How to Boost Your Number of Followers on Instagram

The diligent reader of the Mindjumpers blog will have noticed that visual communication is a much-discussed topic here on the blog: Instagram, video sharing apps, visual storytelling and much more. The reason why we post so much about this subject is that we think brands should highly prioritise this way of creating user engagement in their social media strategies in order to build a strong brand identity. Visual content allows you to quickly convey the core of your message and with the mobile shift of today’s society, instant photo sharing has become increasingly popular. Instagram today has more than 30 million followers and more people join the network everyday. So if your brand has a unique visual content to share, you should certainly consider joining the platform.

However, it is not an easy task to be successful in creating a strong visual identity or in attracting followers to your Instagram account. Therefore, if you choose to build a presence on Instagram, you must imperatively treat this platform as any of your other social media presences. Don’t open an Instagram account for your brand if you don’t plan on being serious about it, as it might just end up hurting your image if the account is managed without consistency.
Here is some advice on to how to build a strong presence on Instagram to attract more followers.

 

Interact with your followers
Interacting with your Instagram community by following, commenting and liking photos will draw attention to your account and make you gain more followers.

  • Follow people who take photos that you think match your brand. Don’t just follow back any person who follows your account, but choose carefully who you follow. If you don’t know who to follow, you can always dig into the Explore tab (previously called the “popular tab”).
  • Comment and like selected followers’ photos. People are always happy when someone likes their photo, and if you even comment on a photo, people will be pleased and see that you have taken the time to properly look at their photos. Again, avoid doing this too often in order for people to feel that you genuinely like their specific photo, and not just every photo they take. As people can see which photos you have liked, it will look like spam if you like too many photos. The point of commenting and liking photos is not only to engage with followers, it’s also a way to increase your visibility and make people aware of your existence.
  • Mention people using the @ such as the person on the picture or the one who has taken the picture. This is also a good way to show appreciation of important followers.

 

 

Use hashtags
Use the hashtag (#) function to start conversations about different subjects significant to your brand and indicate the theme of the photo – but don’t over do it. Limit yourself to one or two hashtags in one picture. If you use too many hashtags, you risk losing followers as it takes up too much space in their news feed and it makes you seem a bit desperate.

  • Look into which hashtags your followers and Instagram users in general are using that could be relevant to your brand. This will allow you to join conversations about trending topics as well as making it easier for people to find your photos and doubtlessly increase your visibility. At the moment popular hashtags could be #summer #festival #euro2012 and so on.

You might also want to consider building a brand ambassador program, the same way as you would make a blog ambassador program, or create a photo contest to increase your visibility.

 

Plan your content
Once you’ve gained followers, what can you do to keep them? You must plan and manage your content, listen to your users and engage with them in order to maintain the community.

  • Posting rhythm – find the right posting rhythm. Post regularly but not too often, and don’t post more photos at the same time. You don’t want your followers to see the content as spam. Even if someone likes the photos you post, they don’t want to see their news feed dominated by your brand’s post. If this is not respected, you risk losing followers.
  • Content publish plan – plan your content a couple of weeks a head. You should of course stay flexible and also post unplanned photos, if you consider them to be more relevant.

 

Monitoring

  • Monitor which photos are the most popular on Instagram in order to know what people are interested in at the moment and consider what makes them popular.
  • Monitor which of your own photos generate the most comments and likes to know what kind of photos to post in the future.

 

Instagram’s New Algorithm – What You Need to Know

IMG_8423Nearly 6 years after its initial release and 400 million users later, Instagram is fast-approaching the ad-supported dominance of Facebook. Last week, it introduced its very own algorithm, following in the footsteps of Twitter and its parent company Facebook. Whether this is an enhancement is debatable and many seem to be divided on the matter as it stands. It begins with co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom explaining that “on average, people miss about 70% of the posts in their Instagram feed”, which may be alarming to some.

 

Twitter jumped onto the algorithm bandwagon only last month and has received its own amount of backlash from it. The fear that it will destroy live-tweeting and the key reason people love twitter is amongst the concerns. Of course, users tend to prefer what they’re used to on social networks and aren’t very welcoming to change, so this may pass.

Facebook’s introduction of its algorithm, which was due to extraordinary growth, was a much-needed overhaul of the News Feed. The fact that Facebook is bigger than the largest country on earth makes it almost essential for it to filter out unwanted posts and let its users receive the most relevant content. The question now is, does Instagram need it too?

Facebook Instant Articles was also released last year, which is a great way for Facebook to avoid the standard embedded browser mechanics that so many apps rely on. This allows users to view news more fluently by delivering a more native user experience. It also coincided with the release of the Apple News app, which has recently opened its doors to all publishers. The fact that developers are now realising the public’s thirst for news makes things extremely well-timed for the ever-growing amount of algorithms social is seeing. We need news, whether it be world news or friend news, and we need it fast – even if we missed it being posted.

 

What This Means for Brands

From a brand perspective, it is unquestionably going to become more complicated to market on Instagram. There are many visual-based brands that invest a great deal of money into Instagram to be able to reach a specific audience or age group. One example is brands paying influencers to promote their product, which has ultimately made it possible for those influencers to make a living by monetising their audience on the platform. This is achieved with a combination of brand sponsorships from companies, product promotion and follower reach. So how will it affect their livelihood? Companies will be much more demanding when it comes to requesting the influencer’s actual reach once it’s available, which will very likely decrease the amount that influencers are paid. This, in translation, means that influencers could ultimately be forced to take a pay cut with the introduction of this algorithm.

In layman’s terms, brands will be required to pay for their posts to reach their fans. This is especially true if the posts have little engagement, which exactly replicates Facebook’s model as Instagram takes its big brother’s handy advice. A key question here is, will the quality of posts increase due to content ‘needing’ engagement to push through?

Additionally, until now, brands have been supplied with little to no data on their Instagram channels. With this algorithm and a clear business objective from Facebook to increase ad turnover on Instagram, the company knows that advertisers expect something in return. The exchange is a classic eyeballs and actions for paid budgets and to prove delivery of reach and actions, Facebook will need to provide data and show that brands are getting their money’s worth.

 

Implications & Considerations

As general guidance, it may be efficient to stop thinking about news feeds as stories. A profile is a story and will probably always remain that way, but a news feed is a different beast altogether. With the algorithm, your followers might see some of your posts in their feed but far from all, making feed storytelling pretty much impossible. The challenge is to create a valuable brand presence on social that is recognizable without the context of other content.

Another discussion point is how Instagram profiles compare to Facebook profiles for brands. Facebook Pages made it easier to separate personal and brand pages, but Instagram has yet to do such a thing. Will we see something similar in the future? If so, it is sure to bring a great deal more features from Facebook to Instagram, which is undeniably the path we’re on with the two companies. Another thing to start considering is whether Instagram will eventually suppress almost all organic ads, like Facebook does. After all, having an algorithm like this can undeniably camouflage the real reason followers are missing so many posts.

Overall, Instagram is rapidly growing to greater capacities, users are posting more and we ultimately live in an algorithmic world as far as social is concerned. And as Instagram ads are managed through Facebook, they are extremely easy to target to a specific audience, which appealingly makes use of Facebook’s limitless data. These will undoubtedly merge together to form one giant supply of data and algorithms will most likely do the same. So it could be Facebook’s existing model that Instagram slowly turns into. Simply put, like father, like son.