When first starting out with your online business, paid advertising is usually the quickest ways to lose a lot of money. Unfortunately, you usually need anywhere from three to five thousand dollars to get started while you’re learning, testing, and optimizing. It’s often just a struggle to break even on your ad spend when first learning ad buying strategies and it it’s common for people to have cash flow problems before their advertising campaign is even profitable.
Because of this, new business owners without paid advertising experience should grow an online audience within their niche using organic methods. Organic audience growth is perfect if you don’t want to risk thousands of dollars, but have plenty of spare time.
One of the easier platforms to organically grow an audience on is Instagram.
What Thrives On Instagram?
It’s important to understand which industries and niches do well on Instagram. Luckily, Instagram isn’t just limited to a small niche or two, and several types of niches and business models can benefit. Here are some that do very well on the platform:
- Selling physical products. If you sell any kind of physical products online, or even create custom products, you can greatly benefit from an audience. Great product photos will boost sales.
- Selling information. If you’re selling some kind of course or training to teach a skill or that helps people solve a problem, you can get great organic reach. This is especially true if you frequently post videos. Being on camera helps build trust with your audience. They will be eager to see what new quick lesson you have, so you can be sure they won’t be scrolling past your posts.
- Selling coaching or consulting. This is similar to the information selling in principle. You can leverage your expertise and build trust through you Instagram audience to attract high-paying clients.
- Affiliate Marketing. If your goal is to make affiliate offers like promoting software as a service (SaaS)for monthly commissions, Instagram is a great place to start building your audience. When working on commission, you want to stick to free traffic methods as much as possible to keep your profit margins high.
- Travel and Tourism. If you’re starting an online tourism agency or make affiliate offers within the travel and tourism niche, Instagram is a wonderful place to start. Travel photos of beautiful places around the world tend to go viral quite easily.
- Illustration, graphic design, and photography. If you are an artist of some kind and want to sell your services, prints of your work, or other products involving your artwork, Instagram is the perfect place for you. Whether you do oil paintings or funny cartoons, artists tend to get large followings fairly quickly since the platform benefits visual mediums so well.
There are several markets and niches not listed here that would also do well on Instagram. If you are curious about a specific niche, simply search for niche-related keywords on Instagram. You’ll likely find accounts with huge followings already, which is a good sign it will work for you as well.
Why Instagram Works So Well for Organic Growth
Instagram works well because followers tend to be very passionate and engaging, especially if you consistently post high volumes of quality content.
You should be posting frequently, several times a day. This will keep you fresh in the minds of your audience, so it is amazing for brand awareness. The marketing rule of seven states that, on average, your audience needs to hear from you at least seven times before they decide to buy something. The nature of Instagram, along with frequently posting quality content, means your audience will be more than primed when you start making offers.
Content Frequency and Engagement
Like it was mentioned above, you need to consistently post a high frequency of quality content to get the most out of Instagram’s organic growth. However, you also need to be engaging regularly with people who comment on your posts. Take the time to give a good reply to comments. As your audience sees how engaged you regularly are on your posts, they will also become more engaging.
Highly engaging posts are more popular on Instagram. This means they will show up to your audience more, and are more likely to trend and go viral, gaining you a large number of new followers. You should also be encouraging engagement by asking a good question in the description of your posts.
Optimizing Your Instagram Profile
After you’ve created your niche Instagram account, you should optimize it both for growth and to warm your audience to eventually pay for products or services. Your profile description should clearly say what you do. If you teach a skill, say so. If you’re giving dog training tips, your profile should say that. If you’re building a travel audience, mention that your page shows off great travel destinations and shares travel tips.
Make sure you have a clear, relevant profile picture. If you are the face of your account, make sure your profile picture is friendly and professional. If your page is more about about the product, have a great product picture as your profile picture, or possibly your company logo.
Your profile description is where you can add a clickable link on Instagram. From the beginning, you should have a link to your website, a sales page, or a landing page. If you don’t have any of that yet, you can link one of your other social media profiles like Facebook, to grow your audience reach even further with no additional work.
Your First Few Followers
Because people are more likely to follow you if they see you already have a few followers, you want to get your first small group of followers on your fresh account. While in the long run, you want your audience to be made out of legitimate accounts that genuinely care about following you, for your first 100 followers or so, it’s not that important.
Luckily, there is a simple trick to get your first 100 followers. After creating your account, follow large Instagram accounts in your niche. Follow 100-200 accounts the first day, and if needed, you can follow another 100-200 accounts the second day. Because these are large accounts you’re following, you’ll instantly start getting followed by small accounts in your niche, that are targeting people who recently followed those larger accounts, and they are hoping you’ll follow them back. You don’t actually care about these accounts, because the owners don’t really care about ever purchasing anything from you. However, these initial 100 or so followers you’ll get with this method will give you a bit of momentum when you start posting.
Don’t use this method past your first 100 followers since these specific followers aren’t really going to be engaging with you or bringing value in any way. You don’t want a large following of random accounts that are likely your competition, you want legit engaging followers.
Don’t Use The Follow/Unfollow Method
A lot of older online guides in the early days swore by the strategy of following large groups of your competitor’s followers, trying to get a follow back, and then later unfollowing them. This is likely the strategy your first 100 followers are using. While this worked in Instagram’s early years, it will severely hinder your growth now.
Instagram has updated their algorithm and they now lower your reach if they see a follow/unfollow pattern. This means your audience won’t see your posts as often, and your posts are much less likely to start trending. That trending is crucial to fast growth of your account.
Along with this, avoid any kind of software that uses method to automate your Instagram growth. You will grow much faster, and have a much more engaging audience by putting in the work and doing everything manually. Besides, Instagram may ban your account if they notice software being used.
Hashtags are a crucial part of growing your account organically so that your posts are exposed to people that aren’t your followers. While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, this can come off as spammy. Instead, use 5-10 hashtags per post.
Use hashtags that are relevant to your niche and specific post, and vary the popularity of your hashtags. You can see the number of posts using this hashtag when searched. For efficient use, on every post, split your hashtags evenly between low, medium, and high popularity. One third in the tens of thousands, one thirds in the hundreds of thousands, and one third in the millions.
If you need hashtag ideas, check the posts of the large niche accounts that you followed. Don’t use the same hashtags on every post, vary them regularly. Mix and match them between different posts.
Vary Your Post Types
Not all of your posts need to be long videos or have a long description. Sometimes, quick content can trend much easier and get a ton of engagement and new followers. You should mix and match the types of posts.
Some posts can be a video with you speaking on camera. Other posts can be an interesting picture with some quick tips in the description. You can even share memes or something funny and write your own text on it to make it relevant to your niche. Try different things and see what your audience responds to. By varying your posts types, your audience won’t become fatigued from seeing the same thing over and over.
Engage On Other Posts Within Your Niche
You can attract a lot of followers simply by engaging with other posts related to your niche. Comment on posts from popular niche accounts that you are following. Click like on some of your favorite comments and reply to them. Don’t spam, just participate in the discussion. Offer value when there are opportunities. People will check out your profile and follow you if you are genuine with your engagement.
You can also find posts that are recently trending within your niche and comment there. Any place where there is recent engagement of your target audience is somewhere good for you to engage with people. Avoid engaging on old content because not many people will see your comment.
If you can, try to get into an engagement group within your niche. If you can’t find any, you can start one of your own.
Engagement groups are groups of accounts within a niche, where everyone privately agrees to engage with each other’s posts. Having engagement from accounts with a lot of followers helps give your posts a boost, making your post much more likely to trend. Trending posts will always get you a ton of new followers.
To find engagement groups, connect with and direct message growing accounts in your niche and ask if they are part of an engagement group and mention you’d like to join. If you are having trouble finding a group, start one yourself and privately invite relevant niche accounts.
Monetizing with Instagram may not be as straight forward as other platforms, since you only have the one link in your profile. However, when you post to make an offer to sell a relevant product or service, you can update the link and direct followers to it.
You can also use Instagram stories as a sales video, where followers can swipe up to go to your offer page.
Even if you don’t yet have a product or service, many Instagram accounts make good money doing paid “shoutouts” promoting other people’s stuff for them. However, affiliate promotions is recommended over shoutouts, but you can test both.
If you’re great at growing Instagram accounts, you can even grow several accounts at once and sell them to interested parties for a big payday.