When it comes to choosing the social networks you should be active on these days, three obvious choices come to mind, particularly if you're a travel brand: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
To grow your following on Facebook, you should invest in some Facebook advertising. You can try and do the same with Twitter, but I advise trying to grow it organically. Instagram is similar - you grow your following here without paying for it.Here are 10 tried and tested ways to grow your following on one of the world’s best-known photo sharing apps.
1. Share photos
This might seem obvious, but believe you me, many businesses sign up to Instagram and then forget to use it. Having an account isn’t enough - you need to share photos there too.
Some people complain that they can’t find the time to do it. This is where you have to be regimental. Add a reminder to your phone to add them daily. As your "number of photos shared" figure grows, so too will your audience.
2. Use hashtags
When it comes to using Twitter, using anything more than one hashtag seems a bit desperate. On Instagram, however, it’s common practice to use more than one hashtag for a photo. Choose them strategically, then see if they make an impact. If they don’t, try others.
Websites like Hashtagify.me will help you source the most effective hashtags for your photos.
3. Look at analytics
Look at how many likes each of your photos get. Keep note of the photos that generate lots of engagement and followers, then try to replicate it. It’s as simple as that. Reasons for higher engagement on a post could be the subject matter, the time posted, or a chosen hashtag. With regards to time, Iconosquare will tell you the best time to share photos.
4. Engage with your followers
Sharing photos and generating engagement is one thing. Interacting with the people engaging with your photos is another. The message here is as follows: don’t simply upload photos and move on. If one of your followers comments on a photo, comment back.
5. Follow people and engage with them
This is probably the oldest trick in the book when it comes to growing your following on Twitter and Instagram, but it really does work.
If you follow a hundred accounts, you’ll find that between 20 and 30 will follow you back. But just don’t follow any old accounts – find tours or activities that are similar to yours, then target their followers. If they’re following your competitor, this means they might have an interest in your product too. If they have an interest in your product… they should have an interest in you.
But don’t just stop there - engage with their photos. This means one of two things: liking them or commenting on them. Both actions are two more ways to get noticed by people who could turn out to be your followers.
6. Promote your Instagram account on your website
There are many ways you can promote your Instagram account on your website. You could write monthly blog posts featuring your photos, or simply have the logo on the homepage next to the other social channels you’re active on. You could embed your feed too. All of the above will give your account more exposure and subsequently more followers.
7. Cross promote on social media
I’m not a big fan of tweeting Instagram photos (they’re not shown in the feed any more if you use Twitter’s native products). However, you can still use Twitter to occasionally let people know you’re on Instagram too. Sharing your photos to Facebook makes far more sense. Either way, by letting your followers on other channels know that you’re on Instagram, you're likely to get more followers there.
You can find out more about this in our Instagram ebook:
8. Run contests
Facebook has quite strict rules and regulations when it comes to running contests. Twitter also has some guidelines, although they’re not as strict. Instagram, on the other hand, is far more laid back with regards to their contest rules. The most popular method is by asking users to follow you to enter. The tagging method is also popular – post a photo asking users to tag the person they’d most want to win the prize with. Both are a sure fire way of growing your following.
9. Try Instagram video (and Hyperlapse)
Not so long ago, Instagram introduced the use of video. Soon after this it introduced Hyperlapse, an app that enables you to record timelapse videos. As video is currently so popular (here’s a post I wrote about popular video sharing apps and another I wrote about tips for making good videos), experiment with it – see if moving picture instead of still encourages users to hit that follow button.
10. Have a link in your email signature
An old but reliable way to grow your Instagram following (or that of any other social network) is by promoting it in your email signature. Think about how many emails you send in a day – that’s the number of times you could promote it. It won’t generate as many new followers as other methods mentioned here, but it certainly won’t deter people.
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Published by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.