28 Jan 2021 How to Social media

How to gain an audience on Instagram in 2021

Photo of a girl with glasses that have Instagram logos in the middle

Trying to gain an audience on Instagram can be a bit of a challenge when you’re starting out. Instagram has great shopping features for product-based businesses to sell on the platform, making it highly appealing as a social media platform.

However, it’s hard to get a high-enough follower base for it to make an impact. You can’t get 10,000 Instagram followers in a day, just like Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you’re starting out, nobody knows who you are. You’ve got to prove yourself as a trusted brand that people will want to buy from.

How to gain more followers on Instagram?

Here is a list of 10 things you can do to gain an audience on Instagram in 2021:

1. Develop a consistent branding
2. Optimise your account handle and account name
3. Don’t “sell”, tell a story instead
4. Repost others’ content
5. Build social proof
6. Use your Instagram posts in blog posts
7. Get promoted on BuzzFeed
8. Choose the right hashtags
9. Follow your competitors’ followers
10. Work with influencers

Let’s delve into more detail about each of these points.

1. Develop a consistent branding

Aesthetic Instagram feeds aren’t a new trend on the platform. Businesses of every size are continuously working towards a feed that appeals to their audience and stands out from the crowd.

Brands are coming up with more and more creative ways to curate their feeds. Some common methods include using the same colour scheme across all posts and designs on the platform, having a specific pattern and schedule, using the same fonts and keeping the use of emojis consistent and on-brand.

You might think, how can aesthetics be that important? It is important for the audience to visually see consistency in your content. People who follow you expect to see the same quality, branding and overall message across your content as that is the reason why they have followed you in the first place. This even includes the filters you use, the type of imagery, the caption, Instagram highlights, bio, profile picture, account name etc.

Here is an example of a curated Instagram feed. In a quick glance, you immediately get the vibe of Our Neighbourhood’s content and what to expect when you follow them. If you’re looking for bright, inviting workspaces then this is the brand for you.

Our neighbourhood Instagram feed

A great free application for planning your Instagram feed is UNUM. You can also use Planoly (it’s free!) to plan and schedule your posts to be posted directly to Instagram. These applications allow you to visually see the look of your feed, making sure you can arrange your posts strategically.

If you’re looking for quick and easy photo-editing apps to make sure you’re consistent with your filters, check out this post where we discuss the best photo editing apps for Instagram.

2. Optimise your account handle and account name

Your account handle and account name can make a huge difference whether you come up on Instagram search results when looking for a specific keyword.

For example, if you’re a skincare brand named Cloud, and you just put Cloud as your account name, it doesn’t quite reaffirm Instagram that you’re a skincare company. Cloud could mean anything, from software solutions to comfy pillows.

The trick is to make it extremely easy for Instagram to understand what your brand really is about. Therefore, in the Cloud skincare example, you could simply put Cloud Skincare as your account name. If you’re a marketing agency called Forever Media, you could put Forever Media | Marketing Agency as your account name. Simple but effective, to help more and more people discover and follow your account.

Of course, choosing the type of your business in the business categories section of your business account is a massive help, too. Do what you can, where you can.

3. Don’t “sell”, tell a story instead

Instagram is filled with brand messages that just sell, sell, sell. Mediocre messages about your brand on Instagram aren’t very social and aren’t going to help you gain an audience on Instagram. You need to captivate your audience with powerful images, videos and captions that entice them to learn more about your brand, not throw marketing messages at them.

You can share stories on the platform in a variety of ways, you just need to be creative. If your brand is all about sustainability, instead of posting a product picture with a branded message, why not post a photo about nature and tell a story about what’s happening when it comes to the environment, showing what your brand believes in.

In 2021, Instagram Reels is the home of telling stories. From a micro business sharing behind-the-scene insights to global corporates creating a community-feel, there’s something for everyone.

Beauty giant Sephora is a great example of using Reels to engage your audience through storytelling. Their feed includes tutorials, product highlights, gift lists and more. Check it out here.

4. Repost others’ content

Reposting other people’s content is a great way to get more people to view your profile and therefore potentially gain an audience on Instagram. Yes, this includes people who have posted a photo with your products, but also sharing photos from people who aren’t even your customers yet.

Let’s say your brand sells cycling gear and your messages often involve being sustainable. You can seek out popular posts on the Explore page under the travel section about nature that haven’t been noticed by your competitors yet and repost them to your page. This could mean that the person who originally posted the post will share that on their page, getting some of their followers to view yours as well.

Always ask for permission and remember to tag the original author and include their caption to not get in trouble. Give credit where it’s due! You can use the Repost app to make your life a little bit easier.

5. Know when to post

Yes, I know the algorithms are crazy sometimes and, no matter what you do, you just don’t seem to reach the amount of people you’d like to reach. Well, there is something you can do about it to make sure you are doing everything you can to gain an audience on Instagram.

Instagram gives you some data into your followers, which is great. Not only does it show you your audience’s gender distribution and locations, you can also see when they’re most active on the platform. For example, if the majority of your followers are generally using Instagram on Thursdays at 5pm compared to any other time, that is when your posts should go out.

You can find this data in the “insights” section of your Instagram page. Make sure you have switched your account from personal to business to get the data.

Screenshot of Instagram Insights
Instagram Insights

6. Use your Instagram posts in blog posts

If you’ve got a blog, you should embed your Instagram posts into your blog posts. Of course, you want to do it as seamlessly as possible, instead of just dropping the Insta-bomb out of the blue.

For example, if you have a cooking blog, you might include one of your Instagram posts about something you’ve cooked with a recipe. If you’ve got a fashion blog, you might embed a style post. As long as it matches with what your business and blog is about, it’s all good.

7. Get promoted on Buzzfeed

To get a big boost of Instagram followers, Buzzfeed might just be the help you need. Only if it fits your niche though. You can embed Instagram posts into your content when writing an article for Buzzfeed, which is great. But how can you share your articles on Buzzfeed, you might ask?

You can post your own content to Buzzfeed in the Community section. Anybody can write an article, but you do have to follow their rules and guidelines to make sure you get visibility on the platform.

Screenshot of the BuzzFeed Community Site
Buzzfeed Community Site

8. Choose the right hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to gain new followers. Some people will tell you to only use seven hashtags, some say use 10 while others say another random number. This advice is normally given so that your posts don’t look too spammy in the caption.

Using the maximum of 30 hashtags gives you the opportunity to approach 30 different communities, so you should definitely take advantage of that. The way to get around the “spammy look” is to simply paste the hashtags into the comment section right after you’ve posted. Problem solved.

It is important not to use overly generic hashtags because your posts will just get lost when searching for a hashtag that millions of people are using. It’s better to use niche-specific hashtags to make sure you’ll be found by a relevant audience to grow your followers on Instagram. Hashtags like #love, #happiness and #picoftheday are just some of the ones to avoid. We’ve written a list of hashtags for small businesses to help you! Check it out.

For more personalised hashtags, check out Hashtag Fox. All hashtags are personalised for your profile meaning you can find the right mix that works for you. 

You can group hashtags into collections to save for later and there’s no need to worry about long-term contracts. Try a free trial now.

9. Follow your competitors’ followers

One of the best ways to attract people to follow you, is to follow others. Of course, you want to follow people who are your target market, so one of the ways is to seek out your competitors’ followers and follow them. Why? Because they have already shown interest in similar products, making it more likely that they will want to hear about yours.

Simply following your competitors’ followers isn’t enough, though. You should also engage with them. The more work you put in, the better the results will be. After you’ve followed an account, like an image or two and comment on relevant posts.

Keep in mind that not all accounts will follow you back. But if you follow the three steps of following, liking and commenting, your chances of getting a follow back from your desired audience are much higher.

10. Work with influencers

Influencer marketing in general is a tried-and-tested way to push your brand in front of a specific audience by a person that your desired audience already trusts. Even if you’re a small brand with a small following on Instagram, this can help you gain an audience on Instagram.

Influencers are the authoritative voice giving your brand credibility among your target audience. Of course, you need to make sure that the messages they’re portraying about your brand fits with your image. You also need to make sure that the influencer’s followers are definitely your target market. It’s about the quality of your followers, not always the quantity.

Not only can this increase your following, you can also host a contest in collaboration with an influencer. One of the rules could be that they needed to follow your account. The options are endless, so it’s time to get creative.

Can you grow on Instagram fast?

You’ve got some questions, we’ve got some answers. Here are the solutions to your burning dilemmas.

How do you get 1,000 followers on Instagram fast?

There is no fast-track to Instagram success if you want to gain an audience that truly engages with you and your content. There are some steps that you can take towards building a good Instagram profile and therefore helping you grow faster, which we have mentioned in this blog post.

You need a plan. When are you going to post, how often are you going to post and what are you going to post? Start with getting the best apps for editing your photos and put together a plan for your Instagram Stories and feed. Make sure you’ve got your branding on point, everything from your content to your bio. Once you do this, you might be halfway there.

Is 1,000 followers on Instagram a lot?

The question is, is it a lot to you and is it a lot when thinking of the size of your business? If you think of a room of 1,000 people, then yes, that’s a decent amount of people. Moreover, if the 1,000 people all engage with you, that’s incredible. It’s all about the quality of your audience, not always the quantity.

How many followers do you need on Instagram to get paid?

There is no concrete number of followers that you need on Instagram to get paid. The rise of micro-influencers shows that you do not need a massive audience as long as you have an engaged audience.

You can get paid on Instagram if you have anywhere between 1,000 to 1 million followers. It depends on the business you’re working with and their influencer marketing budget, your engagement rates and your requirements when working with a business.

How many followers do you need on Instagram to get a blue tick?

There is not a set amount of followers you need on Instagram to get a blue tick. What matters is that you are a well-known, highly searched for brand/person/entity. It is not dependent on your follower count.

If you fit in that description, then you can request for verification on Instagram by going into Settings, then Account, and selecting Request Verification.

Is 500 followers on Instagram a lot?

Whether having 500 followers on Instagram is a lot is subjective. If you’re a massive brand, then no, that’s not a lot. If you’re a local boutique that’s just starting out, then that’s great progress. It depends on you, your business and the effort you’ve been putting into Instagram marketing.

Is 200 likes on Instagram good?

Getting 200 likes on Instagram can’t be redeemed as “good” or “bad” because it depends on how many followers you have.

If you have 2 followers and get 200 likes, that’s crazy and you’re probably using some incredible hashtags or are doing some good paid advertising. If you have 100,000 followers and only get 200 likes, then that’s not great. That’s a bit fishy.

Therefore, the answer is dependent on the size of your account and your paid advertising activities.

How many followers a day is good?

This depends entirely on you. You just need to make sure that the followers you are gaining organically are real and active users that want to engage with you and your account.

This entirely depends on the size of your account and the effort your putting in. If you’re an account with 100,000 followers and you’re putting in hours of effort every day and you’re only gaining 2 followers a day, then something must not be quite right.

Try and set realistic goals that take your effort and the size of your account into consideration. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this, you just need to be logical about your follower gains.

How many followers do you need to be Instagram famous?

There isn’t a real set amount of followers you need to have to be Instagram famous. You could be a micro-influencer with 1,000 followers and consider that fame. It’s highly subjective.

Generally speaking, most people consider people with 10,000 followers and over to be Instagram famous. If Instagram fame is something that you’re after, then this might be the number to aim towards.

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