It's one thing to consistently post relevant, engaging content - it's quite another to make sure this is seen by the right people. Here, we share our tried and tested methods for growing your followers. If you can devote half an hour each and every day to putting these recommendations into action, you'll be well on your way to turning your Instagram profile into a lean, mean, business-generating machine.
(Or we can do it for you)
Why bother with Instagram?
Instagram is still the fastest growing mainstream social media platform, with the number of monthly users in Australia increasing by 1.3 million in the last 12-months alone!
It's also the best place to build a local, targeted audience. This means when you post content and engage with accounts on Instagram, you'll be able to get noticed by the right people - referral partners and clients alike. At the very least it lets you be seen by your current client base several times a month (in an unobtrusive way), at best: it lets you widen your reach to connect with your prospects.
Before you start building your audience
Make sure your Instagram feed looks the part. You want to give people a valid reason for following your account, so they need to see relevant, good-looking content when they click on your profile.
This is a service we provide a growing number of finance and legal professionals, however it's only part of the puzzle. The old adage of 'if you build it, they will come' doesn't apply to social media as much as 'if you want something, go out and get it.'
The reciprocal follow
To build an engaged community of current and future clients and referral partners, you need to mimic how you'd act in real life. This means no bots, no sneaky tricks, no shortcuts. The most effective way to build a targeted audience on Instagram is to engage with other accounts, and give them the opportunity to engage back.
Provided you’ve got the right kind of content on your profile (professional, relevant, value adding), you’ll have about a 1 in 3 chance of the people you follow, following you back (note: this can take a few weeks). To find the people you want as followers, we suggest looking at who's engaging with these types of accounts:
- Local businesses
- Car dealerships
- Garden centres
- Homewares stores
- Current and prospective referral partners
- Finance brokers
- Buyer's advocates
- Real estate agents
- Financial advisers
- Community groups
- Parent's groups
- Football teams
- Social bowls clubs
- Local NFPs
Don't forget about hashtags
While hashtags aren't quite as powerful as they were a few years ago - in terms of helping you expand your reach - they can be a great way to find followers in the areas your service. When people add hashtags to their posts it's because they want to be found - this means they're are ready to mingle with accounts just like yours! If you live in Perth, for instance, start with #perthisok #perthlife #perthstagram #perthlifestyle
What NOT to do
Don't follow private accounts
Don’t bother following accounts that are set to private. You’ll know they’re private if you follow them and it says ‘waiting for approval’. Simply select ‘unfollow’. These people are less likely to engage with a business, and may find the attention intrusive.
Don't do the old follow/unfollow trick
A lot of Instagram gurus will tell you to unfollow the accounts you're following to create a 'better' Followers:Following ratio. We think this is a bit petty and childish, really. You only want to be following relevant accounts anyway, so there's no harm in following more people than are following you. Although, best not to go higher than 4:1 ratio - not just for vanity's sake but as a measure of whether you're following relevant accounts.
Don't buy followers
Trust us, people can tell when a small business has purchased dodgy followers, and it doesn't reflect well. It also messes with your audience insights, and means your content has little chance of being seen by the right people. You know, people who'll pick up the phone to enquire about your services.
It doesn't stop there!
Bring the social to social media
Make sure you’re engaging with their content (liking and commenting). Besides being a nice nod to the business in question, it improves your visibility on the platform and keeps the Instagram algorithm happy.
And the big question...
How much time will this all take?
Time is money, and every task has an opportunity cost - so we've all got to prioritise high pay-off activities, and outsource the ones that are too time-consuming. We recommend 30 mins every day to spend growing your audience on Instagram - this doesn't include content ideation, creation and publishing. Perhaps this is a job you can pass on to your admin team? Otherwise, check out our industry-leading content subscriptions, or get in touch to find out more.