Should you build an Instagram following before or after you start selling?
The answer is simple: before and after.
Ideally, you already have at least a couple hundred of followers before you start selling. This way, you wouldn’t be posting images of products to an empty account. With a couple of hundred followers, some interaction can be expected, which is a good start.
Now, how can you build a strong following on Instagram? Apply these 14 tips right away, so you can start seeing a strong following. A strong following is key to making money from Instagram.
1) Optimize your Instagram profile.
Make sure to choose a username that’s less than 30 characters. Ideally, the name is searchable through a keyword. It should also be consistent with the username you use on other social media platforms.
Your bio should include up to 150 characters. It’s a great idea to include a clickable link to your website in your bio. This is the only place where you can include a clickable link in your Instagram account, so it’s an important aspect of optimizing your account.
2) Create and promote a dedicated hashtag.
If your account name is Jennie’s Candies, consider creating the #jenscandies hashtag. Thus, whenever you want to check conversations related to your brand, you can simply check the hashtag. You can also promote this hashtag everywhere you go and on other platforms, both online and offline.
3) Get creative with hashhags related to your niche.
While Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, it might backfire. It’s recommended to use 5 to 10 popular hashtags for your niche and related to your products.
4) Participate in conversations related to your niche.
Check out other accounts using the same hashtags. Follow them and get involved in the conversations. You’ll earn new followers this way.
5) Use compelling Instagram captions.
An Instagram caption is a written description or explanation about the Instagram photo to provide more context. The best Instagram captions will help your followers to feel invited to join the conversation and like your posts.
6) Run and promote contests.
Create a contest with a photo that invites contestants and shows the prizes. Also, include a special hashtag for this contest. Decide how the winners will be chosen and post the rules clearly.
For instance, you can create specific photos for the contest. And every photo using the special hashtag is included in the competition. Make sure that you comply with Instagram’s contest rules. Be creative with the contest, so contestants have an opportunity to earn some money from Instagram as well, if possible, like inviting them to join an affiliate program that comes with a prize.
7) Create and promote Instagram Stories and Live Videos.
Instagram Stories have become a huge part of Instagram, and they continue to grow. You can use Instagram Stories like a pro to build your audience. There are many ways how you can play around with the content by adding geotags, selfie stickers, moving texts, add color overlays, texts, and face filters (just like Snapchat) to your Instagram Stories. Be creative when delivering your message. Make it fun.
8) Post regularly.
The key is being consistent and to ensure that posts are styled in the same way, such as using the same filter or types of post, like photos or quotes. To make the most out of it, it would help to know the best time to post on Instagram. This way, the followers would recognize your posts and correlate them with your brand. You can also use third-party social media software applications like Hootsuite, SocialFlow, and Sprout Social to schedule your Instagram posts.
9) Collaborate with influencers and like-minded accounts.
Reach out to influencers and like-minded accounts for exchanged and paid posts. For instance, if you have a huge following, you can do posting exchanges. If you collaborate with an influencer, you can choose to create an affiliate program that pays commission or pay per post depending on the size of the following.
10) Use the location feature.
Post videos and stories to your account. Use appropriate hashtags and geotags so that your posts can be easily found.
11) Develop a unique visual style.
Choose the same filter and style for your Instagram account. If you have several accounts, each account must have its unique personality. For instance, one account is about brand activities and the other one is for selling products.
12) Ask others to engage with your content.
If you ask, people might help you out. As long as the caption on the posts bring value to them and somehow evokes positive feelings, you can ask people politely to get engaged.
13) Use Instagram Ads to Reach More People.
Paid ads can help you to reach more people who otherwise wouldn’t have been looking for your posts. On average, an Instagram ad would cost $0.70 to $1.00.