If you’ve spent any time at all scouring the Net for 10,000 Instagram followers, you’ve likely come across tons of quick fixes: shortcut tactics that may work in the short-term but are actually more likely to harm your account in the long-term.
In the last episode of Tailwind’s Marketing Unleased, Rebekah Radice, Kristen Dahlin and I went over 6 strategies you can use to get your first 10,000 followers on Instagram: no spam, shade, or money required.
If you find these tips helpful, you can go more in-depth or find additional strategies in Tailwind’s Complete Roadmap to 10K Instagram Followers eBook, a completely free compilation of research and case studies that will actually help you grow your following…the right way.
And it’s packed with hands-on resources, like a 5-week content plan, worksheets and visuals, and interviews with business owners who have over 10,000 Instagram followers – so you can learn what really works.
So, let’s jump in!
1. Zero in on Your Target Audience
While it can be tempting to simply jump in and start posting beautiful pictures and writing engaging captions, Kristen noted that it’s critical to first lay the foundation for your 10,000 Instagram followers strategy by zeroing in on your target audience.
Of course, this means understanding their likes, interests, demographics, and what’s really resonating with them on Instagram.
Some good questions to ask are:
What is your unique power as a brand on Instagram, and what benefits do you offer those who follow you?
Who benefits the most from your presence on Instagram?
Whose needs are you meeting through your Instagram content, captions, posts, stories, and videos?
Also, It’s important to think about who your existing competitors are, and who they’re benefiting. Once you know this, you can figure out how to differentiate yourself, and potentially capture a whole new market of people through your content.
Make sure to check your analytics regularly, either in the app or in Tailwind, as this can give you tons of info about who’s following you and which of your existing content is really resonating with them.
And as Rebekah noted, it’s also really important to always be testing what works – and what doesn’t – with your audience.
For instance, do they prefer short posts or long ones? Do they respond better to questions or to useful tips? Always be testing to get a feel for what’s working, and then hop over to your analytics and look for trends and themes.
Also, It’s important to regularly engage in conversations with your followers to get direct feedback on what they’re looking for, what’s resonating with them, and the reasons they come to you on a daily basis.
But, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Rebekah really believes Instagram is about going deep with your audience and then listening to what they want to tell you. Ask questions – even tough or awkward ones – as this will lead you to the next best answer.
2. Optimize Your Profile
Your profile is a huge opportunity to be crystal clear about what you do and who you help and get 10,000 Instagram followers.
Be sure to really focus in on the keywords or phrases you want to be known for (or are already known for), and use those in your profile.
And Keep in mind that consistency is key here. You want to make sure that what you’re saying on your website and other social media is the same as what you’re saying on Instagram; you don’t want people getting confused and saying, “Why is (s)he talking about this in one way over here, and in a completely different way over there?”.
To avoid this, Rebekah recommends making sure your branding is consistent across all networks and across your entire account. This includes your profile pic, your logo, and your bio.
And, one of the first decisions you’re going to want to make is whether to use a personal profile pic or your logo. Kristen recommends using a personal picture if you’re the key personality behind your brand: for instance if you’re a blogger or influencer.
If you do use a personal photo, Kristen recommends making sure your pic includes your head and shoulders and keeping the background of your photo uncluttered and completely neutral.
If you decide to use a logo as your profile pic, make sure it’s high contrast and easy to read. Test it out to make sure it’s not pixelated and that’s legible, even though it’ll obviously be really small.
In terms of your bio, remember that this is a super-important real estate on your profile. You have about 150 characters, so make them count!
Some best practices Kristen recommends for your bio are:
- Don’t restate your name. If you’ve included a description of yourself or some search terms in your name line, people have already seen it, so don’t waste your time restating it.
- Use a clear call to action. Visitors who are interested in your profile want to find out more about you, want to follow you, and want to know what the next steps are for what they should do. Use a website link (bit.ly link if possible) so you can track how you’re CTA is performing.
- Make sure you format your bio to increase visual interest. You don’t just want a wall of text: use line breaks, spaces, and emojis for easy readability.
- Keep your bio short and sweet…or at least easy to read. People should be able to pop onto your profile and quickly find out what you’re all about.
- Use both hashtags and keywords in your bio. Hashtags are good for getting you into search streams, and keywords help your readers understand what you’re all about – so don’t be afraid to use them both.
3. Plan Content that will Resonate
The 5 subjects Tailwind focuses on for their IG content. Find out how to choose your own topics in The Complete Roadmap to 10K Instagram Followers.
This one can feel really daunting at first.
When you’re just getting started, how do you know what to post? What kind of content is really going to resonate with your audience? What kind of content is going to make people follow you, and keep coming back on a regular basis?
And this is where the free 10K guide to 10,000 Instagram followers is so awesome. It will help you quickly plan out months’ worth of content without a ton of heavy lifting.
Here is what Kristen recommends in terms of creating your content plan.
Start by identifying 5 subjects you feel most qualified to talk about and that will resonate with your audience. These will be things you could talk about all day, that you’re super comfortable with, and that you get really excited about.
Based on these 5 topics, research related keywords, hashtags and questions being asked about these topics, and incorporate them into your posts, videos and stories.
The key here is to use these 5 topics continuously throughout your content.
Of course, you’ll want to find different ways to frame them, so you’re not saying the same things over and over again.
This is covered in much more detail in the 10K eBook, including a whole workflow and worksheet you can fill out to start generating ideas…and ultimately create 5-weeks’ worth of content in just a few hours.
4. Design Your Feed
What do you want your audience to feel when they look at your feed? What do you want them to take away the first time they go through all your posts?
It’s about more than just the captions you use or the quality of your content. According to Rebekah, it’s also about your personality, tone of voice, and how you breathe life into your content.
If your brand were a human being, what words would people use to describe it? What’s the “face” of your brand?
In the 10K eBook, you’ll find all the steps to follow to really plan out what your feed looks like and conveys.
Also, one of the key steps is aiming for photo quality and composition. Of course, there are tons of great blogs and resources online for improving the quality of your photos.
But one simple tip Kristen uses is putting the grid overlay from her iPhone over her pictures to get an idea of what her photos are going to look like.
Try moving things around to get a different perspective: like moving your subject into the front lower corner for a fresher, unexpected take.
And play around with your composition to see what makes people stop scrolling or what evokes an emotional response in them.
As Kristen mentioned in our last episode of Marketing Unleashed [Please link once posted], it’s also important to really unify the entire look of your feed. She recommends doing this by using presets, and by editing your photos in a consistent way.
You can also use filters to really unify your grid in a way that gives your photos the same look and feel – even if the content of those photos is quite different.
Wondering which photo apps to use? Some that we recommend are VCSO, A Color Story and the Lightroom app. By using the same method or app for editing all your photos, you ensure you have a cohesive grid that’s more likely to appeal to visitors.
5. Create a Content Schedule
There are a couple of different factors that go into creating your content schedule.
First, you’ll need to decide how often you want to post. Kristen mentioned some research they did a couple of years ago that showed that posting once per day is really optimal for getting more followers and more engagement, and one of the best ways to keep to a daily schedule is to schedule your posts ahead of time.
In Tailwind, you’ll want to set your posting schedule to once per day. Make sure to set up auto-post so all the amazing content you’ve planned gets posted at the peak times – when your audience is engaged and scrolling, just waiting for your amazing content.
Also, just a side note from Kristen here: As you plan out your content, don’t forget about hashtags! Use a mix of ultra-competitive ones and niche ones, as well as “middle ground” ones that give your posts lots of opportunities to rank.
And keep in mind that the more hashtags you use, the more opportunity you have to get seen in different search streams, and the higher the chance you get found by people looking for those hashtags.
A quick tip: In Tailwind, you can use the hashtag List Creator to find all the best hashtags for your post.
You can even save entire hashtag lists under a custom name in case you want to post the same content more than once. No more re-typing the same hashtags on every single post!
If you need more help with planning and creating your Instagram content, Check out my post, How to Create 30 Days of Instagram Content in 1 Hour or Less.
6. Build on What’s Working
So, what if you’re really starting to gain some traction on Instagram, and you want to make sure you continue that growth? How do you do this?
Also, Rebekah reminded us that your Instagram strategy is never just a “set it and forget it” endeavor. You need to continuously pay attention to 3 different pieces: your audience, your market, and your competitors.
And your analytics in these areas will really inform how you’re doing, and are going to be a great source of truth for you.
In terms of your audience, what are they talking about? What words and phrases are they using? What are they already engaging with?
Asking these questions will ensure you have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on for them and help you really understand what their problems are.
Next, your market: Has anything new cropped up within your industry that maybe you haven’t talked about? Or maybe that you haven’t put your own spin on?
Sometimes business owners are hesitant to talk about a topic because their competitors are already talking about the same thing. But what’s great is if you have your own unique spin or take on that topic – this will set you apart.
You’ll be the one source your followers come back to when there’s breaking news or something they need to know.
You just seem to know everything, be everywhere, and have all the info and answers they need!
Finally, you need to continually pay attention to what your competitors are doing. What’s working for them? What’s not working?
You’re not looking to swipe or steal their stuff; rather, you want to understand what’s successful so you can model that. Success leaves clues and these clues are all around us – we just need to take the time to do the research.
Once you have the 6 strategies above in place fo 10,000 Instagram followers, Kristen recommends really focusing on creating a sense of community among your followers and finding different ways to engage them – like showing backstage scenes of your life, sharing inspirational quotes, or starting a challenge.
And once you’ve mastered the functionality of your content, your schedule, and your system, it’s time to really embrace using stories to build community and engagement.
There are tons of features within stories that are designed to help you do just that: you can create polls, ask questions and get answers, share music, etc.
But that’s a topic for another post!
I’d love to hear from you: Are you using the strategies above to grow your Instagram following? If not, what’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments below.