I’ve never seen my wife so excited (not even in our wedding day).
A dachshund-themed clothing line she bought from all the time had opened up a “brand ambassador” program.
“Our furbabies have a change to become Instagram influencers!” She proclaimed.
There were no specific rules or minimums set by the clothing brand. However, I knew that, with only 6 photos, 0 stories, no real theme (let alone”brand guidelines”) and a measly 100 followers, we wouldn’t have a chance.
I was, of course, quickly set to work to hack our reach in hopes of catching the clothing brand attention.
We won’t know the final result until the end of the month. However, I do know how huge the increase in reach and engagement was for 3 focused days of work.
Hundreds of followers, thousands of likes, tons of comments… and multiple conversations with the clothing line.
Am I just bragging about making some dog Instagram page minutely popular?
Not at all. I had little to no strategy and it shows. It was sloppy. Spelling errors. Mistags. Etc.
But, by throwing everything I could think of at the wall to see what stuck, I was able to narrow down a few of the best ways (and dinner if the worst which I’ll leave it) I found to immediately build a small or new Instagram page.
1. Follow/unfollow the right way
It’s tedious, annoying, and can get your account temporarily suspended if you overdo it. However, people still follow/unfollow to gain followers for a reason… it’s effective.
The key is to follow/unfollow the right people. My process was as follows:
- In the AM, look through my most recent followers
- Follow back any account that looks similar to mine (in this case, dachshund, chiweenie, or dog related).
- Go to their profile, then see who follows them
- Go down the line following 25-30 of their followers
- Do this for 4 to 5 people (following 100-120 accounts)
- In the PM, repeat that process
- Next AM, use the free Reports+ app to mass unfollow 100 people who aren’t following you back
- Then go follow about 100 new accounts using the process above.
- Wash, rinse, repeat.
This will gain you good followers quickly without paying for them (which you should never stoop to anyway).
You’re getting noticed by people interested in what you’re giving. People who are more likely to follow back and engage with your posts. People who show the Instagram algorithm what your page is about and why it should be shown to others.
2. Stack engaging story stickers
Stories are huge on Instagram. Think about it… where is it shown when you make one? At the top of your followers feed, right?
There’s no other sure-fire way to be placed at the top of your target attention.
But what is stacking?
In your story you can place all sorts of “stickers” from tagging your location to adding a hashtag to tagging yourself. All this metadata tells Instagram what you’re all about. The more the algo accurately knows about you, the better it is at recommending you to the right people.
My favorite part about stickers?
Squeeze and pinch with two fingers and you can move and resize them. You can even stack them in top of eachother, choosing which to show on top, keeping the post clean but still adding the info.
For example, look at the picture in the bottom-middle. Hidden underneath the #FURNERDS is a location tag for Chicago and an account tag to the clothing brand.
What the eyes don’t see the algorithm reads.
3. Questions produce engagement
And the Instagram algorithm priorities engagement over anything else. Impressions (views) are ok. Liked are nice. But comments are where the true growth hides.
Find creative ways to start the conversation. Start with an open-end question, “Have you ever…” or “What do you recommend I do…”, then followed it with your caption or story.
Get people commenting then quickly respond in a way that keeps the conversation going. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. I was going to do this. Your thoughts?”
Engage, engage, engage.
3. Comment your hashtags
Don’t end your post with a string of 30 (that’s the max on IG) hashtags. It looks ugly and spammy.
Make your post then immediately comment all the hashtags you want to include.
4. Use auto-correct to hashtag quickly
This takes a little bit of pre-work but is well worth your time.
Spend the time making 2-3 blocks of hash tag you want to cycle through then, in the keyboard options of your phones settings, assign them all to a simple phrase you’ll remember.
For example, when I type “hashdox1” minus the quotes, it auto-corrects to:
#furnerds #doxie #doxiesofinstagram #dachshund #dachshundsofinstagram #dachshundoftheday #dog #dogsofinstagram #dogs #dogslife #puppiesofinstagram #puppy #puppies #puppylove #pups #weinerdog #featuremydoxie #pawsomedacshunds #weinerdogsofinstagram #weinerdog #miniaturedachshund #sausagedogs #adoptdontshop #chiweenie #chiweenies
Make a few variations as, if you just trust the same tags over and over again, Instagram thinks it’s spammy and shows you too less people.
5. Don’t punch up, reach up
Look at the top accounts in your particular niche. That’s not your competition. They’re way to established and, frankly, you don’t have a chance at toppling then right away.
Instead, reach out to them!
Don’t jump right to DM’ing “Hey, can I have a shout out?” They’re likely too big, and get to many requests, to even try to respond.
What will the top Instagram accounts respond to?
Comments from a follower who just liked 8-10 of their latest posts. They know these “tactics”. They know the algorithm looks for engagement. They know that’s how they grow, and stay, hugely popular.
Search for your most relevant hashtag. Find the top 5 pictures. For each one, go to that account page, follow it, like 8-10 pictures, then leave a comment that hopefully sparks a conversation (remember, open ended and complimentary… “I love that scarf! Where’d you get it? Is it your favorite?”
This way, when they’re scrolling through their likes and follows for the day, you fill the entire screen for a moment. This will grab their sttention making it more likely they see (and respond to) the last thing you did… comment a question.
I have so many more to share but I have to get back to promoting The Furnerds.
I’ll be updating this with more techniques I test and prove effective.
In the meantime, in exchange for this (hopefully) helpful info, all I how is that you follow, like, and comment on my furbabies page in hopes they become WeenBassadors!