Instagram can be a powerful tool for businesses. But how do you get more followers for your Instagram business account? First, set up a business (not a personal account). You need a business email and to download the Instagram app to your phone. Don’t worry – you can have both a personal and a business account on Instagram. Read more, here. Next, you need to post content that targets your potential customers and engages them. This is the hard part. You have to brainstorm a continuous stream of quality content that your target customers will see and say, “Wow! This is so interesting! I will follow this business and might even buy something from them!” Third, you need a promotion strategy – of which there are two parts, a) internal to Instagram such as using hashtags and follow-for-follows, and b) external to Instagram such as asking customers at your brick-and-mortar store to follow you.
Let’s Dive In
OK, we’ll assume the basics. That you have an Instagram for your business (set up as a business account), and you’ve gotten the technical gist of uploading photos. Next, let’s turn to content – you’ll need a lot of it. As a business, this can be a challenge. You want to create and upload photos that are both relevant to your target audience and spark engagement – likes, comments, and one-to-one shares. There are three types of businesses –
- Fun businesses in a fun industry. This is a business like REI in which the business itself deals with something fun, such as camping and the outdoors. People love to go out, hike, boat, put up tents, make campfires, and share (and react with) photos about how “fun” the outdoors is. So really REI has an easy time of it.
- Non-fun businesses adjacent to a fun industry. This is a business like Aeromexico. Flying itself isn’t very fun, in these post 9/11 days, but if you travel on Aeromexico, you get to go to super fun places like Mexico City, Cancun, or Puerta Vallarta. So the business can share (and allude to) the “adjacent” fun stuff of travel to Mexico.
- Non-fun businesses in a non-fun industry. This is a business like Geico, which sells car insurance. Not fun, and not adjacent to much that is fun. This type of business is very hard on Instagram.
So figure out which business you are most like, and “reverse engineer” their content strategy. Look also for UGC / user-generated content and ideas to encourage your fans to create and share content that is relevant to your business. REI does a great job of this with their hashtag #OPTOUTSIDE.
Finally, let’s look to promotion. Instagram – like all social media – isn’t really promotional in and of itself. Your best promotion strategy (if you have a brick and mortar store) is to encourage your customers face-to-face. Consider hosting Instagram contests, such as a contest from your customers of the best such-and-such. Apart from real world-to-instagram, also consider Instagram internal promotional efforts such as #hashtags and follow-for-follow. Find relevant hashtags and post to them, using a tool like Hashtagify.me. Or, follow your customers (and engage with them), as many will literally follow you back (hence, the term follow-for-follow). For more ideas, see the Social Media Marketing Workbook.