Instagram is soaring in popularity.
The platform boasted 800 million users in September 2017, up more than 30% percent from one year earlier.
If you’re just getting started with social media ads, Instagram can be a great place to begin
Whatever stage your business is at, making sure your Instagram strategy is up to date will help ensure enormous reach!
If you want to quickly build or amplify a loyal following, we’ve outlined specific tactics to help you achieve 1,000 new Instagram followers in just one month.
These strategies will quickly deliver. While many approaches exist for gradually building a community that sticks, these ideas will ensure sustainable results — in a fraction of the time.
This post expands on our 2016 post on the topic (which you can find at the bottom of the article).
These ideas are still relevant, but up top, we’ve provided the latest tips!
1. Be a Problem-Solver for Your Viewers
While nearly all brands conduct some form of audience research that underpins their social media strategy, few brands have succeeded in really adding value with their Instagram content.
To deliver something meaningful, ask yourself:
- Are you targeting the right segment of users?
- What types of questions is this audience thinking about?
- How can you help solve your audience’s issues in your ads?
If you’re just getting started and trying to figure out who to target with your Instagram ads, users who have engaged with your business before are an excellent place to begin. Since they are already curious about your products and services, existing users are likely to follow you on Instagram for the latest updates and rollouts!
Tips for beginners: If you have user emails or telephone numbers, you can create custom audiences with this data. You can get even more specific and build custom audiences for your ads based on users’ app activity or even Facebook video views. Targeting these highly active users will go a long way toward efficiently gaining new followers!
Creating custom audiences will help get your ads in front of the right people, but to make sure they become followers, you need to take it a step further and use the data to develop practical ads that will answer followers’ questions.
How do you know what their questions are?
You have lots of tools at your fingertips. For example, BuzzSumo’s question analyzer will return the most popular questions asked on forums, e-commerce sites, and Quora about the topic of your choice. For example, if you’re marketing a new pair of wireless headphones, here’s what people wanted to know about the product:
When a brand succeeds at user research, the result is a more nuanced ad:
The sleepwear brand Lunya demonstrates how deliberate the company has been in understanding the lifestyle choices of their target audience. They’ve realized that this group is looking for loungewear that serves a range of purposes — from athletics to fashion to travel. The research clearly underpins the brand’s decision to highlight its products from several angles, opening viewers’ eyes to the products’ versatility.
It’s critical to understand who you are trying to reach at a granular level to capture their attention and convert them from a viewer to a follower.
2. Try a Cinemagraph
With the majority of Instagram advertisers focusing on either images or videos in a single frame, you have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd if you combine the two!
Cinemagraphs are still photographs that incorporate slight motion that plays in a brief, repeating loop:
This movement has been called “Harry Potter-like.” It definitely adds a bit of magical allure to your ads and keeps the viewer on your post longer as they try to figure out what’s going on! You can publish cinemagraphs as animated GIFs or in other video formats.
If you have footage that you want to spruce up — or make regular photographs really pop in a viewer’s feed — the cinemagraph is an under-the-radar technique that can add that extra edge.
Particularly if you want to be subtle about your promotion, a cinemagraph can draw attention to your content without forcing your product on the viewer. Here, an entrepreneur is able to showcase a Kronaby watch in a less flashy way, evoking a sense of calm and repose in nature instead — the opposite of what many viewers might expect from a technology ad.
This contradiction makes the piece more appealing.
In just two days, this cinemagraph had 23,109 views, showing how magnetic the format can be for drawing attention! The more attention, the more potential to add followers!
3. Create Distinct Story Ads for Maximum Reach
To rapidly build Instagram followers, use the Story ads format. Agencies report 2-3X more engagement with Instagram Stories than with regular content. Greater engagement leads to more (and more loyal) followers as they spend more time appreciating and understanding the nuances of your brand.
With such explosive popularity, the Stories feature is obviously key to quickly reaching an enormous segment of Instagram users and increasing your chances of quickly adding new followers.
But so many marketers have caught on to Stories. And Stories disappear after just 24 hours, so you have the added challenge of delivering business-critical information right up front in a captivating manner. How do you stand out from the crowd?
One hack is to start using Stories’ new Type Mode, which few marketers are employing. Type mode allows you to create Stories without video footage or traditional images. Instead, you can employ funky styles and fonts to narrate just your thoughts!
Type mode is great for evoking a particular persona for your brand. For example, if you want to be lighthearted, you can use the Neon font; or if you want to appeal to a more intellectual audience, you can work in Typewriter. In addition to these, two other fonts are available: Modern and Strong. It’s up to you how you want to display yourself to your audience!
Instagram Stories are a fantastic way to quickly build and impress your following; if you can get creative with your words within this format, you’ll gain an extra edge over those focused just on the visuals.
4. Be Smart About Timing
To reach and sustain a loyal following in a short time, it’s absolutely critical to A/B test your ads. Being smart about which variables you test can have an enormous effect on how efficiently your campaigns achieve your goals (at the lowest cost possible).
In addition to focusing on optimizing your text and images, since Instagram just rolled out a new scheduling feature, try using the timing of your posts as a variable. Now, you can use third-party scheduling apps like Hootsuite to post directly to the app, which makes the process even more efficient.
Knowing when your Instagram viewers are most active on the platform will help engage them at the right moments to turn them into followers.
While the best time to publish your Instagram posts will depend on your specific business, below are a few guidelines based on recent test results:
- If you’re targeting an international audience, ideal posting times are around 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, which is when the most Instagram users will be online.
- On the flip side: 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST are the two worst times to post for engagement.
- If you’re focusing on a local audience, post before work (between 7-9 a.m. in your time zone) or after (beginning as early as 5 p.m.).
Within these time periods, there is enormous potential for ever-better targeting. For example, if you’re homing in on new parents, the early morning could be a gold mine; for college students, your best hours could be from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
Testing to determine your brand’s sweet spot will go a long way toward helping you reach your goal of 1,000 more Instagram followers.
Don’t Forget: Stay Up to Date with Instagram!
Before you embark on adding 1,000 more followers, take a quick look at the latest Instagram updates to be sure you are on the cutting edge of this powerful product. You wouldn’t want to miss important changes that could affect your campaign.
A few highlights from the past couple of months include:
- The ability to add clickable links to other profiles in your bio
- The exciting rollout of Focus portrait mode, which will make sure the subject is crystal clear while the background is slightly blurred (excellent for small businesses without a big budget for professional photo edits)
- New replay privacy controls for direct messages to keep user data safer
With many strategies out there for boosting your Instagram following, you want to do this well and fast!
So start with keen audience research, get creative with Cinemagraphs and Instagram Stories, and continue to test for key variables to be sure that you hit your target of 1,000 more Instagram followers in one month!
Almost every guide to growing an Instagram following contains the same generic advice. Share user-generated content. They tell you to ask people to tag their friends directly—put a call-to-action in there! They tell you to host contests and give freebies away. These techniques only really work if you already have a ton of followers.
Growing a new Instagram account is kind of like getting seed funding for your startup.
With 0 dollars in the bank (or 0 followers), there’s not much you can do. You don’t have a real audience. You don’t know if your product is solving any real problems. But with a little cash infusion, you can start testing out different hypotheses, talking to your users, and learning about what you should be doing.
Your first 1,000 followers are like that first bit of capital you use to get started, and they’re the most critical followers you will ever get.