Ahhh Instagram. The ever changing, ever frustrating but necessary social media platform for business. Instagram is a beautiful thing for us boss babes! It’s a great, and FREE, marketing tool! But even so, there are so many people who struggle with getting the most out of the app. One of the biggest struggles? Gaining followers. So today we’re going to talk about three tips to help you gain followers- and not just gain followers- but how to gain followers outside of your circle.
How many can relate to this struggle? It can be so great to have supportive friends and family, and even just nosey people from high school who want to keep track of what you’re up to, but how do you brand OUT of that circle? How do you reach those ideal clients that you DREAM of working with but don’t know? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Before we dive into the three tips, you need to stop obsessing over vanity metrics.
Right now in the world there is this current obsession with business owners, bloggers, influencers and the like to grow fast and furious on social media. And by fast and furious, I mean gain TONS of followers, likes, and all that fun stuff.
We need to shift our focus from follower counts, page views, and likes, and start focusing more on ENGAGEMENT. Because engagement friends, is what it’s all about.
If you feel like you’re stuck on your numbers- you need to get unstuck. If you feel like you’re hung up on that follower count- you need to stop.
Here’s why. While follower counts, page views, and like are metrics with some merit, they’re really just shallow indicators of success. Vanity metrics can (and will) fluctuate and they fail to show you what’s going on behind the scenes! Because while it’s cool to reach a large number of people, what’s really going to move the needle forward in your business is quality over quantity.
If you have 10,000 followers but none of them are your ideal client, none of them are engaging in your content, and none of them are buying what you’re selling- then what does that even matter?
BUT on the flip side, if you have 100 ENGAGED followers, you could be raking in some decent money from people who ARE buying what you’re selling, people are benefiting from your content, and people who are invested in who you are as a business! Engagement is what moves us forward in business. It’s the engaged followers that support us, not the people who follow just to follow.
Tips to gain followers outside of our circle:
I remember when I first started to use instagram for my business and I had no idea how powerful hashtags were! I honestly thought they were more of an optional feature, and maybe you feel that way too! But let me tell you right now- they are not optional- they are a NECESSITY! If you want to see growth in your business, then you need to start using them
Did you know that a post that has ONE hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement than a post that has 0 hashtags?! Crazy right?! Knowing that, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to start using them TODAY.
A hashtag or the pound symbol, before a word or phrase, allows you to categorize and label your image on instagram, facebook, or other social media platforms. However, for today’s tips, we’re going to focus mostly on instagram. When you use a hashtag, your image will show up in searches under that tag, and allow you to connect with other people and content in that category. So, each hashtag has it’s own feed or gallery so to speak. When hashtags are used correctly, they can help you speak right to your target audience and gain qualified followers that are outside of your circle.
If you really want to see results from hashtags then you need to use hashtags with intention and efficiency. Using generic hashtags like #happy, or #swoon (guilty of that one,) isn’t going to get you the engagement or the audience you’re looking for.
So what can you do? The first tip with hashtags, is to be specific. Be selective with the hashtags that you use. Remember how I said hashtags are like a search engine? So before you use a hashtag, think to yourself “Would my ideal client USE that tag?” What is the point in using a hashtag, if it doesn’t target your ideal client?!
Once you grasp that mindset, you’re starting to think in the specific nature that hashtags require.
Tip two is to use location specific tags. For example, I live in Upstate New York, which is very different (and about 4.5 hours away) from NYC. If I just use the tag #nybride, that’s all fine and well, but most likely my local bride isn’t using that hashtag to find her wedding photographer. Using a location specific hashtag can put you in front of the clients who are looking for a service provider right in their area! Do not underestimate the power of location specific tags! Not only that, but it puts you in front of other people in your area that you might not have ties to! (the whole purpose of today’s episode right?! To gain followers outside of your circle?!) The same goes for adding a location on your post in general. Add where you are whether it’s a small town, a big city, a park, a fair- always add your location because again, you never know who might be searching for that tag OR that location! And just to prove this works, when I started using location specific tags, I was found by a local business who asked if they could add me to a directory that they run of other business educators in the area! So now, because I used a location specific hashtag, I was found by another business and am now on another platform for people to find me!
Tip three is to make sure your ideal client is front of mind when creating a hashtag. Do you know who your ideal client is? If you don’t, you need to figure this out. Episode 4 is all about how to nail down your ideal client so if you’re stuck in that department, be sure to give it a listen! I want you to think of this: Have you had a past client that you just ADORED? Or, is there someone out there that you know you would love to work? If so, go and check out their page! See what hashtags they’re using, if they’re using any, or see what interests them! If the tags they use are in your realm of industry, it wouldn’t hurt to pick them up because using the same hashtags or similar tags, will put you in front of like minded people! It also helps to do the same with your top engagers. See what hashtags they’re using as well!
Tip four? Go check out your competitors hashtags. You know, the ones that are killing it in the market and you’re wondering how they’re doing it? Well go look and see!
Side note: I’m not telling you to go and copy all the same hashtags that they’re using, because some might not be on brand for you. However, if there are some that really resonate with you and your brand, then pick them up!
Now, I really just scratched the surface on information about hashtags but I really wanted you to see how powerful they are for your business and how they can get you in front of people outside of your circle! Those four quick tips will definitely help you get started but if you want more, check out my freebie on hashtag hacks to get alllllll the details about hashtags! You can snag it here!
I think one of the most underrated way to gain exposure in your business is to leverage your customer. Happy customers are another amazing source of free marketing.
The first thing you need to do is to ask your customers for reviews. You should be asking this of all your customers. Reviews are amazing and there is so much that you can do with them. Today, we’re focusing solely on growing our social media following outside of our circle so that’s what I’m going to focus on, but there is seriously so much that reviews can do for you and your business. For example, if a client leaves a review, go on canva, make a quick but cute graphic with their review, and share it to your story! Or heck! If you aren’t a crafty person, take a screen shot of it and post it on your story! And then- tag them in it. When people get tagged by a business on social media, it makes them feel like a million bucks. Have you ever experienced the feeling? I know when a business shouts me out, I get all giddy inside and feel cool for like 5 whole seconds. But by tagging them in their review, you give them MORE happy feelings about working with you which can lead to them telling other about you and your business.
So first, ask all your clients for reviews and then POST THEM. Whether in your story, or on your feed. Share the good things people say about you because it helps build trust between you, and future clients.
Second tip, is to encourage your clients to post about your service or product on their OWN pages. Say they bought a mug, or earrings from you. In your confirmation e-mail, add a part that say “Post a picture of you and your product and tag me for a chance to be featured on my account!” or something enticing like that. Then, when they do it, you can share their post in your story which will help build even more trust between you and your future clients, but more importantly, it encourages your client to do advertising for you because now that they’ve posted about your business, whether in their feed or story, your business is getting exposure to all of their followers- AKA people NOT in your circle!
Again, the easiest way to make this happen is to encourage them with an e-mail saying if you do this, we’ll re share it and you’ll be featured on our page but once you get someone to start, and your followers see that you share customer posts and stories, they’re going to know “oh if I buy from her and tag her she’ll share it” because they’ve seen you do it with others!
Now if you’re a service based business, you can still do this! You just might have to be creative on what you’re asking them to share! So in my photography business, people just share the images I took of them and they tag me in them. But if you do coaching, maybe have them tag you in a results picture, or a before and after shot! There’s definitely ways to utilize your clients in both product and service based businesses.
But Now let’s say you’re still in the beginning stages of business, and your only customers have been your closest friends and family. That doesn’t matter. Honestly, it can be better because you can harass them and make them post a picture of your product or service lol but even though they’re already in your circle, when they share on their feed or in their story, you’re still getting in front of their audience and you never know who will see it, love it, and then follow you as a result! Because even though it’s someone in your close circle sharing about your busiess, you don’t know EVERYONE they know, and if you can gain ONE outer circle follower from that post, that’s all you need to get the ball rolling!
So when it comes to customers USE THEM! Ask them to leave a review and then share their reviews! Ask them to share about their experience or product on their pages for a chance to be featured and then reshare or repost all of that client love!
People love being featured. So give them the opportunity and relish in the fact that you’re making them feel special while also getting exposure to a ton of potential new customers. Again, this works like crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a friend post about jewelry they bought and tagged the business and then I went and followed the account AND ended up buying something. I’ve even done this with photographers! I’ve seen someone post their pictures and I loved them so much I clicked on the tagged photographer, followed them, and booked a session! If you think about it, you’ve probably done this before too! So give your clients an amazing experience with you so they want to share all about it and then repost and reshare the heck out of it!
3.) Keep at it!
We all want to grow our businesses big and we all want to do it super fast. But the reality is the fastest way to do it, is to dig in and do the work which sometimes, isn’t that fast at all. The real secret to growth is momentum. You really just need to gain momentum and start where you are.
Look at the people you have right now and think about how you can serve them SO WELL that they talk about you and your products to everyone they meet. When you can do that, when you can focus on providing your customers with love and value, from there you’ll grow. When it comes to growth and gaining followers outside of your circle, all it takes is for a friend to tell a coworker, and then that coworker buys something and then they tell their friends and so on and so forth! Again, you just need to gain some momentum.
To wrap it up
let’s go over three action items we can do today to move the needle forward:
- Action step #1: Start using hashtags on all your posts- NOW. If you want to expand your reach and break out of your inner circle- you have to make sure your post is visible to others! Again, I have a freebie all about hashtags so make sure you snag it so you can start getting started and seeing that needle move forward in your biz!
- Action step #2: Ask clients for reviews. If you’ve had recent clients, I’d say within the past three months, reach out to them and ask for a review! Start sharing them and tagging your customers in them! If you’re working on something for someone now, whether a product or service, reach out and say “hey when this is done, would you mind posting a picture and tagging me?” Just ask! People are more willing than you would think to support small businesses in any way they can! And then moving forward, add it right into a confirmation e-mail or whatever way works best for you and your biz!
- Action step #3: If you’ve don’t something for a friend or family member in the past- no matter how long ago- ask them for a review TODAY. Seriously. Badger them. They’re your friends and family so you can! Remember, the secret to growth is gaining momentum and sometimes as business owners, we have to create our own momentum. So look around at where you are and use what and who you’ve got!
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