The most common question I see all over social media is “how the heck do I grow on Instagram” or “is Instagram dead?” and I’m here to help you out! No, I personally don’t think Instagram is dead or dying, I just think the platform makes it super hard to grow. However, it’s not impossible and if you put in the effort you will see amazing and rewarding results. So here are my 8 tips on how to organically grow on Instagram in 2021.
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1. Focus on community management
If you want to grow your Instagram in 2021, community management is HUGE! In marketing agencies, they have multiple roles dedicated to this because of how essential and time consuming it is. Community management is the process of creating relationships with your community. You can do this by interacting with your followers, answering Dm’s, creating interactive stories, and replying to comments. Take at least an hour out of your day to get to know your followers and create a genuine bond.
2. Create shareable and savable content
Back in 2014 you could post a picture of your Starbucks drink or your favorite lipstick and gain followers. However, now in 2021 where it feels like the algorithm is pretty much stacked against influencers and small businesses you’re going to need to be a bit more strategic about what you’re posting. Instagram is saturated with tons of creators so you need to be offering your audience something of value.
This is why I recommend creating shareable and savable content! You can do this by creating microblogs in your captions. I started doing this around June of 2020 and it has been life-changing for my engagement! For example, my niche is social media marketing and college so I give tips on how to gain paid brand collaborations as an influencer, how to grow on Instagram, tips to getting good grades in school, etc. You can find examples here and here. By providing your audience with useful tips in your captions they’re more likely to save and share your posts with others which can help boost you in the algorithm!
3. Have a hashtag strategy
I can’t believe there are still so many people who either don’t utilize hashtags or don’t do so correctly. Hashtags are seriously my main source of reach and if you do them right, they will convert to followers! Remember to use niche specific hashtags that are small or mid-sized so don’t use all 30 hashtags that already have 1 million posts under them. Also, make sure you aren’t reusing the same hashtags! I’ve been seeing people use the same 30 hashtags under every post which is a big no-no. I have a very detailed blog post about hashtags and my personal strategy that you can check out here.
4. Try out the dollar eighty method
I first learned about the dollar eighty method through Tiktok and it’s an Instagram growth strategy formulated by Gary Vaynerchuk. He suggests leaving your 2 cents (aka your opinion) on 9 posts for 10 different hashtags. You can either do this manually or use the dollareighty website! Last month I tried a free 1-month trial and really enjoyed it so now I’m paying for the full version because I do think it makes things easier than manually commenting! They have a free version you can try out at first but you’re limited to the number of posts you can comment on.
If you’re using this strategy make sure you leave genuine comments and engage with people actually in your niche. I know a lot of people use this method but don’t leave honest opinions and those comments are very obvious and can get annoying! Take the time to actually read the person’s caption and interact with their content in a meaningful way.
5. Utilize video content aka reels
Video content has been taking over since 2020, take Tiktok for example. It’s so easy to use and you can get so much information or even just entertainment out of a short 30-second video. Of course, Instagram had to compete with Tiktoks growing fame so they introduced the Reels feature that people were very hesitant to use, including me! However, Instagram has been pushing out Reels content like crazy because they want you to use it! So take this time to actually utilize the feature and focus more on creating video content on Instagram. One of my reels reached 10k views in under 30 minutes and I gained a good chunk of followers as a result.
6. Be an early adopter
One concept they teach you in college as a marketing student is being an early adopter, which simply means being the first to try something out. I made this rookie mistake when Tiktok first became popular in 2019. I never joined the platform because I thought it was filled with young kids and I never expected the app to get as big as it is now. Big mistake on my part! So I waited until around March of 2020 to make my account and right away I understood the hype.
The point I’m trying to get across is that I regret not being an early adopter and joining the app when it was less saturated because the people who joined Tiktok in 2019 noticed very fast growth! So when new platforms come out try to give them a try. You never know which ones will take over and how user-friendly the algorithm is because we all know Instagram’s algorithm is anything but friendly. For example, Clubhouse has been gaining popularity and if you don’t know what it is you can check out this post and this one. I joined the app last month and I’ve been obsessed with it!
7. Cross-promote your content
Going off my last point when I recommend joining other apps that doesn’t mean to give up on Instagram. It’s quite the opposite actually. Use other platforms to cross-promote your content and other social media. So for example when you create content on Tiktok share those videos on Instagram stories and Reels. Also, I recommend making videos on Tiktok (or any other platform) and encouraging people to check out your Instagram. You can do this by offering tips and then ending the video by saying “check out my Instagram for 3 extra tips.”
8. Utilize new features
Whenever Instagram puts a new feature out, try to utilize it! I know so many people were again Reels but now we’re seeing how Instagram is pushing out reel content. I’ve also noticed that my stories perform best when I use stickers and the poll or question feature versus posting a story without using any features. So I think it’s safe to say Instagram will “reward” you for using their features so definitely take advantage of that!
These are my top 8 tips on how to grow on Instagram as a small business, influencer, or just someone who loves Instagram! I hope you enjoyed these tips, have any other recommendations? Make sure to comment them below!
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