Social media is a fab way to engage, tell a story and build a deeper relationship with potential customers, repeat customers and super referrers, but if no one is following, they’ll miss your message.

Growing your audience is a worthwhile pursuit, especially for those folk running a small business or those with a new brand, but many don’t know where to start.

Today we shout out some key ways you can up your follower count.

  1. Invest Your Time

Growing authentic social followers takes time – put it aside. Invest time to research your competitors, hash tags, location and so on.

When growing followers on Instagram, you’ll need to seek out your audience, engage with them and if you’re targeting the right ones, a percentage will engage back by following your page. But remember authenticity is important. Authentic connection will create a lasting relationship.

It is time consuming process and needs some allocated every week, to see consistent growth. Once you get going, a couple of hours a week should get you around 100 followers a month.  Simple.

Buyer Beware: There may be some bad boys and gals out there using black hat tactics, who’ ll promise big crowds of followers in no time – but there are no short-cuts here, if you want the right audience and target market, you’ll need to do the hard yards, or invest in a reputable social media marketing agency.  Large numbers mean nothing if they are not potential buyers – quality over quantity here.

  1. Perfect your Hash Tags

First thing to know, people don’t search hashtags on Insta looking for products to buy. They search hashtags looking for inspo. and ideas. Say, you spontaneously decide you are going to dye your hair platinum blonde (an iso fav). You’ll look for ideas on Insta using hashtags like #platinumblondelehair, or #platinumblondehairinspo, looking for a visual representation of what you want. You wouldn’t use#besthairdye or #hairdye for example. This is where most businesses go wrong with hashtags.

Your ideal follower generally isn’t wandering around Instagram looking for products to buy (they might be, but for the most part they’ll go to Google, Yahoo, BING etc). They’re on their socials to be entertained, inspired, to learn and to connect. They’re searching stuff that they’re interested in. When you get that, you’ll choose better hashtags. Easy.

Secondly, the point of hashtags is to help the RIGHT people to find you – it’s not just about the number!

If you use tags that sound too much like Google searches, or are too generic…your tags will just bring all the bots and your competitors flocking.

So how DO we find the perfect hashtags. Here’s our method of choice:

  • First up, type in a keyword related to your niche, or one you know gets actively searched loads. Or check out what someone with a similar target customer is using. (Fun fact: The big guys often don’t use hashtags, they don’t need them for growth). Check out some medium sized businesses perhaps with 20-30K followers.
  • Tap on a tag that might work, with between 2K-2Million posts – and check out if your post would fit well in that feed. Check top and recent posts and see if it is reaching peeps who are going to like your content and brand.
  • If the tag fits – check out the comments on recent posts. If the most recent ones don’t have many likes, or all the likes/comments are from bots, shelve it!
  • Put those that pass the smell test together into a set of 10 to 30 (30 is Instagram’s limit, 10 is probably the lowest you can go and still see your numbers grow). Keep them somewhere safe and easy to access and just copy/paste when creating a new post.  Be clear it’s all about the quality, not quantity when it comes to the tags.
  • If you’re not finding good ones, tap on one of the tags and see what Instagram suggests as being relevant/related (these are in a line across the top of the search results). Then tap on one, and repeat the steps above. Fab.

Top Tip: Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t like repetition – copy and pasting the same caption too often, limits your presence in search (that’s both copy and hashtags). So, create at least three sets (one for each topic the account posts on), and cycle between those babies.

Finally, always put them in the first comment.  Facebook’s algorithm and users do not like hashtags. They’ll risk engagement taking a nose-dive – putting them in the first comment prevents them carrying across if you’re auto-sharing. Have no fear, hashtags are just as effective in search, as when you put them in the actual caption.

  1. Cross Promote

You have a range of touch points with your customer. Where you can, let them know about your socials. Your website, business cards, ads, flyers and so on – plaster those social icons on them! Use your social handles in CTAs across all relevant communication channels.

Better still, give them a reason to follow you and tag in their friends with competitions and giveaways. Remind them they’ll get the latest updates on your products/services/opening and closing hours if they give you a follow. Cool.

  1. Content

Is king as they say. Arguably the most important part of growing (and keeping) your audience. Keeping them engaged keeps the page sticky and keeps those followers you work hard to bring on board, with you.

This means relevant, timely, interesting content, using a range of images, videos and memes. Tops.

Use your socials to announce your latest and greatest products and services. This motivates people to hit ‘follow’ on your socials. By giving your fans the exclusive perks, you’ll grow your fans and following.

2 Minute Tip: Hashtag Tool

Stuck for hashtags? Need some inspo? Check out a tool called Display Purposes at https://displaypurposes.com. This nifty tool seeks out hashtags with low spam and good engagement. It’s simple as – just type in one hashtag and it gives you a whole bunch back, ranked.

We’ve seen many businesses rise and fall on the back of how they manage their socials, without a proper strategy, you’ll miss out on customers that will convert and be un-paid ambassadors of your brand, so you may want to consider folks experienced in social media services to help you.

If your looking for social media marketing services and want a social and content strategy designed to bring in, nurture and convert your followers to sales, outsource it to a social media management agency that has proven results. Give us a buzz.