QUALITY THEN QUANTITY: A 3-step no BS approach to gaining RELEVANT Instagram followers

Updated: Jan 19, 2020

“HURRY, Follow us and tag a friend for a chance to win!!” - wain wain wain. If there is one thing that shocks me most, it’s the perception businesses have in giving away free stuff on social media as an effective way to grow their business. I’ve got news for you, for the majority of businesses (as I am sure there is one handful out there - somewhere - where this tactic works) - it’s a monster waste of time. Anyone and everyone will like, click, comment - whatever you ask - on social for a chance to win something for free. The problem? Once the hype is over, you'll see a monster decline in reach and followers, and here's why;

  1. You're giving something away for free, who likes free stuff? Everyone. Keyword, everyone. Is everyone your target market?

  2. They have no affinity towards your brand or what you sell, so they honestly don't give a sh*t after the fact and unfollow.

  3. Say they didn't unfollow you right away. Ever been called annoying? Well, now your business has. Your new 'followers' had no affinity towards you or what you sell so your posts are irrelevant and how can that be interpreted? As being annoying.

STOP THE MADNESS, alright so here it is, a 3-step guide covering recommended strategies to attract, interact and CONVERT your audiences to leads. Why? So they convert to loyal and paying customers (future blog series for another time). Whether it is you, business owner extraordinaire managing your IG account, an employee or freelancer, don't expect to see major growth overnight.

Alright, let’s get on with it...

Step 1: Attract the RIGHT Audience First

While generating awareness is easy, the trick lies within attracting the BEST ideal prospects. How do you do that? You can accomplish this in the following ways;

  • Optimize Your IG Account

  • Strategic Use of Hashtags

  • Influencer Marketing

Optimize Your IG Account

Does your IG profile IMMEDIATELY tell people what you do? Does your bio include your company name with a brief description and your website? You’d be surprised how many I came across while writing this post that didn’t - let alone have an IG account at all (that's a big problem if that person is you). It’s best practice to use your logo for your profile photo, your newsfeed is where all that great imagery goes where it can be displayed at it's best proportions. Take advantage of that real estate as it is a constant reminder to people of your brand while exploring IG.

Here are a couple of examples of great insta profiles; @thehandpieco and @samuelscoffee

Quickly, you can tell what they sell, their industry, their values, where they are located and all of their content is on-brand.

Kudos to @thehandpieco --- I don’t have to guess or (heaven forbid) call to find out their off-season hours. A lot of businesses with seasonal hours overlook this and don't update their GMB accounts, IG accounts, etc. As a consumer, that nugget of info is seriously frustrating and makes people think you aren't present and/or don't care - so why should they?

*Be careful on social, avoid coming across too "sales-ly". Use a consistent posting schedule strategy peppering offer's throughout.*

Strategic Use of Hashtags

Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags. It’s all in the Hashtag. A lot of us (myself included) use hashtags as an extension of our thoughts, while yes that is how a lot of use it and let's face it - it's fun - but it's not the most efficient approach when trying to generate awareness of your brand.

Proper use of hashtags beneficial to your brand/business requires research. Think of it in the way of Google (sort of). Hashtags are the words people would type into the search of IG to find the content they are actively searching for. What would your audience likely search to find you? Keep in mind your audience segments when doing this, put yourself in their shoes. Are they a visitor? Are they a resident?

Here is an example: I am a local resident, interested in shopping locally. I search #shoplocalpei, I find a number of accounts using the hashtag; @littlebeeyarnworks, @currencollective, and @doughtsbydesign stick out to me two of which I had no idea even existed. What did I do? I followed two of the three accounts of interest because I like their content, it looks good, it was relevant to me and I want to have them in mind for when I AM ready to buy - so I follow them. There you go! Just like that, two accounts received two new follow because of their effective use of hashtags. The best part of that whole process? I didn't have a brand telling me to do anything, I willingly and authentically followed the brands.

Influencer Marketing

This is probably the biggest buzz word on the street right now, and it should be. It's taking markets by storm. So, what is influencer marketing? To make it simple, it’s when you ask someone - not a business - with a larger following to post about your business. The concept is a little deeper than that, but that's not covered in this post.

While it’s not totally new, it’s a new(er) strategy for us Islanders, that will grow and certainly become more competitive.

From my research, I didn’t find many big influencers in the area for (what I would consider) the more common hashtags. #peifoodies #peifood #shoplocalpei #thingstodoinpei. ←- big opportunity. But I did notice @chef_ilona a great example of a Marketing Influencer on PEI. I checked her out and learned about the dozens of brands she advocates for (thanks again for the chat girl!) it's important to note that, influencer marketing is only as successful as the individual is passionate about it. What do I mean? Take it from the words of @chef_ilona:

"If I don't believe in the product or experience, I can't in good conscience collaborate with the brand. My relationship with my followers is about sharing in a meaningful way. I share real experiences, even if they're not perfect"

Can I get an 'Amen' to that? Vet your influencers, ensure their audience segments are your target market and are passionate about being authentic to their followers.

So, how do you find an influencer anyway? Find the best influencer(s) through some hashtag research. Look for high-quality content that gets decent engagement amongst audiences (likes/comments). Some of the hashtags that came to mind; #peifoodies #peifood #shoplocalpei #thingstodoinpei #fitnesspei.

Having trouble finding an influencer? check out, depending on your business, this tool may help you - For Island businesses, I suspect it would serve some value to tourism-related businesses.

Finally, found the perfect influencer? Great, now craft a killer message to test their interest and make an offer (some do trade while others do cash contracts - it's really up to you).

Ready to get started and attract relevant Instagram followers? Great, get to it. Next up? how to nurture followers and keep them engaged with your brand. Don't forget to follow my IG and FB accounts to be notified of Step 2 in this 3 part series.

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