9 Ways to Boost Your Brand’s Instagram Following

Jackson Lewis, Associate Editor

CHICAGO -- Instagram announced in November that it reached 25 million active business profiles. That’s up from 15 million in July. Additionally, 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business page. Convenience stores take note.

Brigit Larson with 1851 Franchise, a content marketing and franchise development solution, has some suggestions to help brands make the most of Instagram’s tools.

Click through for nine tips to help drive your brand’s Instagram following …

1. Create a business profile

Don’t create a personal profile for your business. Make it a point to create a business profile instead.

“Business profiles provide additional insights and analytics about how your content is performing. This profile will also prominently feature your business’ contact information on your profile,” Larson said.

2. Think about your bio

Larson said many businesses marketing themselves on Instagram are frustrated by a lack of space users can dedicate to link visitors to a different page to learn more about their business. She suggests brands use the bio to include a link to another website.

But don’t just paste your company website there and call it a day. Think about what an Instagram visitor looking at your profile is looking for and do your best to lead them there.

3. Use hashtags

No one’s saying you need to use hashtags in regular, everyday conversation. But Larson contends that “Instagram is arguably the most valuable social channel to use them on.”

At their core, hashtags are a way to increase engagement. Many Instagram users search common hashtags to discover content. “Using a branded hashtag for your company, campaigns and industry keywords are all ways to engage interested users who you can then connect with further,” said Larson.

4. Follow accounts

Social media is not something you can set up and forget. Larson suggests businesses follow their followers online and engage with them through the social platform.

“The more engaged your business is with users, the better your ROI will be,” she said. Also, connect with those in your industry and those who engage with you online.

5. Publish consistently

It’s important that business pages produce a regular, steady stream of content in order to stay top of mind for followers. “Posting once a month and then five times in one day will also not move the needle,” writes Larson.

This rule also applies to the opposite extreme. Don’t flood your followers with content. Many will become tired of the incessant posts and stop following your account if you do. Experiment with different posting schedules to find what works best for your brand. But once you find the schedule that works best, try not to deviate.

6. Include a call to action

Any good business driver includes a call to action. Start small. Ask users to “Like if you agree” or “Double tap if you love this menu item.” For more engagement, ask followers to “Tag a friend who should see this.”

When it looks like your followers are ready to do more than just like your posts, Larson suggests, a call to action to view a video, check out your website or subscribe through the link you provide in your bio isn't too much to ask.

7. Post at the right time

Research points to 5 p.m. as the best time to receive the highest level of engagement on Instagram, Larson said, but this might not be the case for your brand. Test out different posting times and go with what makes the most sense for your audience.

8. Provide exclusive content

“Some users only follow brands on social media to receive discounts or coupons,” Larson said. Offering coupons and deals creates value for following your brand and is a straightforward way to give back to your followers.

9. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are a way to show the human side of your brand, according to Larson. Live, real-time photos and videos can make your followers feel like they’re a part of your story.