By Marquis Wilson

Businesses are changing their approach to marketing since the advent of social media. However, each social media platform requires different tactics in order for it to be successful. As such, it becomes increasingly important to fully understand the methods that work for each platform so that your business can fully benefit from it. What works for Facebook, for example, will not work for Instagram.

To take advantage of this incredible marketing opportunity that Instagram offers your business, your account must follow a few general guidelines. Here are eleven ways to organically get more Instagram followers and increase exposure to your business.

1. Know Your Target Market

No matter how fabulous your content is, there will always be heavy competition on Instagram. There are over 800 million users on Instagram, all of which are potential customers that other businesses are already targeting. So as you create your profile and grow your audience, you need to be very clear about how you will stand out to your own potential customers.

Learn and understand who these users are, which of them will likely follow your page, and what sort of content they are looking for. In general, Instagram users are fairly young and follow market trends. If you can create content that is appealing to these users, then you can more easily build your Instagram page.

2. Connect Instagram to Your Other Social Media Accounts & Channels

Though there are hundreds of millions of users on Instagram right now, there are still more users on other social media platforms and channels. Be sure to connect all of your social media accounts so that you can draw these users back to your Instagram page. Scheduling platforms such as Hootesuite and Buffer work well for this and come with the option to monitor analytics. This will help you know where your audience is and what they respond to.

3. Tell a Story to Get Personal

Humans are social beings. We love connecting with others and sharing emotional experiences. It is what helped us survive as a species and is what drives us to perpetuate our genetics. By taking advantage of this very mechanical aspect of our nature, you can more easily capture your audience. The easiest way to do this is by telling a story with your posts. The caption space provides a great opportunity for you to share your experiences as a business. You can share your startup story or your behind-the-scenes events. Let your followers know that there are humans behind the Instagram account and that we are all in this together.

4. Find the Best Times to Post

One easy way to get more exposure is to post when your audience is most likely to see it. When you convert your Instagram account to a business account, you will have access to the analytics behind your followers. Pay close attention to when your followers are most active, who they are, where they are, and which posts they respond to. Hootesuite, for example, recommends posting during the morning on weekdays and in the evening on Wednesdays because this is when the most users worldwide are active.

5. Strategically Use Hashtags

Hashtags are another super simple way to directly reach your target audience. First, do a little bit of research to determine which hashtags are most relevant to your brand and industry. Then, start using the hashtags with your posts to help deliver your content right into the hands of the people in your target market. Programs such as Iconosquare offer valuable insight into not only which hashtags are relevant to your page but also which hashtags garner the most attention.

6. Post Great Content That Your Audience Will Love

Continue to monitor your analytics to see which posts your audience is responding to and then post more of that style of post. Remember that people love connecting on an emotional level so don’t be afraid to make your posts more personal. People also love seeing other people in the photos as it further fosters the emotional connection that humans love. Posts that include yourself or key players in your business are likely to do well with your followers.

7. Respond to Comments

Take the time to actually engage with the followers that you do have. Respond to comments and get to know your followers. Your followers are real people that love your brand, so honor them! Let them know that you value their engagement by creating a warm and inviting community within your Instagram page.

8. Be Consistent

Many blogs will recommend that you post at least once a day as this seems to be the most effective posting schedule. However, the more important point here is to post consistently. Your audience needs to be reminded of your brand at least several times a week. They also need to know what they can expect from your Instagram account. By posting consistently, you remain at the forefront of their minds and show them that you are around for the long haul.

9. Run & Hold Contests

Contests provide an easy to way to boost engagement and increase exposure. You can easily tailor the conditions of your contest so that you get more followers and engagement. A popular way to do this is by instructing participants to tag a friend or follow your page.

10.  Buy Instagram Followers

There are many different ways to buy Instagram followers and not all of them are necessarily equal. The best way to buy Instagram followers is by using an automation service, such as Growr. These services will automatically engage with your audience by liking and following accounts that use designated hashtags. By engaging with your target audience around the clock, you are increasing your exposure. This automatic exposure results in more followers that are genuinely interested in your content and likely to engage with your posts.

Getting Instagram followers can be a daunting task in the face of millions of faceless users. With these tactics, however, you will more easily connect with your target audience and grow your Instagram account. Remember to post great content and remain engaged with your audience. This is really the basis to any successful Instagram account, including yours!

Marquis Wilson is a writer, social media manager and SEO content marketer.  She currently lives on the coast of Ecuador, working remotely as a freelancer. Her primary focus is on building online visibility of new, up and coming brand, particularly brands that promote health and wellness. She lives a nomadic lifestyle, though is originally from California.