Instagram is growing faster than ever. As of April 2017, there were more than 700 million users on Instagram. And counting. Parents love Instagram. They love to scroll through the images, they love to “heart” photos, and they love to engage in Instagram. As a marketer for schools, what’s not to love about Instagram?
Having a larger Instagram following can mean more enrollments for your school, more views on your blog and a stronger online community. So how do you grow your Instagram following? There are 26 actionable tips here to help you grow your Instagram account.
1. Be authentic and not spammy.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s really important that you keep your postings genuine, interesting and relevant. No one likes spam, so don’t try to sell your school on Instagram.
2. Spend a few minutes every day “Liking” 5 -10 photos on someone’s Instagram newsfeed that is in your school niche.
Find the right users by checking relevant hashtags or view the followers of your favorite Instagrammers. It also helps to leave a genuine comment and follow others. You never know who’s going to refer your school to the right person.
3. Create a theme for your photos.
Give your target audience content they will fall in love with! It really helps to create a theme for your Instagram account. Write down a few words that you want people to associate with your school. Once you’ve settled on a theme, try to stick to it!
4. Engage with your audience.
This is another tip that may seem obvious, but social media is about, well, socializing! Respond to the comments you receive and leave comments on other ‘grams. Try to leave genuine comments that encourage others to check your account out.
5. Use hashtags.
Lots of them! You can use up to 30. Hashtags are part of the culture of Instagram. The more you use, the easier it will be for others to find you. The idea isn’t to use just any words as hashtags. It’s to find hashtags that will relate to the photo and what your audience is looking for. Want more ideas for the best hashtags to use? Check out this blog post “How to Research Hashtags for Social Media Posts.”
6. Create unique hashtags.
Create a unique hashtag (make sure it’s not already in use) and ask others to use it. It works best if the hashtag has a specific purpose. You can register your unique hashtag on Twubs.com.
7. Run a giveaway, contest or challenge.
Instagrammers are notorious for loving giveaways, contests and challenges. I recommend that you have users repost a specific image and tag you in the caption. Or ask them to use your hashtag on their own photos.
8. Ask for followers.
Ask your followers on other platforms – like Facebook, Twitter or your blog subscribers – to follow you on Instagram. Believe it or not, most of the time people do not cross follow. Share a quick tweet encouraging them to follow you on Instagram – you might be surprised at how many new followers you receive.
9. Use call-to-actions.
People respond best if you tell them what you want them to do. Sharing a quote? Ask them to “like” your photo if they agree with it. Sharing something cute, or funny or relatable? Ask your followers to tag a friend. By putting the idea out there, it will encourage them to act accordingly.
10. Geotag your photos.
Geotagging means tagging your post with a location. Adding geotags builds relationships because it gives people something to relate to.
9. Use your insights to learn more about what your audience likes.
Go back and review which photos received the most likes and comments – and, of course, the least. What is your audience most interested in? Why do you suppose those posts interest them the most? How can you incorporate those lessons in your future feed?
10. Link your IG account to other networks.
Linking your other social networks to your Instagram account will help your followers on other channels find your Instagram account.
11. Try to approach influencers to collaborate with you.
Think outside the box! Think of fun, creative ways to collaborate with other users who share your target audience.
12. Consider running Instagram ads.
Instagram ads are a great tool to help you boost your school’s presence and performance. Because they are so helpful at reaching your target market that would be interested in your school, Instagram ads are an excellent way to help you grow your Instagram followers. You can target your posts directly at the people who will be interested in your content, maximizing the chance that they will click through to your account and become a follower.
13. Include photos that highlight your school activities and events
Instagram is a great channel for sharing photos of your school’s activities and events. Parents really like the idea of seeing what goes on “behind-the-scenes.” Current parents love seeing their own kids (make sure you have signed permission slips for video and photography) and what their kids are doing in school. Take photos at events, field trips, and everyday activities and share on Instagram!
Quotes are easy for users to engage with – and they help identify your brand. Quotes are easy to design in Canva or Photoshop. Find quotes that are relevant to your target market and that help to establish your school’s image and personality. Parents will want to follow you because they can relate to the quotes you are posting. Pinterest is a good resource for finding quotes that are relevant to your school.
Instagram’s change to allow minute-long video gives your school a great opportunity to create engaging videos about your school. As mentioned above in # 13, photos and videos of events, field trips, and everyday activities are great examples of attractive Instagram videos.
16. Update your IG story
Instagram stories are SO popular and are becoming another must-use platform for your social media efforts. Update your Instagram Story often to share the latest news about your school or fun updates from a school event are another form of content that’s outstanding.
17. User-generated content
One of the best trends that has expanded with the advent of social media is the generation of content from fans and followers. This type of content is especially conducive to social media for schools because it’s genuine and related to your school. It also gives your brand social proof – like a subtle testimonial. Reposting user-generated content helps spread your school’s brand to other people within your target market, helping you grow your Instagram followers.
18. Tag a friend
A social media trend that’s becoming more and more common is “tag-a-friend” type of content. Posting content that followers can relate to is a great way to give your followers content they love and want to share. Adding a caption that says “tag a friend that would love this” reminds your followers to share with their friends to boost interactions while spreading the word about your school.
19. Maintain a posting schedule
Keeping up with posting on a daily basis can be difficult in the midst of everything else you have to keep up with. Use a scheduling tool to help plan your posts in advance. You can include your captions and hashtags so that you can set your posts ahead and just check in and engage with comments. Some of my favorite Instagram schedulers include: Grum.co, Schedugr.am, and Latergram.me. One of the best ways to make sure your Instagram followers continue to grow because it shows them you’re consistently posting.
Giveaways are probably one of the most effective types of marketing on Instagram today. It’s simple to put together and highly engaging, giving your school a way to increase your reach and spread awareness about your school. Giveaways are highly shared on Instagram.
To run a giveaway, post an attractive image of the item you’re giving away and outline simple rules – I suggest requiring people to follow you and leave a comment tagging two of their friends. This helps you grow your followers and spreads the content to other people who are likely to enter as well.
21. Only use quality photos
It doesn’t matter what type of camera you use (smartphone vs. SLR), as long as your photographs are good quality. In order to be good quality (taken in bright, natural light.) There are lots of Instagrammers that take beautiful photographs using their smartphones.
22. Analyze the data
One way to monitor your success on Instagram more closely is to invest in a tool that provides information on Instagram analytics, such as Iconosquare or Crowdfire. These insights give you a wealth of information about the people you follow, the people that follow you and the people you should be following.
23. Post once or twice a day, every day
With the old algorithm, you used to be able to take an Instagram hiatus and come back and your engagement wouldn’t have taken a hit. That’s because your followers were shown photos in reverse chronological order and everyone who happened to be on Instagram as you posted your photos after your return would see them. Now, with the new algorithm, Instagram decides who sees your photos. For each of your followers, the algorithm decides how important you are to them. It’s best to stay consistent – taking time off from your postings may result in a big hit on your engagement.
For most accounts, posting once a day, every day, works best. The best time to post is when your followers are online. Before work, during lunch break and after work tend to be the best times for people to check their Instagram accounts. Your analytics program will also be able to give you insights on what’s working best for your audience.
24. Work on your captions
Instagram is predominantly a visual platform, but a good caption can take your photo to another level. Some of my all-time best-performing photos have had good captions to go with them. They can be short or long; what matters is that your caption captures someone’s attention with the first few words.
25. Participate in #followfriday
There are several variations on these types of hashtags, but the basic premise is that you use the hashtag #followfriday to call out several other Instagrammers you want to refer people to. You can share a collage of their pictures as an endorsement of sorts, enticing your followers to consider following the other accounts, and vice versa. It’s a great way to get chummy online and share other accounts you genuinely like.
26. Don’t buy followers
This perhaps does not need to be said to my readers but, just in case you’re wavering, don’t succumb to the idea of buying followers. On any channel. The problem is that you’re not adding on new potential enrollees or people that are interested in your school because the followers are fake. Fake followers don’t care and don’t engage, so it doesn’t help you. It’s much better to have fewer followers that are authentic than thousands that aren’t really your followers.
Hopefully, this guide has helped shed some light on how to grow your Instagram account. I hope some of these at least are new ideas for you to try out with your audience.
Let me know below if there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!
Also published on Medium.