Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms on the internet. With a focus on visuals and video, there is really no surprise that everyone is flocking to the social app that is owned by Facebook, and continues to put up brilliant numbers every month.
Not only is the platform fun and exciting for their users, but also for advertisers and brands on Instagram as well. With their advantaged targeting options, and billions of users from around the world — it’s a win-win-win situation for users, advertisers, and of course, Facebook.
Even with all of these benefits in place, there are still going to be some obstacles and lessons to be learned along the way. If you’re struggling to increase your Instagram followers and likes, that doesn’t mean you should completely give up on including Instagram as part of your social media strategy. It just means you need to adjust your approach so you can tap into the network of more than one billion monthly active users who are ready and willing to consume your content.
Instagram automation platforms, also known as Instagram bots, are designed to handle getting followers for you. Simply pick some usernames that seem like they are part of your target audience, along with hashtags you’d like to follow, and let the bot take over for you. You can also use the bot to handle unfollowing the people who don’t follow you back within a few days, so you can strike a good balance or ratio between followers and those you are following.
You can use automation to like posts, too, which should help automatically increase your following. And certain platforms make it possible to automatically post your Instagram photos to your account so you can keep a steady flow of new content coming in for your audience. Though it’s possible to automate comments and direct messages for engagement, there are many who caution against it because you want your engagement to be as authentic as possible.
Steal from the Competition
Take a look at the accounts you’re competing with. They’ve definitely got the same type of followers you’re looking for – so why not take advantage of that and look through the people who are following them. Use your automation tools to start following people from the competition’s accounts, and you’ll see that many of them will follow you back – as long as you’ve got the kind of content that will keep them interested.
By piggybacking off the work your competitors have done building their following, you can put yourself in a better position to compete with them much quicker than if you completely ignore this option.
Pay Attention to Your Posting Times
When you don’t have much of a following, you’ll just have to pick a random posting time, then pay attention to your Instagram Analytics to see how much of an audience you reached. That is, unless, you make use of generalized data available from other sources. This article from ShareThis highlights data from various sources to indicate the best days and times to post your content for maximum engagement.
Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post any time of the day, other than between 3 and 4 pm. Some brands do well during the Monday morning commute, between the hours of 8 am and 9 am. Video content, however, should be posted between the hours of 9 pm and 8 am, because it seems people would rather watch those from home than the office.
But, depending on which study or data you use, you may find inconsistencies. For instance, another study found that Wednesdays between 2 am and 5 pm EST is the best time to post, while another found that you’ll get the most engagement on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m.
Thursdays at 5:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m., and Fridays at 5:00 a.m.
That’s why it’s important to experiment on your own, because your audience and niche may account for variations from this average or standard timing. As time goes on, you’ll be able to notice specific patterns as you vary the time of day you post.
Ideally, you should be posting at a time when most of your audience is online and there to interact with your post as soon as it goes live on your profile. The more interaction you get within the short amount of time after it posts live, the better the chance you have at landing on the Instagram Explore tab, which can help you explode your following, too.
Research and Use Hashtags
Hashtags are used to categorize content across Instagram and make it easier for people to find content based on topics. You’re allowed to use up to 30 hashtags per photo/video and encouraged to use them to make your content reach a wider audience. Research hashtags to see what kind of content is there – you don’t want to accidentally make a hashtag mistake or use a banned hashtag – and make sure there’s not so much activity your content will get lost quickly.
Use a variety of hashtags and see which ones appear to be bringing you the most traffic. Use a mix of general, brand specific (you create those!) and niche specific hashtags for good measure.
Geotag Photos for Improved Local Discovery
You can attach a location to each one of your photos and videos, which can help boost local discovery. This is particularly helpful for businesses that want to do local marketing. People search for content based on their location when they are looking for something to do where they are, or planning a vacation to an area. You can explore interest in local areas by hiding your own IP address and using a proxy or VPN to spoof local IP addresses.
Run a Contest
One surefire way to increase your likes and follows is to run a contest. Not only will this increase your following, but it will also help increase your brand awareness, which is key for gaining customers. Choose the type of contest you want to run, create a hashtag, choose a prize, set the duration and the rules, then promote the heck out of it, give away the prize, announce the winner, and repeat.
Using any one of these methods will definitely help you see an uptick in your follower count. Using more than one, or all of these methods – which you can do all at the same time, will speed up your results, allowing you to cover more ground in a shorter period of time.