The (Evolving) List of Best Practices to Grow Your Instagram

This list will continue to evolve because Instagram (and social media in general) continues to evolve. Tactics I subjectively deem "best practices" will be added and deleted and they emerge and disappear. And this list won't be drawn from theory, but rather from actual implementation on the Efficacy Clothing Co. Instagram which we've grown quite rapidly in our short time as a brand.

Updated 5/4/2017

In no particular order...

  • POST GREAT PHOTOS. If this shocks you, you don't understand the first thing about Instagram. Literally. Instagram is a great photo sharing app. So use the app to share great photos.
  • POST USER-GENERATED PHOTOS. Don't be afraid to post photos taken by customers and others doing cool things -- giving them credit, of course. If it fits your branding, go for it. It's more content for you, flatters customers, and is a great way to connect with people you'd like to work with in the future. (Tagging someone in an IG post is still one of the easiest ways to get their attention.) Check out the Airbnb Instagram -- 98% of which is user-generated content, according to Eric Toda, Airbnb's global head of social and content marketing.
  • POST STORIES. If your main feed is like a museum of your best work, use stories in new and creative ways to showcase other aspects of your day-to-day efforts. Let people go behind the scenes. Post a couple photos from your photo shoot that didn't make the main feed. Turn the camera around and speak face-to-face (sort of) with your followers. #BeHuman
  • REPLY TO STORIES. Was their post funny? Say 'Haha!' Was their post amazing? Send them the wide-eyed emoji. For the most part, Instagram inboxes aren't flooded yet. It's a terrific way to break through the noise. Again, be human. Interact. Like a human.
  • LIKE (ALMOST) EVERYTHING IN YOUR FEED. I mean, if you don't generally like everything in your feed, why are you following them? With some exceptions, like almost everything from the people you follow. At the very least, it keeps you in their notifications and top of mind.
  • FOLLOW CUSTOMERS. Having some of my own favorite brands follow me, I can tell you it endears customers to you in a big way. And besides, they're the reason you're able to do what you do.
  • USE HASHTAGS. And not just any hashtags, the right hashtags. Which hashtags are being populated and viewed by people who need to know about your business? Which hashtags are your competitors using? Which widely-used tags should you use? Which not-so-widely-used tags should you use? And don't be afraid to use funny hashtags to complete caption ideas, when appropriate, of course. #PeopleStillLikeFunny
  • USE INFLUENCERS. Who has a base that would find value from your product or service? Reach out to them and see what it would take to have them post about you. People would much rather hear about you from someone they trust, than hear about you from you. And remember that influencers are first and foremost in the business of providing their base with value. So present to them a legit way to offer their base value. Honor and care for their business model and they'll be far more likely to honor can care for yours.
  • CHANGE YOUR BIO OFTEN. Don't just have your company tagline and website all year round. Change it up to include text and a link about something happening *now*. Social media is all about now. Got a new blog post? Describe and link to that. Got a category of product or service you're pushing at the moment? Link to that. Be creative. Be timely. Actually converse with people in your bio. It's one more opportunity to...
  • BE HUMAN. Actually converse with people. Comment on their photos (with more than "Great shot!"). Reply to or 'like' EVERY. SINGLE. COMMENT. people leave on your photos.
  • BE GENEROUS. Give goods and services away unexpectedly. Reward loyal customers with a hand-written note or extra goodie in their order that they didn't expect (and you didn't announce).
  • BE GRATEFUL. If case you've forgotten, customers are the reason you have a business. From time to time, take the time to thank them. It not only endears customers further, it's the right thing to do. Here's an example. Here's another example.

As always, you can see how these tactics play themselves out on the Efficacy Clothing Co. Instagram. We're not perfect. But at least we're evolving.