Do you want to grow your Instagram following? Join the club! The size of your following helps your account show up in feeds, increase your brand’s exposure, and reach/attract new and current customers and patients. Follow the next 15 tips to grow your Instagram following quickly and effectively, so you achieve your social media marketing goals in 2020 and beyond.

1. Use Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags are extremely important—especially if you’ve just launched your Instagram for Business account. Conduct hashtag research to determine tags your competitors use often, and which hashtags trend. Then, experiment with your own branded hashtags, trending tags, and relevant tags. Also, make sure you tag your posts with a mix of popular and niche hashtags—those ranging from hundreds of uses to millions. Steer clear of hashtags you know have been shadowbanned, too.

We used to recommend you use all 30 hashtags per post. However, that’s a thing of the past. Now, we recommend brands use 5–10 hashtags per post to increase your visibility without seeming spammy. Definitely don’t use more than 30. That will do your profile more harm than good.

2. Post to Instagram Regularly

Aim to post to your Instagram feed at least three times per week. Posting regularly boosts your appeal to Instagram’s algorithm—it favors accounts that post content consistently. Plus, it makes your brand look more trustworthy if you have an active presence on social media channels. If you don’t have the ability to post regularly, consider dialing back your social media presence. It’s always better to do one social media channel right than try to do a little bit of everything and suffer from quality and bandwidth issues.

3. Post Engaging Content

You need to make your Instagram content interesting, engaging, and something you’d want to see pop up in your feed! Otherwise, people will scroll passed it or unfollow your account.

Your posts rank based on how much engagement they receive; the more the better. If you have a track record of great engagement, you can get your posts into the Explore tab in Instagram. This is Instagram’s newsfeed and something users navigate on their own. No one can buy these placements; they have to be earned. Gaining visibility in the Explore tab is 100% something you should aim to do in 2020 as you’ll be exposed to new audiences on their own terms—increasing the odds they’ll click on your post, check out your profile, and make it to your website. If you play your cards right, they may become an avid follower and customer/patient too.

Not sure how to produce valuable content? You can glean inspiration from fellow dentists, health and wellness brands, plastic surgeons, licensed medical cannabis companies, lawyers on Instagram, or competitors in your industry. If you need more ideas, here are seven social media posts you can try on Instagram.

4. Use Social Listening

Social listening allows you to eavesdrop on the conversation customers have about your brand or related topics. This is invaluable data for your Instagram strategy! By implementing social listening software, you can create content your audience wants to see. These free insights aren’t something you should ignore.

5. Use the 80/20 Ratio

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule in marketing? It recommends publishing entertainment and educational material 80 percent of the time and sales content 20 percent. No one wants their feed spammed with salesy content, so don’t do that to your audience!

6. Post High-Quality Images and Video

You post regularly. Your content is fun and engaging. So why isn’t your Instagram following growing? Your photos and video quality may need improvement. Video is a powerful tool for medical professionals and all businesses alike. Test out short videos captured on your smartphone. Post Boomerangs. Use filters, professional portrait settings, and good lighting to snap professional photos. Source better images. Don’t forget about free design tools like Canva that help you produce professional designed posts easily. Your following will grow if your Instagram content is always top-notch.

7. Offer Giveaways and Promotions

Want to grow your Instagram following? Give people what they want—something free. Start by running a contest. Tell followers about your giveaway and the stipulations. Clearly communicate to your following that in order to be considered, they need to follow your Instagram page and tag three friends in the post. That way, they get something and you do too—more followers!

8. Grow Your Instagram Following With Stories and IGTV

Instagram is constantly growing to include more ways to engage your audience. Good thing because you never want to post more than two times per day on your Instagram for Business feed or you will overwhelm your following—potentially causing them to unfollow you. To increase your posting frequency, utilize Instagram Stories and IGTV.

IGTV allows you to post videos up to 60 minutes in length—essentially creating a Youtube channel within Instagram’s interface. Instagram Stories enable you to add shopping links, hashtags, and engagement tools to attract more followers and deepen customer relationships. Because Instagram Stories last 24-hours, don’t post more than four within that timeframe. Otherwise, your users will get tired with your Stories that monopolize their queues. Increase the lifespan of these Stories by turning them into strategic highlights on your Instagram profile. Organize your Stories by services or categories for the best results.

9. Post User-Generated Content

Remember how fun it used to be to call into the radio and hear your song request played live? Sharing user content gives your followers the same excitement. Search your branded hashtags to find posts about your business or practice. If you see a photo of your product or service, reach out to user who posted it through a direct message to tell them you’d like to feature their content. Always appropriately attribute photos and videos to the creator by tagging them in your post.

10. Tag Other Brands and Leverage Influencers

Leverage the audience of other brands and prominent Instagram influencers by tagging them in your posts. Share their content. Give them a bit of an ego stroke. Also, slide into their DMs to ask about a potential partnership. Always approach it as what you can do for them and not the other way around and you should do fine.

11. Cross Promote Content on Other Platforms

Want people to go to your Instagram and follow you? Use your other established platforms to do so! Send an email marketing campaign to your customers to let them know you’re on Instagram (perhaps to tease a contest you’re running). Share an Instagram post to Facebook. Crosslink between your website’s blog and Instagram account. Integrate your Instagram into your larger digital marketing web to cycle customers and prospective clients, patients, and patrons to all of your content.

12. Optimize Your Instagram for Business Profile

Your profile contains your SEO—how Instagram users organically find your page. Optimize your Instagram profile to include relevant hashtags, a direct link to your website, and any action buttons that make sense for your business. Like we mentioned above, use highlights strategically to spotlight services, products, and facets of your business from Stories you publish. Switch your profile up every few months and watch your analytics to see if certain tweaks make a difference.

13. Analyze Your Instagram Business Account Insights and Optimize Your Social Media Strategy

Instagram for Business comes with free Insights. Log in to see when your posts gain the most traction, if men or women engage more often, the age of your demographic, and much more. From there, make adjustments to your overall strategy to improve reach, engagement, and grow your Instagram following. You might need to make simple tweaks like the time of day you post. Or, you could need larger adjustments like more educational material or video.

14. Add Paid Media

Extend your reach and drive more traffic to your profile page with paid Instagram ads. Ads increase your exposure a ton—and your chances of attracting more followers. Just make sure you don’t start running social media ads until you’re posting daily to your Instagram account—with at least 30 days of posting under your belt. You want to drive your traffic to your page and then to your website, so make sure it’s up to snuff!

15. Hire a Team

Social media channels require a dedicated task force to manage and grow each account. Do you have the (wo)man power in-office to effectively manage your social media marketing and grow your Instagram following? These questions should help you decide whether you need to hire an agency or assemble your own team. You may also not be ready to hire a social media agency, and that’s an important bridge to cross too. Either way, you need a skilled staff to help you succeed on Instagram and content marketing as a whole.

Your Instagram following is important—there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s easy to look at Instagram and place all of the value on the number of followers. That’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also should monitor website traffic, profile clicks, the number of engagements, and how passionate your audience is about your brand. If you would like us to audit your Instagram account and digital presence, get in touch! Your first content audit is on us, so you’ll walk away with some ideas about how you can improve your content marketing efforts. We’d love to be your 100% women-owned marketing agency in 2020.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been rewritten to reflect the most current stats and best practices for Instagram marketing.