You’re posting consistently, and at the right times, you’re creating eye-catching content, AND you’re using relevant hashtags, and plenty of them… so why isn’t your audience growing?
Building an Instagram following is tough, and frustration can quickly rear its ugly head when you know you’re doing everything right, yet the audience numbers fail to reflect your hard work. The vast majority of advice available online states that if you commit to engaging with your audience and other accounts, optimise your profile with a catchy bio, and present your most authentic self, then your follower numbers will increase.
However, in practice, it seems this couldn’t be further from the case.
Over the past few months, experts have been quick to blame this phenomenon on the Instagram algorithm, which decides how many people will see your content in their feeds based on your overall engagement metrics. While the algorithm has had an impact on some businesses getting seen, this is usually indicative to an underlying issue with content not being strong or engaging enough in the first place, rather than Instagram going out of their way to block content from brands.
So why is it so difficult to grow an Instagram audience? Here are two factors which could be at play:
1) You’re lost in a sea of similarity.
How many other content creators are posting about the same topics and using the same hashtags as you? For example, say you run a health and fitness account, what are you offering that is different to the millions of other accounts on Instagram in the same category?
One of the biggest mistakes users make when trying to attract a wider audience is to use generic hashtags, as they believe these will open their content up to a broader audience, however, this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. At the time of writing, a search for #fitness displays a staggering 289 million posts, how far do you reckon the average user will scroll through these results before they get bored?
To stand a chance of being seen, focus on niche communities, keep your finger on the pulse of emerging trends in your industry and think about the one stand out thing that makes you, YOU, and run with it.
2) You’re relying on cliché styles
The hard work doesn’t stop once you have identified your niche, as even in your niche you are still competing against other content creators. To attract the most attention, you need to offer something valuable, interesting or thought-provoking to your audience.
Do your research into what is the norm for the majority of other accounts in your niche – do they use the same staging in their photos, the same colour palates, or perhaps they organise their photo grids in a specific way? Then look at the most popular posts in your niche.
The goal is to utilise the elements your target audience respond well too, while creating a clear differentiator in how you present your content.
A good rule of thumb? If your post looks like something you’ve seen on Instagram before, switch it up– give your audience something new and interesting to engage with.