There was a time when the number of Instagram followers you had was the most important metric when it comes to assessing your Instagram strategy.
But not anymore. Ever since Instagram’s algorithm change in 2016 and the shift in focus to post engagement, follower numbers have become more of an ego booster. Something to make you feel important.
But that’s not to say that it’s no longer important. According to a survey commissioned by Facebook, 81% of Instagram users claim that they use the platform to find and research products and services. This means that you need to grow your audience with organic followers in order not to leave money on the table for your competitors to run away with.
In this post, I’ll show you the best practices that you can use to grow your Instagram audience and build your presence. I will also show you ten free and paid tools that will help you analyze and track the growth of your Instagram audience.
But first, let’s see why it’s important to track your Instagram follower growth.
- Why is it a good idea to track your follower growth on Instagram?
- Best practices to follow when growing your Instagram audience over time
- Top free and paid tools for tracking your Instagram growth
Why is it a good idea to track your follower growth on Instagram?
Just to be clear, there is only one type of follower growth you should be interested in. And that’s your organic follower growth. Buying Instagram followers is a route you should not take.
Why is this so?
There is a simple reason. You want your audience to be engaged. You want them to react to your posts as that will signify to Instagram that your content is worth sharing. But bought Instagram followers won’t be engaged. They won’t drive your business growth. All they’ll do is increase your follower count.
And I’m sure that’s not what you’re looking for. That’s why it’s important to track your Instagram growth. You need to make sure that your followers are actually humans and not bots.
Here are a few other reasons why you should track your Instagram follower growth.
Assess the effectiveness of your content strategy
Peter Drucker, a management consultant, once said if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. And this is true for almost everything related to your business, including your Instagram (or social media) content strategy.
So, what’s a quick way to measure the effectiveness of your Instagram content strategy?
Just look at the rate at which your followers grew within a specific period of time.
In general, if your follower count grew within a set period of time, then it must be that they loved something you were doing, probably the sort of content you publish. And if you notice that your follower growth rate slowed down within a specific period, it most likely means that something has to change in your content strategy.
Shows you the rate at which your brand presence grows
At this point, saying that the social media landscape is a competitive one must sound redundant. The fight for customers’ attention doesn’t look like slowing down as 7 out of 10 businesses use Instagram to connect with their audiences.
Therefore, the more robust your presence is on the platform, the better chance you have of challenging your competitors.
Helps you assess your competitive performance
I mentioned that the number of followers can be a vanity metric. It doesn’t paint the whole picture of brand growth.
But while that is the case, it becomes important when comparing your growth rate to that of your competitors. If competitors are growing their Instagram audience at a much faster rate than your brand, it means that there’s something you aren’t doing right.
Best practices to follow when growing your Instagram audience over time
Growing your Instagram follower count is a long-term game. On average, Instagram accounts see a monthly growth rate of around 1.46%. As you can imagine, there are no shortcuts to creating an engaged community on Instagram.
Here are a few tips to help you grow your Instagram account.
1. Stay away from fake followers
Buying Instagram followers is the path of least resistance when growing your Instagram audience. The prospect of adding a few thousand new followers to your audience in less than a week must sound irresistible, doesn’t it?
But this is a strategy that won’t pay off. Why is that so?
Firstly, fake Instagram followers won’t engage with your posts. And if they don’t, what’s the point of having them?
In a study of Instagram influencer accounts conducted by Markerly, they discovered that accounts with less than 100 followers generally have about an 8% engagement rate. Between one thousand and ten thousand, the engagement rate drops to around 4%. The inverse relationship between engagement and number of followers continues as accounts with over ten million followers have only 1.6% engagement.
I’m sure you don’t think your customers are foolish. They know what original engagement looks like/ Once they see that your post gets only a few bland and inappropriate comments or that you only receive 40 likes despite the fact that you have about 10k followers, they’ll begin to suspect that something might be wrong.
It only takes one customer to point it out and your credibility will be shot down.
Here’s another reason for you to stay away from fake followers. They make it hard for you to analyze your Instagram performance.
How do you gauge your engagement if you don’t even know how many real followers you have?
Continuous tweaking of your Instagram strategy is important if you want to stay ahead of your competition. But fake Instagram followers will make sure that you’ll always be shooting shots in the dark when it comes to making your Instagram strategy work.
2. Optimize your Instagram profile
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That saying might be old but it still rings true today.
Research has shown that it takes less than two-tenths of a second for consumers to form an impression of your brand online. In less than a second, your customer will decide if you’re worth his time and money.
How do you make sure that your customers don’t bounce every time they land on your Instagram profile? Simple. You have to make your Instagram profile enticing.
Optimizing your Instagram profile is the first step towards gaining organic followers that will be interested in your business.
Your profile is representative of your entire brand. So, it’s paramount that you use it to show your audience the best version of your brand.
So, where do you begin?
When a customer lands on your Instagram profile, the first things he sees are your profile image, your bio, and part of your Instagram feed. So it’s a good idea to deal with these first.
Your profile photo should represent what your brand is about. In most cases, this should be your company’s logo. It would help you remain constant across all the social media profiles you might keep.
You should also make sure that your Instagram username and display name are as search-friendly as possible.
Now, those two might sound like they mean the same thing, but they don’t.
Your username appears at the top of your profile and needs to be unique to you. It also can’t be more than 30 characters long. But your display name is shown below your follower count and doesn’t need to be unique to you. You can also add emojis and special characters.
In the case of your username, you would do well to stick to your brand name as most people searching for you will do so using your brand name.
Also, your Instagram bio should be scannable and easy to understand. Incorporate some of your target keywords that’ll help people understand what to expect from your page.
Website traffic should be one of the important Instagram metrics that you track but Instagram limits the number of avenues available to drive traffic away from the platform.
In your bio, you have only one spot and that’s the link in your bio. Add a URL there to direct your customers to your website. And if you want to take them to specific website pages, you can use a tool like Linktree to add multiple links to your Instagram profile.
3. Drive traffic from other channels
One good way to build up your Instagram follower base is to make use of the audience you already have on other media channels. When you’re just starting out, your Instagram presence won’t be as robust as you want it to be.
But you can put the audience you’ve already built on other platforms to good use.
For instance, you could send a newsletter to all your email subscribers prompting them to follow your brand on Instagram. This same strategy could also be applied to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These people already follow your brand on these platforms so it’s safe to say that they are interested in your brand.
Another way to get traffic is to add an Instagram button to your website, letting your website visitors know that you have an Instagram account. Clicking this button will take them to your Instagram profile where they can follow you.
4. Interact with your Instagram audience
Instagram is a platform for you to build a community around your brand. That’s how you should think about it.
In order to build a strong community, you need to create a personal relationship with your audience. Rather than ghosting after uploading content to your Instagram feed, take the time to reply to messages and respond to comments.
This is something that customers not only appreciate. They also expect it as 83% of people expect brands to respond to comments in one day or less.
If you think that this could be overwhelming for you or your team, you should use social media management tools like Sociality.io to help you manage your messages. Sociality.io has a dedicated Instagram messaging tool designed to help brands streamline their Instagram engagement and keep their customers satisfied. With this tool you can send and receive Instagram messages in one team inbox, reply to post comments privately, react to messages, and so much more.
5. Make use of all Instagram features
Instagram might have started as just a place to share your photos. But it’s certainly become more than that now. As such, the platform has built lots of features to help you create diverse and engaging content for your audience.
You have Instagram stories that can boost your brand’s engagement and retention rates, carousel posts, ads, highlights, reels, polls, and so on.
Your customers are variety-seeking. They want to see diverse content as they scroll through your feed.
Speaking of variety, while switching up your content format, you should also vary the message. It’s understandable if you want every post to lead to a sale. But not all of your posts should be about selling a product or service. You should also share posts that promote your brand and reflect your brand voice.
Top free and paid tools for tracking your Instagram follower growth
You need an analytics tool in order to track your Instagram follower growth and measure your Instagram performance.
Below, you’ll find the top free and paid tools that will help you keep tabs on the growth of your followers.
Top free Instagram tools for tracking your Instagram follower growth
The free Instagram tools are
- Instagram insights
- Union Metrics
1. Instagram insights
If you use an Instagram business account and you need analysis on your Instagram performance, where is the first place you go to?
Instagram insights, right?
Instagram analytics is Instagram’s own analytics tool. So, how can you use it to track your follower growth?
Note that you need to have an Instagram business account or a creator account to have access to this tool. If you use a personal account, check out these posts to switch to a business or creator account.
With Instagram Insights, you’ll have access to information on your followers such as the growth rate, number of new followers and unfollowers, and their location. You’ll also find information on their most active times and gender and age distribution.
Unfortunately, this tool can only be used on the mobile app. And it only provides one week’s worth of data.
Instafollow is an Instagram-specific mobile app that provides you with insight into your follower base. This app is available to both android and IOS users.
In order to use the app, you need to first download it from your app store and sync it with your Instagram account. Once installed, you’ll be able to track new followers and unfollowers, follow and unfollow people easily, find people you follow but don’t follow you back.
Crowdfire is a web and mobile social media tool that allows you to discover, curate, and schedule your social media content in one place.
Although Crowdfire has paid pricing tiers, its free plan allows you to create analytic reports on the performance of your social media account.
You can keep track of your engagement and the growth of your fans and followers. However, you can only view reports of the last 24 hours with the free plan. If you only need to monitor your progress on a day-to-day basis, then this might come in handy for you.
Socialbakers provides a free Instagram business tracker that allows you to access the stats behind your best-performing posts in one dashboard. You’ll get information on your best-performing posts, stories, and the growth of your followers.
5. Union Metrics
Union Metrics promises to give you data and stats about your Instagram account with their free Instagram tracker tool in just two minutes.
So in two minutes, you’ll be able to find out what type of posts resonate well with your audience, what the best time to post is, and what hashtags might bring you the most engagement.
That’s not a bad deal for two minutes of your time, is it?
Top paid Instagram tools for tracking your Instagram follower growth
These are the top paid Instagram tools for tracking your Instagram follower growth.
- Sprout Social
Using Sociality.io’s report module, you’ll find easy-to-understand charts that’ll show you important metrics like your follower growth rate, most active followers, location, engagement rate, your best performing posts, and so on.
All reports are ready to present.
No more wasting hours for weekly and monthly reports, no more crises that arise from mistakes on reports.
You can also compare your competitors’ growth rate to yours to find out what the industry benchmarks are. This would help you set better goals for your Instagram strategy.
Sociality.io’s pricing starts at $15 per month (billed annually). With this, you’ll be able to add five social media profiles and begin managing your social media accounts.
2. Sprout Social
Sprout Social’s collection of Instagram analytic tools are designed to help large organizations grow and manage their Instagram presence.
With Sprout Social, you can
- Discover your top-performing posts
- Track your engagement rates across different profiles
- Discover who your most engaged followers are
- Keep tabs on your competitors
- Generate reports on your team’s Instagram performance
Sprout Social pricing starts at $89 per month per user (billed annually). But you can sign up for a 30-days free trial first.
Squarelovin analytic platform provides you with information on your audience demographics such as age and location. This will enable you to make better decisions regarding what your customers want
You’ll also be able to analyze your impressions and engagement, track your stories’ performance, and generate reports on the performance of your account within a specific period of time.
Keyhole promises to save you five hours per week by automating the way you handle your social media business. One big feature of the platform is hashtag tracking.
This is a handy tool that allows you to measure the impact hashtags have on the performance of your follower growth. It also allows you to make sense of trends and predict where your industry is headed before your competitors.
And like every other tool on this list, you can easily generate reports on the performance of your social media campaign.
Brand24 is an online reputation management tool that tracks your mentions and hashtags across social media.
Like Sociality.io’s mention module, Brand24 allows you to follow up on your happy customers — the ones most likely to spread the word about your brand. And also waste no time in responding to feedback from dissatisfied customers.
You can track multiple hashtags, measure their effects, find influencers, analyze engagement around your online mentions, and generate reports that capture your marketing performance.
Your follower growth, along with other social media KPIs, provides you with a detailed view of your Instagram performance. Your follower count can affect your brand’s Instagram engagement and tracking it lets you know if it’s the right time for you to tweak your strategy or not.
Luckily for you, there are numerous free and paid tools that can help make sure that you don’t get blindsided. The best choice for you will depend on what your needs are.
If you manage multiple social media accounts on multiple social media platforms, then you should consider Sociality.io.
This social media management tool is trusted by over 1000 brands for the execution of their social media strategy. You can also start driving business growth with sociality.io by activating your 14-day free trial here. No credit card is required.