In the past 3 months I’ve grown my Instagram following by almost 1,000 people, to over 8,000 followers.
Thus, to me, these numbers are more than a vanity metric because I appreciate the measurable contribution this growth has made, to my bottom line.
How did I achieve this?
In this post I’m sharing tried and tested approaches you can explore, to grow your Instagram.
Why I decided to pay attention
Before this past quarter, I was quite haphazard with my Instagram activity. Sometimes I’d be super consistent and then I’d fall off.
It wasn’t a priority.
However, when I started to pay attention to where most of our sales and commissions were coming from – it was Instagram!
I knew I needed to start taking it more seriously and make it a business priority.
So I decided to do so. I committed to posting regularly, and most importantly, to spending time engaging with people. 40-60 minutes a day.
And it worked!
I reached new people, established and grew relationships and some of them converted into income for my business.
Here are 10 specific things I did or focused on, that you can also implement, to grow your Instagram and convert followers to clients/customers.
Grow your Instagram and your bottom line
In no particular order …
1. Consider your visual style and structure
People make a decision to engage with your feed – or not – in a matter of seconds. This decision is largely informed by visual pleasure. By what they see when they swipe their fingers a couple of times, to scroll down your feed.
What the eye loves is some sort of consistency, especially regarding colour. Pay attention to your own behaviour and you’ll notice it.
Ensure your feed has some sort of consistency – some “rules.” Rules will really help you with creative inspiration too!
I decided to alternate photos and artwork. That was one level of “rules” or structure I gave myself. It enabled me to showcase my physical products, as well as artwork that is often just created for digital consumption.
My plan was to post 6 times a week so I decided on 6 different types of post that I would rotate through. This gave me another level of structure.
Structure not only helps with visual cohesion but also, with content creation. You know in advance what you need to create and so you can be more efficient – batching and/or delegating as necessary.
2. Have a defined audience
Being very clear about who you’re speaking to will help you use your Instagram time in a very focused way.
Plus, it will help you attract followers who are actually interested in your end-products/services, not just in following you and then never engaging with you again (although, some proportion of these followers is inevitable).
COVID-19 came with huge clarity for me and I decided to focus on creative business owners.
3. Have a consistent message
Once you have committed to a specific audience, it’s easy to discover what it is they want.
Pick a few topics, or themes, to focus on and really explore them. Approach them from various angles, break them down and dig deep.
Choose relevant hashtags. Use them on your own posts to signpost your content to those looking for it; explore them to discover like-minded accounts (and audiences) and engage with them; and follow them so you see related posts on your newsfeed/timeline.
See my recent post: “Growing your audience made easy,” for more related tips.
4. Create carousels
Carousels are those slideshow where you can have up to 10 images and/or videos in one post.
They’re a great way to deliver more value as you have 10 times the opportunity to really get into a subject or showcase something.
Give your audience something useful and leave them wanting for more. Direct them to your site/blog/mailing list etc. for satisfaction.
One way to go about this is to use your carousel to set up why something is important and then direct them where you show them how to do/get it.
5. Have an engagement plan
Engaging with people is mostly how I spend my 40-60 minutes of daily Instagram time. I have a checklist to work through, so that I stay focused because, we all know how easy it is to go off on a tangent on Instagram :).
The basics of the plan is to:
- Respond to all DMs and comments
- Engage with followers (including welcoming new ones)
- Engage with other people’s posts – people whose message is along the lines of yours and who are speaking to a similar audience. Embrace a mindset of synergy not competition.
- Just put the time in!
6. Stories, stories, stories!
Stories drive engagement and often lead to more intimate conversations because they are private to you and the other person.
Post to your stories daily. They keep your account active (i.e. present in people’s minds), even when you don’t post to your feed.
And the great thing with stories is you can curate images from other people’s feeds. Often, I will come up with a theme/angle, find other people’s images that fit the bill, and share them to my stories.
For example, when promoting the Afri-love Connection Club webinar on rest, I found various beautiful illustrations of women resting, and shared them in my stories. I finished with a call-to-action to sign up to the webinar.
7. Share videos
People love videos but we often shy away from sharing any, often because we’re self-conscious or perfectionists!
The great thing about sharing videos in your Instagram stories is that they don’t have to be perfect. In fact, relatability wins.
When I was launching Free to Create, I fell very sick. But I had this plan of content to deliver and some of it involved videos in my stories. There I was, feeling horrible and looking the part but, you know what? I just kept it real. And my videos sparked conversations that led to people signing up.
A great tip I got from Finn at The Positive Planner is, to include “sub-titles” that summarise what you’re saying in the video. Sometimes people don’t have the patience to watch videos (guilty!) or the freedom to have their sound on. Sub-titles will help them get the gist of what you’re talking about.
8. Take advantage of polls and questions
Use these nifty little features in the stories interface to help inspire engagement – to start conversations. When somebody DMs you, that’s the potential start of a meaningful new relationship.
9. Run a challenge
I started my #plantsomethingweekly challenge around the time I decided to get serious about Instagram. A spin-off of my #plantsomethingdaily, I create a new prompt each week and invite my mailing list subscribers to create a piece of plant-inspired art.
They are encouraged to post their creations on Instagram and, when they do, I share them in my stories. This also helps to build community. It’s so wonderful to see participants who previously didn’t know each other, connecting.
The challenge has started new relationships and grown existing ones. Mainly in the DMs.
It has also helped to grow my email list which, the final tip has also contributed to…
10. Create a juicy freebie
A freebie is also known as a lead magnet or opt-in. It’s essentially something valuable you offer to people, in exchange for their email address.
When you’ve put some of the above tips into practice, monitor how people are engaging with you and your content. What clues can you discern about what people need? Perhaps they’re straight-up asking for certain things!
Following feedback from readers, I turned it into an Instagram carousel post. Following the reaction to that, I turned it into a workbook which I use as an incentive to invite people onto my mailing list.
Once people are on your email list, you can continue a conversation with them that is free of distractions. It also provides security against an event such as Instagram shutting down and you losing contact with all those people you’ve invested so much time in. Thus, your aim to grow your Instagram should feed the greater purpose of growing your list and more generally, your audience off the platform.
Indeed, a juicy freebie converts your audience to a whole new level of relationship (and potential income)!
It’s important to always consider the goal of your posts and interactions on Instagram and craft from there.
What do you want people to do? What is the purpose of every post and every story?
Don’t feel the pressure to just post for the sake of posting. All you’ll do is create noise rather than value.
Once you know the purpose of each post and story, make sure to have a clear call-to-action that encourages engagement. So when you include questions, make them easy to answer and you’ll be more likely to get … answers!
There’s one last thing that brings these 10 tips to grow your Instagram (and bottom line) together – systems! Which all begins with good planning.
Lastly, don’t forget to track your interventions – to see what results your time investment is having.
Want more tried-and-tested tips?
I’ll be sharing my planning templates and checklists to grow your Instagram, with my Free to Create community. The next intake will be in December.
Sign up to the waiting list for announcements when it’s about to open, as well as juicy tasters and resources in the meantime.