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For many small business owners who have taken the leap and entered the world of Instagram, figuring out how to use the platform to benefit their business is the next challenge.

Those who likely joined in order to build trust with their community and convert them into customers are often stumped at how to find the right audience and build it into a thriving community of supporters.

Luckily, we've got the solution - or 7 in fact!

Before we dive in, make sure you've read these 3 Honest Truths About Instagram for Small Businesses - it's essential to get to grips with these before being able to truly get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Have you read them? Good, now let's talk about 7 ways you can authentically build your Instagram following!

Add a location tag

Location tags are a great way to improve the visibility of your posts locally, or further afield if you venture out. When you post, make sure to tag your location - whether that's at your office, visiting a client or on a project, Instagram loves posts with a location tag because it helps them build a more interconnected ecosystem of content.

According to a study, posts with a tagged location result in 79% higher engagement than posts without a tagged location - so it's worth chucking a tag on your posts wherever you are.

Here's how to do it:

  • Simply go to upload your post as normal
  • At the caption stage click add location
  • Search and select the location you would like to add


Visit the location tag

When you use a location tag, the post gets categorised and Instagram creates a feed of related content so users can visit the location tag and explore all other content posted with the same tag.

If you are a local business looking to grow a local audience, try searching for your town/ city and browse the feed of content posted with that location tag. Similarly, if you want to grow an audience in a specific area, you can do the same thing using whatever location you like.

It's important to remember that reciprocity is key when trying to grow your followers - ideally, you want to be engaging as much as you can with other people's content so they, in essence, return the favour (if they like your content). Reciprocity is the key to authentic growth - I.e. you follow your target audience AKA the people that will likely enjoy your content, and they will follow you back. The same goes for likes and comments!

You can then use the location tag to engage with content posted by a location-specific audience and if they find your content interesting, they'll follow back. It's almost like an invitation to be friends!

Here's how to do it:

  • Head to the 'Explore' page (the magnifying glass icon)
  • Search for the location or area you wish to browse
  • Either select the area from the suggested searches or click on the 'Places' option
  • Select the place
  • Select either top posts or recent posts - we recommend engaging with recent posts over top posts.


Always share your posts to your stories

It might sound simple, but this tiny action can make all the difference to your engagement. More and more, people are opting to click through the short-form temporary stories on Instagram than scroll down the homepage so if you're not sharing your new post to stories, it could get missed.

Stories also allow you to use the range of native engagement features like Polls, Questions, and Quizzes. Share your new post to your stories and use one of these features to encourage your audience to engage with the story and click through to your new post!

For example, if I'm sharing my new post about SEO Tips to my stories, I could do a Poll asking my followers, "Do you wish you knew more about SEO?". It is likely to encourage some responses and click-throughs to the post.

Here's how to do it:

  • Post to your grid as normal
  • Visit your own post and click the arrow button
  • Then select 'Add Post to your Story'
  • To use any of the engagement features, select the sticker icon in the top right corner and choose which of the features you would like to use


Tag relevant accounts in your posts and stories

Tagging other accounts in your posts is a great way to get it seen by certain people because it appears in their notifications rather than potentially being buried in their feed. BUT you must make sure you're only tagging relevant accounts.

A good example of this would be to post about you collaborating with another company, or if you're visiting your favourite local coffee shop for a team meeting - both great times to tag!

Tagging in your stories can also be quite a tactical way to become more visible to an extended audience. If you tag another account in your stories, they can share your story to their story to be watched by their audience. Their audience can then click through to visit your profile and if they like what they see, give you a follow!

Here's how to do it:

  • You can either tag people in the caption section of your post by writing @ and then their username on Instagram
  • Or tag them in the actual post - you can do this when uploading your post or afterwards in the edit section


Interact with other small businesses

We're all for supporting small at SiGNAL, but it could actually be really beneficial for your growth on Instagram. As we mentioned earlier, reciprocity is key!

Try spending at least 10 minutes a day simply engaging with content posted by other small businesses and accounts that you're really enjoying. Make sure to engage as authentically as possible I.e. liking and commenting when you genuinely find content useful or entertaining as it will help you in turn build an authentic following and genuine engagement.

Here's how to do it:

  • Like and comment on their posts
  • Share their posts to your stories with a positive comment and make sure to tag them
  • React to their stories by swiping up for quick reactions or typing a message to them
  • Tag other people you think will enjoy their content in the comments
  • Watch all these be reciprocated!

Follow your competition's followers

This is a bit of a sneaky tactic but it's great for helping you grow a relevant audience.

When you follow someone, it will appear in their notification, "X has just followed you". Typically, most users will then visit your profile to see who you are and decide whether to follow you back. So, with that in mind, it makes sense to follow people you know will be interested in your content - I.e. people that are already following an account with similar content (your competition).

Here's how to do it:

  • Go onto your competitions IG profile and click followers
  • Follow some people you think may be interested
  • If they like your content, they'll probably follow you back!


Make a Reel!

Reels are proving to be Instagram's most engaging content format so if you want to hop on the short video trend while it's still hot - watch this tutorial on how to make a reel from our IG-savvy Marketing Assistant Ellie.

And there we have it - 7 ways you can authentically build your Instagram following!

While it can seem overwhelming to introduce these all at once, spending just 10 minutes a day trying out these new features will help you stay familiar with the platform and get the most out of Instagram for your business!