The number one question I'm asked is, "How do you grow an audience?"
While there are several strategies to growth on Instagram, including paid ads, I've always taken the organic approach. This is mostly due to:
- A (very) limited budget for marketing (anyone else balling on a budget??)
- Wanting to connect with my followers- if nothing else, I wanted to feel like I knew each and every one of my customers at the beginning so that I could speak directly to them.
I recently started a new Instagram, exclusively for creative small shop owners. While I've found incredible success organically growing @ashleyrose to over 20,000 followers in just three years, I've also learned some important lessons along the way. In doing so, I wanted to share some of the most effective strategies so that others can jump right to it and get growing quickly. Over the years, I've been asked to share my Instagram success secrets, so I launched @shegrows.with.ashleyrose as a way to help others grow their small shops just as I have through this impactful social media platform.
Taking everything I learned over the three years from growing @ashleyrose, I was able to use that knowledge and gain followers rapidly on my new account. Here are some of the strategies that I used in the first four weeks to gain over 500 followers.
1. Commenting on relevant hashtags, with helpful content
The key word here is helpful. When most people scroll through hashtags, they want to copy and paste the same "So cute" or "Come check out my page" comment over and over. It's typically a waste of time since it doesn't provide that person with any real value. It doesn't give them a reason to be interested or a need to come check out your page (despite you asking them to do so). You want to be leaving comments that are helpful, spark interest or enlighten that person to take action (i.e click over to your profile and maaaaaybe just click that 'follow' button). In order to do that, try leaving comments that answer questions, provide helpful information. or show that you've taken time to read their caption. Respond directly to what they've posted. It'll show that you've taken the time to invest in what they're most interested in.
2. Showing up in Stories
People come to social media to feel connection. They typically don't want to be sold to each and every day. By showing up in your Stories (yes, that means taking the scary step to actually show your face), you'll create a deeper sense of connection with your followers. When you can build your followers' trust in this way, they'll be more likely to know, like and trust you which is important for engagement and greater reach.
3. Hosting Giveaways
Giveaways are a great way to get people liking, commenting and tagging to sprea the word about your business. Product-based shops can give away physical items (whatever it is that you sell), while service-based businesses like photographers could give away digital goods like .pdf downloads, how-to guides, or perhaps one-on-one calls to encourage everyone to enter, whether they're in your local area or not. In the first four weeks, I gave away my Instagram Engagement Guide as well as my 8-Week 'She Grows: Her Instagram' Course.
4. Encouraging followers to share
Getting others to talk about your business is a huge win! Word of mouth is one of the most effective tools in marketing and to leverage that, I constantly encouraged my followers to share my new page if they enjoyed the free content that I was providing. Resharing my posts in their Stories helped me reach far greater numbers than I would be able to do on my own without the use of ads. Consider asking for your followers to share in their stories or perhaps tag a friend in the comments of your post.
Remember, there is no one magical trick to growing an audience. Your priorities should always be consistency and providing value. Find what works for you and your followers and go all in on that. If you notice that you're getting more Story views, stay in your Stories! If giveaways tend to work best, schedule them into your marketing plan and offer them regularly. There are SO many ways that Instagram can be used for free marketing and I'd love to teach you even more. Feel free to check out my 8-Week 'She Grows: Her Instagram' course where I dive even deeper into the strategies that I've used to grow my audience to over 20,000 followers.
And be sure to join our Instagram challenge starting July 1! You'll receive 10 days of posting prompts to get your followers engaging with you again and most importantly, they'll get to know your brand! This fun challenge is made specifically for small shop business owners, and you could win my Instagram course for free simply by participating! Join by clicking here.
If you'd like to check out the IGTV version of this topic, you can watch it here: