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As you know, social media is one of the most powerful tools in a startups toolbox. It’s a great way to grow potential customers and generate additional revenue. Today I’m going to explain to you three methods I’ve used to create rapid growth in my startup’s Instagram account (from 500 to 5,700 followers in less than a year
About a year ago I tried my first giveaway. I decided to give away a hat that had my brand name embroidered on it. I figured, who doesn’t want free stuff? All you had to do to enter was tag 3 friends in the comments and follow me. Boy was I wrong! This giveaway had a total of 10 entries. After this, I was convinced that giveaways were a waste of time and money.
But then I realized something. Giveaways are a flooded market. There are hundreds of articles about Instagram growth that suggest hosting giveaways and everyone from brands to bloggers are trying these out.
To really run a successful giveaway, you need to stand apart from your competition. You need to give something away that is incredibly valuable to your target customer. I put this theory to the test when I spent $300 on my second giveaway.
This time, I tried something a little different. Rather than tagging 3 friends in the comments, users had to repost the giveaway photo to their story and tag 3 friends there. This created a viral effect.
It sure did pay off. I gained about 1,400 new followers (that’s 21 cent follower acquisition cost).
The most important aspect of this giveaway is that the followers I gained were targeted. Majority of them continued to follow me and engage with my brand after the giveaway. The reason for this was twofold. 1) The giveaway itself was something that was very targeted to my ideal follower. It appealed demographically to college aged girls. It also appealed to women interested in health and wellness, as my startup is an app to help college women manage their wellness.
I do want to note that after the amazing success of this giveaway, I tried another similar giveaway and did not see the same results. This was because the same people who saw the first giveaway, saw this new giveaway and were already following me if interested in my brand. The girls who entered tagged the same 3 friends they tagged last time, and it had about the same reach as the first one (with only 300 new followers this time).
I still run giveaways of smaller items for brand loyalty, but don’t host expensive ones often due to this problem with reach. I recommend you host at least one higher spend giveaway targeted to your audience and then continue to host smaller ones after the fact.
Engage with Your Niche
I respond to every comment on my photos and DM I receive. I take it a step further and comment back on the most recent photo of the users who commented on my photos.
This creates a high engagement rate, which the Instagram algorithm recognizes. The more likes and comments you receive in the first hour after posting your photo, the more that photo will get seen by your followers.
Because I’m constantly engaging with my niche, I always have girls in my niche engaging with me. It’s like a mutually supportive group. Everyone has the same mission- to grow their own accounts in this industry we share a passion for. It’s a pretty amazing thing how supportive others can be within your niche. You need to not look at them as competitors, but as collaborators or partners.
Create a Human Connection
One of the reasons I’ve seen quick growth on Instagram with high engagement levels is because of how vulnerable I am. I put myself out there on social media. My brand is a little different from other startups because it’s based around my personal story of struggling with an eating disorder and low self-confidence in college.
I’m constantly talking about the messy stuff in life, the tough times I went through and the things most people would be embarrassed to talk about, let alone post on the internet for the whole world to see. Like how I got a D in my finance class at Georgetown because I was struggling to manage getting enough sleep, taking care of my physical and mental health and having a social life, all while aiming for straight “A’s.” Most of my followers have had some sort of similar experience but would never have the confidence to admit this. Because of this, they feel a real human connection between themselves and my brand.
Be real, be raw and be genuine. It’s easy to see through unauthentic tactics to boost sales on social media. What’s ironic though, is that having loyal followers, who truly identify with my brand drives way more sales than an unauthentic social media page would.
Guest Post: Jaclyn DiGregorio is the founder of CuspIt and author of the amazon bestselling book The Cusp Method. Jaclyn has a degree in marketing and international business from Georgetown University. While she’s not working on her startup’s Instagram account, you can find her speaking at colleges about wellness and spending time with her family.