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Instagram For Business Tips: A Guide To Growing Your Instagram Account {Guide}

growth instagram Oct 14, 2019

 

It seems like everybody can tell you that if you're not using Instagram, your failing in business.

Yet... No one can tell you exactly how to use it to grow your business. 

This post is going to change that. 

Fortunately, I was able to find someone to crack the code. 

That person is Natalie Bloom.

I knew she had something special going on when I found out she was getting 20K+ views a week on her 5-month-old Instagram account.

Natalie has had more experience with Instagram than anyone I know.

For 3 years she was a micro-influencer and blogger. She has been hired to be an influencer for brands like Neutrogena, Nasty Gal, Verge Girl, and many more. 

For a time, she also worked at Bossbabe. The largest online community of female entrepreneurs. 

Her first task?... Grow the Instagram 100K followers, in 1 month. 

She pulled it off. 

When I told her she had a talent that was extremely valuable, she didn’t believe me. She was just a girl who spent a lot of time growing her insta so she could get free clothes.

 

Let's dive deep into what Natalie does to get these results multiple times a day.

Instagram Marketing Strategy

Instagram strategy can be tricky. As business owners, we often put a lot of emphasis on the bottom line. If we’re not getting sales from something right away, we might write it off.

Patience is key here. Natalie didn’t build her following overnight. That being said, it didn’t take a lifetime either.

It all started with an amazing Content Strategy, to put together a Content Strategy for yourself, check out this post.

The important thing to understand is that she uses social media as an awareness marketing tool.

In the beginning, it’s tough to get your message out to a large audience. 

However, it’s very easy to get that message to a small audience over and over again.

In the awareness stage of the customer journey, you have a few goals:

  1. Be found: Awareness marketing is generally reach marketing. You want to get in front of your audience.
  2. Develop trust: Trust comes giving your audience value, and communicating your values. Show your brand's personality. Tell your audience that you care about what’s important to them.
  3. Brand Yourself: This is where you show your colors. Familiarity is a huge selling point to customers. Getting your logo, name, colors, values, personality in front of the same person many times is a must. 

Now, it’s not 100% awareness marketing. It’s about 80% awareness, 15% interest/consideration, 5% Conversion.

You should use the different features on the platform for different stages

For example:

Instagram

  • Awareness (Feed Posts): Share your value and your values on your feed.

  • Interest (Story Posts): An opportunity to share a longer message, and talk more about your benefits and features, Q&As, success stories.

  • Conversions (Direct Messages): Yes, you will get some conversions through your link in bio, but your DMs are the best place to actually sell your prospects.

LinkedIn

  • Awareness (Feed Posts): Share your value and values on your feed.

  • Interest (Profile): Share your bio, history, published articles, and offer on your LinkedIn profile page.

  • Conversions (Private Message): This is where the magic happens on LinkedIn. Use your private messages to get meetings and close deals.

Want to know more about customer journey marketing? Check out this post.

How To Plan Your Instagram Content

Planning your Instagram content will help you get the hurdle of coming up with content.

Having to think of new content on a day to day basis is draining. 

Here are the things you're going to want to decide on:

  • How often are you going to post in your feed?

  • How often are you going to post in your story?

  • What kind of content will you be posting?

  • Are you going to have different themes?

  • What kind of value are you giving your viewers?

  • What kind of values does your company and customers have?

At this stage, your going to want to think about which content planning apps to use. Personally I use Buffer. I’ve also heard great things about Planoly for Instagram in particular. 

Another great trick is to come up with a few different content categories.

Your content categories might be:

  • how-to’s and guides

  • something personal

  • behind the scenes

  • quotes

  • community highlights

  • employee highlights

  • whatever you want

  • Q&A’s

This will allow you to use a creative structure to come up with content. 

How Much Should You Be Posting On IG? 

Post a minimum of 2 pieces of content each day. On Instagram, this would mean 1 feed posts and 1 story post. 

I know that sounds like a lot. At least it does to me. Don’t worry, we are about to get into some tactics you can use to minimize the time spent on creating content, and spend more time driving sales.

Batching Your Instagram Content Creation

Batching is crucial for running a social media account or, god forbid, multiple social media accounts without driving yourself insane.

This is a practice that you would be wise to implement everywhere in your business. Take all the tasks that require consistency and repetition, and do it all at once.

For something like Instagram posts, you can batch 30 days of content in one day. 

However, for things like email or engagement, where the response time is relevant,  you might dedicate 30 minutes a day at a specific time instead of hopping on and off your IG every day.

Let’s go over how Natalie batches her content creation to post 3 feed posts and 5 story posts every day.

The process is so simple it starts with a notepad.

1. Brain Dump

Set up the time to sit down with a notepad, and just spit content ideas down on paper.

For Natalie, this means coming up with phrases that her audience will vibe with.

This is an anything-goes kind of period, you can edit and revise later.

If this is the type of content you produce than I would try to write down around 300 in one sitting.

2. Create templates on Canva.

If you're not using Canva yet, it’s an absolute must-have.


Canva has solved a major problem for online businesses that cannot afford to bring a graphic designer onto the team.

On Canva, she creates backgrounds and post formats.

Natalie recommends creating versions of templates that use different colors and patterns.

Like this.


3. After revising and editing your brain dump, use your canva templates to put all of the quotes on a post.
This part is simple enough. She takes the quotes or phrases she writes down during her brain dump and adds each of them to their own background on Canva.

4. Once all the posts are created, it’s time to add them to your social media planner.
In another “one sitting” type of setting, she will upload a month or two months of content onto Planoly at one time.

Boom! All done. 

Now, there is something that is important to point out here. 

Natalie has a very simple content strategy. She is going for quantity over depth. At least when it comes to her feed and story posts. 

However, if your content strategy includes more in-depth pieces of content, that doesn’t change the principle of batching. 

Let’s say your Instagram strategy relies on videos. 

Your batching process would look more like this:

  1. Come up with all of your content ideas (Outlining them if necessary)
  2. Put yourself in front of a nice backdrop and film as many videos as you can in one sitting.
  3. Edit all the videos in one sitting
  4. Put your videos in your content planner

Whatever your content strategy is, the main takeaway here is that batching your activities is always going to make the process easier and much more doable. 

Content creation isn’t the only thing that is necessary to batch. 

It’s easy to hold the opinion that Natalie has Instagram completely figured out. Every day, Natalie has at least 2 thousand people that see her brand.

She definitely deserves that kind of attention and did the work to get there, but there were certainly times when it was too much for her.

She couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted to give up.

There were too many comments to get back to. Too many people to follow-up with.

She was getting a new Instagram notification about every 2 minutes.

This is the curse of great social media management.

If we didn’t come up with a way to help her manage the unmanageable, she would soon burn up. Leaving her with nothing but a box of discouragement.

It’s no surprise, we once again resorted to batching. In a different way.

To solve her problem of always feeling like she needed to be on her phone. We tried out a new rule.

For 15 minutes, at the beginning and end of every day, she would set a timer and handle all of her engagement, reply to everyone in her DMs, and handle everything else she needed to address.

To make it as easy as possible we established 2 things.

  1. You don’t have to set a certain time every day.
    Just twice a day: Once in the morning and once in the evening.
  2. You must set a timer for 15 minutes.
    A timer is the most amazing time management tool we have available to us today.
    Once you set the timer, you are not allowed to do anything other than engaging on your Instagram.

It only took a couple of days using this new rule to notice something weird was going on.

Somehow, the results of her engagement were much higher. 

As it turns out, by setting a timer and a clear rule to do as much engagement as possible during that time, she actually got much more done than she did when her engagement was scattered throughout the day.

Finding Killer Hashtags For Your Content

Hashtags are important for every Instagram account, especially new ones. 

Think:

Search Terms → Google

Hashtags → Instagram

You use hashtags to make your content findable for anyone who either searches that hashtag or follows it.

There are 3 things you want to consider when searching for great hashtags:

1. Relevance

 Here is the big question, “Is the person who uses this hashtag, the same person who will purchase my product?”

Putting your marketing in front of people who will never buy from you won’t help your business.

2. Exposure

How many people are going to see your marketing? Branding hashtags: Generally speaking, it is ok to use 1 branding hashtag that you are the only one posting on, but that’s it.

You don’t want to use hashtags with zero exposure, but you also don’t want to use hashtags with too much exposure either. As we will get into now.

3. Competition

You're going to want to look for hashtags with low competition. If you have relevance and exposure but high competition, you don’t have relevance or exposure.

Your hashtags should have exposure, but still, give you the potential to be seen by your customers. If not, none of it matters anyway.

How many hashtags should be in your posts?

Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post. We recommend using all 30. 

Don’t worry about not being cool because your post is riddled with hashtags. If no one can see your post, you’re not cool.

So now that you know how to qualify hashtags, how do you find them? 

When it comes to finding hashtags, I follow a specific process.

1. Think of a few influencers in your niche. (If you know that their account is growing and hasn’t stalled, that's a good sign.)

Look at their recent posts and take note of the hashtags that are relevant to you.

2. Search that hashtag on Instagram to see how many posts use that hashtag.

If they have a couple of million posts, I would stay away from them. They are too competitive.

A good rule is to stay under 1 million posts.

If they only have a couple of thousand posts, give it a second look on Ritetag.

Ritetag is a website that provides analytics on a hashtag. Just type a hashtag in their search function and check out the results.


You're going to want to look at the views per hour metric. You’ll see that the metric isn’t specific to Instagram, but it should give you an idea of how active those hashtags are.

3. Always test and learn.

As long as your Instagram account is a business profile, you get to see how well your hashtags are doing.

Unfortunately, you can't isolate each hashtag with the analytics. They only show you the hashtag performance as a whole.

So, if you're suspicious about certain hashtags, go ahead and switch them out.

Then go back to the analytics and see what type of effect it had.

Engage like your business depends on it.

If at any point you find that your followers aren’t engaging with your company, your account stops growing, or your analytics are weak it’s because you aren’t engaging enough.

Inside the growth hacking industry, we like to throw around the term “leveraged marketing”.

To understand leveraged marketing you only have to understand what leverage is. 

Leverage: the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever.

The goal with leveraged marketing is to get more of the output then your input.

Let’s use Facebook ads as an example. 

Facebook ads are an extremely leveraged way to market your business. Once you find an ad that creates a profit, all you have to do is turn your budget up to make more money. 

Some ads don’t work that way. 

If you ran an ad on a bus stop and that ad worked, you might want to run that ad on more bus stops. 

In that case, you would either have to start scouting for a new bus stop every time you wanted to place a new ad or hire an agency to do that for you.

In other words, the growth of that campaign requires more work.

Now, it’s important to note that organic social media can be a leveraged platform, but you shouldn’t consider it one.

At least not for a while.

It’s a little ironic how the best way to leverage social media over the long term is to engage and interact with people one on one.

I’ve done my fair share of Instagram growth hacks. Finding big win opportunities that require little effort from me or my team. They even work sometimes, but they never last. 

Even going viral on Instagram is short-lived and soon forgotten. 

If you want to use social media to create leverage that allows you to attract new business with a single post, you have to earn it.

Nothing beats a strong and consistent Instagram account.

Anytime that you engage with someone, that person is going to start taking notice of you. 

Consider it somewhat of a digital handshake. 

Giving someone a quick compliment out of the blue will turn that person into a true follower. One that actually gives your content the attention it deserves.

Have you ever wondered why people running for the presidency have major news corporations giving them millions in viewership 24/7 and they still go out to shake hands in person?

They have people from their campaign go door to door just to touch base with people who are already likely to vote for them.

Why?

Because they know that’s how you get a conversation started.

If you want a thousand people to talk about you, you have to talk to 5,000 people. This is how you get true word of mouth virality.

So what does good engagement look like? Good question. 

If your social media account is public, you’ve likely had some business comment on one of your photos something like

“Great post”

“Love your feed”

 or (the worst) “Hi there! I run a business with a product that I'm very sure you would love to have, please go to my website www.isuckatthis.com and give me your credit card information!” 

Those are great examples of awful engagement. 

The goal of engagement is to start a valuable relationship with a potential customer.

The last thing you want to do is turn them off from ever taking the next step.

There are a few different features you can use to engage with people on a personal level.

  1. The comments of their post
  2. Responding to their story posts
  3. Sending them a direct message

Without a doubt, you should aim to use all 3.

There is one magical word to keep in mind when you're engaging. The word is “context”.

There are 2 ways to use context.

You can use the context provided to you by engaging in a way that is relevant to their content. 

Ex: If the user's post is about a shirt they just got, comment about the shirt. (Good)

Ex: Great post! Check out my product you're going to love at www.isuckatthis.com (Bad)

Or you can create context. 

Something to note about creating context. On the first interaction, you never want to create the context that you are pushing a sale.

Ex: Hi Adam! I love your content. I just wanted to reach out and make sure you were having a wonderful day. (Good)

Ex: Hi Adam! Have you heard of www.isuckatthis.comIt’s our wonderful business and you would make a wonderful customer. (Bad)

Another important part of engaging is responding to people who comment on your own content.

There are a couple of rules of thumb here. 

1. The first is to never let a comment go unresponded. You should be the first to like and respond to each comment. 

A powerful trick here is to always respond with a question that might get the user to respond again to your comment on your comment. 

The more comments you have on a post, the more Instagram will show that post to more people.

2. The second rule is to manage your DMs with care. 

Always respond to DMs with customers. Generally speaking, every day you should go into your DMs and either look for people you haven’t responded to yet or people that you can open up a conversation with again.

Remember. DMs are where the sales happen.  

How To Get Shoutouts From Other People

When it comes to social media marketing there are 2 main pillars.

  1. Creating your content
  2. Promoting your content

We talked about a few ways to promote your content, like hashtags and lots of engagement.

Everything we’ve talked about up to this point will be the core of your instagram marketing. 

It is the day to day actions you should be consistently taking to have a strong social media presence.

This section is about growth hacking.

Using hashtags and engaging is crucial (especially for a young new account) to get new followers and turn those followers into fans and customers. 

That being said, there are literally millions of other people who are putting in the same amount of time on Instagram to grow their following. 

What better way is there to get more eyeballs on your account than by using another hard-working Instagramer to share your profile?

Turning Engagers Into Promoters

If you're staying on top of your engagement, you will end up creating a bunch of small yet powerful relationships with other users and potential customers.

Either mentally or on paper. It is good to keep a note of who your super engagers are. Figure out who is developing affection for your brand and throw fire on that relationship.

In general, a great way to expand a relationship with anyone is to ask them for feedback or their opinion on something.

People love to feel like they are involved in the building process. So if you create a new post and you send out a message along the lines of…

“Hey ____! I hope you're doing well. I just put out a new post and I wanted to ask you what you thought about it. Just hoping to hear your feedback.”

(Send Post)

This is a 2 fold win.

  1. Your relationship with that person will grow and they will just become more of an advocate
  2. You get some real feedback on how you may be able to improve your content.

After doing this for a little you will likely see people naturally reposting your content. They will feel like they helped create it and will want to share it.

For the people that need some nudging. Just ask, plain and simple.

“Hey ____! I’m glad you love the content! It’s always good to hear.

It would actually mean the world to us if you thought it was good enough to repost on your story!”

Publicly acknowledge the people who repost you to inspire copycats.

Once someone sees that other people are sharing your content, it’s easier for them to make that decision too.

Any time someone reposts your content you should do a story post shouting them out and thanking them for reposting your content.

Again, this is a 2 fold win.

  1. When people see other people are reposting you, other people are likely to follow suit.
  2. This will make the other followers you ask to repost you way more likely to agree.

Turn Compliments Into Opportunities

Any time anyone gives you a compliment on your content, ask them to share it.

I don’t know how to explain why, but for some reason right after someone gives you a compliment, they are nearly twice as likely to agree to share your posts or give you some type of referral.

I think sharing a compliment gives them an opportunity to feel involved in some way and asking them for a shoutout is like giving them permission to be more involved. 

Instagram Growth Campaign

Growing an Instagram account is actually pretty simple. It’s simple, but not easy.+

Let’s go over the Instagram Growth Campaign in a broad sense.

  1. Put together a list of target accounts you would love to be featured on
  2. Write an outreach message and 2 follow-up messages
  3. Start sending out outreach messages
  4. Keep track of results on your spreadsheet
  5. Rinse & repeat.

Something worth mentioning, the larger and stronger your account, the more effective this campaign will be.

I advise that you don’t run this campaign until you have 1,000 followers or more. 

If you're under 1,000 it can still work. It’s just going to be a fraction of the result it will be when your account is bigger. 

Putting Together A List Of Target Accounts

First, let's talk about what to look for in accounts to collaborate with

  • You're going to want to collect a list of accounts that aren’t a huge stretch.

    If your account has about 1,000 followers, I would aim to put people with 1,000 to 4,000 followers on your list.

  • Look for people who have more than just an Instagram account.

    For some reason, people who also have a youtube channel or a blog have a much better influence over their audience.


    Someone with just an Instagram account cares mostly about the insights of their account.

    Whereas, someone with a blog or a youtube channel cares more about using their Instagram to find people who will take action.

  • Indirect competitors make great partners.

    Look for companies that are targeting the same audience as you but don’t sell the same product.

    That way it will benefit both of you to promote each other.

  • Look for a good amount of recent activity.

Check if this person is posting on their account regularly. Those accounts are going to be more engaged and more likely to drive followers to you.

Those are some simple rules to go by, but if you're looking for more on recruiting influencers, I recommend this amazing article by the founder of K&J Growth Hackers, Jonathan Maxim.

So how do you find qualified accounts?

Great question

When I’m building a list of influencers to reach out to the process looks like this:

  1. First, look at hashtags in my niche

  2. Find out who has photos in the popular section of those hashtags

  3. If you want to put them on your list click the three dots in the top right corner of their profile, and click copy link.

  4. Then I’ll go over to notes and paste the link

  5. You're going to want to collect a large number of accounts. Around 300.

  6. Open up a spreadsheet and the notes and copy all the contacts over

I use Google Sheets for that. You should have columns for:

Handle | Link | Name (if applicable) | Email (if applicable) | Last Contact 

Writing Outreach Messages

Every campaign is only as strong as it’s copywriting. That stands true in this case too.

Everybody has quickly adapted to this digital world we have spent the last 30 years in. 

A world filled with pop-ups, automated message, spam, clickbait, and Nigerian princes.

Because of that, interaction with real humans is in high demand. 

Your first priority for any outbound marketing should be to give the perception that you are human.

That might sound funny but it’s truly not a given these days that the person your talking to is a caring and empathetic person.

(And to be fair, we do have an agenda with this campaign)

So, what should you outreach message look like?

  • Your outreach message should be short and simple.

  • It should include your name at the end (And including a tag to your personal page is a great added bonus)

  • It should communicate one thing and only one thing.

Let’s take a look at the exact copy that Natalie uses to get shoutouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey Love! My name is Natalie and I am the creator of The Peony Collective, an online platform that teaches women how to grow their own social media empire. My personal account @nataliebloom. This may be a stretch but I would KILL for a story shoutout on your page. I think my content would have really high engagement with your followers.”

You can see how this message is tailored for her audience

Her audience is mainly females of a younger age. So language like, “Hey Love!” Is appropriate.

Make sure you are creating your message with your target in mind like Natalie did. It doesn’t have to be that long, but it does have to be that personal.

Send that message to 40 people per sitting. (More than that and Instagram will stop you, and you’ll have too many people to respond to.)

Make sure to mark the date of you last outreach on your spreadsheet.

If that user doesn’t respond to you in 2 days. Send them your follow-up message, and 2 days after that send them another.

In your follow-up message, provide more context, not less.

Messages like, 

“Hey ____, just following up with you. Did you have a chance to check my last message?” 

won’t get the job done.

Messages like,

 “Hey ____. I know your busy.

I was just reaching out to you because we are looking for stellar influencers to collab with. Our mission is to help young people everywhere who want to travel different walks of life.

It’s a hard mission to accomplish, but with the help of amazing influencers like yourself, we should be able to help many many people discover a world they believed was impossible.”

Are strong and will get the job done.

One last note on this:

Don’t be afraid to offer them a shoutout in return, or even in advance to them accepting. 

A lot of times, giving them a shoutout on your page is enough to show them that you actually want to collaborate with them and you don’t just want something from them.

Let’s Wrap This Up.

There you have it. 

If you put all these steps in place, you will be an expert in running and managing Instagram accounts for businesses. 

The last thing I’ll say here is probably the most important lesson in marketing I have learned.

Building an audience is simple. So simple in fact, many people have a hard time believing that there is not some dirty trick or secret that only the experts know.

Simple, but not easy. 

Stay patient, stay consistent. Save time and energy everywhere you can to keep yourself going for the long haul.



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