A large Instagram following can raise your profile and boost sales for your business. So how do you build one from scratch?

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, and as a photo- and video-centered channel, it offers unique advantages for businesses. So how does a strong social following help your business, and what are some of the most effective Instagram Marketing for business tools, and ways to grow your business following on Instagram?

How a strong social following can help your business

Having a strong social following could help businesses (large or small) create and sustain rewarding relationships with their customer base. A large following on a platform like Instagram could raise your profile and build trust and credibility. You can engage in real-time two-way conversations with customers while partnering with influencers, thereby staying top of mind in a competitive environment with a lot of marketing noise.

Social channels let you answer queries, publish and promote content, and promote your business by sharing valuable content. It's a cost-effective way to share updates and new offerings. Ultimately, these advantages could allow you to increase web traffic, generate new leads, and grow sales and revenue.

Examples of businesses that benefit from social followings are restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. Businesses that serve corporate, as well as consumer markets (like the catering sector), can also promote their business and showcase their offerings through social media. Just like an online reservation platform for a restaurant or online catering software for a catering business, your social media channel is a valuable tool for your food operations. With a large following, it can empower you in an important function - marketing.

Tips and tricks for growing your following

So, a large social following could have numerous benefits for your business, but how do you get started with building a big following on Instagram?

  • Understand your target audience

    Research your target audience on Instagram and get to know what they want to see. This might be close-up food photos, behind-the-scenes videos, and regular updates on new menu additions.

  • Be human, be individual

    Don't hesitate to inject individuality into your Instagram posts. People love seeing unique points of view, whether this is in the way you caption your content, add a bit of humor, or leave a comment on other accounts. Always strike a friendly and positive tone, and add a human voice to the posts.

  • Cross promote with other channels

    Don't forget to link your Instagram account to your website and/or other social media channels. Add Instagram buttons to your website, email marketing, and other marketing materials. Cross promoting with other marketing channels drives higher visibility and awareness and could attract more followers.

    Don't forget that if you're running an event, social media will definitely help. Nowadays, Instagram is being used by some to “sell and distribute tickets,” and it is expected that trends like this will only grow.

  • Use captions and hashtags

    Add captions to give your followers context, rather than just posting the photo or video. In addition, don't forget to use hashtags, which can make your Instagram posts easier to discover by new potential followers and boost engagement. Stay inspired by keeping up with what's trending on Instagram so you can add the most relevant, trending hashtags to your posts.

  • Post at the right time

    Work out when your target audience is on Instagram and post when they're on the platform. You can use apps to track how well your Instagram posts are performing. Do a little experimenting and testing to identify the best times, and this way, you'll maximize engagement, views, and followers.

  • Interact with other accounts

    Reach out and interact with other accounts such as foodies, corporate or education customers, and other like-minded people and accounts. Follow accounts that interest you and follow potential business partners.

    With the customer’s permission, you could share catering event photos, tag your customers’ accounts and encourage them to repost your photos. Interact with comments, likes, and reposts, and this could help you get your name out there.

  • Post regularly

    Posting regularly keeps followers interested and coming back. If you only post once a month rather than once a day, you'll likely have much lower engagement rates. Mix up your content and avoid posting the same types of content.

  • Use natural lighting

    Natural lighting - as opposed to poor lighting and overuse of filters - might be one of the most important elements in creating appealing, striking photos for would-be Instagram followers. Avoid sharing blurry photos with poor lighting or similar types of content that won't reflect well on your business.

  • Use incentives

    Encourage followers to promote your account with simple incentives. For example, Hipkids posts sometimes contain a call-to-action asking them to repost for a chance to win a prize (for example, like this one). Raising repost numbers can amplify your message.

  • Repost follower content

    If your followers post photos of your products, repost and reuse the content. Not only does it keep your followers interested; they'll enjoy the free publicity for their own account.

Using Instagram to scale your business

Getting a large following on Instagram could take some effort and time, but the potential advantages of having a large social media following are numerous for your business. Keep sharing appealing content and communicating your message, and you could have a valuable channel that drives higher sales and profit.