How to Grow Your Instagram 300% in 5 Months and Begin Selling
We have countless marketing tools at our disposal, most of which are free. We have a generation raised on digital who are more expert on social media marketing than past Ivy-league graduates. We are from arguably one of the most well-off societies, many of us never having suffered from hunger.
Yet, it's incredibly challenging to grow a company. Even the most popular marketing channel makes it difficult to do on your own. Facebook business pages reach only 16% of their followers with organic posts, the social giant stated in 2012. Today? 6.5%.
Why? I humbly ask. My expectation is that it's simply too competitive. The swath of business services make the digital space extremely crowded, and clouded. All new brands look the same to consumers. Many of them don't actually grow out of that "launch phase". As a result, consumers don't take brands our seriously until that brand is banging them across the head with a Forbes article.
So how do we get from 0 to 1 in an environment like this? How do we jump the branding chasm with our marketing budget of $39/mo?
I'll tell you exactly how.
Pick 1-2 Social Channels and Dominate Them
Don't try to boil the ocean, you eager entrepreneur. Just because Pinterest has millions of users, that doesn't make it right for you. Don't waste your time on Snapchat if you don't like selfies. Further, it's a huge pain to manage several social accounts, especially ones you're not passionate about.
But, do choose a few channels that you know how to use well, and double down on them. Instagram is a great place to start. It's free, highly-visual and has unbeatable engagement. You can put a link in the bio, and link it to a promotional coupon to make it easy to track sales/leads from the account. And tools like SociallyRich make it very affordable to grow rapidly.
I'm going to focus on Instagram for the purposes of this article, but make sure to evaluate the marketing channel in light of your marketing & business goals. If you're looking for reach, Pinterest may be a better option. If you're looking for content virality, Twitter may be your weapon of choice. Instagram? Great for leads/sales.
Whichever channels you choose, put thorough focus on ultra-high quality content and consistency.
PRO TIP: Use an Instagram Scheduling and Management tool like Tailwind to ramp up your activity!
Step Two - Become an Influencer
Instagram is where the eyes and the hearts are. Especially now that Instagram has Stories, like Snapchat. Add that to the growth tools at your disposal, and the ROI becomes not only measurable, but very high.
Get in the habit: Post visually consistent photos regularly (at least 3-5 times/week). The more you post, the more reach you get. Forget naysayers who claim you get less likes/pic. If you want proof, open your analytics tab and swipe to "Reach".
Then, engage deeply with your audience: like, comment and follow/unfollow. My company is Vea Fitness – an app that gives you monetary rewards and product discounts for working out. So, we regularly post lifestyle images related to fitness, travel, shopping and happiness.
Instagram growth is a function you should most definitely automate. It's simply too much work to follow/unfollow, and interact with 100's of thousands of people to gain your first 10K+ followers.
There are a few options for automation, but I personally use SociallyRich. My plan is $39/month.
It saves several hours per month and grows my following rapidly, even if I'm not paying attention to it. Frankly, I forget about it sometimes - but it still grows. They must have little gerbils tirelessly running in wheels connected to my Instagram profile. It also helps that I have an intern managing my Instagram page by posting pictures that match my brand image.
By the Numbers
Before growth services: @VeaOfficial on Instagram
June 1 2016
- 6,115 followers, 6,690 following
- 120 average likes/post
- 1-2 comments/post
After turning on growth services for follow, unfollow and likes: @VeaOfficial on Instagram
Dec 1 2016
- 18.5K followers, 3,169 following
- 700 average likes/post
- 12-18 comments/post
Results: 302.5% follower growth in 5 months, and dramatically more engagement.
We also joined what's called a comment pod. It's basically a group chat where you notify fellow Instagrammers when you post a picture, and they will go check out your post and interact with it if they like it, by liking/commenting.
Don't Just Market Your Products, Sell Something!
Once you have the social traffic momentum, it's time to link your Instagram community to sales. One of the biggest frustrations for me is when people do marketing as a novelty, without a clear objective in mind. It's totally OK if your objective is reach/impressions. But if so, just measure it so you actually know that you're getting a return on your time/cash investment.
I require my team to get downloads of Vea Fitness. So if our Instagram profile stops driving downloads, we'll stop using it or correct whatever is broken. We check in monthly on our download goals.
The easiest way to turn your new Instagram into customers is:
- decide on your objective: sales, email sign ups, social shares, etc
- connect it to your website. Put a link in bio, and make that link a UTM code (one that contains marketing source information). Ideally, you'd track the actual link itself with something like Bit.ly.
Once you have a link to your target objective page (landing pages are fine here, too), offer specials that are only available to your Instagram followers, and change your "link in bio" accordingly. Monthly promotions is a good cadence.
Maybe a coupon code "Summer Instagram Special: Get 15% Off all Purchases until June 31!", or a contest "Win up to $500 when you sign up for our newsletter", or even a purchase funnel "Download our eBook" and then subscribe them to your drip campaign which pushes products for sale to them.
IMPORTANT: At the end of every month, log & track all sales from that coupon code or landing page, so you can determine ROI. If you don't do this, the Instagram Gods will be very disappointed.
This last section is extremely vital.
What's Next for You?
Now that you have the tools to go build a marketing channel into a sales channel, it's time to try for yourself. Start an Instagram page if you don't have one. Post 5-6 pictures with relevant hashtags. Then turn on SociallyRich and watch the followers roll in, eventually sales too.
By Jonathan Maxim
Jonathan Maxim is an app designer, digital marketer and thought leader in the fitness and technology realms. After leaving his job at a Fortune 50 company, he merged his management experience with his passion for technology to create a fitness app that rewards users for working out, as well as launched a growth marketing agency. Educated at San Diego State University first in Graphic Design and User Interface, he went on to gain his Masters of Business from SDSU. Currently he serves as CEO at Vea Fitness, and as a managing partner at K&J Growth Hackers.