5 Ways to Maximize Instagram Features to Gain Loyal Followers

Posted by Ri Ranjo - October 9, 2019 • 16-minute read

5 Ways to Maximize Instagram Features to Gain Loyal Followers

Did you know that one of the biggest and most common mistakes Instagrammers make is having considerably more people under their Following than in their Followers? In fact, this may be the reason why people could be less inclined to follow certain accounts.

When a user sees that the number of people you’re following is substantially greater than your number of followers, it creates a perception that your profile might be spam. Too often, brands that are new to the Instagram space tend to mass follow random accounts with an expectation that they’ll receive a follow back. But what’s important is that you make sure that you have a balanced follower-to-following ratio to maintain your credibility.

But why should you even care about Instagram in the first place?

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing online platforms, which is why most marketers opt to create strategies solely focused on this channel. You might argue that Instagram is more of a celebrity platform and is not the most suitable place for business. After all, the 5 most followed accounts on the app as of September 2019 are famous personalities, namely Instagram itself (313M), Cristiano Ronaldo (185M), Ariana Grande (165M), Dwayne Johnson (158M), and Selena Gomez (157M). But this just proves how big Influencer Marketing is on the platform and the truth is, you don’t have to be a celebrity to make this work! You just have to know what influencer strategies work for you.

Instagram's Instagram AccountCristriano Ronaldo's Instagram AccountDwayne Johnson Instagram AccountAriana Grande Instagram AccountSelena Gomez Instagram Account

So how many more followers do you need so your profile can drive profit to your company?

It’s easy to get lost in the idea that increasing your Follower and Like count will equal an increase in traffic to your website, or an increase in sales for your products. In reality, these are just vanity metrics—numbers that are easily manipulated and do not correlate to what really matters: building a tribe of loyal followers to permanently improve your brand’s image and sales online.

A tribe essentially needs 3 things: a leader, a community, and a shared interest. Your brand is the leader, your followers are the community, and your content serves as the common interest. 

When creating a tribe that will help you grow and cater to the right audience:

Remember that Instagram is a social platform so you need to consistently interact with users on a conversational or somewhat personal level so that it feels genuine—like person to person and not brand to potential customers.

  • Don’t be a robot! 

Don’t post and leave; plan, post, engage and repeat! By doing so, your followers will soon be willing to do things for you— like visiting your website, tagging their friends on your post, and many more.

  • Make your followers happy

Real growth and profit comes from delighting the followers you have while connecting with new ones.

To dive in deeper, here are 5 ways to build loyal Instagram followers in 2019:

  1. Engage, Engage, and Engage
  2. Keep Your Followers In Your Profile
  3. Make Your Viewers Curious
  4. Stay Updated on New Features
  5. Use Instagram as a Multi-Channel Platform

Tip #1: Engage, Engage, and Engage

We can’t reiterate this enough! Engage with your audience. Let’s take a look at Later, a social media scheduling software, as an example. Besides planning an amazing feed, they also take the time to respond to each comment on their photos.

Instagram Comments Later_1Instagram Comments Later_2Instagram Comments Later_3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The algorithm is ever-changing so instead of trying to outsmart this, try to understand how it works and how it’s tied to user behavior. This way, you’ll know how to properly align your content and strategy to take advantage of the ever-changing algorithm.

How is this essential? What does this mean for your business?

This is where engagement—or interactions with your users—come in. You want Instagram’s algorithm to view your profile as a friend or family member of the user. Don’t just wait for your users to comment on your post—go to their profiles and interact with them! Go the extra mile and look for meaningful opportunities to create conversations with your customers.

1. Reply to all their comments

Spend time replying to comments. By doing this, you show both your followers them and the platform how you value their opinions and interactions. Reward their insights with a simple thank you message. Remember that Social Media is a tool mostly used for communicating inquiries.

For your frequently asked questions, it’s best to prepare set spiels. Most users will skim over other comments, so it’s likely that they’ll submit similar questions over and over. Don’t want your spiels to sound robotic? Take the time to personalize responses before hitting the send button—this is especially important for comments that are visible to the public.

2. Check ALL your DMs

Another great but understated avenue for engagement is your Direct Message inbox. Apply the same approach that you take with comments: reply to all of them.

For messages that are conversation-enders, tap like to the user’s reply and show that you appreciate that they’ve taken the time to talk with you and that you’ve read their message.

Also, most brands forget to check the “request” section of their DMs. This is where Instagram stores messages from followers that you’re not following back—and who have the potential to become your new followers and customers.

Instagram Message Request

Again, remember that DMs are just as important as the public comments on your posts. This is where your customers ask most of their questions and is the perfect venue to provide them with answers.

3. Make the first move

Some brands prefer to comment on their tagged images. This is smart, but also limits your potential reach.

Sparking a conversation with your followers on their posts, whether you’ve been tagged or not, makes for a more personal approach and allows you to be someone who understands, sees, and addresses their needs.

Instagram Brand Reply

Tip #2: Keep Your Followers on Your Profile

We want our followers to stay on our profile. Think like a TV Network—or for a more digital reference, a YouTube channel. You want your viewers to keep up with the content you post. Plus, the more they view your profile, the bigger your chances of showing up on both other people’s feeds and the Explore Feed. But how do you make this happen?

Instagram customizes feeds based on how likely a user will engage in posts. Basically, Instagram recognizes which posts resonate with people and in turn, the platform curates this so that it comes up more often on the feed. This means that users don’t see seeing the entirety of their feed and all the accounts that they follow. Instead, Instagram shows posts from accounts they you frequently engage with.

Here’s how you top your users’ feed:

1. Curate Your Feed

You’ve heard this before, probably from every other social media expert. Instagram is a visual platform and the competition is really tight. Brands who stand out usually have visually appealing and curated images reflected on their feed.

To make yours unique, try adding value to your content. Consider what your followers need to see and what problems they want to solve. In this way, you can easily pinpoint what kind of content and how you want to represent it, either via a single image, carousel, video, or stories.

Studio.build Instagram FeedStarbucks Instagram Feed

Later Media Instagram FeedSprouts Instagram Feed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Stories

Most brands don’t take the time to conceptualize their stories, mainly because they lack the resources or time. They’re missing out on a big opportunity! Instagram Stories are your 24-hour exclusive content whose shelf-life can be extended to forever if chosen to be featured as a Story Highlight. Imagine the potential reach it can bring to your business.

Instagram launched stories back in August 2016. Most would compare it with Snapchat—an app widely used by millennials and Gen Z for their photo-sharing features—due to their similarities in concept. As of 2019, Instagram Stories has over 500 million active daily users.

Companies and influencers would use the story highlight to feature what their brand is and how they want to be presented to the world. Others use it to highlight their promos or their buying journeys to help customers visually understand their how-tos. An example can be an online store who directly sells swimsuits via their Instagram Profile. They have their FAQs, size charts, and order form pinned as highlights.

Instagram Story Highlight Icons

That’s not even the best part: Instagram Stories has a lot more features like stickers, polls, questions, chat groups, etc. Essentially, these features help you know more about a brand’s Instagram audience better. It helps them know what kind of content their followers want to see, and most importantly, helps connect fans to their idols or brands of choice in a more personal way.

Tip #3: Make Your Viewers Curious

One mistake brands make with their captions is providing all the information. You might ask, “But isn’t that how it’s done?”

The answer is both yes and no. While you want your followers to know more about what you offer, there’s such a thing as information overload—don’t give everything in one go.

Provide them with everything except the one you want them to ask. An example can be with a feature post. Instead of comprehensively explaining the benefits of the product, try leaving it with, “but if it weren’t for my newfound love for this brand, I wouldn’t be this confident.” Wouldn’t that make them ask about the product?

Curiosity is more powerful than a fear of loss. Rather than showing people what you want them to see, make them curious about what they’re not seeing. 

Tip #4: Stay Updated

Instagram as a platform is always evolving. They always add new features to help build better engagement which can potentially grow your business. Stay up-to-date since these can open up new opportunities for your profile. 

To help you get started, here are some of the most important updates you need to know:

1. Instagram Stories adds Countdown and Chat Stickers

Create hype for upcoming releases or events, and create an exclusive group chat with interested fans.

Within your Instagram stories, you can now use two new features: the countdown and the chat stickers.

Instagram Countdown Story Sticker

With Countdown, your followers can subscribe to your sticker and be reminded when to tune back on your profile for the announcement. Imagine the possibilities! Here’s a couple of examples on how brands have successfully utilized this feature:

Instagram Brand Sticker Countdown 1Instagram Brand Sticker Countdown 2Instagram Brand Sticker Countdown 3

The Chat sticker, which is also the newest addition to their pool, you can initiate a private group chat with up to 31 of your followers. You can use this to build a small community with your fans who have the same interest. Check these examples:

Instagram Chat Story StickerInstagram Brand Join Chat Story Sticker

Instagram Brand Chat_1Instagram Brand Chat Story Sticker

There are also other stickers available on the platform like the Question sticker, hashtag sticker, location sticker, emoji meter sticker, etc.

2. Posting to multiple accounts

This new feature makes it easier for social media handlers to cross-post their uploads on different accounts. Before this update, users needed to switch accounts before uploading. Now, you can be logged in to any of your accounts and still be able to publish your post to any of your profiles.

Multiple Accounts on Instagram

3. Building your Close Friends list

Creating a close friends list for your stories is also another way to build exclusive content or offers to special or specific followers. Just picture the business opportunities! 

Instagram Close Friends ListInstagram Close Friends_2Instagram Close Friends_3

Whether it’s a new sticker for Instagram Story, or a new way to shop in-app, Instagram is always looking for ways to make interactions better. Don’t be the last to know!

Tip #5: Use Instagram as Multi-Channel Platform

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s like having almost all other social networking sites in one app.

You can use features that are similar to different social platforms:

  • Facebook’s Carousel posts (multiple photos in one Instagram post)
  • Periscope’s Live (Instagram Live)
  • Snapchat’s Stories (Instagram Stories and Highlights)
  • Snapchat’s photo filters (Instagram Story filters)
  • Twitter’s Hashtags (Instagram hashtag following)
  • YouTube’s video content (IGTV)

Don’t forget: Instagram rewards those who utilize their new features, so make sure to try them out as you experiment with the platform!

Building your Instagram account can seem hard or overwhelming but it can also be fun! You get to make a lot of connections and even work with interesting influencers. And remember, it’s a social network, so don’t be afraid to engage and start conversations!

Just keep in mind that gaining one new follower is just as important as keeping one. Finding loyal and engaged followers is key—so don’t take it for granted. You can have thousands of likes, but these numbers won’t mean much if people aren’t interested enough in your business or aren’t asking the right questions. So next time you see an unreplied comment or message, think twice before ignoring them. As Dale Carnegie says, “To be interesting, be interested.”

Ready to grow your audience and build loyal Instagram followers? Check out our social media services to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.

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Topics: Social Media Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Updates

Written By

Ri Ranjo

Ri Ranjo

is a Social Media Specialist at StraightArrow. He’s also an online content creator whose works have been featured on Clozette, Elska Magazine, Blued Studio, and similar publications. He runs a personal page, a YouTube account, and an Instagram profile while traveling and working out in hopes of skyrocketing his digital career.

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