Whether they’re running a page for fun, a small business, or a massive corporation, getting attention on Instagram is on a lot of people’s bucket lists these days. As of 2021, analysts estimate approximately one billion registered accounts on Instagram, and with at least 60 percent of this figure using the platform actively, Instagram has rapidly evolved into one of the most commercialized and business-favorable networks in the world.
Thousands of entrepreneurs are running profitable businesses solely off Instagram. However, raking in exponentially increasing revenue is largely dependent on the number of active and “interested” followers on a page. If you doubt it, ask Kylie Jenner or Rihanna (Fenty CEO) – while other factors must be considered when evaluating their business success, the large followings on Instagram (running into tens of millions) certainly played no small part.
However, unless you’re a celebrity or an overnight sensation, growing on Instagram was easier about five to ten years, following its debut in 2010. Back then, the strategies were new, fresh, and easily effective. Today, with inestimable competition across every niche you can imagine, the common hacks have become overused.
Well, despite how challenging growth and scaling may have become on social media, versatile entrepreneurs are relentlessly coming up with systems that actually work because growing on Instagram is not just an option – it’s essential in 2021. Most times, the most effective strategies are simply a matter of knowing what to avoid, and we’ll discuss some terrible mistakes below.
Those bots will be your downfall – eventually
“Awesome post”, “Great post”, “Nice photo”, “Good post”, “I’m lonely”… Within a second of posting a video or photo, hundreds of bots would turn and drop the same comments all over the place.
The quickest way to lay the foundation for poor growth on Instagram is to entirely automate your engagement. Turning to these inauthentic methods of growing your IG community is not only a way of ensuring zero results in the future, but you’re also micro-damaging the platform. People who follow you to gain value of any sort are more likely to unfollow soon, and when you show up on the explore page, no one wants to associate with a bot-loving brand.
“Bots make your account look great at face value,” said Nick Rogers, digital marketer, and Instagram growth expert. “It appears you have a lot of likes, followers, and comments, but to the trained eye, further glances at your account will immediately reveal that it’s fake. Why would you ever want a following of bots when they aren’t buying from you? Real people following you and your story is where the actual ROI of Instagram lies.”
Not leveraging influencers
Instagram is a community where trust and admiration validate a lot of transactions. People follow who they admire and patronize who they trust – or a brand recommended by someone they trust.
Based on customer behavior tracking, about 92 percent of people would patronize a product or service recommended by people they trust on social media. Also, your ROI on investments could be 11 times higher through a genuine influencer campaign than a platform’s automated ads.
Many business owners on IG would rather run massive giveaways and spend money on automation than paying for influencer marketing – fees that vary according to the number of followers on a page.
However, it’s also important to look into influencers you plan to connect with for business purposes. These days, the phony ones are making more moves than the genuine community owners.
“One of the biggest frauds going on these days is using giveaways to boost followers,” says Rogers. “Every week, someone is setting up a new one. They get in touch with celebrities, pay a certain amount and have them request their followers to follow a certain listed group of accounts, mostly wannabe influencers.”
Nick Rogers is the co-founder and CEO of Pvsted Media (pronounced “posted”), a successful digital marketing and Instagram growth company. In partnership with his friend, Gabe Robinson, the 21-year-old had launched this company in 2019 following the surprising growth of his first Instagram page, Business-Driven Dream, an entrepreneurial community that organically attained 100,000 followers in the first four months. This page gave rise to several more including Investing Authority, and today, Pvsted Media, the parent company, has garnered over one million followers across social media – unaided by weak-result tactics such as phony giveaways.
In reality, giveaways might rake in a ton of followers, but you can be certain they are only there for subsequent giveaways. They don’t care about your content, your products, or your value. Just the occasional online gifting fair.
“The followers are simply there for a giveaway,” Rogers continues. “Once the giveaway is done, they unfollow or never engage with your content. These influencers still do brand deals based on follower numbers of an unengaged audience. My takeaway has always been this: short term these tactics might work, but you are set up for failure in the long term because you are trying to take a shortcut rather than build an audience of loyal followers. Many brands these days are more concerned with short-term rather than long-term wealth.”
Irrelevant and excessive hashtags will only result in bans
Instagram allows thirty hashtags per account and the wise strategy would be to select only hashtags relevant to your brand, the theme of your content, and your page in general. Using hashtags based on popularity or whatever is trending the most is extremely harmful to your page as it often results in shadow bans – basically, you stop growing entirely on the platform.
Use only a few hashtags per post and ensure they are relevant to your content and brand. Also, research on the frequently updated list of dangerous hashtags that result in instant bans. Avoid them and save your account from unnecessary growth delays and suspensions.
“I actually never use hashtags,” says Rogers, founder of the family-run Rogers Organization, an investment management company overseeing businesses in real estate and digital entities. “It often attracts random bot followers to my pages and is more of a distraction than anything else. Dropping one here or there for a unique post is fine, but overall, I’d recommend almost 100% of the time that we never use hashtags to try to reach new people.”
Posting high-quality content alone will only get you halfway through
Going through some of the courses being thrown around on Instagram ads, many would recommend simply posting high-resolution content and expecting your follower count to massively swell. Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing app, but if you want to maximize its potential as an excellent marketing strategy, you have to do more than just post.
You must promote your page through influencer campaigns, running IG ads, using appropriate hashtags, and connecting directly with customers and other pages on the platform.
Next, you must be consistent with posting. It’s not about the picture quality of your posts but how much value they add to the community, and how regularly you appear on the timeline. Content research is quite helpful for keeping up with a routine posting timeline.
Don’t be all over the place with your content
You’d occasionally stumble upon a page where it’s difficult to grasp the brand’s concept at a glance. From politics and sports to memes and cuisine, a brand that’s supposed to be marketing clothes and fashion accessories would indulge in posting the most random content. Some people post too much of their personal lives and too little of the actual business.
While a page does not necessarily fare better with a single theme all through, it’s important to be moderate when posting supportive content. Spreading yourself too thin with a wide range of concepts would only leave people confused about your intentions on the platform.
Instagram is the digital marketing goldmine of the 21st century, and the most important values are authenticity, quality over quantity, and patience – you are going to need a lot of it. It’s a continuous journey and not a finish line.