. It’s lazy, and it’s what bots do. You’re a human talking to another human, so make sure you talk like one!
4. Post Less, Engage More
Most people complain that they don’t like social media because it’s a time suck. But it doesn’t need to be. Linking back to the previous tip, remember that you are interacting with other humans. Simply dropping a post every day on your account and running isn’t going to cut it. You’re just being that person at the party that only wants to talk about themselves (and nobody likes that person, let’s be honest).
If you don’t want to spend hours of your life on Instagram, your time will be better spent on engaging with others over just posting on your own feed. If your goal is to grow your Instagram audience, you should be aiming to engage with 20-30 new people for every one post that you share in your feed.
5. Be Scientific
Learn to take a scientific approach to your social media by allocating times to go in and do certain tasks, and track and analyse all of the results.
If you find yourself spending too much time on the app, allocate time in your calendar. When you log in, set a timer and go in with specific objectives in mind. That way you’ll find it easier to avoid the mindless scrolling that so often happens.
If you want to grow your reach, conduct a monthly audit of your posts using the ‘Insights’ feature within Instagram. Look at which posts, stories and hashtags performed the best and the worst, and learn what your audience wants to see from you. When you understand what posts they want to see, you can plan your content to feature more of that (I use Later.com to schedule my posts)