15 Instagram Audience Growth Hacks You Probably Didn’t Know

By May 2, 2017 No Comments

If you’re a business owner not using these Instagram follower growth hacks, you’re most likely leaving a bunch of money on the table.

Instagram, which came out in 2010, is still hot in 2017 with 700 million users. And you’d have to be crazy to not believe a significant number of your customers are already spending time on this app.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here are specific benefits for companies who actively use Instagram:

  • Build an audience
  • Establish familiarity and trust for your brand
  • Announce news (product releases, holiday specials, giveaways)
  • Manage PR
  • Sell more products or services

And to dispel the myth that Instagram marketing doesn’t produce real results for a business, check these stats out:

  • 75% of Instagram users take action to learn more (like clicking to your website) after looking at an Instagram advertising post
  • 33% of Instagram users have purchased a product online through their phone, where non-Instagram users are 70% less likely to do so
  • US teens call Instagram their most important social network

Because of these powerful statistics I’d recommend every business to actively use Instagram. Though if your product or service deals with teens or young adults, marketing on Instagram doesn’t become a choice anymore—it’s a must.

Most likely your issue is these users don’t know about your company, what problem it solves for them, and how to buy your product or service.

If they already did, they would be following you and business would be booming—even if you received a sliver of those 700 million users.

So how do you get more followers and then more Instagram-generated sales?

Here are 15 different hacks to build your Instagram following and conversions through the app.

How To Get A Huge Instagram Following

1. Switch to a business account

In case this isn’t done yet, complete all the necessary profile information including profile picture, name, bio, and website.

Then if you don’t have it set up this way already, you should switch over to a business account.

The main advantages of a business account are:

  • You get contact buttons that make it easy for people to call or email you
  • It’s clear you’re a business
  • You receive account insights about your weekly performance
  • It’s simple to create an Instagram ad

And your account has to be public if you want to make it easy for people to follow you, see your posts, and click on your website link.

To switch to a business profile: 1) log in to Instagram, 2) click your profile picture on the bottom right to go to your profile, 3) click the settings icon on the top right, 4) click ‘Switch to Business Profile’, 5) complete the set up process.

2. Have a plan

How is your page going to be different than other business accounts? What will make hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands of people want to follow your brand and like your posts? And how will you monetize your following down the road?

Having a plan means answering at the very minimum those three questions and brainstorming what you want your overall Instagram account to convey about your company.

No strategy means your account has a better chance of slacking and underperforming expectations. You don’t have time for that.

If you spend time to create a strategy to stand out and then stick to it, your following will grow.

And having a plan makes point #3 below much easier to execute.

3. Publish consistently

Just as I explained in this article on SEO traffic tips, you need to consistently put out content if you want to build an audience that cares about what your company says.

If you don’t, there’s just too much noise and too many other companies vying for attention that your business will be forgotten. And if you lose their attention on Instagram, odds are you’ve lost their attention to visit your store or restaurant.

Aim to publish at least 3 to 4 posts a week to stay relevant and avoid being forgotten. Do this and you’ll have around 200 solid posts 365 days from now that market and sell your brand.

Or if you’re really up for the task, then post once or twice a day. While what you’re selling has to be quality, the marketing can be more quantity than quality.

And don’t forget about posting Instagram stories. These are another way to gain attention and connect with your audience. You should publish multiple stories a day to stay in your followers’ minds.

4. Post at the right time

According to 16 studies, the best time to post on Instagram is in the 8 to 9 AM window.


This makes sense when you realize that about 80% of the US is in the Eastern or Central time zone. And this time is right before work starts where most people are on their phones as much as possible before it’s not socially acceptable to be during work.

However, since all audiences are unique and come from a mix of different time zones, the best way to know what time gets high engagement from your audience is to experiment with posting at different times.

For example, if you’re a local brick and mortar California surf shot, you may not want to post at 8 AM EST because 99% of your audience will be asleep at 5 AM their time. But if you have an online store then it may make sense to post at 5 AM PST.

Take note of what days and times work best, then stick to those. And if you’re posting consistently then you’ll discover this ideal time pretty soon.

5. Utilize video

You’ll see every company post filtered pictures on their accounts because it’s safer and easier to make it look pretty compared to video.

But your audience doesn’t always want pretty.

They want real. They want behind the scenes access of your business. They want to get to know the owner and watch the employees interact. Sometimes they want spontaneous, fun, and weird.

That’s why you have to post videos on your Instagram account. People want it and they will be more likely to follow a company they get to know than one that sounds like a company memo every time they post.

It’ll be uncomfortable at first if you’re not used to being in front of the camera. Just know that video posts and Instagram story videos are a unique angle to stand out from your competition and invite your audience to get to know you better.

Want to really get outside your comfort zone? Try an Instagram live video.

6. Give value

You’ll see caring about your audience and customers as a constant theme here. It’s so interesting that companies who give value to others are successful and build a business that lasts. Imagine that?

Same concept is true on Instagram: give value to your followers.

Though you may put in work on Instagram for selfish marketing and sales reasons—totally fine and smart actually—don’t let that message be communicated through your posts.

One way to care is to think of yourself as a potential customer and ask yourself, “What would I want to learn or see from a company in this space?” Then do that.

Some quick solutions are to:

  • Educate your audience on their problems
  • Do question and answer sessions
  • Show customer success stories
  • Give free products or services every once in awhile
  • Highlight your company’s mission statement in your posts and captions

And a good rule of thumb I’ve found is to do 90% giving value posts and 10% promotional posts.

Too much promotion and you’ll turn off your audience, but no promotions and you won’t maximize your sales off Instagram.

Ironically giving value to your audience will return loyal fans who want to share the word about your company and buy what you’re selling.

7. Know what hashtags work

Did you know that your posts will get 12.6% more engagement with at least one hashtag?

What about the fact that more hashtags equals more engagement?

Hashtags work because Instagram users are always searching by top and most recent posts by hashtag. And these means users that don’t follow you will find your posts based on hashtag, and often click ‘Follow.’

The key is to know what hashtags work. Though #love, #instadaily, and #cool are some of the most popular, they don’t say anything about your brand.

Find 30 hashtags that are both popular and directly related to your business to get this right—this tool will help. Another smart tip is to use some location-based hashtags so locals can easily find you.

Then post those hashtags in the caption or as a comment right after you publish your post. You’ll immediately see a higher engagement if you haven’t been using the best hashtags.

8. Collaborate with influencers

It may be scary at first but collaborations with influencers (an individual who has a big audience and can influence their followers to purchase) are nothing to worry about once you know what to do.

The first step is to research some Instagram influencers that you want to collaborate with (and who may be interested in working with you).

If you’re a local company, look for local influencers whose audience match your ideal customer. If you have a product that can be shipped anywhere, the list of influencers are unlimited.

Then send them a direct message with the details on Instagram or email them if they list their address in their bio.

Details should include your specific request, what’s in it for them, and any deadlines.

For example of how this works, maybe you’re a restaurant owner who collaborates with a local singer with 120,000 followers. You let her sing at your restaurants on Fridays if she agrees to tag and promote your restaurant in two posts a week.

Or maybe you sponsor a famous athlete’s camp if they agree to give your company a shoutout on Instagram.

9. Master the art of captions

One way to increase your business following is to use call to actions in your captions to tell people to like, comment, or tag their friends on your post.

A simple instruction can dramatically raise your post’s likes and comments. And then other people are more likely to see your post in the Explore page and Following page, which leads to more followers.

My favorite captions are the ones that instruct users to tag their friends if they can relate to the image. This is a great way to double or triple your exposure through organic outreach.

@Thefrootilife does a great job in this post:


People subconsciously like taking directions, especially if it only takes a second to pull off.

And other ways to get more out of your captions are to tag relevant accounts and add emojis.

10. Be versatile in your type of posts

I’ve already covered why to post both pictures and videos. But being versatile in what you post is about the message behind it.

Some companies only post promotions about their products or services. Others only post highlights about their performance or awards. And you’ll find plenty of businesses that only post quotes.

Being one-dimensional won’t help your marketing or sales. I mean would you want to only see quotes from an account? And imagine a friend who only talks to you about one thing, not a very interesting person.

Instead, spread out what types of posts you do so your account doesn’t become boring and redundant. People enjoy novelty—give it to them.

Highlight your employees. Share challenges. Talk about your new products. Ask for the audience’s opinion. Post about national holidays. I think you get the idea about being creative and versatile with what you post.

And a good rule of thumb I’ve found is to do 20% promotional posts and 80% giving value posts.

Too much promotion and you’ll turn off your audience, but no promotions and you won’t maximize your sales off Instagram.

11. Respond to every comment

I know, it’s not fun. And when you’re super busy, it can feel like the last thing on your priority list to run your business—that’s why most companies are lazy in this area.

But I challenge you to respond to every comment on your posts. Start a conversation, ask questions, and develop relationships with your followers one by one.

Putting in the extra time to respond to comments will humanize your brand and increase your likability. And people appreciate when brands care about them.

That’s how you get people to follow, engage with your future posts, and buy from you.

Although it’s tedious, but it goes a long way in their minds and helps you stand out from the other companies who don’t give a crap about their customers.

(And here’s why and how your business needs to respond to every negative online review.)

12. Link to your Instagram on other platforms

This is a unique tip since it involves actions 100% outside of Instagram.

It’s a slick move to link to your Instagram account from other platforms. The reason this works is if you already have fans on other accounts or captured the emails of loyal customers, these are qualified leads who will be interested in following you on Instagram too.

They’ve already indirectly stated, “I like what your business is about,” and that’s why you’ll convert a bunch of followers from other locations if you make an effort.

Possible places where you may want to promote your Instagram profile include:

  • Website
  • Other social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
  • Email newsletter
  • Business cards
  • Packaging or bagging
  • Stickers
  • Gift cards

13. Run a contest or giveaway

What’s maybe the quickest way to grow an Instagram account? Run a contest or giveaway.

And not just any contest. This contest needs to be strategic in spreading the word about your business to attract maximum exposure and attention.

If you’re a dentist office, give away 5 free teeth whitening sessions.

If you’re a gym, give away free personal training for 1 year.

If you’re an online education company, give 1 lucky winner your premium online course.

You might think, “Wait a minute. Why would I give this away? I want to charge people for that.” And you will. The idea is you give something away to 1 person but in the process you’ll attract a bunch of new followers, new people to visit your business, and new customers.

Sunny Co Clothing’s has an amazing success story with this method. They gave away a free red swimsuit giveaway to anyone who shared the picture below on their account.


And it couldn’t have worked out better for them. Celebrities were talking about it, countless girls shared it, they received 50,000 orders, and they sold out of all their inventory! These were college kids by the way.

That’s Exhibit A of why you run a giveaway on Instagram.

14. Engage local profiles

The reason you follow, like, comment, and direct message local business accounts is so they know who you are and you open the door to build a relationship.

What happens is many, not all, of these accounts will see your activity on their posts and return the favor by following you and engaging with your posts.

Now other people in their feed see they interacted with your page which helps more discover your page.

Besides the Instagram benefits, establishing a relationship with local business owners, city organizers, nonprofits, and schools can only be positive.

For example, if you’re a bakery, relationships are everything because if local influencers like you then you’ll be the first person they call to order cupcakes and cake for their office parties.

15. Pay for sponsored posts

The only tactic that costs money on this list: sponsored posts.

I admit that if you get your business featured on an Instagram post or story by Selena Gomez (120 million followers) it wouldn’t hurt your follower count.

The only problem is these will cost you an arm and a leg to get these A-list influencers (that’s why only elite companies like Coca-Cola can afford it). At that point it’s most likely not possible for your marketing budget to afford, plus it may not be ROI positive if you got an A-lister to do it.

Here’s my suggestion and I know this works because I’ve done it.

Reach out to the smaller Instagram influencers—people with 1,000 to 25,000 followers.

If your company is product-based, direct message them and say you’ll give them a free product in exchange for a shoutout. Same method works if you’re service based. Offer a free (insert what you do) for a shoutout.

Or just pay them $5 multiplied by how many thousand followers they have if that’s easier. (You get your brand in front of 10,000 potential followers for only $50, not bad.)

These smaller influencers will appreciate the attention and promote your business to their loyal followers just like that.

Gain More Customers Through Instagram

A common disconnect between business owners is they don’t see how social media will get them more customers and revenue.

They see Instagram as a place for fancy pictures and vain followers, but not a tool to drive their business. In their minds it’s pointless for their business.

If pretty filters and vanity were the only two purposes Instagram served, then they would be right. But that’s not the only function.

Ignoring Instagram is a mistake because your potential customers are already on the app and ready to be influenced to buying your product or service.

Besides the short-term benefits, building relationships with customers and gaining public attention on Instagram will continue to deliver results for your business.

When you look at the big picture, it’s obvious that every legitimate business can grow through Instagram.

Create a strategic plan, use the tactics above, and you’ll see the difference in next quarter’s revenue.

You can’t beat free advertising like this!

P.S. Want help to grow a massive Instagram following of interested and paying customers for your business? Consider working with us.

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