Instagram likes are a social metric, and like all social metrics, businesses using the platform want to increase them. You could go out and purchase a thousand likes on Fiverr, but that technique tends to backfire on every social platform when the owners catch on and remove the fraudulent likes. What you need is organic growth, but true organic growth is simply too slow. What you really need is some high-powered fertilizer for Instagram organic growth. Try these growth hacks out and see how they work for you.
1. Post Quality
Anyone can register on Instagram. Anyone with a smartphone – which is almost everyone, these days – can snap a quick picture and throw it up on the site for a couple of likes. You need to put more effort into your photos and make sure you post quality.
First, your images need to be high quality, in the technical sense. High resolution, sharp, vibrant; all the descriptors of an attractive image. This means someone on your content creation team needs to have an eye for art and composition. Of course, what makes a photo attractive varies from user to user. Just avoid the common pitfalls of low quality images, overused filters and too-common subjects.
Don’t forget to take the time to properly crop, resize and optimize your photos before you post them. Sometimes all it takes to push a photo from mediocre to amazing is a proper crop.
2. Engage Users
Instagram is a social media site, which means you need to be social to engage your users. Ask them questions. Talk to them through comments. Continue discussions. Post on other pages, like other photos and generally act like a normal user of the social network. You don’t have the luxury of playing the aloof business when you’re trying to increase your exposure through Instagram.
This is important for two reasons. First, it’s an indicator that you actually use the platform, rather than just pushing updates through a static account just to have it.
- Interact with your community. Like the occasional post from your users, particularly if it interacts with your brand in some way.
- Identify the most influential people in your network and actively engage them in conversation. Your best advocates are the ones who truly care about your brand.
- Don’t be afraid to express an opinion, as long as that opinion isn’t likely to involve negative backlash.
There are two types of hashtags you need to learn to use properly. These are the common popular hashtag and the specific branded hashtag.
Always try to include relevant popular hashtags in every post. These tags will get you as much exposure as possible. Beware, however, that these tags have a fast turnaround and a high popularity. If your post isn’t very good, or is posted at the wrong time, it’s liable to get lost in the crush of content. You need to make sure your photos are potent, relevant and posted properly for maximum effect.
Branded hashtags are hashtags you use to market specific programs, photos, contests, themes or other subsections of your brand. When you run an ad campaign, make a specific hashtag for it and encourage users to use it. Create a few long-term hashtags specific to your brand so you can further identify when users are engaged with your brand. Contests can easily be tracked through hashtags as well.
Avoid overusing hashtags. If you’re spamming several dozen tags on every post, you’re going to look like you don’t know how to use the platform. Treat them like keywords on your website; focus them but make sure to use them.
4. Host Contests
Contests are an instant route to user engagement. Everyone wants to win something. On Instagram, contests often center around posting pictures according to a theme. The prize you offer depends on what you have available, of course. Here are a few contest tips.
- Set a theme. An artistic photo theme, a slice of life theme, a theme about using your products in daily life; the possible themes are endless.
- Hashtag your theme. A specific hashtag related to your theme will allow users to tag their submissions, which also makes it easy for you to find and judge them later.
- Set the ground rules. Do users need to submit via mobile? Can they use Photoshop to manipulate the images? Are filters allowed? Is there an age limit or a limit to the number of submissions? The rules must be clearly stated.
- Decide how to judge the submissions. Is it by personal opinion? A user vote? A vote amongst employees? Tell users how the judging will occur.
- Choose appropriate prizes. If the contest is a lot of work, make sure the prize is worth the effort or no one will go for it. If the contest is easy to snap in daily life, you can get away with a smaller prize.
Obviously, track user submissions an use the statistics you gather as part of your advertising and media metrics research.
5. Bow to Mobile
Instagram is one of the most heavily mobile social media platforms, and with good reason; cameraphones make it incredibly easy to snap a picture, share it, tag it and post it. Make absolutely certain you’re catering to mobile users. This means beyond the walls of Instagram itself. You need a mobile version of your website so that, when mobile users choose to explore, they have something to find.
6. Pay Attention to Time
Share your photos at the right time. The majority of the activity on your posts happens within an hour or two after submission. Don’t forget to take time zones into account. If you’re based in New York, but most of your users are in Los Angeles, you need to account for the time difference. When is the best time to post?
- The middle of the day during weekdays, around lunch time or a little later. Users working desk jobs are listless and bored during these hours, and they’re more likely to check in.
- An hour or thereabouts after dinner time. Early evening, before bed, is prime time for Internet browsing.
- Holidays and special occasions. It seems like users would be too busy celebrating to check in, but often they stop by to see if you have anything interesting related to the holiday posted.
- Avoid Friday and Saturday nights, as many users fear the admission of having nothing better to do in those social evenings.
Of course, you should be active for an hour or two after you post, to engage with users who like, share and comment on your photos.
7. Drive Discussion
Setting up artificial discussions is a great way to build engagement and encourage discussion. Pick two related celebrities and ask who likes who more. Go whole hog and submit a tournament bracket. Post fill-in-the-blank images with otherwise inspirational quotes, such as “___ inspires me to accomplish my dreams.” Encourage users to post their own responses to those pictures.
Anything that encourages user participation is a good way to drive additional visits and shares.
8. Link to Other Networks
Finally, though it may seem obvious, don’t forget to use Instagram on other platforms. Post links to your photos on Facebook and Twitter. Include Instagram collages and image galleries on your website. Include sharing buttons on your blog posts and images you post elsewhere. It’s all a matter of linking your diverse audiences into one whole.