Here's a scenario: your brand's Instagram account growth has plateaued, you don't understand why, and you've exhausted all of your usual tricks. Sound familiar?
This one's for you.
Instagram is an ever-evolving ecosystem. There are over 1 billion monthly active users, and there are new tools being added regularly. On top of that, its business capabilities are becoming increasingly robust, and its algorithm is always being adjusted. While Instagram remains one of the best marketing conduits of our time, the unfortunate truth is that it is highly saturated with brands, and the competition is fierce.
The ones who navigate Instagram’s algorithm need to be on the cutting edge of strategy. An ear to the ground is simply not enough anymore: social media editors are required to grow their brand's audience, even if a reality is that brands sometimes hit temporary plateaus in growth.
Instagram growth is exactly what it sounds like. It is the growth of your accounts followers and engagement rate over time. A growth drought is nothing if not standard. Stagnation is a normal part of the process. It means that you've done all you could with your current strategy, and that it's time to regroup, reassess, and reformulate a new course of action. You can't keep expanding your Instagram audience by doing the same thing over and over again. Social media is constantly changing, and so must your strategy in order to maximize post performance.
Perhaps your sluggish account growth is trying to tell you something. It's certainly not because the opportunities are lacking, but rather likely signifies that your methods are not evolving at the same pace as your target audiences. The best way to grow Instagram followers is to meet consumer demands by developing a flexible social media marketing strategy that's easy to modify when required.
It sounds daunting, but you should see it as something positive: a new challenge to meet, and an opportunity to venture into the unfamiliar to evolve your brand's current efforts.
The problem is that plateauing is not part of any company's plan, yet it doesn't stop it from being a constantly lurking threat. Having observed it as a recent widespread predicament, we thought it was time to address the issue.
How can you reignite progress if you're experiencing a lull? Learning how to grow your Instagram audience all over again is par for the course for marketers on the visual channel. If you feel like you've hit a wall, and your current efforts are no longer doing it, it's time for some serious introspection.
Here's what you should do.
Take a few days to do a deep dive on your competitors’ Instagram feeds. Explore the surroundings, scrutinize the territory, get a grasp on the patterns, the high quality content that appears to be trending; put your spectator hat on, and ask yourself what you would like to see on the channel as an individual. Poke around brand accounts, Instagram influencer accounts, and even those that are not in your niche. Examine trends in composition and format, such as carousel posts or videos, especially if your brand is not fully established in Instagram Reels.
Wrap your head around what's new, what's fresh, and what gets you excited. Then regroup, and start infusing those bits of newness in your own posts and stories in a way that makes sense. Do some testing, and adjust accordingly. We especially recommend testing out different posting times so you can get an idea of when your audience is active, and when they aren’t.
Being a social media editor should almost require a sociology degree: a big part of the job is surveilling what people are into, analyzing specific demographic segments, and developing social media management strategies to serve them up what they don't even know they want to see. As a social media editor, you are in the business of forming habits. Form them.
The most important part of any successful Instagram account is its visuals. If your content output is subpar, you'll never attract new followers, let alone retain the ones you already have. Even if your content is great (and be objective here), if you're not growing your account, it might be indicative of the fact that your audience and potential audience have moved on and want to see something else from you.
Beyond manual calculations, perusing Instagram Analytics, and surveying your published photos and videos, there is the Dash Hudson content segmentation Boards tool to assist you in the task. And it provides cold, hard numbers. In fact, its granular capabilities are pretty bottomless, and it hands down provides the most accurate evaluation you can possibly get.
The tool allows brands to group their content pillars onto boards to analyze each segment's performance. This way they can literally see what types of visuals are doing best, and what posts within each group are outperforming others. A tool like this can play a pivotal role in account growth because it provides a tangible performance measurement.
Instagram users engage with content that resonates with them. When a user feels an emotional connection brought on by either a piece of visual content or an interaction from another account, human nature prevails and they get excited. If an Instagram account fails to ever communicate as such, it could be what's holding it back.
To make sure you don't stunt your growth due to mismanaged connections, you're going to have to put a little elbow grease into it. That means not just replying to inquisitive commenters on your own content, but actually dispensing likes and comments on what other users are posting.
This one stone serves to kill two very hefty birds: first, your followers will be over the moon to know that they've caught your attention and that you're actually showing love back. This will likely encourage them to create more content around your brand, consequently expanding your organic reach, aka outsider eyeballs. Second, your comment will increase your overall account visibility.
People love winning, and they love free stuff. The prospect of both is a great way to court potential new followers. We've gone in-depth about contest best practices in the past, and we recently had an exemplary demonstration of how to take it to new heights (hot tip: maximize the UGC!), but here are a few pointers to bear in mind if you're going to take that route:
The major objective, that should serve as your guiding light when going the contest route, is that you want to attract new long term followers, not have users drop off the second your sweepstakes have closed. Never stray from that principle, and always measure every decision against it. Oh, and don’t forget to share the contest on your other social platforms for maximum reach!
With all the newfound ideas we mentioned above, it’s important you’re using the right tools to track your Instagram growth analytics. Yes, it’s easy to just glance at your profile and see how many followers you’ve gained, but that’s not going to give you the information you need on who is following you and perhaps, why.
If you currently have an Instagram business account or Instagram creator account, there are lots of sufficient analytics built right into the backend that will help you track your follower rates and the demographics of those followers. Be sure to keep a close eye on these analytics, as they will only help to inform you of what types of content to keep (or stop) posting.
The fact of the matter is that if you're no longer growing, something's gotta give. It certainly isn't because there aren't new followers to be had, as there are new fish being added to the pond daily. It most likely has to do with your content, and the fact that you probably haven't switched things up to keep pace with what users want.
The social media plateau is real, and there is one fail-proof way to remedy it: change something.
This is entirely dependent on what your current following number is, but generally, a normal growth rate is anywhere between 2%-6% for accounts that are consistently posting and engaging with users.
The best way to increase your Instagram growth is by knowing your audience and adjusting accordingly. Knowing how frequently to post, what type of content performs well, and creating genuine connections with your audience will naturally increase your Instagram follower growth over time.
There are a couple of reasons why an account isn’t experiencing Instagram follower growth. The main reason is usually content quality and consistency. If your content isn’t matching your target audience's needs and wants, it’s likely that you aren’t going to gain followers as quickly as you’d like. If your content quality and consistency is on point, try doing some analysis on your competitors to see what you could do differently.