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Long gone are the days where Instagram was just for fun and sharing photos with friends and family.

Believe it or not, Instagram has completely changed the standard of how brands market and sell their products and connect with their customers.

And with an impressive user count reaching one billion, investing time, money, and effort on the platform is simply a no brainer. However, a massive user base with soaring popularity means that Instagram is one of the more competitive social media platforms on the market. For a brand to be successful, it needs to not only have a top-notch product to sell but beautiful content to go along with it, and of course, engaged followers (and a lot of them).

This article will walk you through the best strategies to grow your brand’s following on Instagram. However, the follower count isn’t the only thing that matters here. The connection and engagement your brand makes with them matter the most, because what good does a large following do if they aren’t doing anything for your brand? Learn the best ways to grow a connected following on Instagram that grows your business as well. Let’s get started.

How to successfully grow your Instagram following

Building up an engaged following on Instagram takes a lot of time, patience, and work. There is no one size fits all strategy, so what works for one brand won’t necessarily work for yours. It’s important to understand that Instagram is all about its community. As a brand on the platform, you must find your niche community and tailor every effort you make to their needs and wants.

Before you do anything, you must understand your customer base through and through. Ask yourself, who are my customers? What do they need from my product? Why are they using Instagram? How can I fit my brand’s account into their natural behavior? Once you have these questions sorted out, you can get started.

Tip 1: Great content is the foundation for great followers

You must not forget that beautiful photos and creative content are the foundation of Instagram. What this means is that your brand has to showcase your product or service in an aesthetically pleasing way. What works for your brand on Facebook will not work on Instagram. Get creative with this and build out your brand’s theme. Are you going to use lifestyle photos that are centered around your product? Are you going to use flat lays and product shots?

Or maybe you might focus on video posts. You could showcase tutorials or use video explainers to give users a sense of who your brand is and what your products do. The possibilities are endless here. Find something that works well with what you’re selling and appeals to your target audience and stick to it. This is your theme and what your brand will be known for, so make sure you have it right. Manage all content posted on your profiles with the help of a social media suite.

Instagram Stories are just as important as your main feed content, so don’t overlook it! If anything, stories give your brand a chance to be even more creative. Think behind the scene videos, Q&As, event showcases, and more! Use the Instagram Story feature as a way to connect with your followers even more. Allow them to get to know your brand and what it stands for through this feature.

A person holding a smartphone with Instagram open.

Tip 2: Use, follow, and discover hashtags

Hashtags have been a part of everyone’s social media strategy for years now, and for good reason. Hashtags work, but only if they’re done right. You should be using tailored hashtags on each and every one of your posts if you aren’t already. This will ensure that your posts show up under frequently searched terms, which will ultimately get your account in front of a larger audience. Don’t get too crazy with your hashtags – it’s not the best idea to bombard your post with them, but if you’re strategic about the hashtags you use, a handful of them will do a lot of good.

It’s a great idea to also follow specific hashtags that relate to your brand. This way you’re able to see other accounts that post similar things to you, and as your brand grows, you’ll start seeing other accounts post about you! This is an important aspect to keep your eye on because it will help you build that connection with your community.

Tip 3: Invest in influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to get your brand and product out there, but you have to be strategic when choosing who to work with or you won’t see the success you’re looking for. Finding the right influencer can be done in a handful of ways. If you’re working with a small budget, you can start looking for accounts that fit the bill yourself. You’ll want to look for influencers that are part of your target market and who post relevant content. For example, if you’re a swimsuit company, you might not want to target the influencer who lives in Minnesota unless they post vacation photos at the beach often. It’s smarter to target the influencers who live near the water so you get the most bang for your buck.

If you’re looking for a more professional way to search for and hire influencers, consider using an influencer marketing software to help you dive deeper into the analytics of each influencer. You’ll want to look at the average engagement they receive, if they buy their followers, demographics, and more. Once you choose the right group of influencers, send them your products and let them get to work. They’ll promote your brand on their account in a fashion that’s most authentic to them. With a stamp of approval from their favorite influencer, those followers will be exposed to your brand and feel confident to explore it further.

A woman holding a makeup palette and filming herself.

Tip 4: Share user-generated content to form connections

This tip works great for the two tips above and is one of the best ways to grow that connection with your followers. If you come across great photos from people using and engaging with your brand, ask permission to repost it! Put it on your story or even on your main feed. This will build the community aspect your brand needs to continue to grow. Additionally, don’t let that influencer content go to waste! Post the photos and stories that they create for you on your account as well.  

Tip 5: Promote, promote, promote!

Start putting your Instagram handle on everything. Add it in all of the boxes of online orders with a prompt to encourage your customers to follow your account and post on Instagram with their purchase. Let your followers on your other social media accounts know that you’re now on Instagram, too. Put a social media handle sign at your register and include your handles on all of your email marketing efforts. The easiest place to start when growing your follower base is with the people who already know and love your brand. Get the word out to your current customers to build your foundation. If you’re doing everything else right, non-customers will be intrigued and follow your account and hopefully purchase something, too! It will only go up from there.

Tip 6: Collaborate with another brand in your niche

One of the best ways to find new followers that are basically guaranteed to love your account is by collaborating with other brands within your niche. Start by finding accounts that are similar to yours and that target the same type of people as you do. Follow them, engage with them, and shout them out to your followers! Show your admiration for these other brands. By doing so, those brands will take notice of you and hopefully follow you back and maybe even give you a shout out as well! Once you’ve built a great connection with a few similar brands, you should propose to collaborate with them. This mutually beneficial partnership is also a great way to diversify your content. Consider doing partnered giveaways, discount swaps, mutual product features, and more!

Tip 7: Host your own contests and giveaways

Another great way to build up your following is through incentives. Get creative with this because you get to make the rules. Consider giving away your brand new product line. You’ll have to craft up the rules to enter, so make sure that you’re getting everything you can out of it! An example of this would be to have everyone who enters the giveaway follow your account. They then have to tag five of their friends in the comment section to get the word out, lastly, you can also have participants share your post to their story. This will get your account in front of new eyes who will likely also be interested in the giveaway. This will create a chain reaction that will build your follower base quickly. It’s important to remember that this new influx of followers you’re experiencing are not committed to your brand just yet. If you don’t give them a reason to stay, they will more than likely unfollow as soon as the giveaway is over.

Ensure that this doesn’t happen by tailoring your content to your new followers. This can be in the form of a new post that shares your brand story or what your product does to let these people get to know you, or, if you want to be even more generous, you can share a discount code for all new followers. The possibilities are endless, just make sure you’re doing what’s right for your followers.  

Grow your Instagram following to grow your business

Growing the number of followers you have on Instagram takes time, but remember, the number isn’t what matters most. While you’re working to increase your followers, make sure that those followers care about your brand. Having engaged followers that are part of your brand’s community is the ultimate success of any Instagram account!