Is it still possible to grow on Instagram in 2019?

Spoiler: Yes it is. But it’s hard. And it’s way longer than it used to be.

Are you looking for hacks and secrets to grow an account and an audience in less than 2 days on Instagram in 2019? Well, you can go back on YouTube and watch another clickbait video about Instagram ‘marketing’ because this article won’t be about Instagram ‘hacks’.

In fact, I’ll just explain why growing an Instagram account is now such a pain because of those self called ‘marketing hackers’.

Let me get one thing very clear right now, before we start going through anything: growing on Instagram takes time and efforts. A lot of efforts. And a strong determination. Because, damn! It’s not as easy as it used to be! If you don’t have time or if you’re not willing to work on your Instagram account, just hire someone that can manage that part of your business for you. And if you don’t have the money or if you think that it is not a real job, just don’t work on your Instagram.

Where does Instagram usually stand in a digital strategy?

I’m going to keep things pretty basic here. We don’t care about the general numbers such as the number of daily users and stuff, because you’ll never reach that many people, and you shouldn’t aim for that. Just keep in mind one thing: your audience is on Instagram. Instagram has so many users that the presence of your audience on the platform is a certain fact. If your niche is middle aged lawyers, just know that this specific audience is on Instagram. Even if none of the middle aged lawyers you know in your personal circle are on it. This niche might be less present on Instagram than on Facebook or on LinkedIn, but there are lots of middle aged lawyers on Instagram, for sure.

Is Instagram efficient to sell products? No it is not. No matter how many followers you have. Why? Because there’s only one clickable link on an account: the link in the bio section. Don’t expect all your followers to go on your profile, click on that link and then purchase stuff from your website. Because it’s not going to happen. It’s way too much work for a nowadays social media user to stay focus on a single task for that long and to click on that many links and buttons.

Is it a good way to work on brand awareness? Absolutely. As long as you know how to take picture (or as long as you’re good at hiring people that know how to take pictures — please book an actual photographer if you don’t know how to properly compose and edit a shot). You also need to be decent at writing short captions for your posts. Captions that are relevant to your brand and products and that participate to your global storytelling. But keep in mind that you need to stay pretty short, because again, 2019 people (but the same thing applies for 2018 people too) don’t have time to spend more than 3 seconds on your post.

Basically, by being present on Instagram, yes, you’ll be reaching your audience, even if your targeted audience is not young and spontaneously fond of social media, you won’t sell a lot, but your brand will grow and get stronger for sure!

Instagram is and will be, even in 2019, the most popular social media channel. People judge your brand and its power by looking at the number of Instagram followers you have. You could earn $10 billion in revenue a year, if you have 243 followers on Instagram, people won’t believe you’re successful. And that’s why people usually want to have a strong profile with lots of followers on Instagram.

How to grow Instagram followers in 2019?

I know you’re dying to know! Most people will prefer to increase their Instagram following base rather than their actually business… But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to talk about social growth and social recognition!

Like most people, you heard that Instagram was all about marketing. So you’ll be tempted to look for ‘Marketing hacks’ or for ‘growth hacking marketing’ videos on Youtube. Let me tell you straight ahead, most of them (I won’t say all of them because I obviously didn’t watch them all) are total bullshit. Marketing is about knowing who you want to talk to and give these people value and solutions. And that is all you need to know to grow.

Don’t be disappointed, it does work in the long run. It even works super well long term. That’s how you get quality followers, followers that will like your posts, that will engage with your stories and that will eventually visit your website and buy your products.

Yes, it takes time. It means that you need to get to know your audience, it means that you need to understand how to talk to it and how your brand and products can bring value to these people. It requires you to be social, to interact a lot and to have a lot of empathy. Growing on Instagram is painful..!

Mass-following doesn’t work, and will never work

I mean, it depends.

If what you’re looking for is just a big base of followers, that’s the method you should go for! No one will like your posts, no one will look at your stories, no one will ever care about your brand. And the few that you’re going to follow and that might be interested in the value you deliver will feel betrayed and fooled once you hit the unfollow button on their profile (it’s a metaphor, I know you’d obviously be using a bot to automate all that follow-unfollow tiring process).

Mass-followers are killing Instagram.

Instagram itself punishes people that use this method. But obviously, the tools to do it get more and more discrete, making it hard for Instagram to detect such abusive uses. And it’s because of all those cheaters that Instagram stopped the chronological feed, the reach hashtags were getting you, algorithms to detect good content and so on. Because people were cheating on Instagram, the platform and the user experience had to change. Most people disagree about these changes. Most marketers disagree and are upset about these changes, because it really makes it more difficult to grow on Instagram now. That’s why there are so many articles and YouTube videos about it. But cheaters killed the platform, once again.

Cheaters never succeed in the long-run

It’s easy to guess if someone is cheating on Instagram or not. Believe me. And tools exist anyway to confirm (or not) this impression, such as HypeAuditor. If you want to cheat on Instagram, you’ll just end up having very low engagement on your content and that will make it noticeable.

That’s why some people that buy followers or use the mass-following technique often join Instagram pods or decide to buy likes and comments as well. And that should work right? If the only consequence of mass-following and buying followers is to get a lower-engagement rate, then buying that engagement should just fix the problem.

Well, not really. First, it’s easy to spot fake comments. I wouldn’t trust a post that just has emojis as comments. I wouldn’t trust a post that has 30 comments such as ‘Great photo, keep up the good work’ or ‘Awesome, I love your feed!’. And guess who wouldn’t trust it either? Instagram itself. Instagram can totally detect if you’re in an Instagram pod or other cheating techniques to boost your engagement.

Once Instagram detects that you’re cheating, they either delete your account or they reduce your organic reach. That basically means that they drastically reduce the number of people that will see your content on their feed. As a result: very few people will get to see your post on their feed. That results in an even lower engagement rate.

That’s why cheaters never stop to cheat once they start. Because once they start, their account will suffer from low engagement. So they’ll cheat to make it seem legit. But the more they cheat, the further away they get from their goal. So they’re tempted to cheat again. And so on. It’s a never ending loop.

Is there a quick technique to grow on Instagram?

No.

If you want Instagram to actually serve your business, it will take time. You’ll have to earn these subscribers! You’ll have to understand who you need to target, how to speak to this target and how to deliver value to it. And that takes time. Just like traditional marketing. Because Instagram is marketing. And marketing hacks don’t exist. You won’t have a strong brand like Apple or Coca-Cola by applying ridiculous and shady techniques you’ve learned on YouTube.

If you just want the social recognition of having followers, just buy 20k followers for a couple of dollars and just post stories that no one will watch. It’ll impress your friends but it will have absolutely no impact on your business nor on your brand. You’ll feel like the popular one among your friends for a couple weeks before Instagram understands that you’re a cheater and deletes your account or seriously reduces your organic reach.

Instagram, just like any other social media platform, wants you to spend money in order to show your content to broader audiences (through their ad system). That’s how they make money. By trying to cheat or to grow rapidly, you’re taking away these potential revenues from Instagram’s pocket. That’s why Instagram has done, and will do, everything they can to make every hack or cheat ineffective in the long run, or ineffective for your business.

Instagram, just like any other social media platform, provides so much opportunities and so many data on your target. Just play by the rules: take the time you need to identify and to build your audience, spend a little bit of money sometimes when you have big announcements or particularly good content to share and your account will grow. And as your content and your audience will grow, Instagram will become useful for your business, for real. And that’s really what matters after all.


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