Instagram is the perfect visual platform for artists and creatives seeking to organically grow their brands. With over one billion active Instagram users, there’s an endless amount of potential to reach your target audience and start making money. With that said, there are also thousands (and in some cases millions) of accounts in just about every niche, so it’s imperative that you position yourself as a unique authority in your industry.

The key to organic growth on Instagram is to identify your goal, your audience, and tell your brand’s story through interesting captions and genuine community involvement. Let’s get started!

1. Establish Your Ultimate Goal

This seems like the most basic of steps, but it’s one that most people miss. Posting just for the sake of having a presence is no longer effective if you truly want to grow your business on Instagram. Without a goal, achieving growth becomes extremely difficult. So ask yourself, what do you hope to achieve with Instagram?

Here are a few examples:

  • I want to sell more of my products and services.
  • I want to increase traffic to my website, Etsy store, or blog.
  • I want to build a community of people who share similar goals, lifestyles, or interests.
  • I want to show off my expertise and knowledge in my niche.
  • I want to creatively express myself and receive recognition for my work.

Now you want to take that goal and make it as specific as possible so that you have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish every time you open the app. The easiest way to do this is to use the SMART goal method. SMART goals help you create realistic goals that you’re more likely to achieve.

The framework goes like this:

Specific: establish your specific goal in a simple and concise manner.
Measurable: assign a metric to your overall goal.
Achievable: determine how will you achieve this goal.
Relevant: make this goal relevant to your overall business objectives.
Timely: determine when you wish to complete this specific goal.

Here’s an example of how this might look:

I want to increase traffic to my Etsy store by 3% by the end of 2019. I will accomplish this by posting regularly to Instagram, educating my audience about my products, and consistently using calls to action that lead my audience to the link in my bio.

2. Know Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you want to achieve with Instagram, the next step is to determine who your target audience is, a.k.a. the person who’s going to help you achieve the goals you just set.

Typically people think their target market is ‘men’ or ‘women,’ but for best results you need to go far beyond basic demographics. When thinking about your target market, you should know the following:

  • General demographics—age, gender, marital status, job title, annual income.
  • “Pain points” or problems they might have—what problem can you or your product help with?
  • Interests—what excites them? Art? Sports? Specific TV shows?
  • Personality—what traits do they have? Quirky? Hard working? Creative?
  • Attitudes—how do they present themselves outwardly?

Kate of @ponderosa_and_thyme uses effective target marketing. She clearly states who she makes her products for which gives her a better chance of attracting her target market and increasing inquiries.

By determining exactly who your target market is you can then create content specifically for them which will result in an increase in likes, comments, and follows. You will also use these specific details to help implement the engagement strategy outlined below.

3. Implement a Growth Strategy

 Now that you’ve established a goal and know who your target audience is, all that’s left is to implement a strategic plan of action. Here are three things you need to begin implementing right away:

Engage with your target audience

This is a common practice that not enough Instagrammers enact on their own accounts. It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing great content, if you’re not engaging with other people, you won’t receive much engagement back. Part of social media is to be social—we have to give engagement to receive engagement!

Spend about half an hour per day connecting with accounts that are relevant to your target audience by leaving genuine comments on their posts. You’ll want to leave a few likes and even follow them if you love their content. By doing this you’re not only telling Instagram that you’re a real human and using the platform as they intended (which is great for your position in the algorithm), but you’re creating endless opportunities to broaden your reach and make real connections.

Rachel from @thecraftedlife does an amazing job of writing out thoughtful, personal responses to all of the comments she receives on her posts.

Use carefully selected hashtags

Hashtags are the #1 organic traffic driver on Instagram. If you’re not using them you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to get more targeted users to your feed, more engagement on your posts, and more followers.

Most users know they need to use hashtags but selecting the right ones is the hard part. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your hashtags remember that they should describe your account and your target audience (think #etsysellersofig and #craftinggeek). Your hashtags should have no more than 500,000 posts associated with them. If a hashtag is too popular, your image is unlikely to be seen by anyone. Consider using 30 hashtags in every single post. By using the maximum number of hashtags you’ll get the maximum amount of exposure.

@inlovewithsunflowers and @gotcraftmarket provide great examples of how to mix niche hashtags with hashtags that describe your target audience, i.e., #housewarminggift #giftformom #womeninbiz, etc.

View this post on Instagram

Heading into the weekend like 👋🏻🌈😎

A post shared by Rachel Mae Smith (@thecraftedlife) on

Click on the comments above to see how Rachel responds to comments on her posts.

Write personal captions

If you truly want to grow your following, you need to connect with your audience on a deeper level. This is how you build real connections, life-long supporters, and a loyal following that actually purchases your products and services.

The best way to build these relationships is by being yourself and using your caption to convey that. If every caption you write says “just added a new product to my store, click the link in my bio to shop!” you’ll always be seen as the salesy person with no real ‘life’ behind her. Instead, infuse your personality into your captions by telling your audience what motivated you to create a particular art piece, the inspiration behind it, how it helped you with a personal struggle, or how it brought you joy.

Ashley of @sugarandcloth does a great job of using captions to relate to her audience and get them to take action.

By doing this, you’re still bringing attention to the product you created, but you’re also inviting your audience to relate to you and create a bond. Over time you’ll see these bonds sell more than any perfectly-edited photo will.

As you can see, it’s actually quite simple to grow your Instagram account organically. You don’t have to constantly be on the app and you don’t have to post multiple times a day. All you have to do is set a goal for yourself, get comfortable with your target market, and implement these simple growth strategies.

3 Organic Ways to Grow Your Instagram Following
Alex Tooby

Alex Tooby

contributor

Alex is an Instagram marketer, influencer and mentor. Alex teaches entrepreneurs how to maximize their efforts on Instagram. By focusing on business growth rather than vanity metrics she’s successfully guided thousands of entrepreneurs to more loyal followers, web traffic and sales! Find her online at https://www.alextooby.com and on Instagram at @instawithalex.

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