Most people that come to me for help regarding Instagram growth are facing the very same issue: their Instagram growth is stagnated, or even worse, they’re constantly losing followers.
In this post, I’d like to name the most common causes of growth stagnation on Instagram, as well as provide viable solutions to those:
1. Reinvent your content output strategy
As content is the most important piece of the puzzle that is Instagram growth, you should always look to innovate your content output strategy, meaning that you may try different formats of publishing it and, with that, different content types that may resonate better or worse with your audience (according to reference experience).
This constitutes a pivotal part of Instagram master: the ability of adapting your content output strategy to what’s working the best.
For instance, if you’re just posting content in a video format, try mixing it with pictures, and vice-versa.
Also, make sure to stay updated about what’s best performing in the platform. These days, IGTV is more and more suitable for any Instagram page’s overall performance, as IGTV will be monetizable in the near future, through ads.
Instagram’s algorithm favors, therefore, users who diversify their content output, as they are improving the likelihood of keeping their audience in the platform for a longer period, as well as to reach a wider audience via different sources.
The main point here is the following: If something’s not working well, you have to change it. And it’s not uncommon for content to be the main cause of page under-performance and stagnation.
2. Engage with your audience more proactively
Your page’s driving force is your audience. If it weren’t for them, your page wouldn’t exist, nor would the platform in the first place.
You should aim to create a true sense of community around your page, no matter the brand it represents or the niche it fits in, be it a personal or a reposting page.
That said, there is hardly any better way of increasing this sense of community than to frequently interact with your audience, by replying to their comments on your posts, as well as replying to their dm’s, if pertinent.
Not only will you effectively raise a sense of community around your page, namely by showing your audience that you count them in and that their engagement matters, but you will also maximize your page’s engagement levels, as your replies do have a catapulting effect on your posts’ performance.
3. Change your hashtag strategy
The first thing to keep in mind about hashtag ranking, is that you’re only able to leverage a higher reach from hashtags (by ranking higher on bigger hashtags), if your post leverages a certain engagement momentum in the first 20-30 minutes after it’s published.
The reason for that resides on Instagram’s algorithmic behavior:
The more engagement your post registers in the first few minutes after it’s published, the more likely it is that Instagram’s algorithm will allow it to reach a wider audience that may also be interested in your post (this way, through showcasing your content to an audience that’s already interested in your niche, according to their browsing patterns, in-platform activity and interests, they’ll keep their users in the platform for more time).
Therefore, it is fundamental that you’re able to maximize your post’s reach – that’s how you’ll enhance its chance of ranking higher on bigger hashtags and, consequently, leveraging more reach and follower-gain from this source.
Hashtags are, by far, the main pain point that people approach me for. I have already covered this point extensively, both via written and video format, and I’d like to share the hashtag research strategy that I am applying for my clients and that has proven to be an innovative and effective strategy:
- Go to your Instagram page’s search function (just as if you’re checking out the explore page);
- Search for a popular hashtag that’s strictly related to your niche;
- Search for at least 3-5 posts that have similar engagement levels as the ones you average, in a certain amount of time (this is a very simple process: see when their post was published and compare their engagement level to yours, in the same amount of time. For instance, if your post has 600 likes in 1 hour and theirs has 550-650, then you can safely say that both pages leverage a similar engagement in a similar amount of time. Make sure that this applies to their average posts, by also comparing your average engagement levels to theirs, on the last 12 posts);
- Analyze their hashtag sets in terms of the specific hashtags they use, as well as their size;
- Select and retain hashtags that are relevant for your post and mix them together, to make your own set. Keep in mind that the hashtags that you should apply to a specific post are not necessarily ideal for you to apply to a post that features a distinct location or subtheme, which reinforces the need of adapting your hashtag sets for each post, individually. It may be a bit more time consuming, but it does pay off, as it works extremely better.
Here’s why it works: By searching for these profiles, you’re directly analyzing posts that are featured and ranking high on the top hashtags of a certain niche and category.
As you go through the hashtag sets that they’ve used, you will most likely find patterns that will provide you with a better understanding of what type of sets you should be applying towards your page as well – because you’re in the same niche AND leverage similar engagement levels in a similar time span.
To keep it as succinct as possible, this may imply that if their post could rank so high in a top hashtag, yours may too, as your page’s characteristics are similar – thus using similar hashtag sets, or sets with the same size distribution, is recommendable and, according to my experience a great new way of approaching hashtags if you’re having a hard time leveraging high levels of reach from this source.
4. Use Location Tags on every post 📍
People usually disregard location tags, rather because they don’t know why they should use them, or simply because they don’t think it’s going to make a difference in regards to their posts’ performance.
What I have observed is that by leveraging a relatively high reach from “location”, you’ll be able to eventually leverage that extra engagement on your post, which plays a massive role towards its hashtag ranking.
You’re more likely to scale your reach from location by inserting a location tag that corresponds to a largely searched city, as well as very specific, yet popular places, such as popular tourist stops and certain events that attract a lot of attention from the masses.
The more features of Instagram you use, the better your page’s health score will be, and by constantly including location tags in your posts, Instagram’s algorithm will favor your post to rank higher in top location-tagged posts.
5. Use CTA’s (Calls To Action) in your posts 🗣
By doing this, you’re able to maximize the reach from a source called “other”, which escalates fast within the first hour after posting, making it the most powerful source in what regards hashtag reach maximization.
That said, using CTA’s on your posts shall encourage and invite your audience to perform certain actions that lead to the maximizing of your reach from “other”.
As I covered in past posts, “other” corresponds to reach from collection of subcategories in a post, such as when shared through direct messages, shared through stories and saved.
Thus, that’s the type of interaction that you want to privilege and entice on your posts through your CTA’s.
These can be anything from a more direct approach, such as “Tag 3 friends who need to see this” to a more subtle and smooth enticement “What are your thoughts?”. The most fundamental aspect to retain is that your CTA must invite your audience to manifest a certain (re)action that leads to “other” reach maximization.
The reach that you’re able to leverage from “other” is absolutely precious, and it’s highly scalable, so don’t miss out on it, as it makes a capital difference in posts’ performance, when it comes to its reach from this source, as well as hashtag ranking and explore page featuring.
6. Publish engaging Instagram stories
Go for 2-3 stories a day. That is completely enough and be creative and diverse with them.Use Instagram’s features to maximize the engagement and the attractiveness and interactivity of your stories.
For instance, as you add CTA's and Polls to your stories, you're giving your audience the chance of participating and engaging with them, as opposed to if you just published a story and added a description of it.
Go for Quizzes, Yes or No Polls and "Ask Me Something" Polls, so that your engagement levels regarding your stories are enhanced. You should also ask your audience questions regarding your page, such as "Which type of content do you prefer me to post?". This way, you show your audience that you care and that they're a core part of your page (which they definitely should be).
Your page’s growth stagnation isn’t the algorithm’s fault.
The moment you accept this fact, the more likely it is that you will start going for better results, as you out the responsibility in your own hands.
Your page’s growth stagnation is usually caused by:
- A lack of content output diversity;
- A lack of quality content;
- A lack of a quality overall strategy;
- A lack of a strategy that is coherent with your page’s nature;
- A lack of interaction with your audience;
- A deficient hashtag strategy;
- The incapability of adapting to Instagram’s algorithm;
- A confusing or incongruent content delivery;
- A confusing Instagram profile (from your username, to your logo, to your bio);
- A deficient niche categorization.
I advise doing the exercise of addressing each of these bullet points and, if you’re honest with yourself, there may be at least one or two that aren’t being putting in practice rather competently enough, or that require more insistence.
Hope this was helpful! If you want to accelerate your Instagram growth and increase your organic reach, consider using LikeUp for automatic like exchanging.