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6 foolproof growth hacking strategies for Instagram

Some companies appear out of nowhere and take off immediately.

These companies are on everyone's lips right away, and the excitement continues without fading.

That was the case with Uber.

And at Airbnb.

Take a look at the Google Trends chart for the terms “Uber” and “Airbnb”. The demand for these companies has increased steadily over the past few years.

Have you ever wondered why some companies are growing so fast?

Or how do they maintain this growth?

I will now tell you the recipe for success.

It's calledGrowth hacking.

You've probably heard of it before. It's on everyone's lips.

With this strategy I was able to grow my Instagram account to over 140,000 followers. I am no longer active on Instagram, but in this article I will show you how you can grow your Instagram account.

My results?

  • My Google rankings have increased.
  • Google searches for my name have increased by over 70%.
  • My branded hashtag has been used over 11,000 times.
  • The interaction rate of my Instagram posts has doubled.

Crazy, right?

I already knew that social media marketing has an impact on SEO. I keep saying that myself.

Still, the results surprised me.

Usually, Instagram is not associated with SEO. It doesn't even cross your mind that this photo sharing social network can have a positive impact on search traffic.

But it has and I'm going to prove it to you now.

You, too, can be successful with the strategies that I present in this article.

Before I dive into the topic, I want to give you some good advice on the way.

You have to have a good plan

There's no way around it.

You have to have a good strategy.

You can't use growth hacking to improve your search engine rankings if you don't have a well-formulated plan.

What is growth hacking anyway?

Here is the textbook definition:

It's about growing as much as possible as quickly as possible. That is your goal and all of your actions should be directed towards that goal.

Hacking often involves experimenting with inexpensive strategies.

You have to break new ground and come up with new, innovative ideas in order to achieve your goals.

But you have to take care of the details before you get going.

  • What is your goal with your Instagram account? You want to grow, but how much growth are you aiming for?
  • What does growth mean to you?
  • How fast do you want to reach your goal?
  • What kind of experiments do you have planned?
  • How do you want to give the known techniques a new shine in order to achieve your results faster?

You shouldn't rush into work blindly and head over heels.

You can use the strategies I'm going to introduce in this article to answer the last two questions.

Are you ready? Here we go!

1. The numbers game

Most people prefer “quality, not quantity”.

I can only agree. Also emphasize this again and again.

But when it comes to growth hacking on Instagram, the numbers are most important.

This is also the case with Dropbox. The company wanted to increase the number of Dropbox users and has asked existing users to recruit new users.

Did Dropbox have to invest more money to do this? Probably.

But if you are looking for growth above all else, everything else is secondary. It's all about your numbers.

Accordingly, increasing your Instagram followers should be your main goal.

Why?

Growth hacking requires a lightning factor. Your company must be on everyone's lips.

Once you've built momentum, all you have to do is hold it.

You can do that by building a huge fan base.

And the best part is that it's not that difficult at all.

Foundr has grown its Instagram account to half a million followers thanks to growth hacking.

Do not get me wrong: YourInstagram approach can still be targeted.

After all, your fans should really be interested in your brand and what you offer.

This is one of the basic requirements for healthy growth.

Nevertheless, you need enough reach to achieve a viral effect.

So always remember that the strategies presented here follow a “more is more” approach.

First of all, you have to get a lot of interested fans.

That's how it's done:

Step # 1: Grab the fans of well-known influencers or brands in your industry.

If a user follows an account that deals with the same topic, they are most likely interested in your content too.

This tactic is particularly well suited to attracting interested followers with little effort.

Just enter an industry hashtag into the search bar on Instagram. I entered #socialmediamarketing.

Then select the hashtag with the most posts from the drop-down menu.

Then you will see the best posts for this hashtag.

Pick a few of these posts to find out who posted the photo.

It's probably a popular user, like this guy here who has 13,000 fans:

Take a look at his list of followers and follow them.

Step No. 2: The hunt for likes and comments is on.

You should like as many photos and leave comments as possible to attract potential fans to you.

Enter an industry-specific hashtag in the search bar. Pick out a few promising accounts, follow them, and leave meaningful comments.

You should like multiple photos and leave multiple comments. Three per account is a good start.

This way you can get new followers without having to follow other users in the hope that they will follow you back.

Step # 3: Post new posts at the best times each day.

Your content matters. If you don't publish a new post every day, you will lose existing fans and certainly not gain new followers.

As with most social networks, Instagram is an ideal time to post new posts.

If you've been active on Instagram for a long time, you can analyze your data to find out the preferences of your target group.

If not, you can read the best times here:

Step # 4: Use relevant hashtags.

Hashtags on Instagram are like keywords on Google.

This is how users find your content, which is why you should use lots of hashtags.

Posts that contain hashtags have a better like-to-follower ratio than posts without hashtags.

You can use up to 30 hashtags. You shouldn't just fill your post with hashtags. The ratio “content: hashtags” should be balanced.

If you use over 10 hashtags, this can lead to a poorer interaction rate. It could even be perceived as spam.

Around 5-10 hashtags are a good choice.

These are just a few of the strategies you can use to grow your following in the beginning.

If you then implement your growth hacking campaign, your fan base will automatically continue to grow.

2. Your content should be geared towards lifestyle posts

Listen up.

This is not about short-term growth.

Most people get great results at first and then lose momentum.

Why?

These people don't care about the sustainability of their content.

That is what this strategy is about. You are supposed to get long-term results.

There are several advantages to focusing primarily on lifestyle posts:

  • You create scalable content, an idea that you can sell to your target audience. This doesn't even require a tangible product.
  • You provide your Instagram fans with an exclusive user experience. It doesn't cost you a cent extra. You are just telling a story.
  • You build up a brand image that later markets itself and grows without lifting a finger later.
  • You stand out from the crowd by creating a culture that no competitor can copy.

What exactly is lifestyle?

Example:

On my Instagram I mainly publish content that is about success and prestige.

This lifestyle appeals to a specific target group: entrepreneurs and CEOs.

These people then speak to me personally because my content fits their lifestyle.

The message reaches its destination. All I had to do is publish content with a consistent storyline.

Do you have a certain style?

Here's how you can find a unique style:

Step # 1: Tailor your content to your target audience.

You have to know exactly who you want to reach.

I knew that my target audience was mostly entrepreneurs. Finding my individual style was a natural next step.

The story you're trying to tell won't be convincing if you don't know your audience inside out.

So ask yourself the following questions:

  • In which profession does your ideal target group work?
  • How old are you?
  • How do you dress?
  • Where do you eat and where do you spend your time?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What are your main needs?
  • Which products do you prefer to consume?
  • What do you not like so much?

Instagram is all about external appearance. Over 80 million photos are shared every day on this platform alone.

The better you know your perfect target group, the better ideas you'll come up with to create ideal content.

Makes sense right?

Step # 2: Decide on a story.

Once you've determined your target audience, you need to come up with an interesting story.

Here is a 3 step formula:

  1. Does your target group have a specific background story? Where do your fans come from?
  2. What have you already achieved? Do you have a particular lifestyle?
  3. Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

By answering these questions, you can develop a sophisticated, yet authentic style that is tailored to your target audience.

Pro tip: You have to associate the story with your brand. Think about your company's offer. Can your customers achieve the lifestyle you vaunted for when they buy your products or use your services?

Nike pays tribute to exceptional athletes. That is their story that is shared in every single post.

Step # 3: Consistently publish content that aligns with your story.

You need to create content that is always fully in line with your story.

If you follow the first two steps, you shouldn't be short of creative ideas. It is not so hard.

Your story may well develop. Always pay attention to how your target audience reacts to your content.

You can then use your fans' interactions as creative input.

3. Team up with micro-influencers

Influencers dominate Instagram.

The fastest way to grow your Instagram account is to partner with these influencers.

If you can grab a popular influencer's attention and get them, that's great. You should definitely take an opportunity like this.

If that's not the case, however, you should focus on micro-influencers instead.

These influencers are not world famous.

You don't have millions of fans either.

So why bother?

There are a few good reasons to partner with micro-influencers, not superstars.

You can get more of these little influencers for less money. Many Instagram users have a sizable following that they don't even monetize.

Here's the proof:

These influencers take every opportunity to partner up.

Maybe you don't even have to take money into your hands for it.

You can let your creativity run free and offer other compensations. And even if you pay your influencers, they are cheaper than the popular and famous influencers.

Micro influencers have a very engaged audience. Accounts that have several million followers have a poorer interaction rate.

As the number of fans increases, the number of comments drops dramatically.

The same goes for likes.

Of course you want to avoid that.

You want fans to share and comment on your content. This way you can get even more attention.

Micro-influencers have more authority and are trusted by their fans. Lots of people don't believe a word the big influencers say.

They know these influencers are paid by big brands.

However, the fans of micro-influencers see this as a credible source of information.

So you can get these fans excited about your own brand.

Which users are particularly suitable as micro-influencers?

You should aim for users with 1,000 to 100,000 followers.

Local bloggers, models, niche influencers, loyal customers and fans are especially good.

4. Focus on growing brand awareness

You don't have to sell a product.

It doesn't matter whether your main goal is to grow your customer base either.

A brand-oriented strategy is definitely better than a product-oriented strategy.

Such a brand-oriented strategy is, among other things. less intrusive.

If you focus too much on selling your products, you will scare off users. That is counterproductive.

Advertising contributions are the main reason why users of a certain brand renounce the social media.

If you can build your brand image without being too intrusive, there are several advantages.

  • You can improve your market position and face your competitors.
  • You can have a positive influence on your sales figures. The more people know your brand, the more people will see your offer.
  • You are more authentic. You make your brand known and don't try to sell a product to everyone right away.
  • Your brand name gets mentioned more often, both on social media and in search queries. This way you can grow your brand on both channels.

The benefits are undeniable.

Above all, you should focus on building your brand awareness. Everything else then follows by itself.

The next step is especially important.

5. Create and use a branded hashtag

No Instagram strategy can do without a solid hashtag.

You absolutely must not skip this step.

Why?

Growth hacking is even more successful with a viral hashtag. You can reach more people who will remember your brand afterwards.

You can also use the hashtag to place your brand permanently on social media and online searches. You make sure that you are not a fleeting figure.

Here is Nike's branded hashtag. It has been used over 59,000,000!

Imagine the following situation: My Instagram account is no longer active. If you enter my name on Instagram, you will still get numerous search results.

That's why the branded hashtag is important. It's permanent.

Imagine if I hadn't created a branded hashtag.

My growth hacking campaign would not have been nearly as successful.

But the hashtag is only half the battle. You have to advertise him too.

Do you need a simple strategy for promoting your hashtag?

Combine user-generated content and giveaways.

Instagram accounts that run competitions,grow 70% faster.

You can ask your fans to create content that will then have to be shared with their friends using your hashtag.

These could be the prerequisites for participating in the competition.

That works great. If you want to know exactly whether your strategy is successful, you need to keep an eye on the growth of your branded hashtag.

With a search query on Google or Instagram you can get an overview of the success of your campaign.

6. Optimize your Instagram profile and your content for search queries

The five strategies I've shared with you so far are designed to get people talking about your brand, sharing your content, and promoting your brand.

Then users will search for your brand more often. You get more backlinks. You also gain more influence on social media.

All of this has an impact on your Google ranking.

Here are the main factors that the Google algorithm takes into account:

The interaction rate, traffic and links are especially important.

Growth hacking on Instagram has a positive impact on these metrics.

But you also have to make sure that your profile is optimized for search queries.

Why is that important?

Google indexes social media profiles and content.

You can customize your profile to be found and indexed by Google:

  • If possible and sensible, use geotagging.
  • Your profile must be complete and should contain your profile name, username, biography and links to your websites.
  • Place keywords in your profile and in your content.
  • Build backlinks to your profile and your posts.
  • Share your content on different social platforms.

With these strategies you ensure that your profile is seen.

Conclusion

You don't have to work your way out to grow your Instagram account.

You don't have to dive into the technical intricacies of SEO to improve your Google rankings, either.

You can use growth hacking instead. This way you can improve your results in Google search and on Instagram.

And the best part is: Growth Hacking is not “rocket science”. You can easily use it to grow your business.

I'll be completely honest: the “hacks” that work really well are not always easy to find.

That's why I wrote this article.

I grew my brand using the exact strategies outlined in this article.

You should take some time to align the strategy with your goals. Then you can take off. The number of your Instagram followers will surely shoot through the roof soon - and your Google rankings will also rise.

I have achieved amazing results myself.

You can do the same for me.

What strategies did you use to grow your Instagram?

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