How Can I Grow My Organic Instagram Followers When I’m on a Budget?: In the 21st century, growing a brand with a visual identity is crucial to your success. And Instagram remains one of the most effective means of smart marketing, giving rise to a whole subsector of brands.
But maintaining a successful account may not be enough. More than amassing followers, you need to cultivate organic Instagram followers.
According to a Stackla report, 86 percent of consumers in the USA, Australia, and the UK reported authenticity as a major factor in their buying decisions.
Because of the nature of how Instagram operates, potential consumers are made to feel like they’re engaging with a product. This, in turn, can be used to cultivate an air of authenticity that can help drive sales.
But how do you attract these follows and is it worth the effort? Well, let’s take a closer look.
Why You Should Prioritize Organic Instagram Followers
So the first question that you might ask is why you would want to make organic growth such a high priority as opposed to some of the easier methods.
Buying followers, for instance, is a classic means of boosting your Instagram profile, so why not do that?
In the past that might have worked, if only for the short-term. The almighty algorithm does favor accounts with large followings, so it follows that more followers should equal more promotion, more engagement, and a wider Instagram sales funnel.
The truth is more complicated.
For one thing, the almighty algorithm is a bit of a myth. As per Instagram’s own statement, that was more of a 2010 way of doing things. By 2016 the platform had long since outgrown such a simple system.
They’ve since evolved into using a more complex network of algorithms and processes, making it harder to try and game the system through bots, paid follows, and the like.
Further, Instagram is always working on implementing better processes to weed out obvious shills and other “low-quality” accounts, meaning those follow you paid for can wind up deactivated sooner rather than later anyway.
When you’re on a budget, you can’t afford to lose money on an investment that at best and a complete waste at worst. So while it takes more doing, garnering followers the honest way is the route you want to take.
So Then How Do You Encourage Organic Growth?
So if the old tricks that the social marketing industry has relied on no longer work what do we do now?
In broad terms, the same thing every successful Instagram account is supposed to do. Be advised, you may not find success overnight. Attracting a following organically takes time, thought, and work. So you’ll want to weigh how much of those resources you can spare before committing to the endeavor.
That said, while building a following organically is an investment in time, it’s the cheaper option and is more effective in the long run. So if you’re launching a brand, it can be a great way to get yourself out there without needing to put up much cash up front.
To that end, here are some of the best techniques you can use to start growing your following.
1. Create Killer Content
You might have guessed this on your own, but you won’t inspire much engagement without a strong slate of content
Instagram users love to comment on and share posts that they find appealing. And from your perspective as a brand owner, it should be one of your top priorities to get your content shared. Not only does the act of sharing it put it in front of more eyes, but the algorithms will reward the engagement.
But how exactly do you create engaging content?
For starters, you need to narrow down who your intended audience is. This is an important step in any kind of branded marketing but is vital in Instagram marketing.
You need your content to be both appealing and relatable, and what those terms mean for you depends on the audience you’re trying to court. And more specifically, your understanding of that audience.
Another easy way to drive up engagement is to make posts related to viral topics. Take some time out of your marketing schedule to keep abreast of what’s trending on Instagram as well as other platforms like Twitter and YouTube.
Using hashtags related to happening topics is a quick way to get your content in front of more viewers. Though make sure the content is in some way related to the topic at hand and not only your product, or else you risk it having the opposite impact.
2. Post More Video Content
You might think of Instagram as merely a place to share photos. But if this is the case, you’re not using the platform to its full advantage.
While photo posts will always be the standard for Instagram, it would appear that video posts are climbing up there in terms of popularity. According to one report, video posts average 38% more engagement than photo posts.
Now if you’re on a budget you probably aren’t going to spring for a fully equipped video agency to produce your content for you. Fortunately, there are tons of apps that can help you produce professional-looking video content on your smartphone.
Many are free, while premium options like Adobe Spark run on a subscription model. In either case, you’re sure to find something in your price range.
3. Create and Schedule Content in Advance
If you’re posting content as you produce it, you’ll always feel like you’re playing catch-up. The most successful accounts produce content in bulk with a plan to post it over a set period of time. The window for which you plan ahead can vary, anywhere from a week to a month in advance is pretty standard.
But producing a ton of content isn’t enough. You also want to schedule it in a way that will optimize its exposure.
Instagram prioritizes the most recent posts on the platform. After only a few hours, the odds of a post making its way in front of users start to drop off. So those first few hours are where you can expect to make your impact.
As a rule, people tend to check Instagram around the time they wake up, again at lunchtime, and again between the time they get off work and go to bed. If you’re trying to target users in a specific timezone, you want to optimize your posts to hit these windows.
If you only need to reach consumers in the nation at large you get some extra wiggle room. Four timezones mean four potential lunch hours you could target, for instance. But even with that flexibility you still want to focus on the timeframes when the maximum number of users will be online.
4. Keep Up With the Competition
In business, it behooves you to stay up-to-date with what your competition is up to. And while it’s somewhat different on Instagram, it’s still a wise policy.
Sure, you don’t compete against one another directly. There’s not a finite amount of engagement to go around, at least not in any meaningful way.
But it is in your interest to study what does and does not work for them.
Start by compiling a list of accounts in your same niche. Now start taking stock of which topics get engagement from their audience, which posts get the most likes, and how often they post.
This will provide you with a proven template for your own content schedule.
5. Follow the Competition’s Followers
Having already put together a list of other major accounts in your niche, the next step is to start following their followers one by one.
Naturally, with any big account, a lot of those followers are bound to be spam or inactive accounts. Avoid those and focus on ones that you notice engage with your competitors regularly.
You want to do this because these are the users that you want your content to target. They’re clearly interested in your given industry, which means they’ll be likely to engage with or share your content. Ideally, this will result in them spreading it further to like-minded users, extending your reach.
Especially early on in your account’s life, this is an effective way to gain a foothold in the niche you want to reach.
6. Engage with Those Users’ Posts
Following the competition’s followers alone won’t guarantee that you’ll see engagement from them. For that, you’ll have to make the first move by engaging with their posts.
Don’t force it, but whenever you see a post that stands out to you, leave a like or even a comment if you have something earnest to say about it. Remember, you want to show authenticity in all of your interactions, so avoid plugging your brand directly.
This shows that you’re paying attention to what other people are posting and engaging with it in a meaningful way. This will make others more inclined to do the same for your content.
7. Drive-Up Engagement
At the end of the day, your success is all about convincing people to engage with your content. And while paid follows and the like are both expensive and often ineffective, there are some services that you can take advantage of to give your presence a little boost such as this like for like app for Instagram.
We selected this one for a specific reason. While services offering paid likes or follows often rely on a bottomless supply of fake accounts to deliver, this app and services like it can get you likes from real, human accounts.
The way it works is that it lets you “earn” likes as you go about your daily business on Instagram. Then, when you feel you need a boost of engagement, you can “withdraw” the likes you’ve earned, which will cause other app users to send free likes your way.
Basically, the app manages a quid-quo-pro arrangement where you like other accounts’ posts in return for them doing the same. This is mutually beneficial as racking up likes from other active accounts encourages Instagram’s algorithms to promote your content higher.
And it’s free, so it’s perfect if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to pay Instagram directly to promote your posts.
8. Refine Your Hashtags
Hopefully, you’re already aware of how important hashtags are to getting seen on Instagram. In its early years, they were basically the only tool that users had to find the content that they wanted to see.
And while the platform grows more sophisticated with each year, it’s unlikely that hashtags are going anywhere.
However, not all hashtags are created equal.
When you go to enter a hashtag, Instagram will try to be helpful by trying to guess which popular hashtag you’re looking for. Along with the list, it will also show you how many posts there are for a particular tag.
Take #love, for example. It’s a very nonspecific tag. This is why, as of this writing, there are 2,147,483,647 posts in that hashtag.
On the face of it, you might say that that’s a popular hashtag and you should use it. And yes, it is popular. But it would also make your post a mere drop in an ocean of content all competing for attention.
At the same time, a hyper-specific tag may only have a handful of posts. This means you face far less competition, but also far fewer potential viewers.
So you want to strike a balance.
You need to zero in on hashtags that are popular enough that people are liable to search for them, but specific enough to your niche that users can find your posts easily.
Organic Growth Drives Sales Growth
Instagram can be an amazing tool for introducing your products to new consumers. By using methods that focus on organic Instagram followers you’ll better position yourself to be successful.
For one, Instagram’s internal processes reward the genuine interactions it takes to cultivate organic followers. But you’ll also have the opportunity to better refine an authentic brand image in the process. It’s the most efficient use of the platform possible.
But amassing these followers is just the beginning. For tips on creating content to keep them engaged, be sure to keep up with all of our latest Instagram tips and tricks.
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