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Some people say that marketing your business on Instagram is the fastest way to reach your audience. You are probably familiar with a few brands who have built a solid following, and now you might be wondering how you can get your piece of the social media pie. Many people post their best photos and prepare captions with popular hashtags, but still, new followers haven’t shown up – so what are they doing wrong?

Your Account Doesn’t Stand Out

If millions of talented content creators post about your topic every day, your account won’t receive much attention. If your focus is extremely broad, such as food or fashion, you’re unlikely to see rapid organic growth. However, you’ll get better results if you can tap into a smaller but highly engaged niche market or if you can create your own subcategory.

Everything about your account needs to differentiate your brand from everyone else’s. Make your handle unique but easy to remember. Choose a clear face shot or eye-catching brand logo for your profile picture. Make sure your profile bio jumps out at visitors and doesn’t read like a resume. And most importantly, make sure your visual grid is distinct.

You Aren’t Using All of Instagram’s Features

Using Instagram effectively means taking advantage of all the tools the platform has to offer. Every photo should have a caption, a location marker, and hashtags that provide a clear context. Your followers need to understand why you’re posting particular images and what the content means to you. Therefore, you should vary your media format(s) to keep things interesting and make your content more dynamic and engaging by using Boomerang videos, GIFs, or cinemagraphs.

If you’re not using Instagram Stories, you’re missing out. Ephemeral content is perfect for sharing behind-the-scenes material and encouraging your followers to check in often so that they see your latest updates before they vanish. You can also use Instagram Live to make announcements and hold Q&A sessions with your audience.

You Could Be Promoting Yourself Too Much

Marketing on Instagram requires soft selling strategies. While you can post content promoting your products and services, the majority of your posts should be rather personal; show your followers who you are and why they should trust you.

Let’s say you operate a coffee shop; if you post a photo of your favorite dessert on the menu and ask your followers to share their favorites, at least a few of your customers are likely to respond. However, if you post that same photo and tell followers the dessert is on sale that week, your followers won’t have the same – or really any – incentive to reply. And lower engagement leads to decreased visibility, so it would be best to avoid a scenario that creates low engagement rates.

Excessive self-promotion causes other problems with Instagram’s algorithm as well. Instagram wants to keep people on the platform and penalizes content that attempts to lure users to other websites. Captions including trigger words like blog, workshop, free download, or ‘discount’ signal that you’re trying to sell something without paying for advertising. Phrases like “buy my new book” or “tickets on sale now,” will temporarily decrease your reach, so keep this in mind and use them sparingly.

You Might Be Using the Wrong Hashtags

Hashtags link your photos to communities, topics, and keywords Instagram users follow. However,  If you only use the most popular hashtags, the sheer volume of content will bury your own. You should generate a list of 40 to 60 hashtags that appear in at least 10,000 but no more than 500,000 posts; these hashtags should have an established following, but shouldn’t be overly saturated.

Avoid using the same 30 tags on every post because it will raise flags that signal bot activity. Instead, have different sets of hashtags saved for different types of content and switch out at least three or four of those tags every time. In addition to building a collection of brand and content tags, monitor trends in your niche and use the latest hashtags to keep your content fresh. And make sure to audit your master list a few times a year to make sure your hashtags are relevant and still performing well!

Not Enough Engagement

When followers comment on your posts, show them some love in return! Responding as soon as possible demonstrates your account is active and that you care what your customers have to say. Opposed to leaving vague responses like “Thanks” or “Got it,” you should post meaningful replies that further the conversation. Furthermore, you should reply to positive feedback just as quickly as you do to complaints.

But engaging with followers via your own account isn’t enough. To truly be successful, you will most likely need to reach out to other accounts in your niche to build relationships and encourage future collaboration. If you follow others, then there is a good chance that they will follow you back. And make sure to leave helpful comments on other people’s threads whenever you can! Doing this might make the other party interested in learning more about you and your brand!

Engaging with other accounts takes considerable time and effort, but fortunately,  some resources help you through this process. For instance, services like Magic Social have been known to provide amazing growth results for their users. Services like Magic Social connect Instagram users with an Instagram-growth specialist who will help them identify their goals, engage with users in their niche, as well as identify the most effective hashtags you should use, and more.

What obstacles do you believe may have stunted your Instagram growth at a point in time? And how did you overcome those problems? Let us know in the comments below – we might just be able to help you out!Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endrose or review brands mentioned.

I am a women’s rights activist, running junkie, and eternal marketing student. I help companies market their brand to millennials and gen z. In my spare time, you’ll find playing with my golden retriever and reading the newest business books by my fire.