Think your brand can (or should) survive without using Instagram? Maybe you think your audience isn’t on there.

Or that other platforms are more worth your while?

Well, if you look at the stats, it’s hard to prove any of these arguments as facts. Let’s take for example the user base of Instagram.

There’s no denying this platform is super popular, with  one billion active users and growing.

But numbers mean nothing if your target audience isn’t on there. Here’s a quick look at Instagram’s demographics:

  • 59% are 18 to 29
  • 32% are college grads
  • 31% are 30 to 49
  • 30% earn $75K+
  • 13% are 50 to 64
  • 5% are 65+

If you’re aiming to attract attention from millennials, Gen Z, or the even more established individuals in their 30s and 40s, then Instagram is the place to be.

But how do you get their attention? Should you buy them? After all, this is easier and makes your profile look legit.

Wrong. Not only does this waste your money, but it yields no return on investment. Then if Instagram gets a wind that you did this, they’ll punish you by hurting your ranking in their platform.

This means your content won’t reach the audience you were hoping to get attention from.

So instead, let’s review the top things you can do to generate a legit Instagram following organically.

Use Stories to Engage Followers

What’s the difference between your regular content posts and Instagram stories? It’s simple – one generates 2 to 3 times more engagement.

What are stories? These are videos you can post that last for 24 hours and then vanish forever. Now, what’s great about this is that it’s visual, engaging, and adds a sense of urgency.

When users see a story, they know there’s a time limit to view it. This plays on their FOMO (fear of missing out).

And what’s more is that there are over 250 million daily active users of Instagram stories. The popularity of this feature presents a grand opportunity to reach a large number of users.

But because they only last for a day, how do you make your brand stories stand out?

A good idea is to mix it up with still photos, videos, and live photos. Ideally, you should aim to use these stories to show behind the scenes access, ask engaging questions, tell an interesting story, or even play a video in rewind!

Whatever you do, be creative so that the passersby will take the time to watch.

Also, the Instagram Explorer page is your friend. To have your stories posted here, you need content that’s highly-targeted and engaging.

The more targeted, the more likely it’ll be featured at the top of the Explore tab. This is key to helping potential followers find you.

RYU, a Canadian athletic clothing company, used Instagram stories on its #WhatsInYourBag account to host a giveaway (and promote their products).

Contests and giveaways are always great for engaging your core audience, especially if you make it worth their while with enticing prizes!

Use Cinemagraphs to Stand Out

Scrolling through Instagram is a lot like shopping – consumers are quickly sifting through the sites and items to see what catches their eye.

The chances of them stopping to view your content are slim if you’re not using methods to stand apart. One way of doing this is with cinemagraphs.

Not familiar with this term? These are simply photos that move. You make them by taking a snippet of a video to create repeating short loops.

These immediately catch the eye and if interesting enough, they’ll stop to see the caption. Here’s where you can make your mark.

In the above cinemagraph, the caption plays on the user’s desire to treasure moments and time. And this keenly fits right in with their product, Kronaby watches, which they eloquently pitch at the end.

Then they invite users to check out their story on how to stay connected but not distracted — a clever call to action.

Use Influencers to Rise Above the Noise

It’s hard for smaller unknown brands to get a large following on social media. Growing your list of followers organically can make matters even worse.

This is where influencers come in. By connecting with influencers in your industry (or who shares your same target audience), you can quickly snag more followers.

That’s exactly what Bejeweled did with their Instagram campaign.

They connected with influential Instagram account users. The developer created two intriguing YouTube shorts with influencers like JiffPom playing Bejeweled.

The concept: Playing Bejeweled to stave off the effects of boredom. Then there were also photos of other influencers, such as Koya Webb and David Lopez, playing the game.

In just 30 days, Bejeweled went from 702 to 182 in Apple’s chart of top-selling apps.

If you’re not already – start connecting with influencers. Start small and work your way up.

Begin following all the influencers you can find within your industry. Focus on those with a sizeable list of followers (100k+).

Comment on their posts, DM them with genuine interest, not a sales pitch. For example, make a comment about a recent post or ask a question they’re an expert in.

As your relationship grows, you can inquire about them mentioning your brand in one of their posts. To make it mutually beneficial, you can offer a free product or service to test and review.

Use Comments Strategically

You hear all the time that engaging with influencers and prospects on Instagram is critical to getting attention and more followers.

But how you go about it does matter. Simply liking photos and saying “nice” isn’t going to cut it.

Your comments need to be thoughtful and genuine. If you can add value, even better. This will make your comments stand out to the poster and others who read it.

Make a habit of liking 5-10 photos on an account and following the user. Leave a comment that offers advice, asks a question, or sparks some other type of engagement to help make it stand out even more.

You may get a follow in return and even get some of their followers to check out your profile. Susan Petersen, the CEO of Freshly Picked, used this strategy to double her follower list from 400K to 800K.

Just be sure you’re liking photos from users within your niche. You can easily find these accounts by searching for hashtags in your niche or looking at the followers of your favorite Instagram users.

Start Growing Your Instagram Followers

As you can see, there are ways around spending money to grow your Instagram followers. Organic is the way to go if you have the time and effort to put into your campaign.

Take time to develop a strategy that ’ll engage your target audience.

According to the experts, you should:

  • Post 1-2 photos or videos daily
  • Post 1 live video daily (preferably at the same time)
  • Post 5 to 30 Instagram stories daily

This seems like a lot, but you can easily create this content using photos you’ve already taken to create collages and videos.

If not, you can always work together with an Instagram marketer who can design and execute your campaign.

The experts at Social10x can assist with developing a strategy to grow your brand on Instagram. Contact us today to learn more!