This is a guest post from Ong Si Quan, Content Marketing Manager at CandyBar.
You’ve read all the case studies.
You’re hoping that growing your store’s Instagram following will send you that surge of sales you desperately need.
Except that — you are stuck.
It’s been a month, yet your Instagram following is stagnant.
Those 1–2 extra followers every day isn’t going to send you that waterfall of sales. 10 likes every post isn’t going to cut it.
But you don’t understand. What are you doing wrong?
You’ve read the blogs. You are already following the best practices.
But it’s not working.
Well, I am here to help.
Through my research and interviews, I have discovered 5 (unorthodox) Instagram tactics you can implement to grow your following. These are tactics top Instagram experts swear by.
5 Instagram Marketing Tactics To Exponentially Grow Your Following
1. Post Viral Content
A surfer cannot create waves; his performance depends on whether he chooses the right wave.
Similarly, if you have a small following, it is difficult for you to create virality.
However, you can do the opposite. Instead of trying to engineer virality, ride the correct viral wave.
The PR world calls this newsjacking.
Instagram influencer Erica Eckman says:
“Find out what is currently a topic going viral and create witty, funny or informative content around that topic.”
What you need to do is to identify trends, pictures or videos that are going viral, and then leveraging that trend by creating content that talks about it. You could also repost the content and crediting the author in the caption.
How do you discover viral trends?
1. Massive Instagram accounts
Visit the massive Instagram accounts that are in your niche. Look at their content. There will be some posts that generate 2x (or more) the number of engagement than the average.
This gives you an idea of what will go viral on Instagram.
You should then either 1) repost that content and crediting the account, or 2) create something similar.
This is how Lewis Howes does it on his Instagram:
Known as the “Front Page of the Internet”, Reddit is a huge website with billions of pageviews, powered purely by user-generated content. As such, it is the favourite place of journalists and bloggers, who regularly “steal” ideas, stories and content from the social site.
Likewise, many memes and viral videos have their start on Reddit. You can simply head on to a subreddit related to your niche and observe what type of content is going viral there.
Then either repost the content (with credits), or create new content based on that idea.
In fact, this was how Sgag (the Singaporean version of 9gag) grew their Instagram account (by reposting ideas from r/singapore).
Original picture from r/singapore:
SGag’s repurposed image:
Twitter has a trends section that lists hashtags and keywords that are currently being talked about on their platform.
2. Run Giveaways
Giveaways are a great way for you to gain followers fast.
Network with the big Instagram accounts in your niche and then set up a giveaway contest with them.
Make it such that in order to stand a chance of winning, they have to follow your account as well (that way, you get to earn some new followers.)
To build virality for the post, get the audience to tag several friends to increase their chances of winning.
Here’s how it looks like (example from DoYouTravel):
Remember to offer good value to these influencers so that they will be more willing to collaborate with you.
Pro-Tip: According to Instagram influencer Jessica Ludovica, influencers and pages are more likely to accept a giveaway if the product that is given away is relevant.
3. Buy Shoutouts
You don’t always have to create audiences from scratch.
You can make use of larger Instagram pages, and look towards piggybacking on the giant.
Do this by buying shoutouts from accounts that are larger than yours. In this manner, they can funnel some of their followers to your account.
What are shoutouts?
Shoutouts are when an influential page posts a picture with a caption asking its followers to follow another account.
This is how it looks like:
This is the step-by-step process laid out by Ali Mirza of ISocialYou on how you can leverage shoutouts:
1 — Find 10–20 Instagram influencers in your niche
3 — Find the contact info of the owners. Note: If their contact info is public on their account, this means they are open for business)
4 — Reach out and find out how much they charge for a “shoutout” or “feature post”
5 — I would pick 10 and have them feature my brand new account. Then pick the best 3 to 4 best performing influencers and do it again.
How do you buy shoutouts?
Besides reaching out to the influencers, you can also use some of the platforms that exist in helping you do so. Here are some of them:
4. Engagement Pods
What are engagement pods?
An engagement pod is a private chat or group that agrees to engage with each other’s content when it is published.
The idea is to create a environment where accounts with similar audiences help each other to grow organically by mutually liking and commenting on each other’s content.
The larger the group, the better it is.
(This is not just limited to Instagram, and you can create/participate in engagement pods for LinkedIn and Facebook.)
Here’s what happens:
- Every time one of the Instagram accounts publish a post, the link is pasted into a group chat formed over Instagram DM, Telegram, Messenger, WhatsApp or any other chat apps.
- Everyone in the pod will then like and leave a genuine comment that encourages other followers to like and comment.
How Do You Join A Pod?
Now that you’ve learnt about engagement pods, the biggest question is:
How do you join one?
A — Create your own pod
Reach out to accounts with similar audiences and agree to form a pod. You can gather together using any chat apps.
B — Join existing pods
You can find existing Instagram pods using Facebook Groups. Here are some of them:
- Instagram Marketing Mastermind PODS
- Instagram Comment Pods
- Later Community
- Instagram Posse
- Rising Tide Society
C — Message influencers
There will be influencers who are part of several pods. Reach out to them, and ask if you could join one of their pods.
5. Use The “Powerliking” Method
Here’s what he says:
“Powerlikes are likes/comments from a network of large accounts (100k+ accounts are considered large) as soon as your post goes live. The intent is to play into Instagram’s algorithm where a post’s first ten minutes are most crucial for gaining traction and determining how it’ll do in reaching beyond your current following.”
Here’s why it works:
Under the ‘Following’ tab on Instagram (seen below), your followers are able to see whose content you have been interacting with. The same goes for the larger Instagram accounts.
If their fans see that a large Instagram account has been interacting with your content, they are primed to think that your content is awesome — which leads them to following your Instagram account.
The 2nd benefit is that Instagram’s algorithm may recognize that larger (legit) accounts are liking your content, and will give preference to you.
This allows your post to reach beyond your current followers, and might even hit the ‘Explore’ page. This allows everyone on Instagram to see your content, and will exponentially grow your following.
Try These Tactics Today
Simply posting content and leveraging hashtags are not enough.
There are tactics available that you are probably not using to grow your account.
Now that I have listed them down, it’s your turn.
Choose one of them and begin executing. Then, take note of how it is working. Double down if it’s working.
If it isn’t, you have nothing to worry.
There are 4 more for you to test.
About The Author
Ong Si Quan is the Content Marketing Manager at CandyBar, a digital loyalty card app. Increasing referral traffic is his game, and he specializes in building, growing and scaling social channels to drive traffic. In his spare time, he enjoys breakdancing.