14 Ways for Small Businesses to Gain and Keep Instagram Followers Who Engage

Instagram is a powerful social media network for many businesses, both B2C and B2B. But to market effectively on Instagram, you must gain legitimate Instagram followers who are interested in what you have to sell.

Why Instagram?

Instagram is the third most used social media network (tied with WhatsApp) after first place Facebook and second place YouTube.
It’s the fourth most visited website in the world (after Google, YouTube, and Facebook, respectively).
Instagram has 2 billion active monthly users.

But there is much competition to reach your desired Instagram audience. Once someone follows you, at least some of your content will be sent their way. The algorithm may also send your content to some of their friends, particularly if they interact with it. Hopefully, some of your audience members will share some of your posts from time to time.

You want to gain your first 1,000 followers quickly and build from there. The following are the most important guidelines for gaining and keeping Instagram followers who will engage with and buy from your business.

1. Research and Understand Your Audience

You can’t just jump into marketing on Instagram or anywhere else. You won’t go anywhere if you don’t first pinpoint and understand your audience. Identify their interests, behaviors, and preferences.

Tools such as Instagram Insights provide valuable data on follower demographics and engagement patterns. Tailoring your content to resonate with your audience increases the likelihood of gaining genuinely interested followers.

2. Optimize Your Profile

Before posting, you must create a profile that tells your audience who you are.  In almost all cases, you will want to use your logo as your profile picture.  You must also write a compelling description explaining what your business does. Don’t forget a link to your website!

A well-optimized profile can significantly increase the likelihood of visitors hitting the follow button. When people see a post that resonates with them, they will likely check out your profile before they follow.

3. Create High-Value Content

You have a lot of competition on Instagram. You don’t stand a chance of attracting an audience without high-quality, visually appealing images and videos and appealing messages.

So, plan your content and post educational content about your industry that is valuable to your audience. Offer testimonials and success stories. Don’t just talk about your brand; tell stories about it. Publish behind-the-scenes videos. Encourage user-generated content with contests.

4. Use Instagram Stories and Reels

Instagram Stories and Reels offer dynamic ways to engage with your audience. Their 24-hour lifespan makes stories perfect for sharing quick updates, polls, or Q&A sessions.

Reels allow for creative, short-form video content that can go viral and reach a broader audience. You can choose whether or not to include each Reel in your account’s feed.

5. Use Instagram Live

Go live on Instagram to interact in real time with your audience. Use live sessions to showcase new products, conduct Q&A sessions, and give a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Live sessions are as close as you can talk in person with your audience. It’s upfront and personal.

6. Be Consistent

Don’t just post whenever you feel like it. Plan and maintain a consistent posting schedule. It keeps your current followers engaged and increases your account’s visibility to potential new followers. Use scheduling tools to plan and post content regularly.

How often should you post? At least a couple times a week, but if you can, post close to every day. You will never gain significant Instagram followers if you don’t post consistently.

7. Use Relevant Hashtags and Geotags

Hashtags and geotags can greatly increase your visibility on Instagram. Using relevant hashtags can expose your content to a wider audience, increasing Instagram followers. Research and use a mix of popular and niche hashtags specific to your business.

And don’t neglect geotags. Geotags are particularly effective for local businesses looking to attract a local following.

8. Avoid Fake Instagram Followers

If you are on Instagram, you have probably been approached by companies offering to supply you with tons of followers instantly. Don’t do this. To get real, legitimate followers, you need to do the work.

Fake followers don’t engage. They don’t share your content. They don’t buy from you. When followers are fake, it can be obvious to your real audience and discourage them from following you. Be authentic.

9. Collaborate with Influencers and Other Brands

Collaborations with influencers and other brands can significantly boost your follower count. Partnering with influencers with a substantial following in your industry can provide access to a new audience.

You can partner with effective influencers affordably. When looking for influencers, look for those known in your industry or region. You don’t need to partner with major national celebrities to boost your Instagram followers.

Similarly, collaborating with complementary brands can lead to cross-promotion opportunities.

10. Run Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are excellent strategies to increase your Instagram followers. They encourage existing followers to engage with your content and often require participants to follow your account. Ensure your giveaways are relevant to your brand and valuable to your target audience.

11. Engage with Your Audience

Engagement is a two-way street on Instagram. Regularly interacting with your followers through comments. Engage in conversations on other relevant accounts. Responding to comments and messages shows that your brand values its followers and helps build community.

12. Consider Paid Advertising

While organic growth is important, Instagram’s paid advertising options can quickly help you reach your desired audience. Targeted ads can reach a specific audience demographic, increasing the likelihood of gaining followers interested in your business. Experiment with different ad formats and targeting options to see what works best for your brand. Most businesses will want to use a mix of organic and paid advertising on Instagram and other social media networks.

13. Track and Analyze Performance

Monitoring your account’s performance is crucial in understanding what works and doesn’t. Use Instagram’s analytics tools to track follower growth, engagement rates, and the performance of different content types. This data can inform your future content and strategy decisions.

14. List Your Instagram Account Everywhere

Add a linked Instagram icon and other social media icons to your website and marketing materials. Also, place links to your Instagram on your other social media pages, such as your Facebook page. Inform your website audience when you are planning live Instagram events.

Need Help Organically Growing Legitimate Instagram Followers?

If you want to organically grow your Instagram followers and develop your social media presence overall, schedule a free consultation with us, and we can help.