With 1 billion users worldwide, Instagram’s rapid user-growth since its inception in 2010 has undoubtedly changed the way brands interact with their existing and potential customers. Almost 60% of people admitted to using Instagram for discovering new products, whereas, 75% visited a brand’s website after seeing their post on the photo/video-sharing platform.

Whether you’re a multi-national company or a small business, here are a few ways in which you can boost your Instagram followers:

Collaborate with influencers:
Nielsen found that 92% of customers with purchasing-intent are more than happy to trust product recommendations from authentic and relatable people they follow online, instead of a paid advertisement. Not only this, 40% of millennials feel that their favorite content creator or ‘influencer’ understands them better than their ‘real-life’ friends. Identifying and collaborating with these influencers for your grassroots advocacy campaigns can help you target a larger, relevant and more responsive audience.

For example, Glossier, the NYC-based beauty company, recorded a 600% year-over-year growth (2015-16) when micro-influencers on Instagram (not celebrities!) started talking about their cosmetic and skincare products.

Promoting the idea of barely-there makeup, the brand also collaborated with Youtubers by sending them free products to try on and talk about in their ‘morning routine’ videos, where the influencer is seen as a ‘normal woman’ using Glossier products in the comfort of her home.

Glossier influencers also share their ‘affiliate codes’ with their followers to receive a generous commission every time a purchase is made following their recommendation. During a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco, Emily Weiss, the creator of Glossier revealed that referrals from influencers account for 90% of their sales and the company is taking active steps towards converting their staunchest supporters into brand evangelists in the future.  

Have an inventory of compelling pictures: Instagram primarily operates on visual content shared by the users around the world. Figure out the kind of content your audience is interested in and get snapping.
Remember, before you start selling, it’s important to establish yourself as a trustworthy resource in your industry that a potential or existing customer can look up to. “Once a website becomes the default choice for something, people tend to go back to the same place every time even if they only do it once a month,” writers Nir Eyal in his book, ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products’, “If you use IMDB to look up movies, the next time you want to find out about a new movie, you won’t have to decide whether to go to Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB.”

68% of Instagram users like to engage with brands on an everyday basis, resulting in 58x more engagement per follower than Facebook. With regular activity on your social media platform, you’d be able to convince more and more people to not only engage with your content, but also try out your product or services.

Leverage the ‘Insights’ feature to optimize your content:

With Instagram Insights, you can get more information about your followers (gender, location and age), total organic reach on specific posts/stories, click-through-rates on links included in your profile description,  profile visits and more. Depending on your conversion and engagement goals, you can use these figures to publish content that caters to your target audience. For example, if your target audience includes individuals in the 35-40 age group, but your followers belong to the 25-35 age group, you might want to create posts that appeal more to the former.

Respond to customer queries:

90% of customers use social media to reach out to brands when they have a question or complaint, out of which nearly 33% are open to taking their business elsewhere if they don’t receive a response in an average of 10 hours. Attending to customers in your DMs and comments in a timely fashion not only reflects positively on your brand, but also plays a crucial role in driving word-of-mouth marketing.

Get Instagram verified:
From better brand credibility to an influential social search presence, having a verified Instagram account has its own perks. Regardless of what your reasons are, having the famous blue checkmark next to your username can help boost your conversion rates and make you more popular on the social media platform. While the process of requesting verification can be tedious, the long-term benefits are more than worth the hassle.

Having a verified account on Instagram offers instant credibility and assures other users of your ‘real’ identity, so they can make an informed decision about following the right people. The blue check mark next to your username indicates that Instagram moderators have personally looked in authenticating your presence as a globally-recognized brand, public figure or celebrity.

According to TrackMaven, 78% of businesses have increased their content output in the last 2 years, however, the average content engagement has decreased by a staggering 60%. Most brands stick to using a ‘broadcast approach’ on social media, hoping that as long as they’re publishing campaigns, people will continue to engage with them. Unfortunately, turning an idea into an impactful movement in today’s competitive landscape demands that you think outside the box. After all, your end-goal is not just pushing a message, but actually building meaningful relationships with your audience.