In this episode of Actionable Marketing In Minutes we give 7 ways to generate organic Instagram followers.

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The photographer Irving Penn once said, “A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective. “

I think that’s what the creators of Instagram must have been thinking when they built Instagram in 2010. And, now only 6 years later, this photo-sharing social media platform has well over 400 million active users who are posting more than 80 million photos each day, and there are a whopping 3.5 BILLION likes per day. I think it’s safe to say the concept has taken off!

Instagram’s modest history was that of a trendy iOS-only app. Today, it has grown into a massive social network accessible from iPhone, Android and its website. It was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for a whopping $1B. Not bad for a two year old company. No doubt, it will continue to expand its reach, now that it is under Facebook’s umbrella.

We think one of the reasons Instagram has enjoyed such growth is because it’s fun for users – both businesses and individuals. It’s visual, probably the favorite way for users to get engaged. It gives businesses creative ways to get the word out about their products or services. And, it’s fun for individuals to explore and engage. That said, businesses still need to work at building an Instagram community. Do you have your plan in place?


I’d like to pause for a minute to point out that social media marketing is important for all businesses. This is a reality these days. While this podcast will touch on just one aspect of this subject, I encourage you to download our Social Media Marketing Best Practices Guide for more insights and tips on how to effectively execute social media marketing programs. This ebook gives general guidelines as well as best practices by platform. Click the link in the podcast description to download this actionable guide to social media marketing.

OK. Back to Instagram. Not only can the Instagram community increase your business’s exposure and brand recognition, it can rapidly increase demand for your products and services. HOWEVER, as is true with all social media channels, success is directly related to what you put in to it. Start by being generous in giving likes and comments to other users. Chances are, they will reciprocate and your momentum will start to build.

Once you’re comfortable navigating around Instagram, go check out the business center, where you will find some very inspiring case studies that will give you some great ideas for specific campaigns. You’ll also find other educational resources on how to get started. Finally, remember that Instagram has both paid and organic methods of gaining visibility. The paid can be set up from your Facebook platform and works similarly in that you can target your audience by demographics, psychographics (interests) and also ‘look alike’ audiences.

Bottom line, once you learn just a little bit, it will be easy to start building your community right away. Let me share a few ideas for building your audience organically:

1. Use quality images. We almost didn’t say this, given this is a photo site, but we added it in at the last minute. And be sure to use filters or a photo editor to make sure you’ve edited photos you’ve taken. Without very high quality, unique and interesting photos, everything else is moot.

2. Build a visual story. Promote window shopping for your products and services with photos that start a good conversation. Even if it is visual, you are still telling a story. So start by determining the story you want to tell, and then back into the visual depictions that would best tell the story.

3. Engage with your audience. They like what you post and you like what they post. This is a two way communication. Ask for feedback. Go like them on other social platforms. Comment on what they say outside of their interaction with your posts.

4. Connect to greater community. You would do this by determining your larger themes and using hashtags to classify your images to those themes. This is a really good way to help your followers understand your focus, and to find new followers. Finally, use hashtags for events and contests.

5. Show what your products or services can do. How your products are made. How services are delivered. The behind the scenes story or your products and services in action (by your target market segments, of course). For those that take the time to learn about your offerings, reward them with special offers and discount coupons.

6. Think about your company’s “why” and how you can show what you are passionate about. Humanize your brand by spotlighting employees. This is a fabulous opportunity for your customers or clients to engage emotionally with your brand, and this will foster great loyalty if you do a good job.

7. Events and contests… I already mentioned this, but these are two great uses for Instagram. Tease your users with photos about upcoming events. Keep their interest piqued.


I hope we’ve been able to show you how easy it is to build your Instagram community. With Instagram you can:

* Market your products and services in creative, non-intrusive ways which could inspire your users to share your photos to their sites – and amplify your message.

* Help users to get to know you in a more personal way by sharing behind-the-scenes photos of your business. This is a great non-directional – or creative – marketing strategy.

To put it simply, get involved in the community, upload your best, and the likes and follows will come naturally.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Please connect with us on Twitter @DirectiveGroup or on LinkedIn. Let us know what you think and what you’d like to hear about next. And if you like our podcasts, please share with your networks using hashtag #actionablemarketing. Join us next time as we discuss how you to create content that’s worth reading.