5 ways Instagram growth is hard (and what you can do about it)

We’ve all been there, you’re at home lying on the couch or sitting in the break room at work, scrolling through your Instagram explore feed and you’ve stumbled across an influencer with 20k + followers. You’ve clicked on one of their posts to see an abundance of comments and likes and you’ve ended up feeling pretty deflated. You ask yourself “what could I possibly be doing wrong?”. The truth is that it might have nothing to do with your product/service, your prices, what your content looks like or what sort of promotions you are running. It could be boiled down to the fact that Instagram just isn’t the right platform for your business. But please don’t lose faith, Instagram can be a great platform for growing your business if you know how.


1. Instagrams algorithm

Instagram’s algorithm. Have you ever watched a puppy video on Instagram to find your explore feed filled with similar videos the next day? Yes, there’s a reason for that and it has to do with something called ‘Instagram’s algorithm’. A set of ‘rules’ are applied to Instagram through our search preferences, the number of impressions a post has received and the amount of comments and likes it has. What this means is that the more followers and comments/likes you receive, the higher the chance that your post will end up in another users explore feed, which in turn increases the number of likes and comments exponentially.

So how do you get more comments and likes on your posts? The key is to interact with other Instagram accounts. Comment on and like posts related to your business (yes even on competitor’s posts), follow other businesses related to your field and make sure that you are posting valuable content at least twice a day. (We will look at this further in our next blog article ‘10 ways to have a killer Instagram account’).

2. Hashtags

Since Instagram emerged back in 2010, it has been instilled in our minds that the more hashtags you have, the more followers you will receive. For some reason we always forget one crucial detail — every man and his dog is doing the same thing. Let’s look at one of the more typical businesses you’d find on Instagram — a beautician. With this type of business you’d expect to see hashtags on posts such as #beauty, #makeup, and #manicure. It’s important to remember that 242 million other users have used the hashtag ‘beauty’, 9.4 million have used ‘makeup’ and 16 million have used ‘manicure’. So what does this mean for your business? You have to stand out from your competitors. Make sure that your content is interesting, provides value, looks professional and features a combination of both unique and popular hashtags.

3. Industry type

This is a big one. A company decides they need to expand so they immediately jump on board the social media train but they make a massive mistake, they fail to ask themselves “Is this the right platform for my business?”. We have watched this happen time and time again. Put it this way, in a competition between a law firm promoting a discount on services and a local café giving away free Instagram-worthy rainbow doughnuts, who do you think would win?

Different platforms work well for different businesses. Corporate industries such as law firms benefit far more from platforms like LinkedIn because of the ability to connect, network, showcase skills and present opportunities. On the other hand, a café with beautiful food photography would benefit more from a visual platform like Instagram. This is not to say one business is more successful than the other, it’s just about working out who your audience is and their preferred platform. By investing all your time on a platform that isn’t working for you, you are wasting valuable time (and money!) that could be spent on the right one.

4. Time of day

If you jump on Google you will read a variety of articles debating when the best time is to post on social media. Most will say in the morning, during lunch time or in the afternoon. Some even say that you should post as early as 2am! But let’s be real here, not many of us would be so willing to set an alarm in the middle of the night all for the sake of Instagram. Sure, there are plenty of scheduling apps out there but they come with a price or a penalty (ever seen the 'Posted by Hootsuite' tags on scheduled posts? That’s a big red flag to say that the post was scheduled and not posted by you in real time, diminishing the comment-worthy value of the post — no one will comment if they think you aren’t online). So what is your best option? Trial and error. Post at 9am, 12pm, 5pm or 8pm and see how it goes. Due to Instagram’s high popularity and the fact that hundreds and thousands of other users are doing the same thing, you don’t really have much to lose. Just remember to post twice a day max, any more and your followers will feel overwhelmed and will drop like flies.

5. Content Value

It can be really difficult to know what sort of content your users would like to see more of. We’ve all seen how bad some Instagram feeds can look when content is irrelevant or poorly designed. A lot of the time this is not the fault of the business owner. Instagram will allow you to virtually upload anything nowadays and if you are led astray it can be easy to upload the wrong content. Your content should provide value to your users whether it be advice, tips, inspirational quotes or interesting information. The more value you provide, the more likely it is that users will want to visit your page. But what happens when you have an idea but no execution skills? Let a professional take over. Hire a graphic designer with social media marketing skills who can implement a strategy to turn your Instagram account into a hub of lead generation.

If your Instagram account is not growing, it can really zap you of all your motivation. It’s important to keep at it and don’t be so hard on yourself, after all, Instagram makes it really difficult to achieve growth. Everybody has to start somewhere and with just a few tweaks of your account and plenty of patience, you’ll get there in the end. 

If you are struggling with any of your social media accounts, get in touch via info@popdotmedia.com. We’d love to help you out, even if it’s just to have a quick look at what you’re doing and strategise with you over how best to get your business on the right track. We offer a complimentary 20-minute consultation to get you started.

This article was written by Mimi Seymore, Graphic Designer at Popdot Media. With a keen eye for all things design and social media related, Mimi's passionate about creating social strategies that help to grow your business. 

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash