There are plenty of things that are incredible to have all shiny and brand new. A sparkling pair of diamond earrings, for example, or a freshly-waxed sedan with that new car smell, or crisp, clean sheets fresh out of the wash.
There’s one thing, however, that is not better when you first get your hands on it, and that thing is your social media profiles.
While it’s exciting to be starting up a new Instagram profile to enhance or build your online presence, there’s no denying that momentum is slow to pick up at the very beginning. Your channel is relatively empty with just a few posts to share, and your follower count is likely even emptier.
That’s ok. Everyone starts somewhere, and that somewhere is always at a follower count and post count of zero. This includes those mega Instagram stars, who have created legitimate businesses out of posing in workout clothes and sharing inspirational quotes a few times a week.
When you’re getting started, it does take time to build up a presence, but one of the best things you can do to jumpstart that is to leverage your network to get free Instagram followers that will care about and engage with your brand while you’re building it. In this post, we’re going to discuss how you can do exactly that, recruiting your network to help you gain free Instagram followers in no time.
Why Leveraging Your Network Matters
Leveraging your network is typically a good choice in general, whether you need to find a new job or even if you’re trying to build a new business. The people you know personally will be already invested in what you’re doing, and they may be eager to help you do it.
This goes for building an online presence, too. Your network– who we’re defining here as people who are already connected to you in some way, either personally and professionally– is already familiar with you. They might trust you, and know about your professional ventures. They’ll be happy to support you in anyway possible, and that can include becoming followers themselves and even helping you to attract new followers.
Sometimes, your network can help put you in touch with your exact target audience, giving you relevant and free Instagram followers who will be enthusiastic about your business thanks to a personal recommendation from someone they trust. And since generating that early-but-crucial social momentum is so difficult on Instagram, this can give you a big push to keep moving forward.
Two years ago, for example, I started social media accounts for a small ice cream shop in Washington. I lived on the other side of the U.S., but I reached out to two friends I’d gone to school with who had relocated, swore the brand was great (because it was), and asked them to share it with their network as a huge favour. The brand got 250 likes within two weeks that we could directly trace back to this interaction.
5 Ways To Get Free Instagram Followers Through Your Network
Starting to build a following with the people you know is an excellent strategy, but it’s important to go about it the right way. Let’s take a look at 5 different strategies you can use to get new free Instagram followers through your network in the most organic ways.
1. Post Your Nametag on Other Profiles
Sometimes, you may be starting a brand’s Instagram from scratch while you build up the brand’s other social profiles, but in many cases they’ll have an online presence somewhere— even if it’s just LinkedIn.
Many brands, however, already have a Facebook up and running and they start with Instagram later on. In these cases, you can post the account’s Nametag on all of the brand’s social media profiles, along with the personal profiles of the business owner or employees if relevant.
Instagram’s Nametags are essentially QR-code styled identifiers that rolled out last year, and each Instagram user will have a unique tag that they can share in person and post on social media (or posters in store!).
Followers simply have to scan the Nametag within their app, and they’ll be given the option to follow the account quickly.
If people are following you on other social profiles, have a CTA encouraging them to follow you on Instagram, too, with your Nametag attached. You can also ask friends and followers to share the post with anyone who they think might want to follow you, too.
2. Promote Instagram-Exclusive Content
If you want to get more followers on your Instagram, let your current audience know that they need to move over that way, too. Take to social media and let them know that you’ll be having Instagram-exclusive content on your profile, and that they should follow you to stay tuned.
Examples of exclusive content might include:
- Contests or promotions
- First look at new products or breaking news
- Live content, including Q&As or interviews with influencers
- How-to content or tutorials
- Products only sold or promoted through Instagram
Too many brands recycle the exact same posts on every single platform without changing it up, so let everyone know that this won’t be the case for your Instagram. Trust me, this can catch their attention.
3. Send Out an Email Blast
When you startup your Instagram account, there’s a chance that your email account will have a lot more subscribers than some social channels will. Use that to your advantage, and let your engaged, interested audience know that you’ve got a new Instagram account up and running and that it’s ready for them!
Include your brand’s Nametag here, and also feature a clickable link alongside a CTA encouraging users to see everything you have to offer.
In order to increase clicks, make sure you’re advertising value in these emails. Explain what exactly users can get out of it. Even a simple tagline like “stay up to date with all the latest fashions” explains why users should follow you on the Insta, and make them more likely to do so.
And if you’ve already send out an initial email blast, that doesn’t mean that your subscriber list no longer has potential. Include a “Follow Us” CTA near social icons for all your profiles, and watch the steady stream of follows come flowing in.
4. Follow Them First
Want to build up a following and put yourself on someone’s radar? Make the first move. You can follow accounts that you’re familiar with who you’d love a follow back from. Since they know who you are, they’re more likely to accept the follow in the first place and follow suit.
One thing to note here is that you need to be careful with this approach. You don’t want to just follow everyone you can think of if you know they won’t be your target audience. One of two things could happen:
- They’ll follow you back out of obligation but then never interact with your posts, sinking your overall engagement rate and potentially harming your placement in the feeds.
- They’ll ignore the request, and your “following” number will grow higher than your “follower” count, hurting social proof.
You also don’t want to just follow people, wait for them to follow you back, and then unfollow them. This is about as bad etiquette as you’ll see on social media, and it typically doesn’t work; they’ll likely unfollow you right back at some point, too, leaving you at square one.
5. Work With Influencers You Know
Most brands have strong industry connections when they start their businesses or their social media profiles, and some of them may even be influencers. If you have genuine, authentic relationships with any micro-influencers, you can reach out and see if there’s an opportunity for collaboration.
A small boutique fitness studio near me happily promoted the small nutrition and cooking business started by one of their old employees, pictured in the image below. They posted regularly about her content, and even invited her to host workshops at their studio, allowing her to leverage their established audience to find new customers and build a following early on.
Influencers, for this purpose, can be anyone who has a voice with the audience you’re trying to target. They can be Instagram stars, bloggers, or even other business owners, like in the example above. Anyone who has an established audience in line with your target demographics can be of benefit to you, and if you reach out to them, they might be thrilled to do just that. Even a post every once and awhile with a tag back to you can make a big difference.
How Not to Leverage Your Network: The Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
So far, we’ve looked at several great ways you can use the connections that you already have to gain new, free followers on your Instagram account. These all fall into the “do” part of the do’s and don’ts list.
Now let’s take a look at the mistakes that you should avoid when you’re looking for a little help from the people you already know:
- Spamming people. If you asked once and they ignore the request, that’s it, you’re done. We all have a lot on our plates, and while it would be great if that friend followed your account or shared your Story, that’s their choice to make. Don’t pester anyone, because it could lose you followers (and friends!) instead of gaining them.
- Tagging people or brands that you don’t gel with. Some brands or influencers just won’t mesh well with yours, or vice versa, and it’s best to not bring them into your marketing strategy. If you like featuring political content and you know that another brand or influencer doesn’t, don’t tag them in those posts or even try to use their account to get traffic to yours. It won’t work well, and it can just cause brand confusion for both of you.
- Ignoring the effort. When the people who know and love you go out of their way to help you build up an Instagram following for your own brand or for a new client, don’t just ignore that with a “well I’d do it for them, too!” Take some time and send them a private message, and even thank them publicly if the situation warrants it.
Networking is big in the business world for such a good reason: it does, and always will work. Who you know is an important part of how the world works, and that’s perhaps become even more true as we’ve seen the world of social media explode. Leaning on your network to help you establish an early following and gain free Instagram followers that care about your brand. This will get you off to a good start on the right foot, giving you the momentum you need to keep building a strong follower base over time.
As a reminder, it’s important to ensure that while you’re leveraging your network, you never actually make them feel used. Don’t ask for favors too big to return the favor, and do what you can to support them in return. No one should ever feel like you’re sucking them dry or taking advantage of them, and a genuine thanks and asking for just a little at a time will go a long way here.