Our last post covered the benefits of Instagram and how to create an account. Instagram is an extremely powerful tool that focuses on visual content to help you showcase your business and products. Food is a very visual industry, so why not make use of a tool that amplifies that?

Just like any marketing tool, you need to build a following in order to get customers. When first starting out with Instagram it can be overwhelming to reach your audience, so we have compiled some tips to help you get started! Here are the best Instagram practices to help your business increase its following:

1. #teamfollowback

Just starting your profile? Network amongst your community by following other local suppliers, restaurants, retailers and other customers. This will give them a nudge that you moved to Instagram or help you get traction with potential buyers. Additionally, when you’re looking to increase your following, it is important to follow customers back. Just like being personal through direct messaging or commenting, following your customers shows you care (as funny as that sounds). As your following grows, this will be less important, however when first starting out be sure to practice this!

2. Check your insights!

When you switch to an Instagram Business account you have access to Insights. Insights gives you data about who’s looking at your content. It will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t! If you haven’t set up a business account, check out this blog post.

To access your insights, click the stacked lines in the top-right corner on your profile. Click Insights. Within Insights, you’ll see three main sections: Activity, Content, and Audience.

Within Activity, you see:

  • Interactions. It will give you insights such as number of profile visits and website clicks.
  • Discovery. Tells you more about who you’re reaching.
  • Reach and impressions. Reach is the number of unique visitors to your content and impressions is the number of times your content has been viewed.

Within Content, you see:

  • How many and which posts you’ve posted that week.
  • Post and story engagement. For example, which posts are most popular and how many people are engaging with it.
  • Promotions. This is only relevant if you pay for Instagram ads.

Within Audience, you see:

  • Locations. Where your followers are located. This can be split up into City or Country.
  • Age Range. It is interesting to see what age range you are attracting with your content.
  • Gender.
  • Followers. Shows you when your followers are most active on social media. This can help you determine when you should post to increase engagement.

Check your insights frequently to help you determine if you’re reaching the right audience and if your content is popular. Additionally use the Audience header to determine best posting times! Tracking your progress is essential for determining what works and what doesn’t. It also can help you make decisions that will help you increase your following.

3. Promote on all your platforms

If you are using multiple social media platforms – cross-promote! Post on your Facebook page to follow your Instagram account. This can help drive customers to follow on all platforms. Additionally, if you have a mailing list, add links to your social media channels in your emails. Sometimes in order to increase your following all you need to do is inform your customers.

4. Interact with followers beyond posting pictures

A great way to hook followers is being personal! Interacting with customers via Direct Message or starting conversations through commenting can have a lasting impact. Food is very personal and customers want to get to know who’s producing theirs. Just like selling in person, when selling online you want to maintain customer service! Don’t underestimate the power of personal communication!

There are many other methods to increase your following, however these are the four best ones to help you get started! Social media marketing is all about networking. You need to put work and effort in order for people to get hooked – just posting the occasional picture will not get you results. When done properly, Instagram can help you get new customers and build brand recognition. Follow these tips and watch the follows roll in!