Instagram can be a great platform to showcase your business. However, before you can effectively use Instagram to market your products and services, you need to build a loyal following. Instagram has become more competitive and more crowded. It’s harder to build an organic following today than it was in the early days. But, if you are creative and clever there are still many options for attracting fans and growing your Instagram following.

Here are nine tips that you can start using right now:

#1: Let Followers on Other Social Networks Know About Your Instagram

Most people are on more than one social network. If you already have a personal or business profile on another platform, let those followers know about your Instagram account. Make sure to provide both your name and a link to a recent post or your profile. You want to make it as easy as possible to follow you.

This strategy works especially well if you publish different content on your Instagram. Your biggest fans will want to see everything you post everywhere.

#2: Use Instagram Widget on Your Website

You have probably seen those small social media buttons on other websites that people can click on to follow you on those platforms. Those buttons don’t usually get a lot of clicks.

But, what does work is embedding your Instagram posts directly on your website. SnapWidget has a powerful widget that automatically embeds your latest Instagram posts on your website.

The posts look amazing on your website. They help your website look more professional and they encourage people to click on your posts and follow you on Instagram. With the widget your content is working harder so you don’t have to.

#3: Have a Smart Hashtag Strategy

Hashtags are still critical to attracting new eyeballs on Instagram. Every Instagram post should have several hashtags to maximize your exposure. However, nobody wants to see a bunch of hashtags in your post caption. The best practice is to put all your hashtags in a comment on your post. This is more visually appealing, and your post will still show up when those hashtags are searched.

You should try a variety of hashtags. Try and post images that relate to your business and other things happening in the real world. Post about holidays, post about current events that relate to your niche. Remember, positive posts do much better on Instagram than negative ones.

Do your research and see what hashtags your competitors use and what hashtags your customers are interested in.

Once someone finds you through a hashtag search the chances of them following you are high.

#4: Be Consistent

Just like every other social media platform, your recent posts are quickly buried in your follower’s feeds. You need to post regularly to keep your follower engaged. How often you post depends on your brand, your niche, and your follower expectations. You should post at least twice a week, daily is better for most brands. Some of the most popular brands post three or more times a day.

If posting three times a day makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry about. Just be consistent about when and how often you post.

You should also be consistent about what you post. A new visitor to your profile should be able to instantly get a sense of what kind of content you post. Your profile should tell the story of your brand through the images posted there.

#5: Use Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are one of the most popular features on the platform. Stories get prominent placement in your follower’s feeds and in hashtag searches. You should experiment with posting Instagram stories. They don’t have to be elaborate. A simple 30 second behind the scenes video or a gif of a happy customer is perfect content.

Instagram stories can have a hashtag associated with them, so choose wisely. Because stories often have higher engagement than regular posts, posting more stories can help your profile show up higher in searches.

#6: Boost Your Best Posts

Instagram is not as bad as Facebook about limiting organic reach-but, you can still improve your exposure by paying to boost a few posts.

Boosting posts is easy and is cost effective. You can set a small budget and target who you want to see your posts. Make sure you boost posts that have the most likes and are the most interesting.

Boosting a post will help connect you with your target market and can help you build your following.

#7: Keep Posts Interesting

The cardinal sin of all social media is doubly true for Instagram-never to be boring. Nobody on Instagram wants to see a commercial for your business. Your posts need to be about your customers. Posts should solve problems, provide inspiration, entertain, or just look cool.

Consider posting images of your business taken from unusual angles. Put a camera on your dog and let them capture some video of your business from their point of view. If you can, get your customers involved in your feed. We all love stories from real people. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Boring Instagram posts don’t get engagement.

If your posts are interesting people will want to follow you and will tell others to follow you.

#8: Plug Your Instagram Everywhere

Instagram has over 800 million users. That means you probably run into Instagram users all the time in real life. You can build your Instagram following by plugging your profile everywhere. If you have a physical store, have a sign about it near the cash register. If you have a blog, tell your readers about it.

If you go on podcasts, guest post, or do any other marketing, plug your Instagram account. If you want to have a following you have to be willing to let people know that you exist.

#9: Be Social

Instagram is a social media platform. The most successful brands on Instagram are social. They don’t just post their own content. They like the content of others. They comment on others posts. They follow other accounts.

Nobody likes the person at the party who only talks about themselves. Don’t be like that.

However, keep all of your social interaction on brand. If you make products for photographers, follow and interact with photographers, even if they aren’t using your products yet. If you sell carpets, follow interior designers and builders.

The more you reach out to your customers the more follower you will attract.

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