Before going into the technicalities of how to get your first 1000 followers on Instagram for business, let’s start by talking about what Instagram is, what it can do for your business and why it is so effective.
Instagram was started in October 2010 and is a photo and video sharing platform for users to share their photos either publicly or privately. Instagram has 700M active monthly users. In April 2012 Instagram was bought by Facebook.
As Instagram is such a visual platform it is a great place to showcase your brand personality and build up trust with the consumers. Although on each Instagram post there are no clickable links, Instagram has higher levels of engagement with consumers than Facebook and Twitter. So, if you engage the users, they will find you! Instagram is especially useful for business profiles, because it has Instagram business tools which allow you to track progress easily.
Step 1 – Set up your profile correctly
Firstly, for business we strongly recommend connecting to your Facebook page, this will give you access to Instagram business tools. You will need business tools to add your address and a contact call-to-action button. You will need to link the Instagram account to the Facebook account that the profile was created on, then go on to settings and switch to business settings and follow the instructions. You will then see your profile change.
Make your profile picture 180px by 180px so that it does not lose quality when you look at your page through a desktop.
Write your bio so that it is clear, concise and people know exactly who you are. When writing your bio, Instagram will not allow you to press enter when writing your bio. Therefore we recommend you open a “notes” app on your phone and write things on different lines and then copy and paste into your bio.
Step 2 – Research, look at your target market and build a persona
On Instagram, you can explore competitors very easily and see what is trending. From there you can take information and build from it.
Find 5 accounts operating in a similar area to you, write down the following:
- What hashtags are they using?
- How often are they posting?
- What kind of content are they posting?
- What is the average amount of engagements for the last 3 posts? (Number of Likes + Comments of last three posts/3)
To get a further understanding of your target market, look on the comments and see what kind of things people are saying about the posts. This may give you an idea of what people want to see, this will be useful when planning your content later. Also, look at the profiles of the people who are regularly engaging with those pages. Look at the accounts they follow to get an idea of what sort interests they have, so you can get some content ideas.
Use our excel spreadsheet to assist your research.
Step 3 – Choose a theme and create quality content
From your research, you need to keep the consistency of the content the same. That means getting photos of the same high quality each time, getting the best angle and settling for nothing but the best for your brand. You want your page to represent your brand image, so represent it in that way.
Look at the way Audi convey their cars on a consistent basis throughout their account. They believe their brand is slick, the cars are fast and can take you on adventures. Each photograph tells a story and adds meaning to their brand values.
Content creation does not need to be expensive, you can either do it yourself with some camera equipment and editing software or you can hire someone for the day or a project.
To make users want to “like” your content on Instagram it needs to make the user feel something. Users tend to react well to content that:
- Leaves them in awe
- Has made them laugh or entertained them
- Has been controversial
- Has inspired them
- Has been useful
- Is relatable to them
- Makes them feel more involved
Although your content is supposed to be gaining you more sales, do not think it is a quick fix. Instagram is a platform to build your brand and express the brand personality. Don’t constantly post promotional messages like this in every post “Buy this” “Today only is 20% off”. A good rule to follow is, provide 2/3 good pieces of content building your brand and then post 1 photo or video selling the product and instructing the consumers how to buy.
When thinking of the language to use in a post, make sure that it is still in line with what your brand stands for. If Emojis would suit your brand image then use them. However, if you are trying to convey a more serious message it is not always recommended.
Step 4 – Pick the hashtags you wish to use
Look back at the list of hashtags you got from your competitors, type them into the search bar on the Instagram app. It is best to use hashtags with between 5,000 and 10,000 posts under them as competition for exposure will be lower.
A study suggests that posts with 11 or more hashtags gain more interactions. The maximum number of hashtags you can use is 30 per post but only ever use hashtags that are completely relevant to you, you want to avoid spam and people outside of your niche. The more targeted the best, however, don’t make it so narrow that 10 people will see it. #dont #hashtag #in #a #sentence #like #this always add the hashtags at the bottom of the post or as a comment.
Step 5 – Post frequently at specific times
For people to follow they need to see in value in your content before pressing the follow button. They also want to see that the accounts they follow are active. As a minimum, you should be posting once a day but if you want to be seeing the best results try 3 times a day. Do not make the mistake of “spamming” news feeds with posting 3 photos within the space of 5 minutes, spread it out through the day.
Good times to post are usually around 8am, 12pm and 8pm but always experiment and mix it up. On business Instagram accounts, the statistics show when followers are most active so post when they are most active. Just click the Insights tab on your profile to find these statistics among other useful stats.
Don’t worry if you don’t have much time to spend writing a post on Instagram at certain intervals during the day. You can easily schedule future posts using mobile and desktop apps Hootsuite or Buffer. It is a personal preference which you use in the end but we use Hootsuite.
Step 6 – Engage with followers
As a small business or a brand, it is vital that you build good, solid personal relationships with your audience. This way trust is built up and then when people look to buy, they know who you are and how to buy. If you are a bricks and mortar business then you can use Instagram locations to find people to interact with. Simply type in a location and find users, or you can search the hashtags for a certain location.
Ask your followers questions
When you post, ask your followers questions to create two-way communication. Don’t be a megaphone, be a telephone! It’s all about starting a conversation with your audience. An example would be if you were selling smoothies, take a picture of all the different flavours and line them up and ask your followers which they prefer. Make it relevant and real, if it’s a sunny maybe say “Which one of these smoothies would cool you down the best?”
Follow users in your Niche
Click on the hashtags that you are using to post and see what other people are posting! (make sure you are focussing on real people rather than other brands). Follow followers of similar businesses to you and see if you they will follow you back. If they don’t follow you back after a few days you may want to unfollow them. On the hashtags that you are posting for, like and comment on photos of users. Be careful when commenting that it doesn’t sound like spam, just comment something positive that will get someone to visit your page without sounding too much like an advert.
If you have a presence on other platforms then you can run competitions to gain more followers, maybe they must share something and follow you to be entered. Even if you don’t have other platforms if you use the hashtag #competition there will always be people searching for one.
Get user-generated content
If your business is a product business, encourage users to send in their own photos of your product to get featured on your page. Get them to use a special hashtag so you can pick it up. Not only are they posting it to all their followers, but you also gain social credibility from both sets of followers.
Go Live on Instagram Live
If you have a special event or a big announcement to make then going Live on Instagram is a great idea. Your followers will get a notification and it will give you a chance to project your message without the chance of people missing it when scrolling through their newsfeed. Live video gives you a great place to speak to people in real time and is more interesting because of how interactive it is!
Ask your followers to tag their friends
To help make your content get a further reach (more unique readers on your post) ask users to tag a friend on your post. However, your followers own reputations are at stake when tagging a friend. The content must make the viewer feel something strong. It must be funny, related, entertaining, interesting, inspiring or all the above otherwise you will not want to be getting anyone tagging their friends on your posts.
Reply to Direct Messages
If your followers have any private questions they wish to ask you and they don’t want to ask publically in the comments, then they may use the direct message section. Always check your DMs and always respond, it can also add a personal touch to it. Greet new followers if you have the time, really take care of your audience.
Step 7 – Instagram Stories
Instagram stories can be a good way of showing the day to day running of your business, it is useful for showing your brand personality. If you are in an office, do an office tour or interviews with members of staff. Show how you make your produce if you work in a bakery, get people intrigued in what you are doing so they start to follow you more closely.
To get photos/videos on your story make the dimensions 720px by 1280px.
Step 8 – Working with others
We just mentioned Instagram stories, if you try it out and it is not working then work with other people with a larger following than you. Get them to come and visit you and get them to take over your Instagram story, get them to let their followers know first so hopefully, they come over to you.
In your niche, there will be accounts with large followings, they monetise their accounts by selling advert space. Make sure you do your research and get the best price possible, always check that they are getting legitimate engagements so you know you are getting the best value for money.
Offer your product to an influencer in your niche and ask them to do a review, depending on the number of followers you may have to pay but some may do it for free (providing you give them a free product).
Competitions with influencers
We just briefly touched on influencers, get in touch with a carefully targeted influencer and ask them about running a competition through them. Ideally, you want the participants to have to share something to their network of followers to enter, work with the influencer to see what they recommend and what they have done in the past.
Step 9 – Repeat, review and be persistent
Like anything, building a brand or a business online takes time. But the key is to keep at it every day. Set some time aside every day to manage your engagements with the community and set aside a few hours of your week to create great content and captions. Create a strategy that will last, it is not worth putting a lot of effort in one week and then posting nothing for another two weeks.
- Check your insights almost daily so you know you are posting at the right times
- Check which types of post get the most engagements whether it’s photos or videos
- Constantly trial out different hashtags and see which have the most engagements
- Make a note of all your statistics on a spreadsheet
Track your results on our free Excel spreadsheet, it will then give you a graph on how things are going week by week.
Have we missed anything out?
If you are interested in a free custom Instagram strategy review for your business then please visit our social media marketing section and fill in the short form.