One of the most popular topics and desires in having an Instagram (or any social media) account is how to grow your following. In this article we’re going to look at seven different of the most commonly taught growth strategies, some of which I don’t advocate. However, they’re still important to cover because despite not being what I would consider a “best practice” other people suggest them and it’s, at the very least, important to know what they are and ultimately your decision whether you choose to use those tactics.
So let’s get started by going over these seven important topics and examining the pros and cons of each to help you determine which strategies are best for you to use to grow you Instagram account and remain unique and true to your own brand. Before we do I want to make it clear that I don’t recommend trying to do all of them at once, it’s better to zone in on a select few and be really good at those than to try and spread yourself thin and do as many as possible badly.
1. The $1.80 Strategy
The “Buck-Eighty” strategy was made popular by Gary Vaynerchuk and really saw a lot of attention 3-4 years ago. This is where you go to various accounts within your industry and leave genuine comments on their posts. The reason why it’s called the Buck-Eighty Strategy, and I might be slightly off on this, is because the idea is to choose 20 different hashtags in your market and leave comments on the top 9 trending posts for that particular hashtag. More specifically, 9 posts multiplied by 20 hashtags is 180.
The idea is to follow this strategy every day to help grow your account. While it does work to an extent, or at least did a lot more so when it was first popularized, I’m not the biggest fan of it due to it no longer being a more efficient way compared to other strategies we’re going to cover. And the reason for this is because back when Instagram first became popular and hashtags weren’t as saturated, a lot of accounts weren’t really that keen on different marketing strategies so it was possible to leave all of those comments and get 20-40 followers a day. Whereas now you’re likely to get around 5-10.
So if you don’t mind the hustle of spending an hour or so every day to squeeze out those extra followers then this a strategy you could try implementing.
2. The Follow-Unfollow Strategy
This isn’t one we’re going to focus too much on because a lot of accounts have caught onto this and it’s more or less been labeled as a bad technique, but still one that’s widely taught. Now it does happen to work but it’s bad for a few different reasons.
Basically you’re following a large number of accounts within your industry in the hopes of attracting relevant people who like your content, and then unfollowing them after a period of time. The reason that this can backfire is because rapidly following a large number of accounts can raise a red flag in Instagram’s algorithm, causing you to get follow/action blocked, similar to when you comment too quickly too often and you get error messages that your comment couldn’t be posted.
As a good reminder, once you’re follow blocked it’s easier to have it happen again even after the block’s been lifted. Think of it as Instagram’s way of cracking down on the use of automation software, and because your rapid repetitive actions are similar to what an automated software would do, you’re flagged as possibly not being a real account.
3. Automation Software Strategy
Using automation software is exactly what it sounds like as a way to implement the first 2 strategies we just discussed, but through the use of a robot that automatically takes care of all the work for you, which is unnatural and actually quite obvious to spot.
Now of course using automation software can deliver some quick results, but through this rapid implementation of those strategies you’re left wide opened for Instagram to block your account. This doesn’t just make getting your account unblocked difficult, but creates quite the up-hill battle of catching yourself back up to organically and genuinely growing your account afterwards.
4. Engagement Group Strategy
This strategy is one I can’t personally vouch for because I’ve never been in one that has been good or effective. I’ve been in about 15 of them and they just turned out to be more annoying than helpful. Essentially what these are is a group message with a lot of different members in the same market. Every time someone in the group uploads a new post they share that post to the group or let the group know there’s a new post from them and then everyone in the group likes, comments, and saves the post that was just uploaded to help the post trend higher and improve engagement.
Now overall the idea for this strategy is awesome and Instagram hasn’t taken any actions to get rid of these groups, so they’re safe to be a part of. However, the reason I haven’t had a good experience is because over time people just lose interest in it, at least as far as doing their part of commenting on your posts…and even if they do they don’t tend to be genuine or well-thought out posts that provide any value or show Instagram that the comments left are relevant to the post itself.
Lastly, when people get lazy about keeping up with the group it easily turns into a situation where members think “This person didn’t comment on my post so I’m not going to comment on theirs” and no one ends up getting the attention on their posts the group was made for in the first place.
5. Paid Shout-Out Strategy
A paid shout-out strategy is when you can either pay an influencer or a large content page (like a repost account) to just share your post or shout you out to their followers. It could also work for a page that just posted entrepreneur and motivational quotes all day, for example…and this is actually a way that I’ve built a following for my own Instagram account, because there are so many entrepreneur accounts out there and the pricing in that industry is usually good.
However, the success of this technique and pricing will depend on the industry you’re in, along with how big the accounts are that you have the opportunity to do a paid post with (you clearly wouldn’t do a paid shout out with a small account that doesn’t get a lot of traction with the content they post).
If you choose to use this strategy remember that just like with your actual posts, you want to provide the account doing the paid shout out with captions and information that is going to have a good opportunity to trend within that industry and get likes and high engagement.
6. Ad Running Strategy
This strategy is obviously going to cost money and isn’t and easy one for me to just tell you to run ads to some sort of free resource and guarantee you make money off of it. So a free resource would be an eBook, guide, cheat sheet, or video series and is something we can give in exchange for their email. It could also be a lot like a webinar or free coaching call…there’s so many things you can offer for free in exchange for account or email leads. So whatever you’re really comfortable with giving, you’d run ads for that.
Essentially you run ads to a post that says “Opt in with your email and get this free thing” and you can set up some sort of automation sequence on the backend that introduces them to your Instagram or Youtube account and offers them a free resource while you spend the money on advertising to get you a new form of contact that you can continuously market to after the ad campaign finishes running.
This often results in gaining their following you on social media with the addition of gaining more traffic on a product in your business. Even if you gain a followers and an additional way to market to them through their email, they may not opt to purchase your product. However, offering them something free isn’t only appealing, but giving away something of value helps to build trust in your brand and makes future advertising to those same people more successful. Additionally, building that trust is a way for them to potentially share your profile, posts, and brand with their own following as well.
7. Giveaway Strategy
Everyone loves winning free stuff through Instagram or other social media giveaways and making “Follow me” as one of the requirements to enter the contest is an easy way to gain followers. The only problem with this is that once the giveaway ends the people that didn’t win fall off pretty quickly and unfollow you. So it’s important to remember that we want to create a way to have quality entries that result in quality followers that will stick with you after long term. This can be done in a number of ways, whether it be some sort of hook that makes them look forward to a future giveaway you’ll run or by getting their contact information through the post or a form so that you have a way to reach those same people again in the future.
Though the more the merrier is great when it comes to your followers, wee don’t want those short-lived “general followers”. The goal of your business is to make money, even on social media…and being able to have even a smaller but TARGETED following is going to yield much higher rewards further down the road. So it’s not only being able to cater giveaways or promos to industry-related accounts, but to really identify who your “dream customer” is, and cater your content to them.
So back to our giveaway. Let’s say you get each entry’s email address. When the contest is over, you send out a notification to everyone letting them know who won. However, instead of leaving it at that, you can take advantage of online marketing by giving everyone who didn’t win some sort of special offer. For example, if you’re a coach you could offer a free 20 minute call to anyone that didn’t win and then within that 20 minute call is when you could try to offer a discounted price for coaching or sell them on supplements or something similar.
Remembering that building trust FIRST is going to get you those long-term supporters who don’t just disappear right after a giveaway. You have to offer them something of value to make it worth their while and even if they don’t want what you’re offering at first, they’ll remember that you had other things of value they may have an interest in later, or know someone else who does.
Now so far I’ve listed these 7 strategies from my least to most favorite, and the 7th is definitely the most complicated of all. However, that also makes it the best when done correctly. That said, if you want to learn exactly how to do a giveaway on Instagram in the most efficient way possible, I’ll teach you through my Master Class. I do ask for your email to get in, but it’s a 1 hour of training, so make sure to have your notes and a cup of coffee ready to go and I promise it’s going to be worth your time.