Instagram is a smart place to invest your brand’s social energy. According to research conducted in 2019 by Social Insider, Instagram is by far the most engaging social platform, with an average engagement rate per post of 2.26%, as opposed to 0.21% on Facebook and only 0.06% on Twitter. That study doesn’t consider TikTok, but we have thoughts on that channel too if you want to learn more.
Once you learn how to engage with your audience by testing what works and what doesn’t, your following will start to grow. And that is exciting! More followers mean more eyes on your brand and your products. But Instagram has a lock on some pretty critical opportunities that are only unlocked once your brand reaches 10,000 followers — some of which, you may not even know about unless you get there. Because we’ve witnessed the impact that reaching 10k in followers can have on a brand, we want to share what those secret perks are. And then, we’ll show you how to build a social strategy that supports your overall business goals. First things first, we need to explain what happens when you get to that 10k milestone
Opportunities 10k Instagram followers opens up
You can include links in your Stories. You can use Stories links to direct followers to your web pages in order to highlight new products or services, share a new blog, promote a campaign, build your email list, and more. Once you reach 10k followers and the linking feature is enabled for you, you will be able to click on the “link” icon at the top of your Stories settings.
Being able to add links to Stories, means you can easily promote your website to your followers. Without this feature, Instagram makes link sharing cumbersome. The platform only offers one place for sharing one URL with your audience — the “website” field in your Instagram profile (see photo below). Some brands use third-party “bio link tools,” such as Linktree, that house lots of URLs in one single URL to help bypass the single-URL limitation. But it’s still not nearly as effective as a direct link within a story.
The less work users have to do to get to your product or content, the better. Links in Stories make it super simple. With so much competing content on Instagram, if your users have to search for your links, they’re likely to give up and never find them. Plus, some users who aren’t as familiar with Instagram may have even more difficulty finding your link, even if you’re directing users to the “link in profile” in your Instagram posts.
All users have to do is “swipe up” to access your URL in one single motion. No clicking back to your account’s profile. No searching for links. No getting lost and dropping off along the way.
More followers means more potential for your content to be seen, your brand awareness to spread, and more conversions to happen. Additionally, having access to a larger audience means you potentially have access to more audience insights. You’re able to see more of which content your followers engage with, what they love, what they complain about, and what matters to them as a whole. Social listening tools can help you track these follower behaviors and sentiments, and your social listening insights will be richer as you have more followers to listen to. A great example of this kind of social listening is one of our clients, Tiffin Motorhomes.
How we reached 10k in followers for Tiffin
Tiffin Motorhomes has been around for a long time. They were founded as a family-owned, American RV manufacturer, but over time, they’ve become a brand that represents a lifestyle.
When we first started working together over two decades ago, an online presence wasn’t even relevant. But as the digital age emerged, we’ve helped them focus on the kinds of content that reaches their audience and the right mediums to do it. Over the last several years, Instagram has been a strong platform for them because the RV industry continually gained traction on social media. And in 2020, we were able to help them reach that 10k marker on Instagram. Here are a few of the tools and tactics we used to help them get there.
Hashtags are important because they allow you to join in on the conversation happening outside your own social page. We started focusing on including strategic hashtags in our Instagram posts. The list of hashtags included branded hashtags, for instance, #TiffinMotorhomes, but also utilized non-branded hashtags that related to RVing, travel, adventure, and other on-brand topics. The goal was to expose Tiffin’s content to more users, pique their interest, and get them to follow the account for more content. Top tip: Currently, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per Instagram post and 10 hashtags per Instagram Story. Use them! People really do search for content by hashtag.
2. User-generated content and tagging contributors
People love to see their content — photos, video, quotes, etc. — shared by others, especially a brand they’re a fan of. We’ve been posting User Generated Content (UGC) from Tiffin fans on social media for years now. It’s some of our most popular content. We always give photo credit in our social posts, tagging the user if possible within the platform. The user gets notified that Tiffin has tagged them, and that news is exciting for them — wouldn’t you love it if a brand you follow tagged you? More often than not, these followers reshare the content with their own followers. And that brings in new followers for Tiffin. Top tip: Think of UGC as anything a follower posts. And then tag them when you repost to widen your reach. Here’s an example: We wanted to populate ideas on how to decorate an RV for Christmas from Tiffin’s Instagram followers. They tagged us with their ideas and pictures, and then we were able to build blog content from that and tag those followers, who then, in turn, tagged their friends to show off, and ultimately, drive more engagement to a new audience. Here’s a snapshot of the post where it all began:
3. Community Management
The key to growing your audience on Instagram is understanding what kind of content your audience wants to see. The best way to know what your target audience wants is to observe what they say to and about your brand. When someone leaves a comment on your Instagram post, or they directly message you, or even when they tag you in their posts, Instagram notifies you. Pay attention to what users tell you with those simple statements. Don’t leave those interactions in the lurch. You can glean very useful information from that feedback! Top tip: Once people are already following your account, you can continue to improve your content by asking questions in posts, or posting surveys and polls about what they enjoy most.
4. Social Listening
To hear what users are saying about your brand when they aren’t talking directly to you, you’ll need to invest in a social listening tool. It may not always be necessary for your company to spend time and resources listening in on the conversations happening off your Instagram page, but these insights are always valuable. For Tiffin, we’ve learned a lot through social listening, including: - Identifying products Tiffin owners love that could be potential partners for co-sponsored content. - Finding users who could potentially become great brand ambassadors. - Learning more about activities, like boondocking (a.k.a. dry camping), that Tiffin fans enjoy that could become potential educational topics. - Discovering new locations followers would want to learn more about traveling to. In each case, the insights we’ve garnered continue to lead to more informed content recommendations. Social listening also provides a brand with the opportunity to attract new followers. Maybe a user uses a hashtag that you track, even a branded one, but they don’t follow you on Instagram — by noticing them and engaging with them, they may decide to follow you.
Top tip: Even if you aren’t ready to invest in tools for social listening, by joining private groups, setting alerts to your brand name, and continuously monitoring your mentions, you can stay on top of what’s happening with your target audience.
How did all those new followers pay off for Tiffin?
The biggest payoff has been the more direct connections made with current followers and the broader reach to people who know and “look like” our followers. Here’s the thing, though: Instagram alone cannot account for all the success of Tiffin’s content over the last two years. Our overall content strategy combined with the fact that COVID-19 drove an exceptionally high interest in RVing led to these great returns on our content efforts for Tiffin’s Instagram.
- 56% YoY increase in Instagram followers
- Includes reaching 10,000 users
- 87% YoY increase in Instagram engagement
- 99% YoY increase in website traffic from Instagram
Instagram stories, in particular, enabled us to drive users to key blogs and product pages we wanted to promote for Tiffin, bringing in much higher site traffic volumes than usual for the platform. Before Tiffin was able to post links in their stories, almost no traffic was coming to their site from that channel.
A Successful Content Strategy Takes More Than Just 10k Followers on Instagram
We walked you through 4 smart tactics to grow your Instagram following, but we also snuck in the sly mention of the “overall content strategy”. And that is the key to continued growth, not just on social but for your brand.
A strong Instagram following boils down to producing the type of content that your fans love to engage with. The way you learn what that content is in order to produce and distribute it requires a comprehensive, data-driven content strategy.
You need a plan that ties all of these core elements together and connects your content strategy back to your overall business goals. Another client we’ve been working with for years in the direct-to-consumer industry has also exceeded the 10k mark on Instagram, so in part two of this blog, we pull back the curtain to explain how hitting that Instagram goal has contributed to their bottom line. Stay tuned.