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November 19, 2021
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When it comes to Instagram, it’s all about numbers. From growing your followers and increasing your engagement, a successful account needs growth. 

But growing an Instagram account is easier said than done.

When over 200 million business accounts are active on Instagram, how can you cut through the noise to increase engagement and attract more followers? 

Unfortunately, there’s no set formula you can follow to grow your account. But there are some best practices you can use to give yourself the best chance for success.

In this article, we will look at 14 ways you can grow your Instagram like a top growth hacker. From understanding your target audience to posting the right content at the right time, keep reading to find out what you can do to give your Instagram account the boost it needs.

How to apply a growth hacker’s mindset to grow your Instagram

A growth hacker focuses on the strategies they need to use to grow their account. To help you get into their mindset, we’ve outlined 14 best practices that can guide your growth strategy and take your account to the next level. 

Let’s get to it. 

1. Select a niche with an audience you want to reach 

A niche allows you to focus on one specific area that’s relevant to your business and your target audience.

If your account doesn’t have a niche, chances are your content will be pretty scattered. That’ll make it hard for you to target the right audience, which isn’t ideal. 

So how can you find your niche? 

Here’s what we’d suggest: 

  • Outline your USPs: What is it that makes your company different from your competition? This could be a great way to stand out from the crowd and find a unique niche.
  • Take a look at your competitors: Find out what your competitors are doing and see how you can create something that’s different from what they’re already doing. 
  • Review posts with similar hashtags: Looking at relevant hashtags will give you some inspiration for what your niche could be. 

Once you’ve found your niche, you can make sure that all of your content is relevant to your target audience, which will hopefully increase your engagement. 

2. Do a deep dive into your target audience and determine what they want to see 

Knowing who you want to target with your Instagram account is one thing. But it’s a different kettle of fish knowing what they want to see. 

If you’re not showing your audience what they want, they’ve got no reason to stick around.

So how can you find out what your audience wants from you? 

There are several ways you can do this, but here’s what we’d suggest:

  • Ask your existing followers: Asking your followers directly is a great way to find out more about what they want to see from you. You can use polls, ask questions in your stories, or even ask them to comment on a post. 
  • Search relevant hashtags: This will give you a feel for the type of content that’s being posted. For example, if you’re running a high-end jewelry business, you might search for #luxuryjewelry. This will give you a good indication of what your target audience is already seeing. 

3. Perform a competitor analysis to fast track your efforts 

Reviewing your competitors can help you grow your Instagram in two ways:

  1. Find out what works well: Take a look at their top-performing posts. Are there any commonalities between them? If so, think about doing something similar with your posts. 
  2. Identify any gaps: Can you spot any areas where they’re not doing so well? These are the areas where you can provide value to your audience. 

But where do you start when it comes to performing a competitor analysis?

We’d suggest using Iconosquare. 

Its competitor section allows you to track and review the following information:

  • Total media published
  • Total followers and follower growth 
  • Post history, habits, and density
  • Tag usage
  • Average likes and comments
  • Most engaging media 

All of this information will give you the insight you need to figure out what works well and what you could do to gain a competitive advantage.

4. Create content that’s relevant to your target audience

If your content isn’t relevant, your followers won’t engage with it. And if they don’t engage with it, Instagram’s algorithm is less likely to show your content in its Explore section. 

Top tip: Getting featured in the Explore section is a great way to reach more people and grow your account. 

To keep your content relevant, you need to stay on top of the latest trends — and we’re not talking about fashion.

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • Keep on top of Instagram trends: After Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020, they became pretty popular. Some companies even saw a 280% increase in engagement from using them. But if you missed the trend and didn’t post Reels, you could have missed out on engagement and growth. 

So make sure you know what the latest trends are on Instagram. It will help you post content that’s more likely to engage with your audience and reach new followers. 

  • Understand cultural trends: ​​If you have an international audience, it’s important to know what’s trending and relevant in their respective countries. Geo-restrictions can make this pretty tricky, but you can bypass those restrictions by using a VPN service.

Get yourself up to speed on the above to make sure you’re posting the right type of content at the right time. Failing to keep up with trends could restrict your growth. 

5. Avoid being overly salesy or self-promotional 

Too much sales content can come across as pushy and prevent users from engaging with your content or following your account altogether.

To avoid being too salesy or self-promotional, you need a balance of the following:

  • Hard sell content: These are posts that aim to convert. There’s a clear call-to-action and the post is only about your product or service. Running Instagram ads for your store with such content will help you reach new customers.
  • Soft sell content: These are much more subtle in their delivery. There’s no hard call to action, but the post encourages users to take action. A prime example here would be directing your followers to a landing page quiz to engage you audience and drive more leads in the long run.
  • Lighthearted and informative content: This is primarily focused on engaging with your audience and doesn’t push or promote your product or service in any way. 

Take a look at Preply as an example.

The online language learning platform strikes a good balance between promotional content, informative posts, and lighthearted content on its Instagram feed. 

So try to get a mix of content on your feed. Sure, you can go for the hard sell, but pick your moments wisely, and don’t be afraid to use some lighthearted content to break things up. 

6. Prioritize quality over quantity with your content

Quality content is about posting information that’s both useful and interesting. 

If you want to grow your Instagram, your content needs to be interesting and valuable. It’s not enough to post images and videos that add no value.

Whether that’s offering a solution to a problem or providing followers with interesting and useful facts about a certain topic, quality content must have value.

If this means posting less, then so be it. Quality is what’s important. 

7. Treat hashtags and location tags like SEO and use strategically 

When used well, hashtags and location tags help you reach a wider audience.

So how can you use hashtags and location tags strategically? 

Let’s take a look. 

  • Plan your hashtags before you post: Be strategic about the hashtags you want to target and the content you’ll be posting alongside them. Planning this will help you create relevant and engaging content that supports the hashtags you want to use. 
  • Tag your location to attract local followers: Since the pandemic, people care more about supporting local businesses. 72% of people said they’re more likely to buy from a local business because of the pandemic. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to tag your location to encourage local followers to engage with you. 
  • Use a scheduling platform to generate other relevant platforms: Some social media scheduling platforms have a hashtag suggestion function that allows you to find similar and relevant hashtags to the phrases you want to target. This helps widen your reach and keeps your post relevant to the hashtags you’re using. 

8. Post consistently without under or overdoing it 

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience for a second. 

How would you feel if an Instagram account you followed constantly posted meaningless images and captions throughout the day? It’d be annoying, right? 

Chances are, you’d unfollow them. 

So how often should you be posting?

Most businesses post 3–4 times per week, but that doesn’t mean this is right for you. 

To figure out how much you should post, try posting different amounts each week and see what happens. That’ll show you what your audience wants — and providing them with what they want is a surefire way to increase engagement. 

9. Schedule posts in advance to avoid falling through the cracks 

Scheduling your posts gives you a clear oversight of the content you’re posting, and you won’t have to worry about remembering to post content manually. It’s a win-win. 

But how can scheduling posts help you grow your Instagram? 

Let’s find out: 

  • Post content regularly: Scheduling your posts in advance means you won’t fall through the cracks. All of your posts are lined up and ready to go, so you don’t have to worry about manually logging into your account and posting every day (or however often you plan to post).
  • Plan your content: With a scheduling platform, you can see all the content you’re posting in one place. This makes it pretty helpful for planning what you’re posting and making sure you’re posting a variety of content. And as we’ve already discussed, it’s useful to post different types of content to keep your audience engaged. 

So make sure you think about how you can schedule your posts in advance. 

Hint: We’d suggest using a social media scheduling platform, like Iconosquare

10. Experiment with different types of posts to find what works best for you and your audience 

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to posting on Instagram. From Instagram posts and reels to stories and IGTV, the options are pretty varied. 

So what should you use? 

Unfortunately, we can’t answer this question. What works best for you depends on your account, the industry you work in, and your followers. 

Put simply, the only way to know for sure is to experiment. 

You can track your engagement on each type of post to see what your followers engage with. That’ll give you a solid foundation to know what you should (and shouldn’t) focus on going forward.

11. Treat engagement like a two-way street — don’t forget to engage with your target audience

Engagement doesn’t end with your followers. You have a part to play, too. 

Think about it. If you engage your followers, they’re more likely to continue engaging with your posts. And the more users engage with your posts, the more likely your posts will be shown to users who don’t follow you. 

So make sure you dedicate time to engaging with your target audience. If someone comments on your post, comment back. If someone sends you a message, reply. Better yet, respond with an invitation to schedule an online meeting to build real relationships with your followers.

Now, we know what you’re thinking.

Responding to every comment and message is a time-consuming task.

You’re right; it is. But it’s worth it. So if you don’t have the time, consider hiring and training a social media virtual assistant to do it for you, or invest in a social media engagement tool to answer comments more efficiently. 

12. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with influencers and other Instagrammers in your niche 

Linking up with similar influencers might not sound like a great idea. They’re your competition, right? 

But partnering with another Instagrammer or brand can seriously help your growth.

How?

By reaching a wider (and similar) audience. 

If your account is being promoted by another account, you’ll be on the radar of all their followers. And because you’re in a similar niche, chances are their followers will be interested in what you have to offer. 

So don’t be afraid to reach out to other Instagrammers and see if anyone wants to start a partnership. Whether that’s offering a discount for a product or service they’re promoting or cross-promoting content onto your channel, it’ll be beneficial to both of you. 

13. Curate the visual of your Instagram feed 

When people land on your Instagram page, the first thing they see is your feed. Whether you like it or not, they’ll make a snap judgment about who you are and what your brand is in a matter of seconds.

So you need to show them something that’ll encourage them to stick around.

Here’s our advice: 

  • Keep your images consistent: Use the same filter, style, and colors to create a streamlined aesthetic. 
  • Use a scheduler to preview your feed: Most scheduling platforms allow you to preview your feed when you’ve scheduled your posts. That’ll show you how it’ll look when all the posts you’ve scheduled go live. If there’s anything that doesn’t match the aesthetic, this will show you. 

14. Monitor analytics regularly to track progress and adjust accordingly if needed 

Once you’ve put all the effort into growing your Instagram account, you need to track and monitor its performance.

After all, without tracking progress, how will you know if you’ve been successful? 

Schedule time into your calendar to regularly review your performance. This will tell you what’s going well and what can be improved. And as you notice areas of improvement, you can make changes. 

When it comes to reviewing performance, Instagram’s analytics won’t always cut the mustard. If you want something robust, take a look at Iconosquare. Its performance measurement software helped Kicker grow its Instagram audience by 50%.

Start growing your Instagram account today 

If you’re ready to start growing your Instagram account, put these steps into action. They’ll help you increase engagement, reach a wider audience, and grow your following. 
And if you want to take it to the next level, use Iconosquare for your social media scheduling and analytics. You can even try the 14-day free trial to test the waters before you commit.

About the author
Hailey Lucas

Hailey Lucas

Hailey is a digital PR and SEO consultant for B2B SaaS + e-commerce companies, helping brands increase their visibility, search rankings, and organic traffic. In her free time, you can catch her traveling the world as a digital nomad or dancing bachata.

More posts by Hailey Lucas

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