11 Guaranteed Strategies You Can Use to Gain Followers and Increase Sales on Instagram

Is your business new to Instagram? Are you struggling with gaining customers or followers? Are you having a hard time with increasing sales? Or are you simply trying to figure out how to market on one of the world’s most popular social media sites? Then this article is just for you.

But Why Should You Market and Sell on Instagram?

Well, the answer is simple. There is clear evidence that businesses can make big money selling their brand on Instagram.

Instagram is a huge social platform with billions of users. In fact, Instagram has more than 1 billion active users worldwide. Most of whom are actively scrolling through their feed and clicking through their stories on an hourly basis.

This makes it easy for businesses to target any type of ideal client they choose. Because Instagram isn’t just a social platform for sharing photos, memories, life announcements, and artistic creations, it’s also a space where marketing your brand can flourish and thrive.

In fact, if you leverage it right, Instagram users will actually want to see your marketing material and enjoy seeing what your brand and feed have to offer. To further drill into my point take a look at these stats.

  • 90% of users admit to following more than one brand.
  • 83% of users use Instagram to research and find new brands or products.
  • 80% of users say they turn to Instagram to help them with decisions on purchasing new products or services.

Maneuvering The Dreaded Instagram Algorithm

Instagram has utilized AI to create an algorithm for its feed that some would say stinks. Others love it. So what’s the big debate? In the early years of Instagram, a user’s feed would scroll from newest to oldest.

However, in 2016, Instagram’s algorithm was changed to make the feed showcase the more popular posts over others. So posts that achieve higher engagement will rise to the top and posts that receive little attention, well, unfortunately, they may never get seen.

But, if your brand or at least Instagram business account is new and you don’t have a ton of followers just yet, how can you increase your engagement on Instagram to push your posts to the top of the feed to be seen by more people and convert lookers, scrollers, and followers into clients?

Well, Instagram comes with great tools that offer companies of all sizes some incredible opportunities to reach their target audiences, get more clients, and drive more sales. You will need to follow the below tips to learn how to utilize Instagram to grow your following and thus increase your engagement and sales.

11 Tips to Boost Sales Using Instagram to Market Your Brand

If you’ve just started your business or have had one for a while, but have yet to begin to sell on Instagram’s platform, you are most definitely missing out on a huge business opportunity. The first thing you will need to do is create an Instagram business account.

Then, once you’ve put your company on Instagram, you will want to be sure you have it listed in the right category. This could be a digital creator account, artist, musician, clothing (brand), entrepreneur, health/beauty, writer, product/service, restaurant, beauty, cosmetic & personal care, grocery store, photographer, or shopping & retail.

After this is set up you can follow the below 11 tactics that can help increase your visibility and increase your online sales using Instagram.

1. Optimize Your Profile

Your business Instagram account profile is most likely the initial point of contact a potential client may have with your brand introduction. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you are giving a great impression and quite honestly, seducing users to follow your business on the socials.

Consistent branding and aesthetically pleasing profiles usually turn leads into interests, into followers, into customers, and hopefully loyal long-term clients.

To help attract new customers, your business’s profile should not only be separate from your personal account, but it should also include a:

  • Distinguishing profile photo: You will want to set your profile photo to one that is bold, stands out, is on-brand, and can easily identify your company with a quick glance.
 
  • Articulate and refined bio: Your Instagram bio showcases who your business is and the type of content your page will be posting about, in a brief synopsis. You will want to be sure your description is clear, concise, and artfully showcases who you are to intrigue your potential customer base.

2. Design an Eye Capturing Feed With Beautiful Images

Now, after you’ve successfully designed your profile and your bio, the next natural step in designing the best possible business Instagram page is to focus on your feed. Your feed is all the posts that your profile will contain.

It’s important to not only think about your posts as individual pictures and videos within the Instagram scroll. But also remember that they create a “tile” collage on your profile. So you will want to creatively design each post with the mindset that it will showcase your brand as a whole. So think similar looks, colors, text, style, and message. Be sure each photo or video you are posting has the same edits, lighting, and creative design flare.
Next, it is also imperative to remember not only to brand each post to your specific groove so to say, but it’s also important that each post is eye-catching. With the number of posts in a user’s feed and the amount of time they will spend aimlessly scrolling, you want to be sure your posts pop out of the screen.
Something that makes them stop scrolling and say “whoa, I want to spend 5 extra seconds of my time looking at this. And from there possibly clicking on the profile and checking out what more this company has to offer.”

infographic explaining the features of Canva and vsco editing and design tools

Enhance Your Posts with the Right Photo Editing Apps

Even if you or your team do not have professional photography skills to showcase within your Instagram posts, utilizing the right tools and photo editing software can greatly boost your image quality. Below are three popular photo editing apps you can use to enhance your images.

  • Canva – Canva offers customization tools that go beyond photo editing. Users can design their stories, posts, and ads with various tools and templates.
 
  • VSCO – Photographers have ranked this app as the top photo-editing app for Instagram.
 
  • A Color Story – This app helps you stick to your brand with customizable color filter packs.

3. Leverage Instagram Reels

One of the best ways to grow your business on Instagram is to optimize engagement through reels. Instagram reels is its video platform. And this previously photo-heavy platform now experiences almost 2.5 times more engagement on reels than it does still photos. So, if you want to grab a user’s attention and gain a better following, reels are the way to go.

There are so many ways a video can be designed, shot, and edited. But Instagram’s algorithm and user attention span will dictate the best way to create and post your reel content. Follow the below guides to optimize Instagram reels:

Plan a Specific Goal

Before shooting your video, you want to be sure you are planning your intentions for your videos appropriately and ahead of time. The more prepared you are, the better your output will be for your end goal.

So, are your intentions for your video to spark engagement through entertainment, gain new followers, drive users to your website, provoke thought, or offer education to your followers?

Remember, the best way to market is to provide something of value to your potential clients. It is usually not to showcase you and what makes you so great. Most of the time, people don’t care. Consumers are only interested in what you can do for them.

Keep it Short and Sweet

First of all, you have to keep your video short. According to Treetoptherapy.com, the average adult’s attention span online is only 8.25 seconds. Most users will only watch 3 to 10 seconds of a video. Especially a video from someone they are not already invested in. Such as their mom, best friend, or the coolest new influencer that they aspire to be like.

Make it Catchy

So, because you have to keep your videos short, it is important to grab the viewer’s attention within the first 2 seconds of your clip. Yes, 2 seconds! That means flashy, shocking, and suspense. Whatever method you use, it has to keep the viewer interested. At least for the remaining 8 seconds of your clip.

Add Captions

Captions are important. Most users have their phones on silent as they scroll through Instagram. Either to not disrupt the rest of their office building as they monotonously scroll when they should be responding to emails or to keep it quiet while they multitask their entertainment intake with Netflix and dinner. With muted videos, most users will have no idea what’s going on in your video. And to be honest, they most likely won’t care enough to turn their volume up to find out.

Captions take out the guesswork and offer a written explanation of the video for viewers to follow along with more easily. Captions are also inclusive for viewers who may have hearing impairments.

Use Tending Audio

My last tip here on how to optimize your reels is to use trending audio. Instagram has audio feature choices such as selecting songs from their database from familiar artists or re-using original audio from other’s public reels. Many users have even remixed audio for a selective design and trendy moment.

If you use audio that other users are also using, it will be seen as audio with higher engagement and as we discussed, higher engagement posts appear at the top of the user’s feed.

So, how do you know what audio is trending? Reels with trending audio will have a little white upward-facing arrow at 45 degrees to the right on the bottom left corner of the reel. It is listed right next to the audio title and right under the video caption. You can even click on the audio to see what other accounts have used this audio for on their reels to get ideas.

4. Always Respond to Comments on Your Posts and Messages

This tip is HUGE. Instagram users are overstimulated and overwhelmed with the amount of content they have to go through on their feeds and in searches. And as we mentioned previously, they have a very short attention span.

So, if a user actually takes the time to like and further comment on your post, then you’ve done something right. And to make your followers or viewers feel noticed and special, it is important to always respond to any comment or direct message that is sent. This includes liking their comments, thanking them for their praise, and answering any of their questions.

But what happens if you start to go viral on a certain reel or your followers explode and imagining responding to every incel comment or direct message makes your head spin? In these cases, first off, congratulations, that’s huge and your marketing strategies are working. But secondly, we would recommend looking into hiring a social media manager who can take care of all of this for you.

Illustration of 4 people holding a hashtag sign

5. Utilize Hashtags

Hashtags are Instagram’s way of categorizing posts. Users can search specific hashtags and pull up posts that relate to that word. So with the proper hashtag utilization, your posts can appear on someone’s search feed or on a specific hashtag that they follow.

How do you use hashtags? Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags per post. So you will want to take advantage of this to its max. First, you will want to choose hashtags that of course relate to your post and product.

Next, you will want to select hashtags that are popular, but not too popular. Because 1) if it is not popular, then no one will be searching for it, so no one will see it. And 2) if it is too popular, brands that are also using that hashtag and have a higher engagement with you will far out beat your post in the search and overshadow you.

Additionally, you will want to use hashtags for global and local audiences. If you use broad tags you will reach a wider audience. If you use specific and localized terms you will reach an audience more catered to your location. So combining the two would create the best of both worlds.

Moreover, you can also create your own unique hashtags. Meaning hashtags that are specific to your brand. So once you have a larger following, your unique hashtags can be used to search for your specific brand.

Last, you want to avoid looking like spam. Instagram will lower your post in the search results if you use the same 30 hashtags for every post. You want to be sure that doesn’t happen. So be sure to switch up your hashtags for everything that you post. They all should be unique.

6. Yes, You Can Use Emojis

Even if your brand is more “professional” than trendy, hip, or fun, social media is the place where you can sprinkle in emojis to your posts and stories. Whether it’s a lavish inclusion to all you do with smiley faces, hearts, butterflies, flowers, and rainbows, or a rare thumbs up, trend arrow, or clapping hands, social media is the place where you can feel confident that adding these emojis can only help convey your message appropriately.

7. Use Your Links Wisely

Unlike most other social media platforms, on Instagram, you are not able to post links within your posts. But do not fret, there are still other ways you can direct viewers to your website or landing page for product promotions.

Add Your Link to Your Bio

Instagram profiles offer a space in user bios to put 1 link. Typically this link will either connect directly to a brand’s website or it will connect to the most recent URL that pertains to a certain post. So, this is why you will frequently see “link in bio” listed at the bottom of many posts. So you will want to be sure you are utilizing the bio URL line with the best link for your page viewers to click and be directed to shop your site.

Add Links to Your Stories

There are 2 ways that links can be utilized in Instagram stories. The first is for users who have over 10,000 followers. This linking feature is called the “swipe up” feature. Viewers will be directed via the story to swipe up and they will be rerouted to a specific website.

Or, for users that do not have 10,000 followers, you can still attach a link sticker to your story. Simply click the stickers button in the top right corner. It looks like a little folded square. Search for the link button, add your link, and customize the sticker with a cute saying that will entice the viewer to click.

Illustration of a woman holding a phone showing her social media profile

8. Run Giveaways and Contests

Giveaways and contests are huge for getting more customers and followers on Instagram. It’s a great way to leverage Instagram for small businesses especially. Promoting your business through an Instagram giveaway sparks brand engagement and generates a new set of followers.

So, how do Instagram contests and giveaways work? Here are a few examples of some popular contest ideas for different industries:

Photographers: Users post pictures of themselves in the best red dress they have. Then tags the photographer on their post and shares and tags the photographer again in their story. The person with the best dress wins a free photoshoot.

Retail: A company needs a new jingle. Users post videos of themselves with an original song. Or a company may need a new logo. So users submit their work. Once again, tagging the brand in their post and reposting to their story. The winner receives free products for a year, a cash prize, etc. (legal rights worked out on the back end).

Florist: Florist wants to build engagement and a following. They offer a free bouquet to a user who can submit the best-written post and tag the florist about their significant other, friend, or family member and why they deserve a beautiful flower arrangement.

As far as giveaways are concerned, a company can offer a free product or service in return for some engagement. For example, a free photoshoot, a free stand mixer, a free massage, free burgers for a year, or a free collection of goods from multiple brands with similar followers. Affiliate marketing and partnered giveaways can be a huge advantage. Especially if a small start-up is able to partner with a more well-known brand with an established follower base.

So, how would the winner of the giveaway be determined? The typical rules of an Instagram giveaway include the following to enter:

  • Like the post
  • Leave a comment on the post as to why you want to win
  • Follow the brand page if you’re not already
  • Tag a friend in the comments – every tag equals 1 entry.
  • Share post to your story – This only works if users’ profiles are public. Otherwise, the company will not be able to see it reshared to the user’s story.

9. Connect with Influencers

Instagram has launched a new way for marketing, employment, and trendy followings. It’s called influencing. Influencers are figures who use Instagram to build a massive following to promote themselves or certain products that they love.

If an influencer has a large enough following they can receive a blue check which labels them as “official” and a trusted source. Additionally, being an influencer can become a full-time job. With significant compensation.

Influencer marketing is a new and effective way to utilize Instagram for your business marketing. These figures are basically social media famous. And anyone who has that high of a following is sure to persuade their loyal followers to use whatever products they use or recommend. That is a fact. So, if you have it in your budget or can work out a trade with certain influencers, this would be a great tactic to boost your sales.

Keep in mind, you want to look for the right influencers for your specific brand. Partner with someone who:

  • Has an influence on your target location
  • Is relevant to your brand
  • Has followers that will benefit or be interested in what you are selling

10. Leverage Instagram’s Shopping Feature

Instagram offers certain features to make shopping on Instagram easy. First, Brands can use the link in bio option to add either a direct link to their eCommerce site or to add Shopify’s Linkpop tool which turns your social profile into a direct sales channel.

Shopify also offers integration tools such as Wave and Sales Channels for merchants to directly link their Instagram or other social media feed to their store, for a more seamless shopping and marketing experience for both the brand and the client.

Next, Instagram allows brands to tag certain products in their posts that are available for purchase. Users can then add these items to their Instagram shopping cart and purchase them directly from the app.

To find everything for sale on the Instagram platform, users can go to your profile and click “view shop”. They will be redirected to every item for sale on the app. From there, users can either select “buy now” or “add to cart”

To find your saved items, users can view their Instagram shopping cart, simply:

  • click on the “burger menu” (the three horizontal lines) on the right side of the screen
  • Selecting “cart”
  • If there is nothing savers users can select “start shopping” to find items to purchase right off Instagram’s platform from its business accounts

11. Reach Your Target Audience with Compelling Instagram Ads

Almost 70% of marketers in the United States claim to spend a large portion of their budgets on Instagram ad campaigns. So it’s no question, you should also. Once your Instagram business profile is set up, you can use any of your posts as a designated ad. This ad will show up in users’ feeds just like any other post. But it may be more widely seen compared to what it would have been previously based solely on the post’s engagement.

The Instagram ads tool lets businesses decide how much they want to spend on their campaign, where they want the ads to be seen, and how long the ads will run. Instagram’s comprehensive targeting options allow businesses to design a campaign that will best target their ideal clients. Remember to keep your caption short and sweet. And always add a call to action.

Selling Through Instagram Story Ads

In addition to running ad campaigns in Instagrams feed, businesses can now run ad campaigns through Instagram stories to reach more viewers. Stories offer a full-screen and generally more eye-catching display compared to a feed post.

With Instagram ads, you can use photos or videos to really highlight your brand’s personality and grab the attention of viewers as they quickly scroll through their unwatched stories on a daily basis.

Ads will be identified with a “Sponsored” tag in the upper right-hand corner of the screen as well as a “Learn More” call to action at the bottom of the screen.

So what do you post as an advertisement? Well, brands may want to design something unique and specific to stories. But this may take some design experience and creativity. Another option is to simply promote a post that has already been shared on Instagram. You can do this easily by tapping on the desired post and then selecting the “promote” button.

Again, you can design your campaign targeting criteria with your audience’s age range, location, interests, genders, and the time you’d like the ad to run for. Of course, your budget will determine the best results to reach your audience.

Keep in mind, just like anything new, social media advertisements take some trial and error and small adjustments until you reach your desired outcome. Keep track of your ad campaign performance using Instagram business tools and make adjustments as necessary.

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Conclusion

I hope this article on the 11 tips and tricks you can use to boost followers and drive more sales on Instagram has been a helpful tool that you can easily implement into your business and marketing arsenal. Best of luck in your endeavors and may you grow to your fullest potential.

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Shanna Sottosanto

Shanna Sottosanto

Financial Writer
Magna Cum Lade BA, Communication, California State University Channel Islands.

Omega Alpha, National Communication Honors Society, Lambda Pi Eta

I spend the majority of my free time as a professional portrait photographer, traveling when I can, and focusing on physical fitness, weight lifting, and nutrition.

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