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Instagram Tips: How to Grow Organically on Instagram

Increase your following on Instagram with these free strategies.

Instagram has over 1 billion active users per month. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”. The social media giant also boasts over 25 million active business accounts. With staggering statistics like these, the popularity of Instagram is not going away anytime soon.

So, what does this mean for small businesses? It means you have an incredible opportunity to reach new leads and customers absolutely free. Instagram doesn’t charge you a dime to publish your content. Your business should be taking advantage of that.

I should mention that, yes, you can run paid advertisements on Instagram, however this article will focus on maximizing your organic growth. Let’s get started:

1. Establish a Hashtag Strategy

Your hashtag strategy is the most important tool at your disposal for growing organically on Instagram. Hashtags allow your posts to be seen by other people who don’t directly follow your account. By using hashtags, your account can be discovered by others in 3 different ways:

People are following the hashtags you use.

In addition to following accounts on instagram, you can also follow specific hashtags. Once you follow a hashtag, content from other people who use that hashtag in their posts will appear in your feed. For example, one of the hashtags I follow is #uitrends. Here’s an example of a post that appeared in my feed:

An important thing to note here, I don’t follow the account “designguideline”. But, since I am following the hashtag #uitrends, I was organically exposed to their content.

People search for the hashtags you use.

Another way people can see your posts on Instagram is if they search for the hashtags you use in your posts. For instance, if you search for the hashtag #marketing, Instagram will give you a page that looks something like this:

As you can see, the results page allows you to filter the results by popularity or recency. If you receive enough engagement on your hashtagged posts, your posts can be featured on the hashtag results page.

People find your post on their Explore page.

The explore page is a page on Instagram that is specifically tailored to your interests. Basically, the Explore Page is a showcase for posts you might like based on your previous activity on Instagram. The Explore Page uses the posts you like and accounts you follow to show you new content you might enjoy, but don’t yet follow.

If receive enough engagement on your post and Instagram deems your post to be relevant, your post has the opportunity to be featured in a users Explore Page. Although the Explore Page is not directly related to hashtags, using hashtags in your post will allow your posts to gain enough traction to reach the Explore Page.

Choosing the best hashtags

Now that we’ve covered the importance of hashtags, it’s time to talk about finding the right hashtags for your posts.

First, you’re going to want to include hashtags that relate to the content of your post. For example, if your post is about your life coaching business, you shouldn’t include hashtags related to cooking or traveling.

Do research and find related hashtags that fit your niche. The easiest way to do this is to look at the posts of your competitors or other influencers in your industry and see what hashtags they’re using. Those hashtags will give you a great starting point for your posts.

Additionally, you should consider finding hashtags that your target audience might be following. It’s incredibly helpful to know what makes your target audience tick and how they use Instagram.

Use around 12-15 hashtags

From my research, I’ve found that using around 12-15 hashtags will yield the best results for Instagram posts. I’ll explain why I have such a specific range.

In order to generate organic growth for your Instagram account, I believe that you need to do the best you can to get your posts featured on the hashtag results and Explore pages. In a recent interview, Jon Youshaei (Product Marketing Manager at Instagram) stated that you should use a “Starbucks Approach” when structuring your hashtags.

Youshaei recommends using at least one hashtag that has ~25,000 posts associated with it, one hashtag with ~50,000 associated with it, one hashtag with ~100,000 posts associated with it, and one hashtag with 1,000,000 or more hashtags associated with it.

The logic behind this strategy is that it allows you to compete within varying difficulty levels of relevancy. If you tried using hashtags that each had 100 million or more posts associated with them, you would have a pretty difficult time attracting engagement for your post.

I’ve slightly adapted Jon Youshaei’s strategy to meet a satisfy more levels of relevancy. Here’s the hashtag strategy that I use:

I believe that using 2-3 relevant hashtags for each of these relevancy levels could prove to be an effective way to organically reach your target audience. Just make sure you don’t use more than 20 hashtags on your posts, as this generally tends to look spammy.

2. Post Consistently on IG Stories

Instagram stories currently has over 500 million active users and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Here are a few reasons why being active on Instagram stories can help you grow your Instagram account:

Discoverability

IG Stories are public and can be discovered by people who don’t follow you. Use hashtags and geotags in your stories to increase the likelihood of your story being discovered by others.

Behind the Scenes

IG Stories are a great way to give your customers a behind the scenes look at how your business works. Whether your highlighting certain employees, previewing a new product, or showing off how a product is made, stories give your audience an opportunity to view your business on a deeper level.

Maintain Visibility

The newest stories from people you accounts you follow are displayed near the top of your Instagram feed. The more often you post on Stories, the more likely your account is to show up in the first few icons of the Story carousel.

Increase Engagement

Instagram Stories have a ton of features that allow you to interact with your audience. For instance, Instagram allows you to run polls, Q&As, and “like sliders” on your stories. Including these interactive elements in your stories can make your audience feel like they are more connected with your brand.

3. Post During Peak Hours

Take advantage of the analytics that Instagram provides. If you navigate to your profile and then tap on the hamburger menu in the top right hand corner, you will find an item called “Insights”. Once there, Instagram will show you a variety of statistics, including the most popular times your followers are online. With this in mind, you should try to post around these peak hours of the day to maximize the reach of your posts.

4: Post More Video Content

I have a feeling that video content is going to play a significant role within Instagram’s platform in the coming years. With the introduction of IGTV and Live videos, Instagram has shown that it plans on making video content a priority.

Videos can be a great way to attract organic growth for your Instagram page because they are inherently more attention-grabbing than static photos. Videos not only attract attention, they keep attention. If you are able to create video content that provides value to your target audience, I believe your Instagram page will begin to generate organic growth over time.

5: Post More Often

Posting more often gives you more room for experimentation. The more often you post, the more you’ll be able to see which types of posts work and which ones don’t. 

Spend some time looking at the insights that Instagram provides you. Once you find the types of content that resonate with your target audience, start producing as much of it as you can to make the most of your organic growth efforts.

Conclusion

Although Instagram’s organic reach capabilities have been slowly decreasing over the years, you can still generate organic growth for your Instagram page by effectively leveraging the tools that Instagram provides you. By using the strategies I’ve outlined above, you should be well on your way to organically attracting new leads to your Instagram page.

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