Whether you are deciding to implement Instagram into your brand's marketing mix or are just trying to revamp the channel, it’s important to be strategic and intentional with your efforts. In order to see substantial, long-term success on this platform, throwing ad dollars at it will only do so much. You have to put in the time.
One of the best ways to grow your Instagram followers is to act as a genuine user – be completely and utterly obsessed with it.
Having authentic interactions with people allows them to foster a more personal relationship with your brand and encourages them to follow you.
Brands can learn a lot from successful influencers. A popular method for influencers to increase their following is to like and follow as many people as they can – often unfollowing those users later.
This helps in two ways. One is that it creates awareness for your page by placing notifications in someone's feed. Second is that by going to the length of following someone, it creates the potential for a more intimate interaction with them and often creates a compulsion for fans to follow back.
Not only does following and interacting with others require a lot of time and frequency in order to be effective, it can easily be abused to the point of being considered spam by the platform.
In order to combat spam, Instagram will “shadowban” those they suspect of trying to game the system. This is when Instagram temporarily stops you from following more people, hides your posts from users who don’t follow you and removes your post from reaching hashtag feeds. This causes your organic reach to dramatically decrease which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do.
This is why authenticity is key to successfully grow your following. If you are using the platform like a real user, you should have no problem keeping your engagements genuine and not be flagged as spam.
The best way to grow your following and ensure success and longevity is to do so in an authentic and meaningful manner.
First, identify Instagram accounts and influencers who represent both your brand’s look and feel and values. You can then take this list and comb through their followers and engage with those individuals. Start by liking and commenting on their photos, and of course, following them.
When engaging with people, make sure to be genuine. Posting a generic stock message on every photo looks bad. It not only looks like you are spamming, it makes the brand come off as disingenuous. There are tools that automate this. However, we recommend steering clear of these. IG-savvy users can smell the fakeness a mile away.
In addition to authentic interaction, it’s important to offer your fans perceived value in the content you're creating. If they value what you're showing them, they'll see your initial interaction as an invitation rather than an annoyance.
If showing too high of a following count (the limit is 7,500), or the ratio of following to followers on your page is of concern to you, then you can cull down your list over time by unfollowing some of the people who you followed previously in order to cut down on the number shown. When you unfollow people, you should expect to see a slight drop off in followers. However, as a brand you should expect this to be minimal.
With all the bots and follower farms being used today by brands, authenticity is more important than ever in building trust with your fans. Organically growing your Instagram following in a strategic, intentional and meaningful way is the best way to help shield you from the current social media backlash.