Instagram is, undoubtedly, one of the best platforms for selling, building brands and oversharing what you had for dinner last night (#foodie #gourmet #farmtotable).
But with 600 million active monthly Instagram users it’s easy to get lost in the hashtags, selfies and influencers. If you’re a brand, that means your potential customers aren’t seeing the content you spend so much time creating. If it’s a personal passion, you’re missing out on connecting with other people who have the same interests.
Long story short: if your Instagram is light on followers and engagement, it’s time to step it up.
On my Instagram account last September, @neidertmike, I had around 600 followers. They were mostly friends and family, people who also enjoy cars or watches like I do. I enjoyed posting and interacting, but the more I learned about social media, the more I realized there was value in building a bigger following with more engagement, especially as I was buying, modifying and flipping watches.
That’s where Instagress came into play. For anyone unfamiliar with it, Instagress is an automation tool that helps increase followers and engagement. It can be set to automatically follow, unfollow, like and comment, creating a great deal of engagement day and night.
It’s simply impossible to like, comment, follow and unfollow on Instagram to the point you can build up a significant following.
Believe me, I tried. My thumbs got tired quickly.
I began by setting up specific hashtags to like and comment on, blacklisted a huge list of hashtags (#follow4follow, #like4like, etc.) to prevent spam accounts from clogging my feed. I set my parameters for following and unfollowing, posted a photo and went to bed.
I woke up in the morning with 10 new followers and about 50 likes. I started to screenshot the results and send them to my marketing genius girlfriend who was either being nice or was genuinely impressed with the engagement and feedback I received.
After the three days were up, I’d easily increased my following to 700 followers. My photos were getting more likes, several comments and I’d get more private messages than before.
Instagress really seemed to be working, so I signed up for a 30 day time block for $10. I tweaked the comments I left, added additional hashtags and tightened up some of the blacklisted hashtags.
And the results are in…
Nearly six months later, Instagress is still steaming along. I purchased two 90-day blocks of time and spent around $50 so far. While it felt a bit vain to spend money on “likes” and “follows” from complete strangers, it paid off.
It really paid off.
I’m currently sitting at 6,250 followers and each post receives between 300 and 440 likes with an average of 10-15 comments per post. This past week my posts had over 20,000 impressions– and I’ve spent just a few dollars and some time to reach a highly targeted audience.
And that’s not all.
While it feels great to see enthusiasm around my posts and make friends around the world with common passions, the business case is clear: I’ve sold over $1,500 worth of watches by increasing my audience and influence.
On two separate occasions my post led to a sale within 10 minutes of posting. I have repeat customers across the US and as far away as Australia.
As much as I’d like to say it’s the watches that I build, restore and sell essentially sell themselves through aesthetics and taste alone, I have no doubt having a targeted following is key in making these sales.
A few tips about Instagram and Instagress:
• Some of my auto-generated comments are a bit vague so they fit a variety of content. The ones that get the most engagement ask questions like: where or when was this taken, what did you use to take the photo, who took the photo, etc.
I’ve had some awkward interactions where I “asked” someone “where the picture was taken” on a photo of their kids in what appeared to be their backyard. Oops. Quick delete.
Those types of encounters taken out of consideration, the majority of the time it pays off and creates engagement.
• Often more important and effective than Instagress is producing a great deal of regularly occurring quality content. Now that I have a following, I’ll typically get 20-30 followers per day.
On days I post once or twice? I can get 60 new followers and at least 300 likes, plus 10 comments.
People want to see quality photos, so if you’re on the line about posting content that is really low quality or passing, opt for not posting it at all.
• If you’re serious about metrics and analytics, make your Instagram a “business” account. You’ll be able to link to a website, create calls to action and paid ads. More importantly, you can see when your audience is most active, their demographics and which posts received the most engagement. It’s helped to increase my numbers by noticing winning patterns in photo formats, hashtags and posting time.
Have you ever tried Instagress or other automation software for social media? What are your Instagram top tips?