Having a strong Instagram presence is a nearly universal goal for businesses big and small in today’s world. Social media plays a major role in daily life, and Instagram especially is growing for businesses. Instagram, if you didn’t know, has 1 billion active users every month, and half of those (so, 500 million) users are on the platform every day. If your business is on Instagram, you have the potential to access a very large audience.

If you’re worried that users won’t follow your business because it’s a business, you’re probably wrong. As of March 2017, 80% of Instagram users followed a business on the platform, and that number has likely increased over the past two years. If you’re still not convinced, consider this: 60% of Instagram users use the app to discover products.

Having a strong Instagram presence is clearly important for businesses, especially those in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. At this point, though, you might be thinking, “That’s great, but how do I get this strong following? Social media can be hard.” You’re right, it can be hard. But today’s your lucky day — we have five tips that will help you grow your business on Instagram and tap into the audience that’s waiting for you.

Instagram Growth Hack #1: Start Early

Instagram Growth for Businesses

“My business or product isn’t ready to launch yet. I don’t have to worry about Instagram already, do I?”

Well, the truth is that it’s never too early to get started on Instagram for your business. Kitti Box, a company that is reinventing the litter box hasn’t launched its product yet but over the past year, they’ve created a community of over 1,500 loyal followers and have found ways to engage with them.

By starting your Instagram early, you can build up a following the way that Kitti Box has, and you can turn those followers into brand ambassadors. Offer your followers sneak peeks that can both get them excited and help you ensure you’re creating the right product or service that your followers want. Kitti Box is providing its followers with an exclusive launch offer if they sign up to be on their mailing list.

If you build your follower base before you launch, they will be excited and looking forward to the launch of your product or service. There is nothing better than having people excited about your product when it launches because they’re already primed to buy and spread the word of how great you and the product are.

Instagram Growth Hack #2: Use Hashtags

Kicksta Instagram Growth Service

“How can we attract followers if no one knows who we are yet?”

This is where hashtags can come into play. Hashtags can be an easy way to help potential new followers find you. Do some research before you create your hashtag strategy, though, because you don’t want to be using the wrong hashtags and ending up in the wrong people’s search results.

Find specific hashtags that people in your niche use and search for often. Use these hashtags on your posts so that people searching for or following the hashtags will see your posts. Interact with posts that use those hashtags, too. This is a great way to start to build relationships and find loyal followers who will want to follow your business.

Does this sound overwhelming and like it’ll take too much time? Don’t worry. If you’re interested, Kicksta can do this for you on auto-pilot! With a little help from Kicksta, you can attract and engage with real followers and grow your business Instagram account.

Instagram Growth Hack #3: Stay Active

Canva Instagram Templates

“I’ve tried posting on Instagram before, but I don’t think it’s working. I don’t get much interaction.”

How often are you posting? Instagram is a highly engaging social media platform. It’s important to not only interact with new people to grow your following, but you also need to interact with your current followers to build their loyalty, and you need to post consistently.

We know, it sounds like a lot. While you’re starting to build your reach and your following for your business account, you might want to post up to 3 times each day to ensure you have enough content online. Before you start to panic about where that content will come from, take a deep breath. Stock photos and quote templates are great resources to incorporate into your posting schedule if you need or want to mix up your content.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider making your own graphics on a site like Canva. Even those of us who wouldn’t consider ourselves graphic designers can make beautiful posts in Canva to add a different look to our feed. Find some inspiration from brands you like to follow or use one of Canva’s templates to get started.

Instagram Growth Hack #4: Make Your Post Shoppable

Instagram Story Growth Ideas

“I can’t drive traffic to my website because I don’t have the swipe up feature because I don’t have enough followers.”

Okay, this is true — if you’re just getting started you won’t have Instagram’s swipe-up feature. Instagram likes to keep its users on Instagram as much as possible, that’s why links don’t work in individual posts, and you can only have one link in your bio. If you don’t have the swipe-up feature, though, it can be hard to direct users off the platform and onto your site where you can show them your offerings. If you sell a physical product, consider using the “shoppable” settings.

Make it easy for users to shop your feed by implementing shopping tags. Now, there are a few requirements you have to meet before you can use the shopping tags. First, your Instagram account must be a business account. If for some reason you’re still using a personal account, it’s time to switch over. Then, you need to have a physical product (sorry, service providers — but we have some tips for you later!) that is in a product catalog that works with a shop on Facebook.

Once you meet these requirements and you’re approved by Instagram, you can start tagging products the same way you would tag other users. You can use this in your Instagram stories, as well! When your users see one of these posts, they can simply click on the tag and make a purchase. It really can’t get much easier for them.

Instagram Growth Hack #5: Have a Human Touch

Instagram Business Growth Hacks

“Instagram for businesses can seem impersonal. How do I avoid feeling robotic and, well, business-like?”

Be natural. People respond best to brands that are personal and have a human touch. Post on your stories regularly. Go live and address people who are watching live. Include real, honest stories in your posts. It’s true: Following businesses can be different from following individual people, however, the best brands are able to seem like people because they show up authentically and have a human touch with their audience.

Take some time to engage with your followers and make them feel welcomed. Respond to comments on your posts, and use the question sticker in your stories to get replies and hear from your followers. If your audience submits a question or direct messages you separately, lean into that opportunity. One-on-one conversations are incredibly powerful; it’s in these moments where you have the chance to respond to your followers individually and you can build strong relationships.

You can also use your direct messages (DMs) and these relationships to sell directly, especially if you have a service and can’t use the shoppable feature. Now, you’ll want to be strategic here. You don’t want to respond to every single message with, “That’s great, do you want to buy my stuff?” Instead, put in the time to grow that relationship. As it’s building, they might tell you about a certain problem they have. With any luck, you’ll have the service that solves that problem. At a time when it feels natural, mention your offer. Don’t be pushy, don’t be overly sales-driven, just tell them, “Hey, I remember when you said you have that problem. I think I can help. I have this [product or service] and it could help by [insert a reason or two]. Let me know if I can answer any questions!”

Getting started on Instagram can be overwhelming, especially if you’re starting or growing your entire business at the same time. At the end of the day, though, it’s a platform for growing relationships, one that you’ve likely been on personally. Do some research into your target audience and see what kind of posts they engage with and what resonates with them. Show up authentically, and be ready to provide great value and help your audience.

With any platform, whether it’s social media, an email sequence, or something else, it’s always a good practice to provide free, valuable content more often than you try to make a sale. This might mean daily live videos or stories from you that provide tips or tricks or providing actionable graphics and captions that you post regularly in your feed.

Conclusion

No matter what strategy you choose for growing your Instagram for your business, remember to focus on building relationships. At the end of the day, social media platforms are a great place to build a loyal, excited following. If you consistently post authentic content and engage with potential and current followers, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Posted by Contributor