It’s no secret that Instagram is a powerhouse player in the social media world. With over 600 million active users, the platform only keeps growing as it’s boasted 100 million new users since June.
If you want to create a popular Instagram brand for your company or even create and monetize a new brand, it’s easier than ever in today’s world. The attention is there. There are willing buyers. And as always, content is king.
Here are some tips on how I’ve grown an active an engaged community of over 12,000 followers in just a few short months:
1. Know Your Niche
This is arguably the most important part of growing a strong Instagram fan base — knowing what type of visual content your target audience wants to consume.
What started off as a realization that I followed numerous accounts that posted pictures from around the Pacific Northwest turned into an idea that I could capitalize on the cult following these accounts got.
People in the PNW are so proud of where they’re from and are always excited to share pictures of their favorite places. In the midst of luscious landscapes and hidden lakes, I discovered a community of passionate people who love where they live.
Not only do they love to see pictures from around the PNW, but they love to share their adventures with others.
With this idea in mind, PNW Paradise was born.
2. It’s Okay to Crowdsource Content
We live in a day and age that’s marred by social media users wanting more. More likes. More comments. And yes, more followers.
In a time where some people think our follower count becomes our social worth, so many social media users try to find outlets to get their content and name out to the masses.
Gone are the days where bigger accounts get in trouble for reposting content that isn’t original without giving credit to who it came from (yes, I’m looking at you @FuckJerry and @TheFatJew). Now, with a simple @mention you can usually turn repurposing content into a positive by giving credit to the original creator.
It’s a give-and-take scenario. You’re using content from another user in order to consistently post on your account and, in turn, you’re providing photographers an outlet to get their work showcased.
*In the rare case, you may have a photographer reach out and ask you to take their photo down or have you ask for permission the next time. Not a huge deal, just be a kind person and always put other users first to respect their creative abilities!
3. Use #Hashtags
While the #hashtag was born on Twitter, social media users long for being able to find relevant content to consumer and using hashtags on Instagram is a great way to do this.
First of all, I really recommend creating a brand hashtag for your page. For PNW Paradise, I use #PNWparadise (pretty simple, right?). What this does, however, is create a hub for your content and for similar content. Users are able to click on that hashtag to view pictures and videos that align with your page’s vibe.
In addition, once you build this hub it begins to work as a marketing tool for you. Users will become familiar with your hashtag, utilize it in their own posts, and, in turn, attract their followers to your hub.
Step two of hashtags would be utilizing the way Instagram works. In each post, you’re able to use up to 30 hashtags. I recommend sourcing hashtags from similar accounts. Yes, other brands are using hashtags! Which leads me to my next point…
DO NOT spam your captions with a list of hashtags. It’s a huge turn off to consumers, looks spammy, and quite frankly is the sign of terrible marketing. Rather, hide the hashtags within your comments section (with periods . . .) like so:
By using a brand hashtag and hiding up to 29 other relevant hashtags in the comments, you’ll gain extra exposure, new followers, and a hell of a lot more engagement.
4. Engage, engage, engage…
Sometimes, it’s like beating a dead horse. But, you will get absolutely nowhere on social media if you’re not using each platform for what they’re made for — socializing!
Yes, there are plenty of tools like Instagress to help you automate this process, but nothing will compare to actually putting in an extra 15-30 minutes throughout the day to like and comment on other users content.
While doing so, try to be unique. No one is blind to the fact that there are social media bots that post generic, annoying comments like “Nice!” “Great work!” or my personal favorite “Thanks for this one! Have a great day!”
Thanks man… I will have a great day.
With a feature account like @PNW.paradise, I get a lot of Direct Messages asking me to feature images or inquiries about products. I make it my goal to respond to every single message I receive and have gotten an overwhelming positive feedback from doing so. Here are a few great examples of a positive consumer response by simply engaging:
Long story short:
If you’re trying to organically grow a social media account, there are no shortcuts.
Put in the work, get results. It’s as simple as that.
With this tips above, I’ve managed to grow the PNW Paradise Instagram account to over 12,000 followers, amass over 500,000 likes and 5,000 comments, and turned a simple social media account into a side hustle in just a few short months.