You can have plenty of followers, but if they aren’t targeted Instagram followers, you’ll struggle to get them to convert to customers. How can you make sure the people who are following you are inside your target audience? Check out these methods to get started.

Optimize Your Instagram Account

Treat your Instagram bio as your account’s homepage. Make sure to use the space to explain who you are as a brand.

Choose a username that is search friendly. Match it to your username on other social media platforms if possible, for a more cohesive branding experience. Avoid using numbers and special characters in your username.

You only have space for one link, so make it count. Use it to drive traffic back to your site. Most of the time, you’re best to use a landing page, but you can also use marketing or product pages that relate to various campaigns you’re running. You can change the link at any given time to suit the needs of your marketing efforts.

Use Hashtags to Join the Conversation

You can use up to 30 hashtagsto make it easier for people to find you and your content. Find what’s popular in your niche or industry, and make use of them accordingly. Jump in on the hashtags to find people to follow, along with content to like and comment on. That way, when people see you using the hashtag, they will know you’re an active member of the community. 

When people take the time to leave a comment on your posts, always respond. This keeps the conversation going, and shows your followers you’re paying attention. They will be more likely to continue to engage in the future because they know their comments don’t fall on deaf ears.

Work With Influencers

According to Instagram marketing company Plixi find a popular influencer or small group of influencers in your niche. Work with them to create a sponsored post campaign. This puts your brand in front of the massive audiences they’ve built - audiences who trust their recommendations. When those influencers recommend that people follow you, you’ll naturally see an increase in your following.

Post New Content on a Regular Basis

Post content consistently. If you want to get followers who stick around, they need to see you in their feeds, or they could forget why they followed you in the first place. Try to publish at least once a day, if not a few times per day. You can make sure you’re consistently posting by using a scheduling tool to handle the content for you. You’ll learn the best times to post based on audience engagement because posting time does matter. If you post when none of your followers are online to engage, you’ll have a harder time gaining traction, and an even harder time trying to land a spot on the Explore Page.

Pay to Play:  Instagram Advertising

Just the same way you can run ads on Facebook to attract page likes and fans, you can run an ad on Instagram to get people to follow you. This is a way to reach new followers fast, and ideal for when you have a budget, but not a lot of time to spend digging for people to follow on your own. 

Plus, because you can target by a number of demographics including location, interests, and behaviors, you can be sure the people who follow you are interested in what you have to offer. You can advertise in the feed and Instagram stories, too.

Craft Content with the Instagram Explore Tab in Mind

Instagram says the Explore tab - the screen you see when you click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the app - is where you can “find photos and videos you might like from accounts you don’t yet follow.” It’s also possible you’ll see curated topics the Instagram algorithm thinks you will enjoy. On the Explore tab, you’ll also find Instagram Stories on the top of the screen.

More than 100 million users turn to the Explore tab every day, making it a great opportunity for brands who are looking to grow their audience. The problem is - it’s not easy to land your content there. 

No one knows exactly how the algorithm chooses the content, but we can guess that it must be: content that has high engagement, content similar to accounts that a user already follows, and content that’s similar to what a user already follows. 

That means you must aim to get high engagement on your content - creating content your followers will enjoy - and post it at a time when you know they are online to interact with it.  This all comes down to knowing your audience and what they like.

Promote Your Instagram Across Other Social Media Channels

If you’ve already got a following on Facebook, Twitter, or another social platform, be sure to tell those followers you’re on Instagram, too! Include links to your all your social media profiles on your website, on your business cards, and more, so people can choose to connect with you on any or all of those channels.

Remember, if your Instagram followers aren’t targeted, you won’t get the engagement you need to justify using the platform. Having 20,000 followers is great, but not if you’re only getting five likes or comments per post. That’s what you’re going to end up with if you try to take a shortcut and buy followers to get started.