Building an audience on Instagram is tough. You can buy followers, but attracting them organically takes work.
If you’re trying to build an Instagram audience, then you need to think like a user — specifically, a member of your niche audience. Certainly you have your own subconscious criteria you follow when deciding whether or not to follow someone. Put yourself in a user’s shoes: what turns them away, and what do they expect to see?
Content is, ultimately, what people follow you for. Everything you post needs to hold users’ interest, such as videos, photos, infographics, text, and more.
When it comes to photography, every image needs to be crystal-clear and dynamic. Poor-quality images don’t exactly inspire confidence. Why would someone follow you if your images are sub-par? Instagram is full of people and businesses vying for attention and publishing engaging material, so users can turn to any one of them if yours doesn’t capture their attention.
Produce content that is valuable. Does it educate your audience about a new topic? Does it bring joy to their lives? You’re unlikely to hold anyone’s attention for very long, which means you have a limited time to make a positive impression.
When we say consistency, we mean two kinds: how often you post, and what kind of content you publish.
Pretend you are an Instagram user who has just seen a really cool post. You want to see more cool material, so you go to the poster’s profile. They have a few similar images and videos, but they are scarce — it seems like this account owner only posts once in a while, and at an irregular frequency. You follow so many people already and appreciate content on a frequent basis, so you decide following this profile isn’t worth your time. Make sure that you are posting often enough to keep people coming back.
You also need to operate within your niche. True, you should shake up the kind of content you create so that it doesn’t grow stale, but if you’re a meme account, then you don’t want to take people by surprise by sharing news about sports. It’s a fine line to navigate, but people will turn away if they don’t know what to expect from you.
Do you have a bio?
People want to know who they’re following. You may think that being vague about who you are creates an intriguing mystery, but this is a mistake for business and personal brand owners. Casual users can get away with this. Anyone attempting to leverage Instagram for business or marketing purposes needs to have a detailed bio, probably a link, and a few highlighted Stories.
Your bio cannot say just anything, either. Space is limited, so you need to convey relevant information and your brand voice in only a few words and emojis.
Do you use Stories?
On the subject of Instagram Stories, users will notice if you use them are not. Stories are essential on Instagram: some users don’t even bother to scroll through their feeds; they prefer to watch the stream of content at the top of their home screens of Stories from people they follow.
There is a world of possibilities you can do with Stories. From short videos that don’t need to be particularly well-produced or simple text, Stories are a way to capture users’ attention. The one you have available will only last for 24 hours, but you can highlight your favorites and save them to your profile for people to view at any time.
When visiting your Instagram profile for the first time, other users will notice two kinds of engagement: how people interact with you, and how you interact with them.
If you have a high follower count but a disproportionate number of them are commenting on your posts (and likes are now hidden), it’s a sign that you purchased fake followers and are trying to appear more popular than you really are. This practice can seriously hurt your reputation, so don’t resort to using fake profiles.
It’s also a good sign if an account owner is responding to comments and answering questions. Engaging with your audience indicates that you care. You are not present to post photos and hope people like them — you are there to participate in a conversation, and some users appreciate when you acknowledge what they say. Users do not want to be friends with brands, of course (so don’t try too hard to seem like a person if you run a business account), but they also expect you not to be aloof.
Instagram users like to see a certain checklist of things when deciding to follow an account — and most importantly, it needs to be interesting. What do you include in your profile that you know users look for?
Founder Dinis Guarda
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