a beautiful stair case draped with smilax vine with the graphic box next to it reading Tops on Growing an Instagram Audience based on work with Alabama Smilax

One of the questions we get asked a lot is, “How do I grow an Instagram audience?” Typically, people are looking for a quick easy answer, especially if they’ve experienced the glory that is Facebook Like Campaigns. On Facebook when we’re looking to grow an audience, the easiest way is to do a like campaign. This is a type of ad and basically allows you to promote your page and bring in followers for as little as $5 a day.

Unfortunately, Instagram, despite being owned by the same company, doesn’t have that same luxury. On Instagram, it takes a lot more manual effort to grow an audience. Through some trial and error, we’ve found a few ways that seem to be effective of growing that audience even if it is at a slow and steady pace.

About a year ago, Alabama Smilax came to us wanting a website and to grow a social media presence. We created their social channels and got to work. In the last year, they have grown from zero followers to over 5,000 on Facebook and over 600 on Instagram. When you have a popular product like wedding greenery, finding an interested audience isn’t all that difficult, but getting that audience to stick around takes some effort. Here are the steps I took to make it happen!

Want to Grow An Instagram Audience? Do Your Research.

The first thing I would suggest is to do some research on who is in your industry. Look for people who are doing the same thing as you and are being successful. See what works for them and what doesn’t work. Also, take a look at the people they are following and who are following them. This could give you a good place to start when you start thinking about who to follow yourself.

Also look for industry adjacent people. These are the people who aren’t in direct competition with you but who are close enough that they would be interested in what you’re doing. For example, Alabama Smilax is not a only for wedding decor, but is used in many wedding set ups. Therefore, following wedding planners would be advantageous so that you can get your name in front of them.

Follow Relevant People & Interact

The floral and wedding industry is a pretty tight-knit community which has been very beneficial for Alabama Smilax. You’ll want to try and foster community amongst your audience as well. Based on the research you did, begin following people! Follow people in your industry, people related to your industry, and people who you just think might be in your desired audience, but don’t stop there.

After you’ve followed your first round of people, make sure that you engage with their content! Go look at some of their recent posts and give them a like or a comment or a save. Something that lets them know that you’re interested in what they’re doing. When you follow and interact with others’ content they will usually do the same for you. Also remember to go through and like or respond to the comments people leave on your content. This helps build up a sense of community. It also lets people know that when they leave comments you see and appreciate them.

Above All Else, Be Kind

One of the things that we strive to do here at Dogwood is always be nice in our interactions with clients and each other. This should be true of our interactions online as well. Just because it’s an online interaction doesn’t mean that we should take advantage of people or game the system to try and gain followers. We should also avoid supporting those who do seem to be gaming the system.

For example, it’s usually a good idea to check the followers to following ratio. If you go to an account and the number of people they’re following is way more than the number who is following them, that might be a red flag. Chances are, in that case, someone is following people just to get follow backs. They typically will unfollow after the account follows them back as well making this digital relationship a one way street at that point.

You should keep an eye on your own ratio as well. You want to make a good first impression on the people who come to your page. One sure fire way to not make a good impression is by mass following and unfollowing just to gain a few followers.

All in all, be kind! Don’t treat people or businesses as tools and don’t have a one-sided relationship with the people you follow. Share relevant content. Leave kind and encouraging comments. Help promote others who promote you!

This might feel like a lot of work, and in some ways, it is. However, if you put systems in place to create and post quality content and have an easy way to respond and interact with others, it doesn’t have to be a headache. Plus, if your audience is on Instagram and that’s the best place to reach them then the effort is well worth it! If you need helping coming up with a social media strategy or executing that strategy, reach out to us! We’d love to hear from you.

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