How to Get Real Followers for Instagram in 2020 [UPDATED]

UPDATED: August 2020

Instagram is proving to be a real winner in the realm of social media. It’s gone through a lot of changes since its early beginnings as a simple photo sharing app. These days, the bells and whistles of the platform make it a marketer’s dream.

There are so many ways to engage an audience and showcase products. It can definitely become overwhelming and a bit confusing. If you want to experience growth and get real followers for Instagram in 2020, take a look at the tips below.

1. Know your audience and post accordingly

First and foremost, you must post what the people want to see. This means you have to know your intended audience pretty well. You can accomplish the feat by developing an ideal customer avatar. An avatar is merely the detailed demographics of a fictional individual who would be likely to buy from your company or follow your brand.

Have fun and get creative when creating this person. Decide on a gender, age, geographic location, interests, needs and more. When you’ve developed your ideal avatar, your posts should be directed at this “person.” Think of your avatar and what would appeal to them prior to creating an image or story. Your content will reach the right audience when you employ this strategy.

2. Know your hashtags and use them

Are you using hashtags on other social media platforms? They’re popular everywhere online, but they’re
absolutely essential on Instagram. Relevant hashtags help people who are interested in what you have to offer find you. It’s kind of like a road map.

You don’t want to use just any tags, though. The ones you choose should be relevant to your brand and your post. That way you’ll attract the most targeted audience possible. You also want them to be
specific, rather than broad. Don’t just use #marketing as your hashtag. Instead, find something that conveys the type of marketing your post references. Finding hashtags can seem overwhelming, but there are lots of ways to discover the good ones.

Do a query through Instagram’s search bar. Check out what your competition is doing. Then research particular hashtags to see how many people are following them and whether that tag might be saturated. Again, more specific is often better because it eliminates some of the competing voices within the general field. Don’t forget geotags. These are location-specific tags that help you to connect with others in that area or who have an interested in the region.

3. Plan your posts

It may seem all you have to do is post some pictures on a regular basis, and the people will come to look at them. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. The most successful accounts on Instagram devote a great deal of time and dedication to their posts.

You’ll want to plan things out ahead of time to ensure you have an appropriate flow of material. You can create a calendar with your tentative daily post material. Then pull together your resources such as photography props, models and other assorted essentials. Some people shoot several Instagram posts on one day.

Others spread things out. You’ll find a groove that works for you, but you absolutely must plan. Winging it rarely works when it comes to running a successful social media account. Take particular holidays, campaigns and even days of the week into consideration when deciding what to include in each post.

4. Engage your audience

Social media revolves around relationships. That’s what makes it social. Engagement is essential to any successful Instagram account. Not only do you want to get a lot of followers, but you need to keep them interested or they’ll leave you for something shinier. Basic ways to engage followers is to acknowledge them by responding to their comments, answering their questions in DM and visiting their feeds.

That’s right. Put yourself out there. Follow people in your niche. Like and comment on their content. It may seem obvious, but it’s what is absolutely necessary and the foundation of social media.

5. Keep the conversation going

If you want to up your engagement game and increase your chances of gaining loyal and long-lasting followers, dedicate time to finding ways to bring your followers back for more on a regular basis.

You can do this in a number of ways. Holding contests and giveaways is always good because it requires people to interact with your account in order to be entered. You can also recognize individual followers on a regular basis by giving them a shout out in your feed and sharing their content. It’s flattering and will build bonds.

You might also want to encourage your followers to share photos of themselves using your products. Come up with a special hashtag to identify such posts, and then recognize them by sharing with your audience at large. User-generated content like this is gold. It makes followers feel special, provides you with social capital and keeps your feed full of interesting, engaging content.

These are a handful of the top ways to gain followers. Take some time to explore Instagram and try out all the cool features they offer. See what works for you and your audience, but don’t forget to employ these basic, proven strategies to maintain consistent follower growth in the new year. Your effort will pay off, and you’ll be building a brand that people love to follow.

5. Use an Instagram Bot

Let’s admit it – no one enjoys tedious and repetitive jobs. The truth is that managing social media accounts can sometimes be just like that.

Imagine you’re working to increase your account’s overall engagement and measure performance and you stumble upon the most effective ways to do that. It’s clear that liking, commenting and following users in your niche can have a huge boosting impact on your account’s reach, because those users will end up visiting your profile, one way or another.

But honestly, who has time to manually like, comment and follow users on Instagram to get those results? That is where using the best Instagram bot on the market comes into play. Simply put, automating your Instagram activity is such a no-brainer if you truly see your time as the most valuable asset. At the end of the day, you will end up achieving even better results compared to manual interaction, all while saving valuable time.

And that is exactly why the smartest marketers and social media managers in the world utilize platforms like SocialCaptain to boost their brand’s impact in the online world.

12 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers With Automation

UPDATED: August 2020

There are a number of social media automation tools designed to save you time and effort with your social media marketing. A number of those tools are dedicated to Instagram specifically. Here is how you can grow your Instagram following by using automation.

1. Automate finding and following new accounts.

Though many Instagram automation bots vary in terms of the services they offer, all of them will offer the ability to automate finding and following new accounts. Generally speaking, all you have to do is tell the bot hashtags and accounts you want to follow.

Then, using that information, it will automatically start following those accounts and pick random ones from within the hashtags to begin following. It will gradually follow a certain number of new accounts every day so that your account activity looks as natural as possible.

2. Automate your posting schedule.

Some Instagram bots will allow you to automate posting to the social network. If you use a bought that does not allow for scheduling posts, many other social media management platforms allow you to schedule posts for Instagram alongside the posts for other popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

This makes it easy for you to batch your content creation process so you can focus a certain amount of time every week on creating the posts you plan to share with your audience. This also allows you to keep a consistent posting schedule, posting at times when you know your audience is most likely to be active to engage on the post.

This way, you do not have to manually post content to your account every day and you can focus on other tasks to promote your business that cannot be automated.

3. Automate commenting.

There are some people out there who will advise against automating comments because it can come across as spammy.  However, when done correctly using neutral yet positive comments and including a variety of options for the bot to rotate through, you can still leave relevant comments on photos without coming across as fake.

To make sure you’re not completely wasting time, it’s best to only automate commenting for a few photos every day. Because the best Instagram bots will interact with hundreds of photos every day, it’s impossible to program it in a way that will create context relevant comments for all of the photos it comes across, So that’s why you should set aside some time to craft genuine comments manually every day.

4. Automate likes.

Automating likes is safe to do with an Instagram bot. It won’t come across as spam or get flagged by Instagram. Likes are a non-intrusive way to make people happy increase your odds of engagement. Likes or a subtle nudge that will only show up on a person’s activity feed. Many people don’t have issues with getting likes from people we don’t know and everyone benefits when their content gets a like because Instagram’s algorithm picks up on it as a signal of it being popular.

Unless you are someone who has thousands of followers, chances are you’re checking your activity feed to see who liked your post and discover new Instagram accounts this way. Automating liking banks on the fact that you’re liking posts from people who will discover that you liked their post and will turn around and follow you.

Automating likes through a bot is similar to paying Instagram to have your account shown on people’s home feeds through ads.The activity creates weren’t even aware of the fact that you existed. And,because it’s not a formal add that you are running through the Instagram platform, it’s free.

5. Automate direct messaging.

Like with comment automation, you can also automate direct messaging to Instagram accounts. However, because it is also difficult to make contextually relevant to every single follower the bot will encounter, you want to keep it limited to a small number of accounts every day.

You will, of course, have to use generic phrasing, so keep a variety of positive, neutral statements such as, “Thanks for the follow!” in the repository for the bot to work with.

6. Automate unfollowing some accounts.

With this strategy and Instagram automation, you follow users who may be interested in your account using automation tools. then, you wait a few days to see if they follow you back, and if they do not, you use the same automation tool to unfollow them. most of the time you’ll find that 20 to 35% of the people will follow you back.

The actual percentage will vary significantly depending on how effective your strategy is for the people you start to follow. The idea is you want to use filters to make sure you were engaging with users that are most likely to engage back with you.

Using the follow/unfollow method without automation is unlikely to help you achieve those results. Manually following 1,000 users in the span of a week in an active niche compared to automation you may find the manual method only achieves at 10% follow back rate which is significantly lower. When you consider the increased time you spend with the manual method, you have a diminished return on investment and no real reason not to use automation.

Taking the time to unfollow users who don’t follow you back keeps you with a good follower ratio and ensures you’re not wasting time and effort on people who are not going to engage with you keeping your engagement rates high and making your account look more appealing to the Instagram algorithm for better chances of viral posts and increased follower growth through viral activity.

7. Focus your efforts on quality content creation.

Use the time you save with automation to make sure the content you’re creating to post on Instagram is of the highest quality and is targeted to your audience. If you’re posting for quality content, it doesn’t matter what kind of automation results you’re getting because you won’t be able to keep your followers happy.

8. Check on your automation efforts regularly.

From time to time, you want to check and see how your automation efforts are going. If you find that you are not getting a lot of engagement, you may want to adjust your automation to target different hashtags.

9. Take time to answer all comments.

To boost your engagement and to show your audience you care, take time to reply to any and all comments on your posts. Even if you notice generic ones that you believe were automated, taking the time to respond to them shows the rest of your audience that you were paying attention and you appreciate the time they took to comment.

10. Automate to save time – not to completely avoid work.

If you set up an automation bot one time, walk away and never look at the bot or your Instagram account again, you’re doing it wrong. Not only are you doing it wrong, but you’re obviously doing it for the wrong reasons. Chances are, you’re looking for a quick and easy way to monetize your Instagram following and a while this is a respectable desire, it won’t get you very far.

You will still need to spend a certain amount of time engaging on Instagram and creating content for your followers manually. Nothing on the internet that is of the good quality you need to develop stable customer relationships is done with 100% automation.

Yes, there’s plenty of stuff out there that is completely automated, but it’s not the kind of stuff your audience will enjoy or respond to the way you hope.

11. Don’t push your automation tool to the max.

Unless you use an automation tool from the very beginning of your Instagram account, chances are you were only able to like and follow a certain number of users every day.

You want to avoid maxing the automation tool out because Instagram will notice if you go from following 50 users a day to 1,000 users a day. The key is to make the activity look as natural as possible which often means using the automation tool much less than what it is capable of actually doing.

12. Do not use more than one Instagram automation bot.

It may be tempting to double down on your efforts by using more than one automation bots. However, is best if you only use one at a time. You can use one for a certain amount of time before testing on another one to see which one you like better, but using more than one at the same time creates unnatural activity and could possibly cross some wires and create potential flags on your Instagram account.

Everything you do on Instagram from content creation to following accounts and engaging with them should be done with your followers in mind. Without a dedicated group of loyal followers, you won’t be able to reap sales benefits from your social media presence.

10 Hashtag Mistakes Every Marketer Should Avoid on Instagram

UPDATED for 2020: We recommend using the AI-powered Instagram Hashtag Generator

#TBT

#Instagood

#Nofilter

These are just some of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, according to a recent analysis. This punctuation mark took on a new meaning in 2007 when one Twitter user began using hashtags to group content and discussion topics in order to make it easier for others to locate topics of interest.

Today, hashtags are used across social media platforms but have become particularly popular on Instagram. In fact, hashtags have become so popular that Instagram instituted a hashtag limit to prevent users from overusing them. Many brands and websites rely on hashtags to promote their content and they tend to gain momentum over time as users add more people to their #tagging friends lists.

Instagram marketers may already realize that hashtags play an essential role in content discovery and amplification. Here are 10 tips that’ll let social media marketers to put Instagram hashtags to good use by avoiding common pitfalls that can otherwise doom thoughtful campaigns.

1. Ignoring topical hashtags.

Hashtags help those who are not following your account to find your content. In order to reach new followers, social media marketers should incorporate popular hashtags in Instagram posts. Doing so can help brands to reach users who are searching for hashtags taking Instagram by storm.

Trying to determine the top hashtags and determining who uses the most hashtags is not an easy task for a social media manager. Expert marketers use the best Instagram hashtag generator to identify the optimal tags for your specific post.

In the example above, Mercedes-Benz created a piece of content that fits well with popular holiday hashtags. The brand’s social media managers added the hashtags “Holidays” and “Xmas” to the post, which helped to increase reach.

2. Hashtag stuffing.

As mentioned earlier, Instagram does not support hashtag stuffing. Overusing hashtags in an effort to reach a wider audience will often backfire. Instagram users have become savvy enough to spot and avoid content that appears to be spam. Posts with many hashtags will appear to be disreputable and can cause users to form a negative opinion of your brand.

Take a page from the world’s most successful Instagram brands, and use hashtags tastefully. In the example above, Rolex uses three hashtags to promote one of their new watches. Two of the hashtags used are branded, while one is descriptive.

3. Failing to develop a branded hashtag.

A branded hashtag can help to increase brand awareness within Instagram. By encouraging brand enthusiast to use a branded hashtag, companies can magnify their reach beyond those who are following their Instagram profile.

Social media marketers should think of creative branded hashtags that those within the target audience would want to use themselves. In time, Instagram users may begin to organically use your organization’s branded hashtag.

4. Overlooking Instagram’s new hashtag monitoring feature.

Last year, Instagram announced a feature that allowed users to follow specific hashtags just as they would follow an Instagram account. This development has had significant implications for those interested in hashtag marketing campaigns.

First, social media marketers can easily follow hashtags of interest within Instagram. This makes it easier to natively monitor the platform for user-generated content for example.

Second, developing a branded hashtag that has real staying power provides brands with another way for brands to connect with their target audience through Instagram. Some may choose to follow a branded hashtag instead of a traditional branded Instagram account for example.

5. Using hashtags without understanding their meaning.

There are a countless number of social media campaigns that failed because of tone-deaf marketing. Don’t make the same mistake brands like Pepsi and Tory Burch have made by misappropriating social or political reference points for corporate gains.

Similarly, social media marketing managers must be sure they understand what hashtag abbreviations mean. Using #AF, for example, might be appealing because it is growing in popularity among some demographics, but it could outrage others who disapprove of organizations that use profanity in marketing content.

6. Launching an ad campaign without an accompanying hashtag.

The world’s most successful brands usually launch advertising campaigns with an accompanying hashtag. That’s because it encourages members of the target audience to share user-generated content with the same hashtag.

This helps to amplify the brand’s message and makes it easier for advertisers to monitor the reaction to an ad through social media networks like Instagram.

Regardless of the channel through which you launch an ad, be sure to include a hashtag somewhere in the creative.

7. Neglecting to monitor user-generated content.

User-generated content, also known as UGC, is often shared with an accompanying branded hashtag. Often, brands will re-share user-generated content as a form of social proof. By sharing an implicate endorsement from a happy Instagram user, it can help brands to make inroads with other prospective customers on the platform.

Furthermore, including a shout out to a happy customer can help to turn that satisfied customer into a lifelong brand advocate. In the example above, Harley Davidson shares user-generated content and included a branded hashtag to boot.

8. Forgetting to include a hashtag in your Instagram bio.

Adding an appropriate hashtag in an Instagram bio is a great way to make your account more discoverable. Instagram users have the ability to search for keywords that relate to photos, places, or “people,” the last of which is another word for Instagram profiles.

In cases where you are trying to gain traction among a target audience, sharing a generic hashtag used by this audience is your best bet. On the other hand, those who are interested in motivating an existing audience to become more engaged may benefit from included a branded hashtag in the Instagram bio.

9. Ignoring hashtag discovery platforms.

Sometimes it can be hard to know what hashtags should be used when. Often it is best to use a trending hashtag that is free from divisive social or political connotations. To that end, social media marketers can use a third-party Instagram analytics or discovery platform to identify trending hashtags that should be used to increase the reach of a specific piece of content.

Before posting a new image or video to the platform, be sure to take a few minutes to see if a popular hashtag can be included in the caption. This should be a part of your Instagram monitoring workflow.

10. Focusing on hashtags while forgetting to create a moving caption.

While Instagram hashtags are important in order to reach new audiences or to further engage existing followers, they are just one small component of what is required to be successful as an Instagram marketer.

More important than Instagram hashtags is creating a compelling brand narrative that is aligned with the needs and wants of the target audience. That means winning brands will be the ones that use Instagram captions to tell a compelling on-brand story.

Of course, a part of writing a great caption is using hashtags appropriately, but marketers should avoid obsessing about hashtag use to the exclusion of creating a moving caption.

Conclusion

Instagram is becoming an increasingly crowded social media platform. Over 25 million businesses use official Instagram Business accounts, and 800 million people use the platform in total.

One way to cut through the noise is by artfully using hashtags to increase reach. Selecting popular hashtags can be a great way to acquire new followers in search of an account like yours. Alternatively, using branded hashtags can be a good way to increase brand awareness through Instagram, or to encourage followers to produce user-generated content.

How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Account

UPDATED (July 2020): We now recommend using the AI-based Instagram Hashtag Generator to find the optimal tags for your content.

Hashtags are practically a necessity if you want to gain followers on Instagram. This simple tool lets you categorize your posts with relevant tags so that people with those interests can find you. It’s like a roadmap to your content. However, choosing hashtags can seem like an overwhelming process. A well curated list of popular hashtags provides all the time you need to keep your fans’ attention.

You probably know it’s good to use multiple hashtags, but you want to use them strategically. Don’t stress. Just keep reading below to discover how to find the best Instagram hashtags for your account and avoid unnecessary hashtag mistakes.

1. Search on Instagram.

Instagram has its own integrated search bar known as the Explore feature. Just type a relevant keyword in and select the tab marked “tags.” This will produce a list of hashtags that include that word. This search will also show you some posts containing the hashtags.

These insights can help you to make some important decisions regarding which hashtags to use on your own posts. Study the tags to determine which may be overused and whether there are more specific ones you can use for better results.

Trial and error should always be expected in order to figure out what works for you. Spend some time here to generate potential keywords that fit your brand and your audience. Sometimes it really does make sense to start with the obvious.

Did you know that Instagram accounts have built-in links to your own sites? While this is probably not a strategy you’d take to the extreme, it does provide you with opportunities.

2. Try related hashtags.

Did you know that you can actually follow hashtags these days? It’s true. Many popular hashtags have their own Instagram accounts. Check out these hashtag pages to find users interested in that topic.

It’s a great way to find people to follow and engage with. Hopefully, they might then choose to follow you. While you’re on a hashtag’s page, take time to take a look at the top of the page for a list of related hashtags.

Just swipe left to preview them. This feature offers a goldmine of potential hashtags for you to try out. It’s often best to pick ones that fall within a particular niche. That way, there’s less competition than you’d find with the more generalized terms. Plus, you’ll be more likely to connect with followers who could truly benefit from your particular offerings.

3. Check out your competition.

It’s always good to know what others in your industry or niche are doing. Spend some time visiting the profiles of your competitors. This exercise can tell you a lot and help to inform your own marketing decisions.

By reviewing their most-used hashtags you can determine whether you may wish to use the same ones or if researching related tags might be in your best interest. You can also look to popular influencers who are posting about things relevant to your brand for hashtag inspiration.

4. Visit past successes.

Your own account can be one of the best places to find the right hashtags to use. Check out the posts that have performed the best and gained the most engagement. Which tags did you use? Perhaps it was a  geotag, which is a specific tag listing a current location. Maybe it was a hashtag related to a particular holiday or trend. Pay attention to what’s worked for you in the past and look for patterns.

Try to tag future posts following these patterns to see what sticks. Be sure you’re using tags that are most relevant to your brand’s purpose and audience. It’s not advisable to use one simply because it’s popular. Any success with this strategy will likely be a fluke and could backfire on you by actually causing you to lose followers who feel deceived.

5. Create your own hashtag.

You can make up your own hashtags that fit your brand specifically. A tag related to your unique product could find traction as people discover that item. You may also wish to create fun campaigns to gain the attention of your followers.

Contests, giveaways, influencer campaigns and more can all be marked with their own hashtag. While it may take some extra time for people to notice, this type of hashtag is uniquely yours and is most likely to bring you followers who are genuinely interested in your business and what you have to offer. Get creative and give it a try.

6. Know your brand.

An often overlooked strategy for finding hashtags is to study your own brand. Hopefully, you know your brand inside and out. You understand its mission and the ultimate purpose you wish to serve with
your product or service. You know the feel or vibe you wish to convey to your audience and potential customers.

Your overall mission is probably drilled deep into your subconscious. In addition, you should have a strong understanding of your targeted customer base, including demographics like age, interests, preferences and more. Even when brands know this information, they can overlook its importance, and that’s a big mistake.

Instead, use this insight to your advantage. Make a list of what your brand stands for, words associated with your overarching message and adjectives that describe your ideal client. Then use those words to launch your hashtag search. You’re sure to find tags that serve your purpose.

These are just a handful of tips for you on how to find the best Instagram hashtags for your account. Marketing research like this can be in-depth and time-consuming, but it’s worth it and should net you the types of results you’re looking for. Taking time to plan a hashtag strategy is a smart decision and will increase your likelihood of engagement success.

How to Use Instasize to Create a Cohesive Brand on Instagram

Growing an engaged following is the goal of any successful brand looking to market itself on social media. A big part of drawing potential followers and connecting with them is your visuals. That’s why Instagram is such a powerful tool for marketing your brand.

Not only is the app intensely visual in nature, but with over 800 million active users per month and one of the highest interaction rates of any social media platform, it is also one of the most effective ones out there. That’s the good news.

The challenge, however, is getting your brand to stand out amid a veritable jungle of competing accounts. We’ve already talked about the different ways you can develop your brand’s voice on Instagram, so now let’s discuss another important aspect of marketing your brand on the platform.

One of the best ways to grab and keep the attention of your prospective followers is to make browsing your feed a visually pleasurable experience that they’ll want to keep coming back to. A well curated feed with posts transitioning beautifully into each other is what you should aim for, and one of the key elements to achieving this is design consistency.

A consistent, cohesive look across your entire feed is not only appealing to the eye, it highlights the care and though you put into your brand. It may seem like a complex challenge, but achieving a cohesive brand isn’t actually that difficult with a plan in place and the right tools.

The first thing to keep in mind is that people look at your Instagram in two different ways. They see your posts individually on their feeds, and they also see them all together in a layout when they visit your profile. Visually interesting posts tend to get people to check out your brand’s profile.

It may take people seeing your posts a few times to get them to check out your profile. Having a consistent and appealing look across your posts will help potential followers recognize your content when it pops up.

Once you interest them enough for them to take a look at your brand’s profile, that’s where they usually decide to follow you. Having a cohesive and appealing look across your posts guide potential followers to this point, which is why a good image editing app like Instasize is such an indispensable tool for anyone looking to market their brand on Instagram. Let’s check out how Instasize can help you attain that cohesive aesthetic for your brand.

The quickest way to find a unified theme for your brand’s feed is to experiment with filters. Instagram has a modest selection that may suit your needs, but if you want your brand to stand out you’ll need a wider selection of filters.

Instasize’s extensive library of filters are a great way to easily apply a consistent but unique look across all your images if, like most of us, you don’t have an extensive background in photography.

Serious brand marketers can gain access to even more exclusive filters by availing of a premium membership. No matter how you want to project brand, there’s probably a theme that conveys it perfectly. If you’re going for something dark and broody, you can try out the A2 filter from Instasize’s Amber collection. Or you can go for a more cool and wintry look with the Spruce collection.

For something on the more light and bright side, why not try H2 from the Havana collection or the M2 and Arya filters?

Dramatic black and whites are more your thing? The app’s Radio and Nova features can give you that serious, dramatic tone.

Don’t forget that you can tweak a filter’s settings to really get a look that’s right for your brand. Once you feel more comfortable editing the settings of your photograph, Instasize lets you create your very own look by changing image settings such as Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, and the like.

Maintaining a consistent aesthetic also extends to the text you use to complement your visuals. Everybody knows that text is a convenient way to include link information or the time and date of your next Instagram Live post.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that selecting the right font, color, and style creates an instantly recognizable look. Instasize makes this easy by giving you an extensive set of options for creating the right text layout and style for your brand, all in a single app.

Besides being able to choose from a number of text styles, Instasize also lets you select the color and font applied to the same style without breaking the design. No need to resize and reposition the words, it’s all automated!

These tips should help you start designing your own brand’s unique, cohesive look. Remember, everything about your brand’s look should tell your brand’s story. So choose everything, from the colors, framing, and text styles with care. Keeping this and mind will go a long way towards getting your brand’s message across, and building an active and loyal following.

5 Reasons Why Micro-Influencers Are Vital to Marketing Success

Influencer marketing is on the rise, and while celebrities have an advantage, you do not have to reach their level to be successful as an influencer.

Micro-influencers, or people who have fewer than 100,000 followers – often lower than 20,000 depending on who you ask – are particularly helpful for marketers. Let’s take a look at the reasons why, aside from the fact that they do make up the majority of digital influencers online today.

1. They are more cost effective.

For many brands with limited budgets, it makes more sense to work with micro-influencers because they have significantly lower rates compared to people with thousands, or even millions of followers. Macro-influencers, or those with an audience of 500,000+ tend to charge high fees for sponsored posts. While they can still deliver value, the high fees mean they aren’t a cost effective investment.

Cost effectiveness should be part of your brand strategy, whether you’re just dabbling in influencer marketing or you are heavily invested in it.

If you pay $10,000 for a top-tier influencer to do one post, you won’t get as much from it as investing the same $10,000 in a larger campaign with multiple smaller influencers. You’ll get more posts total, and exposure to a better variety of audiences across the same niche with the micro-influencer campaign.

For smaller businesses that don’t have the budget to even work with a macro-influencer, micro-influencers let them jump in to to compete with the bigger brands, because all that matters is the influencer aligns with their budget and their target market.

2. Engagement rates are higher.

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers.

Both studies reveal that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases. Because engagement is a more important metric for brands, it makes sense for them to collaborate with people who they know will get their message across.

Sure, Kim Kardashian may have 135,570,876 followers, but her engagement rate is only 1.96%. Compared to micro-influencer Modern Fit who has 46,076 followers and a 2.62% engagement rate. Higher engagement is always better because it means people are paying more attention to what the influencer is sharing.

Influencers with 100,000 followers have around a 1% engagement rate, meaning only about 1,000 people are interacting with the content. But a smaller influencer with audience of 10,000 followers and a 6% engagement rate puts you in front of 600 people.

While you’re still losing exposure to 400 people, the difference in rate between the larger influencer often means you’re getting a much better per follower/engagement cost than you would with the larger influencer.

3. They’ve got authenticity.

Higher engagement rates generally mean that many followers have been there from the beginning, so they’re invested in the influencer and connected to them personally. Micro-influencers cherish their growing communities, and as such, are there to reply to comments, attend events, and engage their community both online and off.

Celebrities and other high profile influencers are often in high demand and have other commitments that stop them from being so readily available and personal with their following. Let’s be honest – no one really has the time to reply to 300 Instagram comments in a day, so the smaller audiences get more interaction from the influencer.

The other thing that makes them more person is the fact that their audience trusts them, which is not as a common with macro-influencers. Because these macro-influencers are known to regularly work with a variety of brands and consistently take on paid advertising projects, it means the audience doesn’t readily trust all of their recommendations.

4. They’ve mastered quality content creation.

Because micro-influencers are working toward building a macro-influencer status, they are focused on creating quality content their audience loves. They may not have a huge following, but you can bet they’ve mastered what it takes to create quality content.

Whether it’s the written word, imagery, or multimedia content you’re after, you can find an influencer to get the job done well, on budget, and without compromising quality. Instagram influencers are great at visual content, and many of them are great storytellers, using the captions to enhance the photos and videos they post.

5. They’re willing to go above and beyond.

Many brands love working with micro-influencers because they are great to work with. They are willing to go beyond what’s necessary to impress clients and keep them satisfied because they are so grateful for the chance to work with a brand that values them and their audience.

Because they aren’t as busy with other commitments as macro-influencers can be, it’s often easy to reach them via email to communicate with them directly, rather than having to go through a talent manager. Micro-influencers are generally more willing to explore out-of-the-box options, as well.

Micro-influencers are a great way to deliver marketing messages because there are plenty of them out there, and they deliver authentic, natural, and genuine recommendations. They are not affected by ad blocking software so there’s nothing standing between the content and consumers.

The marketers who understand the power and value of engagement in influencer marketing create better, and more powerful marketing campaigns. Leveraging smaller influencers in your marketing strategy allows any brand to succeed.

6 Essential Tips for Making Mind-Blowing Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories came about as a way to compete with Snapchat. It’s a fun feature you can use to string together image and video content to share with your followers. Your Stories will show up for only 24 hours, so folks will be encouraged to check back with you regularly.

Companies and influencers of various levels use this tool to engage their followers and to keep them interested. Using it can have a bit of a learning curve, though. Give these six essential tips for making mind-blowing Instagram Stories a try and see what a difference it makes.

1. Employ editing software to keep your videos short.

Video is a great addition to your Stories. It can be a fun way to shake things up and add real personality. People generally love them. However, Instagram only allows you to insert 15-second videos into your Instagram Stories. To get the most professional and efficient results, you’ll need to use editing software.

By editing your videos in advance, you’ll make sure things come together in a way that’s pleasing to viewers. Editing software lets you crop and splice segments of video together, adding music and transitions to improve the flow.

You can also adjust lighting, change speed and add filters to your videos. Try shooting in portrait mode since most people browse Instagram on their phones. There are a number of software possibilities to consider. Each has their own benefits, based on your skill level and equipment.

2. Use geotags and hashtags strategically.

If you want to gain followers quickly, you’ll want to use geotags and hashtags in your posts. You can do this in your general feed and in Instagram Stories.

Geotags allow you to add a location tag to your post, which can be as specific as a particular building or as broad as the city you’re in. Hashtags can be customized to reflect your specific niche. Both of these are like maps that lead your users to content that interests them.

You have to be careful to use tags strategically, though. There are lots of hashtags mistakes people make when just starting out. Do an Instagram search for relevant keywords in order to start your hashtag research. You can also check out what similar accounts are using to get ideas. Try not to be too vague or broad. The more specific, the better. Don’t forget to geotag your Stories with a location.

3. Take advantage of fun Instagram effects.

There are lots of native effects and features within Instagram that will let you enhance your Stories. You’ve probably seen others use some of them. Discovering which ones work with your content and appeal to your audience can take practice, but it’s well worth it as a way to up user engagement.

Play around with font options such as classic, neon, typewriter or modern. Try the boomerang effect to create fun video loops to add some unique personality and fun. Use text frames to break up the look of photos and highlight your text. Stickers are also a simple and fun way to add pizzazz to your images.

4. Trying going live.

Live video is becoming popular across social media platforms. This feature can be used in a lot of unique ways that really let you show off your personality or your products. Going live in Instagram Stories is a strategic way to engage with your followers in real time and share with them an interesting aspect of your brand.

Try featuring an expert within your niche for a Q&A. Live tours of company headquarters also tend to go over well as a way to give a behind-the scenes view to your audience. Introduce a new product line with a live stream or bring in a popular influencer to collaborate with your brand.

5. Boost engagement with polls and shoutouts.

If you want to gain followers and increase engagement, try creating polls and mentioning individual users with shoutouts. A poll allows you to ask questions about your brand or your industry and to gain feedback from your followers. People like to give their opinion, so why not ask them directly? This will also help you in creating future content that’s relevant to your audience.

You can mention users who are doing interesting things relevant to your brand or those who have interacted with you through hashtags and mentions. Just share that content in your Story and give those individuals a mention. They’ll appreciate it and will likely follow you back if they aren’t already.

6. Feature Story Highlights.

While Instagram Stories are fantastic for gaining followers and increasing engagement, they’re only around for 24 hours. However, you can pull parts of your Stories to be featured in Instagram Story Highlights that are permanently featured at the top of your profile. Another advantage to Highlights is that you can categorize them so that users can peruse which topics are of most interest to them.

You can switch up your Instagram Highlights as often as you wish to keep things fresh and share your latest content. It’s a great way to re-use your best Instagram Stories images and videos in a prominent way.

Keep these tips in mind to improve your Instagram Stories. You definitely want to be using this feature to engage your audience. Take time to find which aspects work best for you and have fun with it.

5 Instagram Trends to Pay Attention to in 2020

If you’re getting serious about Instagram, either as a brand or an influencer, these are the trends you need to focus on and become part of this year. Awareness of what’s going on in the Instagram world ensures you are better able to craft a strategy for growth and engagement.

1. It’s all about micro-influencers.

If you’re just starting out on Instagram, there’s no need to worry about growing your audience to huge numbers before you can start benefiting from influencer status. If you have less than 100,000 followers, you fall into the micro-influencer category, and many brands prefer to work with influencers at this level.

But now, everyone has a chance to become an influencer. Nano-influencers, or those with as little as 1,000 followers are increasing because brands want to work with average users on brand campaigns and sponsored posts.

Why?

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers. Both studies show that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases.

Beyond the rise of micro-influencers, we’re seeing an increase in micro-brands. Small businesses that are competing with big retailers and able to do so well because of low customer acquisition costs thanks to social media.

It’s often more cost effective for brands, particularly those that are strapped for cash, to work with nano and micro influencers because they see a clear ROI.

2. Instagram Stories.

The majority of Instagram users use the Stories feature. According to the Preview App, 86.6% of users surveyed use the feature. But, the same source reveals only 36.6% of people watch Insta Stories, while 63.4% watch posts.

This means you should keep the main focus on your posts, but it doesn’t mean you should give up on Instagram Stories. In fact, if you include them in your strategy and factor them into your overall feed aesthetic, you can really make them work for you to increase engagement and build solid relationships.

3. Influencers double down on authenticity.

Social media is all about authenticity. In the early days of Instagram, we saw a lot of posed photos that were over processed with filters. These days are over, as people are flocking to Instagram for more authentic relationships and genuine experiences. In 2018, a new breed of Instagram influencers came to light, those particularly focused on authenticity. Take for instance, Jenna Kutcher, a body-positive Instagrammer who gained more than 500,000 followers in a year, growing to over 800,000 without paying for any of them.

Influencer marketing has grown significantly thanks to Instagram, with global ad spend on influencers expected to reach over $5 billion by 2020.

In 2017, major fashion and beauty brands, such as Revolve, Chloe, and Benefit Cosmetics invested in influencers by sending them on outlandish vacations, all with the focus on selling their products. Though brands are excited about the potential Instagram influencers bring for their brands, users have started to see through the “perfection” and #sponsored posts.

In an effort to keep brand deals without losing followers, we can expect Instagram influencers to become more authentic and personal, even down to discussing their sponsored posts.

4. Dark social hits Instagram.

Dark social may sound scary, but it’s just the term used to describe social media activity that cannot be tracked because it’s private. When someone shares links or posts in direct messages, we see the traffic, but cannot tell where it’s coming from.

Instagram Direct has improved greatly because we can now use GIFs and video chat. It has moved from one-on-one texting to a group chat platform, with many people using it instead of WhatsApp and Messenger.

Because of the tagging, sharing, and reply features on Instagram Stories, it’s easier than ever to start private conversations on Instagram.

This year and beyond, Instagram will continue building features for Direct, and we may see DMs go away from Instagram altogether. It’s possible they’ll spin into a separate app like Facebook did with Messenger.

5. Planning your feed in advance.

Data from the Preview App also shows ⅔ of Instagram users plan their feed in advance. Of those people, 63.5% plan their posts less than a week in advance, and 36.5% plan a week or more in advance.

This is particularly useful for brands who want to ensure their content is ready for various launches and promotions. And it’s useful for influencers who want to make sure they’re following along with a certain visual aesthetic, and continually producing content. Planning in advance also keeps you on track and prevents you from having lulls where there is no new content available to engage your audience.

That said, while many people plan their Instagram feeds, they do not plan their Instagram Stories. Only 21% of people surveyed indicate that they plan their Stories, meaning 79% of people create their stories on the fly. This could be why many people don’t watch Stories. Try planing yours in advance then see how it affects viewership.

No matter what the trends are for 2020 and beyond, one thing is certain. People love Instagram! Preview App data shows that most people spend between one and three hours a day there. If your brand isn’t part of the network yet, you are really missing out. Even if you don’t have a shoppable feed, you can still cultivate relationships to turn casual social media followers into loyal customers.