Instagram is one of the essential social media outlets that your company should be on, and depending on your brand, it may be the most important. Not only does Instagram have some of the most daily active users who engage in posts, it is also one of the easiest to start your following.
If you haven’t found out already, it is very hard to start growing your Facebook following without paying for advertisements. Even though it is owned by Facebook, it’s not the same situation with Instagram. For this to be the case though – there are certain steps you need to follow.
If you already have an Instagram account set up formatted properly for your business, you can skip to Step 3.
Step 1: Creating your Account
One of the most frustrating parts about Instagram is that you will need to do everything important on your cell phone, unless you pay for third party services online. This means you will need to download the Instagram app for your cell phone if you haven’t already.
When you initially set your account up, it will be as a personal account, but it is very simple to switch over right after creation.
Once downloaded, click on Sign Up and enter your email address. Tap Next, or tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account. You will need a Facebook Business account to switch to a business profile, so make sure you do that if you haven’t already.
You can now set up as a free business profile. Within the app, find settings, and scroll down to Switch to Business Account. Once you have a business account, you can add in pertinent business information like store hours, business address, or a phone number.
Step 2: Setting up your Account and Making your First Post
The first things you will want to do is to enter your company’s information, especially your website and profile picture. If you don’t have one already, you will want to have a version of your logo in a square format. This is not just for Instagram, but all social media accounts will require this.
You can add contact details that will make it very easy for potential customers to get a hold of you. This can include a quick way to call, email, or even get directions to your business right on the user’s phone. You will definitely want all of this set up before you continue making posts and gathering followers.
Now you will want to make your first post. This post is not crucial to get everything right – since it is likely very few people will see it – but it is good to get into a habit from the beginning.
You will want to make sure any image you post to Instagram is already saved to your phone. Press the “+” button on the bottom center of your account, find the image, and add any filters if you so choose to.
This should go without saying, but you will want to make sure your image is high quality and not granular. Instagram does limit its sizing though to 650px x 650px – so there is no need to go overboard. The description of your image should have to do with what you are posting, and perhaps announcing your new Instagram account. There is no need to leave any hastags on the post, since it is better formatting to include them in your comment.
Step 3: Hashtags Hashtags Hashtags
Once posted, don’t be shy with your hashtags. Your first post may not be as essential since you are just making sure there is something on your account, but there is no harm with adding a lot of hashtags. Every single post that you make should have every relevant hashtag that you can think of. This is why it is better as a comment than included in your post – as to not add a lot of unnecessary text. You will be shocked in just how much response you will get just based on the hashtags you use. This is because there are a lot of Instagram accounts that are programmatically set up to like and follow accounts just based on relevant hashtags.
While these accounts may not be run by a human, it helps to boost your post with more likes – getting it the front of more eyes. All of social media suffers from a “snowball” effect, in that it is always easier to get the next like and next share than it is to get the first.
Over time you may even be posted in the Instagram featured section for those hashtags. When that has happened to us in the past, we have seen videos reach over 750K views with over 4,000 likes (as shown in the embedded post to the right). This is just because there was persistent posting with hashtags relevant to the company, industry, and individual post (this particular case being featured in the #3dPrinting and #Batman sections of Instagram). Instagram starts to figure out that you are a trusted source for that industry and will be featured in their featured section.
As you can tell this was before we starting adding the hashtags in the comment section. It doesn’t change anything other than cosmetics. We also did not include as many hashtags as we likely should have – but it ended up working well for this post.
Are you a handbag company posting images of your purses? Every post should have every hashtag you can think of from #fashion, to #handbag, to #leather – everything you can think of. If you can think of 30 hashtags that are actually used and searched, include 30. You can search online for relevant hashtags for your particular industry.
Even if you don’t do step 4 – the most important step in this process, you will still see your following and likes grow just by adding enough hashtags to your post.
Step 4: Following Relevant Accounts
Unlike Facebook where this is impossible, and unlike Twitter where your account can easily be flagged for this process, Instagram is perfect to help build your new account with followers by following relevant individuals.
When you follow someone, they get a notification and will often look into your account. This will lead in them following you back far more often than you would imagine. 10% – 50% of the people you follow will end up following you back if you do this properly.
What you will want to do is to find a competitor doing very similar work as you are doing – or hope to be doing. You will want to find someone with thousands or tens of thousands of followers in a similar field. You can then click into their followers. Instagram will then list their following by the most recent people to follow their account.
This is great because the most recent people to follow the account are going to be the most recently active users, so go ahead and start following individuals from the top. In the future when you have hundreds or thousands of followers you can do this for a while, but you don’t want your ratio to get too out of whack in the beginning, so I wouldn’t suggest following more than 100 people to start with.
In the next section, I will go over how to unfollow people who do not choose to follow you back so that this ratio never gets out of proportion, but for now, you will want to do this process just about every day you have the opportunity to. Remember not to go too crazy in the beginning, because you don’t want to be following 1,000 people and only have 100 followers – it doesn’t reflect good on your company’s image.
Remember to continue posting as frequently as possible as you do this, with as many relevant hashtags as you can, following the followers of accounts relevant to your posts.
Step 5: Unfollowing Non-Followers
As mentioned above – you don’t want your following/follower ratio to get too out of whack. You should set a rule to wait anywhere from 3-5 days and you will unfollow all those who have not followed you back during this time.
Instagram does not allow for an easy way to see this – but there are multiple apps in both the Apple and Google Play store that will allow you to do so. Since I use Android, the exact app that I use is “Unfollowers for Instagram”, but I am sure you can find the right one for you. I personally like this one because it allows you to unfollow 30 accounts at a time, rather than clicking each one individually.
The first screen it takes you to is the one you will want to be on the most, which are all those users who you follow but do not follow you back. The star on the left is a way that you can “whitelist” the user- so that you do not unfollow them. You can do this for all accounts that are not following you back but you would still like to see their feed. All unfollower apps have some ability to let you do this.
From here it is simple. This app arranges the accounts you followed first at the bottom, so you will want to “Unfollow 30 from Bottom”, but make sure that is the way the app you downloaded is set up. You do not want to unfollow people you just followed, firstly because you want to give them time to follow you back, secondly it can make your account look “spammy” if you constantly follow and unfollow the same accounts.
The plan I follow is as follows: I start by following individuals as mentioned in step 4. I do this every day – or every day I can – starting slow and increase the amount as time continues. A brand new account I start by following 30 – 50 people every day. The third day I do this, I log into this unfollower app and unfollow 30 from the bottom. I then continue following every day, and unfollowing 30 from the bottom every day – so that I am always unfollowing people 3-5 days after I followed them (which should be enough time to have followed you back).
Once you get a couple hundred followers – you can increase this to 60 – 100 accounts per day – unfollowing 60 – and so on. You may get to a point where you are following and unfollowing 500 accounts per day – but that would mean you have a pretty good following built up.
This process really starts to snowball over time and you should start to see a good follower/following ratio around 600 – 1000 followers to your account (which will not take more than 2 months if you do this persistently). Assuming you follow all the methods above – it will be around this time that you start having more followers than accounts you are following, and it will continue to increase from here.
This is entirely up to you, but you can essentially follow this process until you hit Instagram’s max of 7,500. Twitter allows you to follow an unlimited amount of people, but Instagram is a bit different, so make sure you are unfollowing people as you go.
Once an account gets to around 3,000 followers (you will likely be following around 2,000 accounts), I prefer to then go in and unfollow all accounts that are not big in the industry – regardless if they are following our account or not. This will take some time – but you should whitelist all accounts you want to continue following, and then use a different tab in your Unfollowers App to unfollow every other account.
This should then make your account have 3,000 followers with only a few dozen or few hundred accounts you are following. This is when I will stop following random accounts. This ratio makes your company look extremely professional, you are only following the big players in the industry, and everything will continue to grow from here. Just make sure you continue adding all relevant hashtags to all posts, and watch your following grow – gaining new clients for your business.