Followers and engagement

5 Instagram Growth Hacking Strategies to Fire Up Your Brand

  • 14 Minutes
Skyrocket your Instagram following with these top tips that you can implement into your Instagram marketing strategy right away!

5 Instagram Growth Hacking Strategies to Fire Up Your Brand

When it comes to B2C social media marketing, Instagram is one of the most powerful and popular players. You know the stats: there are over 1 billion global users on Instagram (as of 2020).

In fact, Instagram is second only to TikTok in the App Store for downloads (as of January 2021).

There’s never been more competition on Instagram for user attention. So, brands need to step up their game to stand out and stay front-of-mind for audiences on social networks.

But if you play your cards right, you can skyrocket your organic reach and visibility with a savvy growth hacking strategy on Instagram.

Not sure where to start? In this blog, we’ll be covering everything you need to know, including:

  • What is Instagram growth hacking
  • How strategic growth hacking on Instagram can benefit your business
  • Six practical tactics your brand can use to boost your following on Instagram + more

There are stacks of juicy insights to get through, so let’s dive in.

What is Instagram growth hacking?

It might sound like a fancy marketing buzzword, but the principles behind growth hacking are pretty straightforward.

In a nutshell, Instagram growth hacking is all about testing and experimenting with a range of tactics to boost your follower base and engagement by hacking the Instagram algorithm.

The term originates from marketing land, and has been defined online as “a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.”

Rather than pouring thousands of dollars into Instagram ads, a growth hacking strategy taps into free platform features to boost the reach and impact of your brand’s Instagram content.

And with growth hacking, being open to experimentation and innovation is the name of the game. It means taking educated risks and leveraging the latest Instagram platform features to see what tactics drive the strongest results for your brand.

So, what does your business stand to gain from strategic growth hacking on Instagram?

  • You can supercharge your following: naturally, the key metric marketers track during growth hacking is follower growth. So, it goes without saying that a successful growth hack will help you increase your follower base and reach new, high-value audiences.
  • You can be the first to jump onto new trends: growth hacking is about speed and agility and being bold enough to tap into new features and trends before your competitors. On Instagram, that means being the first to harness new tools and great content formats to see what will boost your follower base. In the process, you’re likely to position your brand as an innovator and leader in your space, too.
  • You can learn more about your audience: another key part of growth hacking is gaining stacks of valuable data about your Instagram followers and customers. By testing and experimenting on Instagram, you’ll be able to quickly see what is and isn’t working and use these metrics to back up your next social media strategy pivot.

How to craft an Instagram growth hacking strategy

All good social media marketing efforts start with a strategy, and Instagram growth hacking is the same.

So before you jump headfirst into growth hacking tactics, you need to have an answer to this question: why is your growth hacking goal?

Ultimately, your growth strategy needs to have business or brand objectives behind it to deliver the best results. So, consider what you want to get out of a larger Instagram following, whether that’s to drive sales, increase web traffic, boost brand awareness or gear up your audience ahead of a big product launch.

It’s worth using the SMART goal framework to map out your objectives behind growing your Instagram following. That will help you drill down into the following questions:

  • Specific – what is the exact objective you want to achieve?
  • Measurable – what metrics will help you quantify success?
  • Achievable – how realistic is this goal?
  • Relevant – what is the bottom-line benefit for your business?
  • Time-bound – what deadlines or milestones do you need to hit?

Plus, it’s essential to understand exactly who you’re trying to reach and attract into your Instagram community. Your growth hacking strategy needs to be based around gaining the attention of your ideal customers, not merely anyone who stumbles upon your brand on Instagram.

So, here are a few practical steps you can take to map out your target audience on Instagram:

  • Review your audience insights: the best place to start with an Instagram growth strategy is to understand who is already following your brand on Instagram. So, dive into your Audience Insights and look at where your audience lives, how old they are and even when they’re most active online. This will help you figure out the types of users that are already attracted to your brand on Instagram.
  • Draw on your customer personas: if you’ve already developed customer personas for your business, bring them into play in your growth strategy. If not, drill down into who your ideals customers by defining:
    • Where they live
    • What they do for work
    • What problems or challenges do they face
    • What goals and aspirations they have
    • What brands do they currently trust and shop from
    • What content do they consume (video, blogs, posts etc.)
  • Research how your ideal customers interact on Instagram: with a clear picture of your ideal followers, it’s time to identify how they’re using Instagram. This means looking at the brands they follow, the hashtags they use and even the way they talk on social media channels. These insights will help you shape your growth hacking tactics as well as the assets and captions you use to communicate with your ideal users on Instagram.

As with your social media strategy, the more planning and preparation you put into your growth hacking approach, the more likely you’ll be to capture and convert your ideal followers on Instagram,

Five Instagram growth hacks to supercharge your Instagram followers

Ready to boost your follower count and get high-value users following your brand on Instagram? Keep reading to discover our top Instagram growth hacks.

Optimise your Instagram profile for organic visibility

The stats paint a clear picture: two-thirds of profile visits to businesses come from people who aren’t following that brand. Clearly, optimising your Instagram bio is a simple yet effective way to boost your follower base and turn these visitors into customers.

First up, it’s essential that you have your Instagram account set up as a Business Profile. This gives you access to a stack of business-specific features (including Instagram Shopping, ads and audience insights).

Plus, it’ll allow you to add extra details to your Instagram bio to move your profile visitors towards conversion. Instagram Business Profiles are able to add clickable call-to-action buttons to allow users to call, email or find the directions to your business in one tap.

As for the rest of your Instagram profile, here are the key sections you need to focus on to boost your Instagram SEO:

  • Your username: this is your Instagram handle and should be a simple, memorable term like your business name. Make it easy for users to remember and search for your brand by ditching letters or complex characters and sticking to one or two short words.
  • Your account name: this is the copy that appears at the top of your Instagram bio, and should offer more context about your business (who you are and what you do). Try adding a popular search term or keyword related to your brand that can help to boost your search visibility on Instagram.
  • Your bio: with just 150 characters to play with, make sure you leverage every single word of your Instagram bio to your advantage. Get straight to the point and explain how you help your customers, as well as peppering in descriptive keywords and tailored hashtags that can help your Instagram profile to appear in the search results.
  • A compelling call-to-action: if you’re looking to boost your following on Instagram, you need to add a direct and impactful call-to-action to your Instagram bio. This one-liner needs to motivate profile visitors to hit follow, so incentivise them with a snapshot of what’s in it for them (whether that’s learning tips or tricks, being the first to hear about giveaways or receiving exclusive Instagram-only discount codes).

Your Instagram profile has a big impact on your brand’s search visibility on Instagram. By making these simple adjustments to your business profile you can increase your chances of being noticed and discovered organically on the platform.

Get creative with Reels

As Instagram’s answer to TikTok, Reels are a powerful new platform feature that can help you skyrocket your reach.

In the past 12 months, Reels have become one of the most popular content formats on Instagram. They allow users to create and share bite-sized video content using three to 15-second clips.

Now, the Instagram app even has its own Reels tabs that allow users to discover new, trending Reels from brands and creators. This is what makes Reels such an exciting growth hacking opportunity: it allows brands to get in front of new, relevant audiences.

So, what should you keep in mind when crafting Reels for your business?

  • Add audio: Instagram has a huge music library of tracks you can use, or you can swipe the trending tracks used in other Reels.
  • Leverage text overlays: plenty of Instagram users watch Reels with sound off, so make sure you add your key messages as easy-to-read text overlays.
  • Keep it punchy: attention is short on Instagram, especially in the Reels format. So use creative transitions, AR effects, text overlays and dynamic movement to keep users engaged.
  • Add a call-to-action: make sure to drive users to your Instagram profile and encourage them to hit follow with a clear and compelling call-to-action at the end of your video or caption.

By designing regular, creative Reels your brand has the ability to reach thousands of new followers and even get your similar content into the Explore feed for maximum visibility.

Experiment with and use hashtags

Are you using the same hashtags on every Instagram post? If so, it’s time to give your hashtag strategy a refresh to use this platform tool to grow your following.

You probably already know that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than posts without hashtags. But simply adding generic hashtags to your content isn’t enough to skyrocket your follower count or drive meaningful engagement.

Each post (from IGTV videos to live streams reshared to your Instagram feed) you share should use a unique set of hashtags that directly relate to what your post is about. To help you find the most valuable hashtags your business should be using, try:

  • Using Instagram’s search functionality: jump into the search bar and start typing in key terms you want to use for your hashtags. Instagram will automatically show you a list of related, popular hashtags you can add to your posts instead.
  • Scoping out your competitors: take a look at what hashtags other people and brands in your industry use to discover relevant hashtags you could be tapping into.
  • Tracking your analytics: review your recent posts to see whether or not your hashtag selection is driving engagement, reach or impressions. See if you can find any trends between the reach of your content and the hashtags you’re using, and use these insights to shape your strategy going forward.

Hashtags are a great way to boost the visibility of your content on Instagram. By getting the right mix of hashtags into your post captions, your brand is more likely to be organically discovered by your ideal customers (all without you having to spend a cent on Instagram advertising).

Team up with other, relevant users for an Instagram Stories takeover

Instagram Stories takeovers are the ultimate value exchange for brands on social media.

By aligning your small business or startup with a high-value influencer, brand or public figure, you can instantly tap into their follower base and inspire them to join your community.

There are a few key types of Instagram accounts you can team up with for an Instagram takeover, including:

  • Like-minded brands: think about other brands that share your values and also serve your ideal customers, and consider teaming up with them to tap into their follower base.
  • Influencers: from micro-influencers to bigger, established names, it’s worth scouting out Instagram influencers that have an engaged follower base that reflects your ideal customers and consider bringing them on board for an Instagram Stories takeover.
  • Public figures: from bloggers to media personalities, consider reaching out to high profile public figures with a strong Instagram presence to unite for a collaboration.

To get the most out of an Instagram Stories takeover, make sure to:

  • Set a goal: as we mentioned earlier, clear objectives are what will help you measure success effectively. So, be specific about what you want to get out of this takeover, whether that’s to gain a certain number of new followers or specific engagement metrics.
  • Narrow down your takeover partner list: do your research and pinpoint the most aligned accounts to collaborate with on Instagram. Look at their engagement rate, the type of users that follow them and how active they are on Instagram to decide who is the best fit.
  • Provide posting guidelines: take the guesswork out of the takeover by providing your collaborator with clear guidelines for their takeover (including hashtags, on-brand emojis, key messages, filters, and graphic suggestions for their Instagram Story).

When done right, an Instagram Stories takeover and influencer marketing can be a powerful growth hack that can boost your follower base on your Instagram page (at minimal effort and cost to your business).

Run a competition or giveaway

Last up is this tried and tested Instagram growth strategy: run a competition.

What makes this growth tactic such as a winner is the incentive of winning a prize. By offering up a product, prize pack or gift voucher in exchange for an action (such as following or engaging with your brand on Instagram), you can easily grow your Instagram following in a short period of time.

So, what kind of contests or giveaway mechanics can you use on Instagram? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Like, comment, follow: this is the easiest way to run a competition and boost your follower base at the same time. To enter, users simply have to engage with your competition post and make sure they’re following your brand.
  • Tag a friend: a great way to boost organic reach and engagement is the ‘tag a friend’ competition. To enter, your followers simply have to tag their friends in the comments of your competition post. This can create a powerful organic ripple effect that can easily boost your follower count, too.
  • User-generated content: another competition idea is to get your customers to share content using a branded competition hashtag. By asking shoppers to take a snap of your product and give your brand a shout out on Instagram, you’re developing a bank of social proof and boosting the chances of new users discovering your brand through a friend, too.

Instagram Growth Hacking

By following these Instagram growth hacking strategies, you’re giving your business the best chance of follower growth on Instagram.

Remember, success won’t happen overnight. That means you need to continually experiment with your Instagram marketing strategy, finding out what works best for your audience.

Now that you’re well-versed in Instagram growth hacking techniques, why not start carving out hours in your social media workflow by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. As an all-in-one, social media platform that allows its users to post directly to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more, Sked is the first step in engaging authentically with your followers.

Photo of Kyra GoodmanKyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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