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How To Gain An Authentic Following On Instagram

There’s no doubt about it, social media is the most efficient and effective form of marketing in this day and age - and with over 1 billion active users, Instagram is a great way to get your brand seen by the public. The best part is that you can have total control over what potential clients are seeing and when they can see it! Unfortunately, with today’s social media and search engines constantly being tugged around by new algorithms, getting your content into the hands of your target audience (or seen at all) can seem nigh impossible.

Our easy-to-follow tips and tricks for making the most out of your Instagram account are below - and, best of all, they won’t cost you a dime! But if you’re still feeling intimidated at the end and you need a helping hand to get started - or you just want to free up your already busy schedule to focus on the things YOU love about your business - we’re only an email away! Feel free to get in touch and discuss a social media marketing strategy tailored specifically for your business!

The Numbers Don’t Matter!

Let’s start by revealing the biggest myth of all: to be a success on social media you need to have a huge following.

We have been taught to see value in accounts and brands that have amassed a huge following but the truth is that the number beside an accounts name is entirely unreliable. At the end of the day you are on Instagram to sell a product or service and funnel traffic to your website or store; having a huge following is only valuable to you and your business if those followers are liking and interacting with your content and, ultimately, investing in your brand.

The algorithms running behind these apps that decide the extent of your content reach are also swayed by the amount of activity you’re generating, so having 1000 followers means nothing if only 100 of them are liking and commenting on your posts. It means even less if none of them are buying your stuff!

Determine Your Target Audience

One of the key things to consider when creating a brand is determining who your target audience is, and this is key when bringing your brand to Instagram and other online platforms.

Aside from creating content that caters to your target audience’s interests and aesthetic, knowing your target audience’s habits and hobbies is pivotal in making sure the time you invest in building an audience and promoting your business isn’t wasted.

If you haven’t already, take the time to consider the following about your target audience;

  • Age

  • Location

  • Gender

  • Education Level

  • Marital or Family Status

  • Occupation

  • Budget

  • Personality

  • Hobbies and Interests

  • Beliefs, Morals and Values

  • Lifestyle

  • Their needs and challenges

  • What drives their purchasing decisions

If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look at your current customer base, or even take a sneaky peek at your competition and who is interacting with them! [This second option can also open you to potential markets they are missing!]

Also, as tempting as it is to label our future client base as “Anyone interested in my products/services”, don’t fall for the trap of being too general!! Targeting a specific audience doesn’t mean excluding potential groups of people, but it makes for much more effective marketing, will give your brand a stronger image and means that your time and money is actually going into reaching the people who are most likely to engage and buy into your business (and make sure you end up working with the kind of people ideal for you too!)

Post Consistently

So you have your target audience all picked out, but how do you reach them?

One of the incredibly frustrating walls you are going to face when starting out on social media is that you’re posting great content but the analytics come back with no one looking at or liking it! It can feel like you’re beating your head against a wall.

Unfortunately there isn’t a quick fix to this problem, especially since many social media platforms including Instagram and Facebook have been tweaked to only show your content to a small percentage of your followers. Reaching users outside of your circle can be even harder to achieve organically, with the recent emphasis on paid advertising on these platforms.

The first thing you can do to combat this is to post consistently - make yourself a schedule! For the average business owner this may seem a bit intimidating, but fear not - this doesn’t mean you need to post three times a day, or even once daily. If you can post a couple of days a week consistently each week your followers will notice - and, perhaps more importantly, so will the algorithm of whichever social media platform you’re on! Instagram’s algorithms, for instance, take the reliability of a business profile into account when promoting posts to the casual user. To simplify it: More consistent posts lead to better ratings by the platform algorithm, which then leads to a higher chance of your posts being featured on a follower’s dashboard.

As well as feeding the algorithm, having an active and dependable feed will make your account look much more authentic and reliable to any potential new followers. If you follow a link through to someone’s feed and see they have 5 posts with the last being from over a month ago, would you follow it? Activity promotes engagement!

Post Relatable Content

Today’s key five-minutes-of-fame marketing strategy is going viral online, and this can be an effective goal for most businesses online. This doesn’t mean you should film yourself eating Tide Pods or doing the Cinnamon Challenge and post it on your business page (we absolutely do not condone that!) - rather, it means that you should consider how relatable a piece of content is to your audience and aim to create and post something that people will naturally want to share.

The idea of “going viral” with an advertisement is to overcome the limitations that social media’s algorithms put on our posts by getting people to share your content and tag their friends in your post directly. This is why the good old “competition” posts (“like, share, tag your friends to enter the draw for this fantastic prize!”) are so popular, but there are other ways to achieve this without necessarily bribing your audience.

The key things to consider here are relatability and humour. Again, knowing your audience is going to be incredibly helpful when determining whether a Simpsons meme, a joke about the undying need for coffee to make it through the day, or an inspirational quote are going to speak most to your audience.

Interact With Your Target Audience

It would be an easy life if everything just came to us - but like most things in life, you’re going to have to go looking for your audience, especially when you start out.

The way you do this will depend a lot on what kind of business you are; whether you are an online entity, or a local one with a physical presence; if you are selling a specific product or a range of services. Luckily there are plenty of approaches you can take!

  • Find accounts similar to yours or that are offering similar products and check out who is liking and commenting on their posts; these are the people likely to interact on yours as well.

  • Browse the tags that you and your followers typically use; or consider your ideal audience and what it is they would be looking for on Instagram to find relevant tags.

  • In the search tab, head to the far right and select “location” search to find people who are currently in and active in your local area or local businesses similar to yours.

When you’ve found your current and potential followers you need to interact with them. Get your name in their feed and on their posts. Make your account easy for them to find and access (just one tap away!). Sometimes it may take just a like on someone’s photo but the most efficient and genuine way is to follow through to a person’s profile, like a few of their photos and leave at least two comments on their feed.

Don’t forget to keep your current followers in the loop also! Never be afraid to add a call to action to your descriptions (sometimes that’s all it takes to get your current followers active on your posts), and make sure you’re responding to their comments. As well as just straight-up being polite, your own comments will be factored into the level of activity on your account by most platform algorithms.

Be Genuine

Maintaining a consistent feed and allocating time every day to interact with followers and other accounts can be a lot, and it can be incredibly tempting to cut corners. There are some great methods to help with all of this (which we will address in a future blog), but make sure that it’s NEVER at the cost of your authenticity.

  • Stick away from single words, or just emoji’s!!!

  • Make sure all your comments are personal and thoughtful. Show the person (and everyone else that can see it) that you are actually looking at their stuff and taking an interest by tailoring your comment to what you are commenting on.

  • Don’t copy and paste generic comments; especially if you’re at risk of commenting on the same persons content more than once.

People are going to follow and invest in you and your business because of the individuality you present, and stay because they bond with you and your personality and feel genuinely appreciated. Yes, you are on the lookout for followers - but people will know when you are just fishing, and nothing will turn them the other way faster!

Showcase Your Followers

Your followers love being in the spotlight as much as you do! The best part is in most cases featuring your followers is also an easy way to create content and showcase your products or services; use their posts in your feed or story, create call outs to reward active followers and encourage them to interact on your posts more frequently, feature photos of you with your happy clients!

The opportunities are endless and this is such an easy way to build activity and make your followers feel included and important to your brand.


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