At the beginning of 2016, Sumo had an Instagram following of under 1,000 people.
In just 8 months, we grew to 100,000 followers:
And 50,000 of those followers were gained in just 90 days.
Instagram helps drive traffic and awareness to our content, has helped many entrepreneurs grow their email lists by 10,000 subscribers or more each month, and provides social proof.
We followed a very specific process to get to this point, which we unveiled in Drive Massive Traffic with Instagram Marketing: A Sumo-Sized Guide…
But growing our following so quickly with highly targeted followers would have been impossible if we had to do everything manually.
We used (and still use) a handful of super convenient Instagram marketing tools to understand our audience, create a content pipeline and make sure that our Instagram posts go out on schedule.
Check out the following 8 tools for massive Instagram growth.
One of most Instagram users’ biggest complaints about using the platform as a marketing channel is that Instagram doesn’t allow scheduled posts.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can’t just load up a post and schedule it to go live later. Which means that many people think they have to manually press publish on all their posts - becoming a slave to their mobile phones.
A few tools like Later have come out to allow you to schedule reminders and make it easier to publish on the fly, but they’re not as hands-off as most marketers would like.
Grum is the only popular tool that allows you to schedule posts to go out automatically - without you manually having to press “publish”.
You can set a schedule and, as a bonus, you can actually upload the content from your desktop - meaning you don’t have to fiddle around with your phone or type on a tiny keyboard.
For these reasons, Grum is by far the best Instagram tool out there.
You know that saying, “Find what works and do more of it”?
This one piece of advice that most people overlook will help you move your business forward far more quickly. And the good news is, with this tool you can take the guesswork out of finding what works.
Ink361 is a tool that will give you all the information you need to:
The information is laid out in a neat-looking dashboard:
Making it easy to do more of what works - and get in front of a larger, more engaged audience.
Ink361 is free to use - you just need an account - and is one of the most useful tools out there.
One of the strategies we outlined in Drive Massive Traffic with Instagram Marketing was the follow strategy.
This is where you find out which popular accounts already reach your target audience, and then follow their followers.
About 30% of the people you follow will follow you back - so if you follow the audience of large, similar accounts, you have the potential to reach tens of thousands of highly targeted people, who are more than likely to be interested in what you’re doing.
But Instagram caps the amount of people you can follow to somewhere around 6,000. So how can you keep the following goodness going if you’re tapped out?
One way is to unfollow the people who aren’t following you back.
Crowdfire is the best tool to make this dead simple to do. Within Crowdfire, you can see who you’re following but isn’t following you back - you can unfollow them without having to even go to Instagram.
It has a ton of other great features, like the ability to see who is following you (so you can follow them, or at least check out what they’re doing), blacklist spam accounts so you never accidentally follow one again, and even look at and follow other accounts’ followers.
Crowdfire has a free and premium versions depending on your needs, but the Pluto plan is only $9.99/month - and has everything you need to execute this strategy seamlessly.
Let’s say you were to create a marketing plan for Instagram.
You plan to post 3-4 times per day, which you estimate will lead to you reaching 10,000 followers in 90 days.
So you get to work creating the content, throw some posts up on Day 1… and nothing.
You hear crickets. Nobody is liking your posts, and forget about comments. Your Instagram posts are about as lively as a death metal concert in a retirement home.
What went wrong?
Well, for one, you could be posting at the wrong time of day. After all, if your target audience lives mainly in Asia, and you’re posting during North American daytime hours, your people are sleeping right through your incredible content.
And since Instagram is a feed, and people see on average only about 30% of their feeds,
They’ll never see those posts after all.
Or maybe you’re using the wrong hashtags - the type of hashtags that nobody engages with, and that perform poorly in your industry.
Either way, you’re missing two key ingredients to marketing plan success.
That’s where Iconosquare comes in. Iconosquare is a premium Instagram analytics tool that has some data that can be incredibly helpful - including which hashtags that perform the best for you, and the times of day to post that get the most engagement:
So you can post at the time of the day that your followers are online and most active - and with the hashtags that resonate with them the most.
Like Ink361, you can use Iconosquare to do competitor analysis. And if you haven’t even started on Instagram yet, that means that you can identify those who reach the audience you want to reach, to take the guesswork out of coming up with a strategy:
Iconosquare is a premium paid analytics tool, but you can get a 14 day free trial to try it out before investing.
So let’s say you loved the idea of the follow/unfollow strategy…
But carving out the time in your busy schedule to actually execute it sounds like an impossible task.
That’s where tools like Instagress come in.
Instagress is an automation tool that allows you to automate almost all of the activities you’d take to engage with other accounts.
This includes liking, following, unfollowing and even commenting on posts based on hashtags, users, and locations that you specify you want to target.
For example, maybe you want to follow the accounts who follow a competitor. You can use Instagress to automate this so you don’t have to lift a finger:
You can even choose the speed that Instagress does this, between slow, medium, and fast.
But buyer, beware: if you’re going to use this tool, I’d highly recommend that you stick to just using it for liking posts using targeted hashtags, and following accounts who follow your competitors.
Commenting and unfollowing can seem highly impersonal if you automate them - and let’s be real, posting a generic comment like “cool” to all posts that use a specific hashtag is highly impersonal - and if you’re marked as spam too often, you’ll get the IG smackdown.
Once upon a time, I thought posting images on Instagram would be a lot of work.
Especially considering I didn’t want to just post pictures of my latte or random photos of my travels. I also wanted to be able to post inspirational pictures with text over top, and content that could convey a message beyond the image itself.
But it turns out that you don’t have to be a designer to post this type of content on Instagram - and these posts don’t have to take more than 2 minutes to create.
That’s because there are apps to make this dead simple, like Wordswag.
With Wordswag, you can choose through hundreds of high quality backgrounds and stock photos and place quotes and sayings or even just your logo over top:
The app even comes with some popular quotes you can use if you are stuck when you’re trying to think of your own.
There are alternatives, like Typorama, and in reality it doesn’t matter which you use - they both take the pressure off of you as the Instagrammer to create beautiful content.
I know I’ve already gone through a couple of solid analytics tools, but since each tool has its own highly useful purpose, I had to throw SocialBlade in there too.
Whenever I want to check Sumo’s Instagram stats quickly and get a snapshot of its day-to-day follower growth, SocialBlade is the first site I log on to:
You can use Iconosquare, Ink361 and SocialBlade for different purposes, but SocialBlade is completely free and you can use it to look up any Instagram account to find out quick stats on your following.
If you’ve been growing your Instagram for a while, you know the struggle.
The one thing that’s so annoying about growing your Instagram following...
The content hamster wheel.
You’re constantly on the hunt for new content ideas for your feed, and it gets pretty exhausting. So one strategy that not only allows you to take a break in creating unique content but also connect with other Instagrammers is... reposting.
Let’s say you were an eCommerce clothing store, and a customer posted a photo to Instagram wearing your products. You wanted to repost it to your feed. It used to be that you had to take screenshots of other posts, crop them into Instagram, and add your own caption when you wanted to repost, but not anymore.
Recently, Buffer came out with a feature that allows easy reposting.
Instead of doing all that manual work, it just allows you to easily repost content from the Buffer app.
Anything to make your life easier, right?
Instagram can be a huge asset for list building, traffic, and even increasing your revenue for your online business.
But, without a few tools to help you along, it will be a long, hard road to grow your following.
These Instagram marketing tools will help you understand your audience, grow your followers and engage with the people you want to get your content in front of.
And if you want the ultimate Instagram tool? The one that will help you grow the quickest?
Click the link below to get the Instagram swipe file (including the marketing plan!) we used to grow our account to 100K in a matter of months, as well as some standard operating procedures to bring your account to the next level.