How SMBs and Startups Can Organically Grow an Instagram Account

by | Feb 16, 2024

Whether you’re an SMB or a startup, getting your Instagram account up and running isn’t as easy as it may seem but with some research and a smartphone, you can be successful. To thrive on this channel your brand and products need to be easily communicated visually. Since Instagram is a photo/video central social media app, your photos and videos need to be well done, high quality, and done with purpose. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a film school graduate or pay for a fancy photoshoot – although it certainly helps – but it can be done with high-end Android devices or an iPhone. If you want to learn how to use your phone to make awesome videos we recommend you go here.

Using the strategy and tactics outlined below, we created and grew an Instagram account to 1,500 followers in a year for a client. They were ecstatic as their goal was to hit the 1,000-follower mark.

Instagram Stats:

  • 26.43% of Instagram accounts have less than 1,000 followers
  • 49.94% of Instagram accounts have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers
  • 15.21% of Instagram accounts have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers

With that said, let’s get started on organically growing that Instagram account.

Step 1 – Investigate

We all have seen a million episodes of Law & Order, Criminal Minds and CSI to understand that you learn a lot by investigating. Sure, you’re not tracking murders but you do need to investigate your competitors and take notes. Which of their posts get the most like and comments? What is their posting frequency and which days/times are they posting? What content or topics are they getting the most engagement with? What content doesn’t get any engagement? Gather your notes and from that build out your own Instagram content strategy. Also make note of the hashtags they use and take a peak at their followers and who they follow. Following their followers is a great way to get potential customers attention but don’t be too obvious about it. Instagram is watching and you should keep your follows around 75 to 99 per day.

Step 2 – Optimize Your Profile

Simply state what your company does, services or products provided with a link to your website at the very minimum. Include a relevant branded #hashtag in your profile. This is a hashtag you will include in every post or a hashtag that is unique to your brand. For the record, this hashtag will not appear in hashtag search results but is a clickable link. Any hashtags you use need to be a part of your overall Instagram strategy. To drive traffic to your account and profile, incorporate some of these tips.

Step 3 – Post Great Original Content

You may be thinking, duh, of course I will post great original content and I like your confidence. However, some brands post photos or videos that are NOT their own and do NOT give credit to the source of that original photo or video. Do not do this. If you post content on Instagram that is not your own, give credit to the original source. Why, you ask. Because you will be flamed and called out for it and that will organically shrink your Instagram account. Plus it’s the right thing to do and if you believe in Karma, just do it. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the positive.

David Ogilvy once said that ‘you cannot bore your customer into buying your product’ and that still rings true today. Your Instagram photo(s) or video needs to have a purpose, and tell a story and it needs to be relevant to your intended audiences. Look at some Instagram food accounts and you will see some amazing photos of burgers, ice cream, entrees, and all things delicious that make your mouth water like Homer Simpson’s. Can you photograph your product or service in such a way that it excites your followers? Better yet, can you include your customers in your posts and tag them? Creating genuine content is the goal.

Okay, now you’ve optimized your profile and have a plan for the content – now we get into how to increase the number of your followers.

Step 4 – #Hashtag all of your posts

Instagram users follow and search for #hashtags to find relevant content they like and want to follow and learn more about. By adding relevant hashtags to your posts, 3 – 5, you will attract people who are interested in that content via those hashtags. Note that I said relevant, if you hashtag each of your posts with #love, which has 1.8 billion posts, then you are just screaming into the ether. If your hashtags are relevant to your brand and your audience, they most likely will follow you, but there are no guarantees.

How many hashtags should be used in an Instagram post?

Sprout Social recommends using between 3 – 5 hashtags on a single post. The limit to the number of hashtags you can use in an Instagram post is 30, you can use 10 hashtags in an Instagram story. Research these hashtags to do two things – promote your brand, product or service – and attract like-minded people who will turn into followers.

There are some great hashtag apps on the market to help you improve your hashtag strategy. One app that we use and highly recommend is Hashtag Expert. Each time I create a post on my hobby Instagram account, I use this app to add additional hashtags to my post. It has increased both engagement and followers and the price is affordable for all SMBs or start-ups to use. If you don’t have a hashtag app, I highly recommend it especially if your social media person wears multiple hats on the marketing team.

If your team is looking for guidance or support, schedule a discovery call now. 

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