Now that we understand the importance of growing your Instagram account and leveraging your following, let’s talk about some tactics to grow your accounts and how you can work with those who already have a following to help you grow your own. The most important thing to keep in mind, is that Instagram is all about story telling. For example, a picture of your restaurant head chef that says “Here is our head chef John,” isn’t going to resonate as well as that same photo that says “John has been the head chef at Tortorellas pizza for 17 years! Want to know what makes our pizza so good? John’s grandmother grew up in Sicilly cooking pizzas day and night for 30 years before they came to America. The sauce recipe is written down on a tiny piece of paper that John keeps in the front pocket of his apron and refuses to show anyone.. in fact, if you ask to see to recipe, John will simply smile and say “If I told you.. I’d have to kill you” in the most playful tone J.” The picture is exactly the same, but the story is different and that’s what differentiates your pizza shop from your competitors and the main chains in town. Tell your unique story and do it in a creative and consistent way, and people will always take notice! Let’s talk about a few tactics, that if combined with great content and quality storytelling, will really help you grow your business/brand.
Growing the right following
Podcast- Podcasts have become so popular and for good reason! The podcasting industry has grown 84% just in the last year alone and putting your voice to your brand is becoming that much more important. Maybe the influencer you are reaching out to has a large following on Instagram, but they don’t have a podcast. If you can invite them onto your podcast to provide expertise, you are scratching that itch for them, especially if you have built up a listener base. It will be a piece of content they will be excited about and if you do it the right way, they will likely share the episode and potentially tag your Instagram as well when the episode goes live.
Blog- Everyone loves being mentioned in a blog or article online! If you are having trouble reaching the influencers you want to work with, consider writing a blog post titled “The 10 food bloggers in Columbus you must know in 2018.” This gives you an opportunity to give 10 thoughtful shoutouts within your article. If everyone else is trying to get their attention on Instagram, but instead, you take the time to write about them on your blog, they are much more likely to see it. Obviously you can’t tag them on your blog post, so you will need to email them or DM them to let them know about the article. Don’t get spammy here! Simply write them and say something along the lines of
“Hey (Blogger X), I have always admired your work and have followed your Instagram for ____. I just wrote a blog post about my 10 favorite food blogs here in Columbus and it would mean the world to me if you read it.”
Again, this isn’t the place to say “will you give me a shout out.” You have to write these articles with zero intention of asking for anything. If you ask for the shout out, you are actually much LESS likely to receive it because it will look like you only wrote the article for the share. If you simply ask people to read your content, you may get 6 responses saying they will read it and of those 6 responses, 1 or 2 may share it, but 1 or 2 is a lot more than zero!
Giveaway/Contests- If you are a business/brand with something to give away. A giveaway is the best way to break through the noise of Instagram and to engage with larger accounts. Remember, what is your value proposition and why should they care? Let’s say you are a local beauty/day spa in town. You have a product that local bloggers would LOVE. Who wouldn’t want a free facial or laser therapy treatment? Your product is your opportunity! Consider partnering with a local blogger to giveaway a free facial to one of their followers. The best way to execute this is to have the influencer into your location and offer them free service as well. They will be excited because they are getting a free treatment that they typically would have to pay for. While at the location, they are likely to share your business (remember these are social people that love sharing content!) and if you have a great product/service they will be happy to tell their followers. To take it a step further, consider running a giveaway, where they can post on their wall and encourage others to enter by leaving a comment and tagging 2 friends in that comment. The exponential growth your brand/business will receive for 2 free products/services will more than pay for themselves from the initial traffic and long term brand awareness. Don’t be afraid to use your product, service or talents to help you grow your brand/business.
If these strategies sound like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Anyone that told you that you could grow your Instagram with a quality following, overnight, is lying to you. Sure, if you are just looking for a big number to brag to your friends about, you can buy followers very quickly. However, if your strategy is just to have a large number of followers, you are setting yourself up for failure on the platform. This is about growing the right following and that will take time, consistency and a combination of the strategies listed above.