Instagram has surprised marketers for a few big reasons. First, despite entering a market saturated with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has managed to rack up a massive 500 million daily active users, making it the second most popular social media platform in the world. That makes it ripe for marketing and advertising. On top of that, it has an impressively high average ROI—and thousands of businesses have made it their go-to social advertising channel, accordingly.
It’s no surprise that more marketers and advertisers are jumping on the Instagram bandwagon, creating accounts and posting regularly in the hopes of building up a big following and earning a strong return on their investment. But what if you spend a few months trying to build an audience only to discover that your efforts have been fruitless? What can you do?
- Audit your posting frequency and timing. First, take a look at how often you’ve been posting, and when you’ve been posting. If you want your followers to stick around and remain interested in your brand, you need to feed them new content on a regular basis. On Instagram, that means uploading at least one new photo a day. Though Instagram’s timeline no longer functions exclusively chronologically, there are also still peak times to pay attention to—on weekdays, that’s usually around the noon hour and around 6 pm, after work.
- Get inspired. Next, try to get inspired by some of the successful profiles you’re able to find. Look at the profiles of your competitors, and other brands in your industry, but also look at some of the most popular Instagram accounts of all time. What are they doing that you aren’t doing? Are there elements of their strategy that you could adopt as your own, without directly copying or mimicking them?
- If subtle adjustments to your posting schedule and core content aren’t working, you may want to consider rebranding. To be successful on Instagram you need a strong brand at your center, with a firm mission statement, a consistent image and voice, and above all, a specific audience to target. If you’re off on any of those, your brand could falter. Take a moment to evaluate your current brand, and determine whether it’s time to start from scratch or give yourself a makeover.
- Announce your presence. If you end up rebranding, or if your brand is still new, consider doing a push to make your brand’s presence more visible. You can start with an email blast to your brand’s current subscribers, along with a press release describing your new channel and how you plan to use it. These efforts have multiple benefits outside of Instagram, such as building inbound links which help your organic search rankings considerably.
- Include more and better hashtags. Hashtags make it easier for users to discover your content (especially when they aren’t currently following you). Make sure to include 2-3 relevant hashtags on every image you post. Just make sure you don’t overdo it; too many hashtags will make your posts look spammy and unprofessional.
- Learn photography basics. If you want to improve the quality of your Instagram content, consider learning some photography basics. Even basic concepts like framing, lighting, and choosing the right subject matter can transform the type of content you produce into something far more valuable.
- Reach out to people you know. Sometimes, you need a jumpstart to build momentum for your brand. You can do this on Instagram by reaching out specifically to people you already know and asking them to follow you. They may not be your target audience, but they’ll help you build an early foundation of a few dozen to a few hundred followers.
- Provide more value. If people aren’t responding to your content, you may need to offer them a stronger incentive to follow you. More value in your posts could mean more practical tips, more shareable or entertaining images, or even more concrete value, such as discounts or promotions.
- Start a contest. If you’re desperate to earn some quick followers, contests are never a bad choice. Give your users some mechanism of entry (usually, you’ll encourage users to use a specific hashtag, and collect responses and/or submissions through that hashtag), and offer up a prize—the more valuable that prize is, the better. Contests get lots of visibility and give people a pragmatic reason to follow you.
- Leverage the power of influencers. If you’re still struggling to get your follower counts up, try engaging with existing influencers—brands on Instagram related to your brand or industry who already have tens of thousands of followers (or more). Getting their attention, even with a single reference or comment, could introduce you to an enormous swath of new followers—and give you a boost to your perceived authority at the same time. If you’re successful, you can work your way up to bigger and more powerful influencers, and hopefully, become one yourself eventually.
If you don’t build a substantial following in your first few months, try not to get discouraged. It’s rare for someone new to the world of social media marketing to become a breakout hit—and when they do, it’s usually attributable to dumb luck. If you want to build a high-quality audience for you or your brand, you’ll need to put the effort in, remain patient, and keep your strategy consistent until you see results—even if it takes a few months.
If you are interested in even more social media-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.