Given the size of its user base, businesses have valuable opportunities on the platform to generate an audience, build a community, and drive sales.
To help learn more about how to grow your business on the app and create an engaged community, the HubSpot Blog surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals that use the platform. Here are some of our key findings.
How Marketers Grew Their Following in 2021
In 2021, marketers reported that the key to growing an account to the first 1,000 followers on Instagram was by creating shareable content with high-quality captions. Growing their following past 1,000 followers involved posting engaging Stories, engaging with users, and partnering with influencers, all of which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
If you’re having trouble growing your following, or are losing followers, marketers report that this typically occurs for a few key reasons: not posting often enough, being too sales-y, and Instagram removing bot followers.
How Marketers Grew Engagement in 2021
In 2021, marketers increased engagement on Instagram through audience interaction, and creating content that encourages engagement. For example,
- Creating content that is shareable, inspiring audiences to share it on their own profiles via Stories or reposting on their feed,
- Monitoring your comments and mentions to find user-generated content that you can share on your profile,
- Responding to comments and DMs from audience members when it makes sense to do so.
How Marketers Grew Instagram ROI in 2021
49% of marketers reported that, out of all the platforms they leverage, Instagram has the highest ROI. Here are the strategies that they used to grow ROI:
- Leveraging Instagram shopping tools.
This was the most popular strategy, as 79% of Instagram marketers have used shopping tools in their roles, and 33% plan to use them for the first time in 2022.
- Creating content centered around a brand's product and services.
This informs audiences of your offerings on a platform that they’re already familiar with, and has the second highest ROI of any content type.
- Creating interactive Instagram Stories.
The tool is leveraged by 45% of IG marketers, and 92% plan to increase or maintain their investment in 2022. Stories are also the number two format for gaining followers and getting your content shared on Instagram.
Instagram Growth Tips for 2022
Now that you know some of the key ways marketers found success on Instagram in 2021, let’s look forward to how you can create an organic Instagram growth strategy for your business in 2022.
1. Leverage different content formats.
Video and carousel posts are the most engaged with type of content on Instagram, especially when compared to single images. For reference, carousel posts contain multiple different media forms (image or video) in one, allowing you to create high-impact posts.
Both forms of content keep users engaged for longer, whether they’re scrolling through your 5 picture photo set, or watching a video. The longer a user stays interacting with your content, the longer they’re engaged.
While video and carousel posts are the most popular, you can also experiment with different content formats (like Reels and Stories) and see what resonates most with your audience.
2. Post at the right times.
When you post on Instagram, it’s important to post a time that allows you to meet your audiences when they’re online and more likely to engage with your posts.
The best way to decide what time to post on Instagram is to monitor your analytics, as mentioned above. However, the universal benchmark for ideal timing is posting between 6PM and 9PM, and the best days are Saturday, Friday, and Sunday, respectively.
3. Post consistently.
Growing your profile is tied to how much you post, so aim to post consistently. The more content you share, the more opportunities you have for engagement and growing your profile. As such, create a consistent posting schedule that helps you stay top of mind for your audiences.
Many marketers report that four to six posts per week is the sweet spot. Be mindful, though, that there is such a thing as posting too much on Instagram. Don’t oversaturate your audiences, but instead be strategic.
4. Partner with influencers that are relevant to your business.
While it seems like a best practice to partner with influencers with tons of followers, HubSpot’s Instagram Engagement Report says your efforts are more worthwhile if you partner with influencers that are more connected to their audience and community over follower count.
When you do this, you’re working with someone that has built trust with their audience, regardless of its size. And, when an influencer's audience trusts them wholeheartedly, they’re more likely to trust their opinion on products or services and be curious and eager to learn more about what your brand offers.
Micro-influencers with 10k to 50k followers and nano-influencers with under 10k followers are considered to be the next wave of influencer marketing.
5. Monitor your engagement.
You may be saying “Yeah, I knew that” but monitoring your Instagram engagement is important, so it’s an important callout. In fact, it is the most impactful way to grow your engagement, as you’ll learn exactly what works and what doesn’t.
For example, your profile insights may say that users engage more with your videos. If you spend most of your time creating Stories, you’re actively ignoring what your audiences value most. Instead, you’d want to leverage the information from your insights and focus on sharing high-quality video content.
Consistently monitor your engagement analytics to make informed decisions that will help you grow better.
5. Write strong, compelling captions.
Always include captions on your posts — doing so can increase your engagement by almost 2%. Quick and short captions (1-20 characters) perform well, and so do longer ones (over 2000 characters).
Regardless of their length, you should always aim to create high-quality captions that are informative, engaging, and related to the content you share.
7. Use hashtags.
Using hashtags on Instagram helps you get your content seen by people who don’t follow you but surf the hashtags you use on their Explore page.
If you choose hashtags relevant to your business and use them in your captions, people can find your posts, discover your profile and follow you and help you grow your account. Case in point, 81% of marketers say that using hashtags has been somewhat or very effective for their Instagram strategy.
Over To You
Growing a following on any platform can be challenging, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Leverage the tips on this list from other marketers who have gone through it and reaped the benefits to begin creating your own Instagram growth strategy that helps you build an engaged community.