Although I don’t like social media so much, I’m very fond of the people that know how to make good money from them.
It’s an art.
Although calculating the ROI of social media is difficult, it all comes down to awareness and influence.
Personally, I use Instagram just to follow interesting people (I don’t try to sell anything), but our team has helped some accounts to grow bigger.
Most of the guides you will read out there are outdated and probably so will be this one also in the next few months.
This article has to do with what Instagram allows, how it serves content and how you can leverage those in order to build a healthy account.
What do you want to gain?
In order to get the most of your Instagram account, you have to ask yourself 3 questions:
- Do you want to sell a product?
- Is it for a new or an established company/brand?
- Is it a self-branded account aiming to increase the amount of influence you have?
Whatever you have in mind doing, the right approach would be to determine who will consume your content. Based on that, your posts should be adjusted to serve your end goal.
In case you’re trying to sell something, the type of your posts may vary depending on the product you’re trying to push. It’s a different thing trying to sell protein powder than a fitness course.
If your brand is already established, what industry is it in and what content will be compelling to your audience? If it’s from scratch, what kind of posts could be used to generate interest and engagement?
Instagram Is Running A Health Check
Instagram uses a health score for every single account, ensuring that the ‘best’ accounts have bigger organic reach. If it served a ton of bs, users would be unhappy with the quality of content they would be served.
“How you know it’s true since the ‘healthcheck’ is not something official?”
If you are digging Instagram, I bet you have probably seen huge accounts getting little to no engagement (considering their massive following).
That probably occurs because Instagram thinks that the health rate of these accounts isn’t what it should be. Accounts with poor health rate might be flagged, decreasing that way their organic reach, thus their amount of likes, comments or even new followers.
But, what kind of actions make Instagram angry?
- Using Automation tools.
- Being reported.
- Not being consistent with your posting.
- Doing many actions too quickly (that might end up in a soft ban).
- Having a high unfollowing rate.
- Changing your username or display image
You have to keep in mind that Instagram punishes every activity that is inconsistent with its users’ habits and needs.
Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm
Instagram loves consistency. Big accounts post up to 3 times per day to expand their reach.
If you want to grow, you have to make sure that you post every single day; at least once. But as always, it’s not only about the amount but also when.
Being consistent on the time you are posting, allows you to capture maximum engagement as people who follow you, are consistent with the hours of the day that consume content on the platform.
If you are looking to find the best time to publish a post, you should think in terms of availability for laziness. When do people chill?
You should keep in mind that the first 10 minutes from the time you publish a post, are crucial- that’s why you need maximum engagement within that timespan.
Now according to Buffer, there are other 7 key factors that Instagram’s algorithm takes into consideration:
How popular a post is.
The genres of content you’ve interacted with.
The accounts you regularly interact with.
How recent your post is.
- Profile Searches.
The accounts you check out often.
- Direct Shares.
Whose posts you are sharing
- Time Spent.
The amount people spend viewing your post
What You Post Is Important AF
Instagram is a content consuming platform; it’s only natural that you need to post quality content in order to prevail.
Quality has a different meaning depending on the niche you are targeting. If you are a travel blogger your account needs beautiful photography of immersive places (like Santorini). On the other hand if are a tattoo artist, people want to see mind-bending designs and inked skin.
Whatever your niche, you must respect the platform’s aesthetic. This is a rule that applies to every social platform out there. Posting the same things cross-platform won’t get you anywhere.
Universally, people seem to like more posts that:
- Have high-quality photography.
- Use cool shades.
- Have a call to action or question within their caption.
- Have amazing graphics.
Old School Is The New School
With Instagram closing one automation tool after another, you should not rely on any of them left, for your account’s growth.
Not only the future existence of such tools is doubted, but also (as I wrote in the beginning) using them can really hurt your account’s health rate.
So, what are the actions you can manually take?
Believe it or not, this still works. It takes much more time to do by hand, rather than a tool but it can drive traffic to your account. The procedure is simple:
- Find an influencer in your niche.
- Start following their followers (keep it under 100 follows. You don’t want to get a soft ban).
- Repeat the process for 1-2 more times.
- Clean up the people that didn’t follow you after a week.
Commenting & Liking
The best accounts I’ve seen on Instagram are owned by people that love to use the platform. Your audience/ prospects might use Instagram like crazy, but if you’re not into using the platform yourself you better either not even try it, or hire someone who likes it.
If you don’t like to use something, how you are supposed to engage its community?
Comment and likes are important, and people really appreciate when they receive them, especially when it’s obvious that they come from real people and not just a bot that follows certain hashtags.
I know it sounds cliche, but you should either congratulate someone’s work or provide value in order to get the conversation started.
Powerlinking is getting engagement (likes & comments) from accounts with a bigger following than yours, as soon as you publish your post.
Instagram rewards you when a popular account enjoys your content, and that’s why it’s trying to push it more.
Note that this technique is considered black hat, so I can’t provide any further information. Try to google it 🙂
Although powerliking can give a boost to your engagement statistics, the real goal is to make your account land on Instagram’s ‘Explore’ feed.
Before you do anything, you have to determine the end goal of your account. This will allow you to create your consumer persona (where they are located, what’s their age, etc.)
You be consistent with your posting and try to keep yourself as engaged as possible. As I told you, automation tools might cease of existence in the near future; that’s why you should build a process and stick to it.
Instagram is a closed platform (and that’s good) and there are no shortcuts to building a massive account. It all comes down to playing by the rules.
Content is the alpha and the omega. Keep it relevant, mindblowing and optimize it constantly.
How would you hack your Instagrams growth?
Theodore has a 15-year experience in running successful and profitable software products. During his free time, he coaches and consults startups. His career includes managerial posts for companies both in Greece and abroad and he has significant skills on intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship.