By Patrick Foster

Instagram is easily one of the most popular social networks out there today. Between dynamic Story ads, stunning feeds, and the recent rollout of IGTV, Instagram is a social platform to be reckoned with.

And the social network is great for small businesses, too. Instagram marketing drives sales, generates engagement, and boosts leads, helping you grow your business. But to grow your small business, you first need to grow your Instagram account. Here’s how.

Why Should You Care About Instagram Growth?

Does Instagram growth really matter? You’ve got multiple social presences already, plus a strong email marketing channel and a paid ad strategy that’s ticking along nicely. So why should you bother with Instagram in 2019?

For a start, Instagram is one of the most beneficial marketing channels out there. At last count, the platform boasted 1 billion monthly active users. With that many people behind it, you can be sure that there’s a healthy variety of consumers on there, too.

Instagram also promises the highest level of engagement out of all the social platforms. And with the introduction of its Stories feature last year, businesses can enjoy higher click-through rates, increased purchase intent, and better ad recall in one fell swoop — not bad for growing small businesses.

In a nutshell: you should absolutely care about Instagram growth.

Top tip: Do not buy Instagram followers! These are artificial followers that do not deliver real growth, and it’s ultimately unsustainable. Instead, read on for some handy tips that will help you keep growing well into 2019.

What the Best Small Business Users Do for Instagram Growth

Now you know why Instagram growth matters, let’s look at how you can nail yours. Read on for some of the best tactics used by small businesses to grow their Instagram accounts.

Give your followers exactly what they want

The key driver of Instagram growth in 2019 is great content. When your content is good, your followers will have a real reason to follow you and visit your Insta profile.

But great content doesn’t come out of thin air. It requires a deep understanding of what your followers actually want to see. It is this that will generate likes and comments, encouraging your customers to engage with your Instagram content.

To create strong content that resonates with your followers, do some research. This doesn’t need to be exhaustive — a quick fix is simply looking at your competitor’s Instagram profiles and seeing what kind of content they post elicits the most engagement.

Combine this with some cursory hashtag research, identifying those that your competitors use and leveraging them for your own content. Hashtags are crucial for growing your Instagram account by making you part of a conversation, and research is an important part of that. Constantly experiment with different ones, split-testing your hashtags to determine the best ones.

When used right, you can trend in the top posts for that hashtag, helping new followers find you with ease. Scope out the relationship between what hashtags are used and the type of content they are used with — this will guide your Instagram editorial calendar.

Embrace user-generated content for an Instagram quick fix

For time-poor small businesses, creating content can feel like a luxury rather than a necessity. Thankfully, you’ve got plenty of content creators at your fingertips: your customers.

User-generated content is a quick and easy way to foster Instagram growth. By encouraging your followers to submit their own photos, you can grow your account while developing a strong, engaged customer community.

Competitions are the best way for small businesses to source user-generated content. Create a UGC contest for applicants to submit images based around a theme (e.g. best use of your product), with a prize being awarded to the winner.

Ask your followers to tag you in their post to get yourself seen, and use a branded hashtag to easily collate their submissions. Remember to always get their consent before using their content, though.

Regularity and frequency will drive Instagram growth

As a small business owner, you know that your social strategy is time-consuming. Between generating 100% original content and posting it on a regular basis, it can be tough to find the time to maintain your Instagram strategy.

But it pays off. Instagram’s algorithm looks favorably upon accounts with a regular posting schedule, so it’s worth getting right. Use an Instagram scheduling tool such as Tailwind to plan your posts ahead of time, and research the best time of day to post for your target market.

And while your Insta feed requires regular updates, so too does your Story. You should ideally have no more than three Stories on your account at any one time.

As well as using your Instagram Story for product ads, you can also give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at office life, limited time discount codes, or even snapshots of live events.

Instagram might not be the only channel in your marketing strategy, but it’s certainly one of the most important. When you nail Instagram, you nail your business growth. Follow these tips and create an Instagram strategy that will continue to grow well into 2019 and beyond.