Over the past few years, Instagram has grown significantly as a social media platform, and it is now competing with all the top social media giants like Facebook and YouTube. As of 2021, the platform has over 1 billion users with over 500 million monthly active users.
As the platform is growing rapidly, it’s difficult for businesses to gain their audience’s attention. However, this doesn’t keep them from using the platform.
Don’t take our word for it—over 25 million businesses currently have accounts on Instagram, with the majority planning to spend 60% of their social media marketing budget on Instagram.
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Even though the platform seems to be saturated and has little scope for growth, there are hacks that you can use to tap into the platform’s enormous potential. So, in this article, we’ll break down some Instagram growth hacks that you can use to establish authority in your niche.
Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm and how to outsmart it
We often hear social media experts complain about “limited reach” on the platform, but no one has yet discovered how to guarantee your reach.
The fundamental concept of the algorithm is that Instagram feeds content to its users depending on their activity—their interests (what they like to see), relationship(how much they engage through comments or DM), and timeliness(most recent content).
This means the more inclined users are towards your content, the more they engage with you, and the more you post your content at their most active times during the day—the more chances you have to be discovered.
Here are some best practices you can follow, irrespective of the algorithm, to get the best results from Instagram:
- Create a consumer persona: Understand who your audience is; this will give you a better understanding of the type of content you should create.
- Optimize your profile for your target audience: Use keywords your audience is most likely to search for, make your bio crystal clear and create an audience-specific content strategy.
- Consistently produce high-quality content: Consistency is key to success on any social media platform. But not just consistency, quality content that matches your audience’s needs is important for Instagram success.
- Leverage Instagram analytics: Post when your audience is most active, see how your posts are performing and double down on what’s getting you more reach and followers for better results.
8 Instagram growth Hacks to get a more engaged following
Growth hacks are no shortcuts to growth but rather ways to increase your chances of finding success and growing on the platform. Now that we’ve discussed some general best practices to beat the algorithm, let’s look at some proven growth hacks you can include in your Instagram strategy to get the best results from your profile.
1. Make use of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are one of the most effective and easy ways to interact with your followers. As per research, over 500 million people view Instagram Stories daily.
Further, you have a range of options to engage your audience. Putting up polls and asking interesting questions through the question sticker are great ways to start a conversation with your audience, understand their needs and encourage them to engage with you more often.
You can also make announcements and launch products through stories to do a mix of engagement and promotion.
For example, Alex Cattoni, a copywriter and coach, started a 5-day email marketing challenge, and for each person who signed up, she wrote their name on a piece of paper and attached it to her wall, creating her own design. Then she added it to her story every time she got a new name.
People who had registered began to spot their names on the wall and started sharing them in their stories.
2. Leverage the Reels storm
However, solely creating reels to stay up with the trend won’t be beneficial. It may boost the number of followers on your account, but it won’t guarantee long-term quality followers. So, having a strategy for creating reels is critical.
Here, you can target your niche audience by creating a unique concept or making educational content through reels.
Take John Liang as an example. He’s a financial influencer and uses reels to educate his audience about complicated finance topics in an entertaining manner. As a result, his videos often get more views than the number of followers.
A quick growth hack while making reels or any form of video content for Instagram is—using subtitles. On Instagram, most people view videos on mute, and adding subtitles can help you get your message through even if the user is on mute. Plus, it makes your content more inclusive for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
3. Develop a hashtag strategy
Hashtags play a crucial part in getting reach, increasing engagement and exposing you to new audiences by placing you on the Explore page. But very few utilize them effectively.
Before you start using hashtags, you need to understand the different types of hashtags and which ones you should use to get the best results:
- Location-based hashtags when you are targeting a particular demographic like #CentralPark or #NorthGoa
- Hashtags for branded campaigns like #ShareACoke or #OreoHorrorStories
- Niche-specific hashtags like #Copywriter or #YogaInstructor
- Hashtags related to a particular community like #Bikers or #FitnessEnthusiast
- Hashtags related to the type of content in the post like #ChocolateCakeTutorial or #TopStocksToBuy
Your best bet is to identify who you’re trying to target and reach with your content.
Another relevant strategy to make the most of hashtags is following the hashtags relevant to your niche.
For example, suppose you are a handmade soap company. You can search and follow the hashtag #HandMadeSoap to see other people’s content under this hashtag. Slowly, start engaging with these posts with high-value comments to allow more people to discover you.
4. Collaborate with micro-influencers in your niche
Influencer marketing is a $13.8 billion industry and is an incredible tactic to get more eyes on your products and brand to serve your primary purpose—sales, sign-ups, brand awareness and discovery. However, partnering with top influencers can be expensive for small businesses, and this is where micro-influencers come in.
They are niche-specific influencers with 1,000 to 10,000+ engaged followers. Collaborating with these influencers allows businesses to target a very specific audience. In fact, 82% of consumers say they are more likely to buy things recommended by a micro-influencer.
However, finding the right influencer isn’t a cakewalk. You need to ensure they create content in-line with your brand values and have an engaged and authentic following, among other things like their rates and content quality.
To vet influencers and ensure you’re investing in the right one for your brand—follow them, observe their content, the reach they get and whether they have substantial active users before moving further.
Here’s an example of a collaboration between IGK Hair and Jocelyn, a health and beauty influencer. IGK Hair collaborated with her, despite having just over 2,000 followers—further validating the power and popularity of micro-influencer collaboration.
5. Include User-Generated Content (UGC)
UGC is the content created by your audience, without any collaboration or endorsement agreement but purely out of love for the brand and the products. A great example of UGC in effect is sharing reposts of customer reviews in stories.
A great way to motivate your audience to post more UGC and create a repository of such content is using a branded hashtag.
Work Hard Anywhere is a great Instagram page, purely based on user-generated content. It shows images of people working hard from different parts of the world, giving people the ideas to build a great workplace for themselves, wherever they go and work from.
6. Repurpose your content
Social media demands consistency, but consistent content creation isn’t smooth. You might have busy days, streaks of low creativity and holidays, among other things. Here, repurposing acts as a great escape.
It allows you to reuse previous content for new channels with minimal modifications. You can convert a blog post into Instagram Carousels, YouTube videos into IGTV videos, and then IGTV videos into reels.
You can also repurpose a single piece of content using different Instagram features. For example, if you do a live session, you’ll get at least 45 minutes to an hour of content. Later, you can cut and edit it into smaller IGTV videos or reels to retain relevant parts of the conversation and offer high-value content to your audience.
Using screenshots of your best tweets is another great repurposing hack.
For example, Gary Vee shared a screenshot of a Twitter post responding to one of his followers. He smartly repurposed it on Instagram by taking a screenshot and adding a caption to it, giving some new content to his Instagram audience.
If you start repurposing your content effectively, the sky’s the limit with how you can use a single piece of content.
7. Create content that can be shared and saved
The more people share your content, the more traffic your account will receive, and your Instagram profile will grow. But for this, creating targeted and valuable content for your audience is essential.
A great way to identify what type of content you should create for your audience such that they share it with their followers and even save it for future reference is to observe what other people in your industry are creating.
Notice things like: the topics they’re using, how they’re presenting their content, what kind of graphics they’re using, how they’re communicating the message to the audience, and how the audience is engaging with their content.
This way, you can recognize the type of content that’ll work best for your audience and start experimenting. As a general rule of thumb, people save the things that motivate, educate, or entertain them. So, with every piece of content, try to provide this feeling to the audience.
Vanessa Lau, an online business coach and a social media marketer, creates educational content related to business lessons and social media with a touch of entertainment. They’re high-value pieces of content that are also fun to watch, making them perfect for sharing and saving.
8. Take advantage of Instagram’s paid advertising
With a potential ad reach of 1.16 billion users on Instagram this year, leveraging paid advertising is a no-brainer to drive more attention and get your audience to take the desired action—messaging you, following you, booking a call, visiting your website, or directly purchasing a product.
Thus, it helps you convert followers into customers.
As a pro-tip, shoot your Instagram ads with your mobile, as mobile-shot ads have a 63% probability of outperforming studio-shot advertisements.
However, spending on advertisements will not provide results unless you follow the other hacks mentioned in this article as ads only boost what you’ve already done. If you run great ads, and your audience visits your profile but you have an unclear bio, and a vague content strategy—it won’t get you any results.
From creators to businesses—a lot of Instagram profiles are trying to grow on the platform.
But it’s not an easy feat. Good thing, you can always boost your chances of reaching new audiences and getting more eyes to your content with some proven growth hacks.
However, it’s essential to understand that these growth hacks won’t get you overnight results. You need to consistently dedicate yourself to the platform and create high-value content coupled with other growth strategies that work best for your Instagram goals, audience and business needs.