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"Ugh, Instagram, you’re the worst," you say to yourself as you look at profile after profile of other businesses with 100,000 plus followers. You go back to your page and see your follower count. 2,127 followers. Just two more than yesterday.

How am I ever going to get people to buy my products or trust what I have to say if my follower base is so low?

You get more followers! A genius idea right?

Your social media following speaks volumes and when people find your profile they want to see you have a large following. Why? Because this following adds a certain amount of influence, relevance, and trust to your brand. 

So how do you get the Instagram followers you crave so much? You follow the strategy many before you found successful. Because as they say, “Do as the influencers do.” Or was it the Romans? Well, either way.

Create the types of content people want

Posting just to post is the easiest way to fail. And if this is your current strategy, I suggest you stop posting right away. If you want to build a follower base then you have to create the content people want. To do this you need to do two things:

  1. Identify who you are trying to reach through Instagram.
  2. Decide what value you are going to provide to these people.

Then, once you have determined these two things, you need to listen. Find out what these people are talking about. See what questions they are asking. Figure out what content they are attracted to. When you have done that, start creating content based on these findings.

Answering the questions your target audience is asking will help you look like an expert in the field. While tailoring your content to the type this audience is attracted to (i.e. product photos, quotes, people in the office etc.) will bring people to your profile who choose to stay.

One company who is great at this is Nike. They know they have a huge follower base (71 million) made up of every kind of person possible. So they change up their content to meet the needs of everyone. The post videos of women running in Hijabs, their product team discussing how the latest shoe is made, and the biggest athletes wearing Nikes during games. They make Nike relate to everyone by giving them the content they want. 

Be a teacher, not a talker

To get the most bang for your Instagram buck, teach don’t talk. Give people valuable posts that help them in some way. This could be checklists for using certain product features, or Instagram videos featuring short tutorials. It could also be Instagram Live sessions, where you teach customers how to use your product in their daily lives.

Whatever it is, these pieces of content need to have teachable moments that inspire the viewers to take action. Do this in a way that makes you relatable. For example, if you are a software company, don’t have the developers doing the teaching. Instead, ask one of your employees who had to learn it without any previous tech experience. This will immediately make your company more human. Relatability immediately attracts people to your brand.

Never take a day off

People aren’t going to follow you, or stay a follower if you post willy nilly. What good are you to them if you don’t have new content to share? So never take a day off. No, I am not saying you need to post 8 new posts every...single...day, but you do need to post.

Keeping a consistent posting schedule is going to show potential followers that your page is valuable. Plus, it will help you see what works and doesn’t work in a timely fashion. Then you can stop wasting time on content no one cares about and get to creating the stuff they share and double tap!

Engage, engage, engage

Instagram users love to engage! In fact, SocialBakers found that Instagram posts had on average a 3.3% engagement, far surpassing Twitter’s .7%. So engage with the people who are engaging with you!

If you have a low Instagram follower count, take the time to reply back to every person who comments on your posts. It doesn’t have to be long winded, just a simple “Thank you” will do. But doing something, even if it's small, shows them you care. That you see them. This, in turn, makes your current followers more loyal.

You should also give them a reason to engage with you and work at making your Instagram feel like a community. Ask questions and post the best responses. Or ask for feedback on your latest product or post. Don’t just expect that your followers will engage. Make them engage!

Letterfolk is great at this. The look for photos taken by their users then share them on their Instagram page and give them the photo credit. They are engaging by sharing but it goes beyond that. They will also like pictures, comments on posts and answer questions. They make sure to be present not just on their page but on their customers' pages as well. 

letterbox instagram engaging

Listen to the feedback you asked for

When people give you feedback, they expect you to listen to it. However, many businesses take it in and then make no changes. Sure 14 people said they wanted more video, but we don’t need to do that, says every failing business on Instagram.  

All that is going to do is cost you followers and make customers mad. So take what they say to heart and adjust your content accordingly.

Maybe they want more Q&As on Instagram Live. Or perhaps they want to know how to use a certain product you sell. Whatever it may be, do your best to provide them with the things they need. They will see you are listening and send other people your way by word of mouth or through sharing your content.

This ties into the "don’t just post to post" thing I mentioned earlier. You are wasting your time and your users time when you don’t take what they have to say seriously. So pull out your earplugs and start listening.

Building a social media following is hard no matter what platform you use. But there are ways to make your profile more attractive to potential followers. No, you’re not going to go from 2,127 followers to 50,000 followers overnight. There sadly is no magical formula for that, at least not yet.  But you can make yourself more relevant, influential and trustworthy.

What steps are you taking to grow your Instagram follower base? Is it working? Share your positive and not so positive experiences with us.