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7 Ways to Grow Your Audience on Instagram

Give your Instagram feed a boost with these handy tips to increase engagement.

Although Followers are important, don’t stress about chasing the numbers. As a small, creative business, with limited time and resources to spend on social media, it’s quality of followers, not quantity that’s far more valuable to you and your business.

So here are my top recommendations for boosting your engagement and increasing Follower numbers in a real and lasting way:

1. Post good content

This should be a no-brainer really. You can hashtag and promote the hell out of a post, but no one’s going to stick around if the content you’re posting is not compelling. Make sure your images are beautifully shot, sized correctly for Instagram (1080 x 1080 pixels is optimum) and are accompanied by an engaging caption. Stuck for ideas? Read > 10 Great Social Media Content Ideas You Can Post Today

2. Hashtags

Used strategically, hashtags are a great way to discover and connect with like-minded people on Instagram. Think of these people as your 'tribe'. Search for hashtags that are relevant to your particular area of expertise – the more niche, the better. I recently met the marbling artist Lucy McGrath, of Marmor Paperie, who attended one of my workshops. She had discovered the #marbledmonday hashtag, used by antiquarian book stores and book collectors, and uses it to connect with potential clients.

Think about all the different aspects of your business and start researching key hashtags within the Instagram app to see who else is using them. Take a look at your competitors and potential customers and check out which hashtags they are using. You can save groups of hashtags in the Notes on your phone, making them quick and easy to copy and paste into a caption.

Top tip: to stop your carefully worded caption becoming cluttered with hashtags, separate them from your main text either with the space bar or by placing them in a separate caption below the first one.

3. Comment and Like other's posts

It's a good idea to put aside a few minutes each day, at the time you are posting, to Comment on and Like other people's posts. This is a great way to connect with your tribe and find potential influencers who could help promote your brand on their Instagram accounts.

4. Write engaging captions

Have you noticed that Instagram captions are becoming more and more like mini blogs? Let your Followers in to your world. Tell them about yourself and the work you do. Show them your processes and talk about what it is you do and why you do it! Don’t be afraid to ask questions (“Which of these products do you like best? The pink one or the red one?”). It’s a great way to start a conversation with your audience and you'll gain valuable feedback.

5. Shows, Exhibitions & Trending Events

Make the most of shows and exhibitions you're involved in. Find and connect with the organisers and ensure you are including the correct event hashtags. Don’t forget to include Location information in all your posts too. You’ll be amazed how many visitors check their Instagram feeds to discover who they should be visiting on the day. It’s also worth posting around major events that are trending in the news. The big caveat here is: as long as it is relevant to your business. Piggy-backing off any old event will look spammy and a bit desperate. Events in the social calendar are an easy win: if you’re a milliner, Ascot or Henley. If you are a garden designer or create floral-inspired textiles, think Chelsea Flower Show. If you make printed oven gloves and aprons (like Thornback & Peel) it’s fine to wish the contestants of The Great British Bake Off good luck!

6. Competitions

This is a great way to engage people and get them talking about you. Competitions don’t need to be complicated – some of the simplest ideas work best. A simple giveaway, where entrants #tagtowin (in other words, @ their friends in the comment section of a post) is an easy win for everyone (if you’ll pardon the pun!). It’s quick and easy for people to enter, and by tagging their friends they are spreading the word about your brand to a much wider audience (all their mates). Plus, all those extra Likes and tags should boost your post’s reach. Like I say, everyone’s a winner! Check out this great #tagtowin competition run by Thornback & Peel.

7. Sponsored Posts

Finally, it’s worth considering spending a bit of money on advertising on Instagram. These kind of posts appear in people's feed as Sponsored Posts. If you’re launching a new product or having a sale, these types of posts are a great way to reach a much wider audience who may not yet know about you and your products. But before you dive in, check out my top tips on Facebook & Instagram Ads.

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