One troublesome thing about Instagram is the limited opportunity to link to your website. If you have fewer than 10,000 followers, the only opportunity to create a link is within the bio on your profile. But at that critical 10,000-follower mark, Instagram provides you with a valuable ‘Swipe Up’ feature that lets you add a link to your stories. This is much less of a hassle, and much more conducive to conversions, than adding the tired, old “link in bio” text to your content.
So how do you reach this magic number of followers? Consider the following tips:
Optimize Your Instagram Name on Your BioRather than using only your business name on your bio, consider following it with a slug featuring search-optimized text related to the core products or services you offer. For example:
Acme Marketing, Inc. | Los Angeles Trade Show Displays
By adding your core product at the end of your bio name (usually separated by a dash or a “pipe” symbol, as shown above), you increase the odds of showing up in Instagram’s search results when people are searching for products or services such as yours. If you serve a local market only, be sure to add your city name to that slug.
Always Focus on Quality Content, and Authentic EngagementThese two go without saying. If your content is poor or if you come across as a “spammy,” soulless, commercial account, you’ll have a hard time retaining followers and getting engagement. Consistent, quality, regular (at least weekly), valuable content is a must. So is lots of engagement with your audience, and with the content of others. A flattering profile photo and clear bio with a call-to-action are also essential.
Aggressively Seek Referral Followers from Your Other Web PropertiesMerely adding an Instagram button to your website isn’t enough. You need to periodically create YouTube, blog, or social media posts on other social channels to purposely drive visitors to your Instagram feed, using the promise of exclusive content and offers. Such visitors already know and like your company, so they are among the easiest to turn into followers (as long as you do it in an intentional and value-added way).
Consider Paying for Your First Few Thousand FollowersIf yours is new or unpopular account, you lack “social cred” if people visit your profile and see only a few hundred followers. To give the impression that you are a bigger account worth following, it may be worth your while to start off buying 1-2K initial followers from one of the many services that offer them.
Use the Follow/Unfollow MethodThe bane of Instagram users everywhere, the follow/unfollow method basically involves following your competitors’ or suppliers’ followers, and then later unfollowing any that don’t end up following you back. Very quickly, you can develop an account that has lots of followers in ratio the number of accounts you follow in return. There are countless smartphone apps that will allow you to identify and purge accounts that don’t follow you back. The process can also be automated by a bot but be forewarned: such bot services run afoul of Instagram’s API guidelines and are frequently banned whenever Instagram’s algorithm catches up with them. So, don’t let your account get banned in tandem.
Capitalize on HashtagsThere are four components to making hashtags helpful to your organic growth. First, choose hashtags that are specific to the overarching type of content you post. Second, create variations on the hashtag groups you use. If you use the same hashtags each time, Instagram will see your behavior as spammy, and will temporarily “shadow ban” your account, killing your visibility in hashtag results—ensuring that no one but your existing followers will be able to see your posts. Third, when starting out, pick hashtags that aren’t overly competitive—avoid the most widely-used ones in your sector, as competition for these will mean your content spends little time at the top of hashtag results. Fourth, be sure to get maximum engagement from your followers by posting at peak times and engaging heavily with your follower’s content in the first hours after you post. Instagram will “see” this initial, high engagement and this will rocket you to the top of search results for your hashtag where new prospects will see your content (and, hopefully, begin to follow you.)
Use Instagram AdsInstagram Story ads can be a great way to push your content out to new prospects. These ads are most effectively run from within the Facebook Ad Manager by creating a traffic campaign, for Instagram Stories only. Single-image ads work best. Present a compelling offer: “Want to Do More Effective Trade Show Marketing? Swipe Up!” You’ll obviously target Marketing Managers or Event Marketers with this type of promotion. When these professionals see your photo in their Story feed, all they need to do is “swipe up,” and they’ll be seeing your engaging content. How can they NOT follow you?
Growing your follower base requires a multi-pronged approach. Through SEO, engagement, maximizing your referral traffic and paid techniques, you’ll rapidly see your follower base rise to 10,000, allowing you to add website links to your stories, and to use your Instagram feed to drive actual sales and leads on your website.