How fast your Instagram business grows depends on two things: How many people you reach, or how many people discover your account (your small business) on the platform. What percentage of them you retain. Once they discover your account, what percentage of them perceive enough value from your Instagram bio, your Instagram grid layout, and your content to be retained (follow you) and/or consider buying what you sell.
The more people that discover your account and the larger the percentage of them that find enough value in your account and/or products and services to follow you, the faster your business will grow. Simple as that!
How People Discover Your Account on Instagram
Now, given the millions of accounts competing with you for people’s attention on Instagram, getting people to discover your account is easier said than done but it’s doable when you break down the process of discovery to its most basic elements.To do that, you can ask yourself two simple questions.
How can people who don’t know me yet discover my account on Instagram?
Unlike “the real world” where people who don’t know your business can discover it through an almost infinite number of ways, on Instagram, people can only find your account by first coming across your username. Apart from doing ads (which this article won’t focus on), there is simply no other way for someone who doesn’t know you to find you on the app. Period.
So, to get people to discover you on the platform, you need to figure out how to get as many people as possible to come across your Instagram username. This leads us to the second question.
How can those who don’t know me yet come across my username on Instagram?
When you analyze all of Instagram’s screens, you realize that there actually is only a very limited number of screens through which someone can discover you on the platform. These screens where people can come across a username are what I call Instagram’s reach channels and understanding what they are and how to be surfaced through them is the key to maximizing the number of people that discover you on the app.
Instagram’s Reach Channels
On Instagram, someone who doesn’t already know you can come across your username and discover your account only through one of the following screens.
The Home feed
People come across your username here when someone they already follow tags your username on their photo or caption.Activity that surfaces your username on this channel: To show up on the Home Feed of people you don’t know you you need to be tagged by accounts they already follow. Although difficult and potentially expensive, finding the most valuable influencers and getting them to respond to you is a way to achieve that. Another strategy here is to provide real incentives for anyone to tag you. The more effective the incentives, the more people will tag you. For example, in my @potteryforall account, I incentivize ceramics accounts to photo tag me in exchange for the possibility of being featured on my account to a large audience.
The Explorer, Reels, or shopping pages
These three pages are grouped together because they all work on the same principle. People come across your username through these channels when the Instagram algorithm selects your content to be surfaced on them. The only difference is that each of them is focused on different types of content. The explorer page shows people photos, videos, Reels, and shopping content, the reels page is focused exclusively on Reels and the shopping page is focused exclusively on shoppable content.
Activity that surfaces your username on this channel: To get your username surfaced on the Explorer, Reels, or shopping pages as much as possible your content needs to be selected by the algorithm as much as possible. Instagram exists to maximize profits by maximizing the amount of attention they can get from us. The algorithm is built to keep us on the app as much as possible by showing us the most engaging content first. So, to be selected by the algorithm as much as possible you need to have the most engaging content possible. It’s hard to do, but achievable through using a simple process to systematically increase your engagement.
The Hashtag feed
People come across your username through these channels when the Instagram algorithm selects your content to be surfaced on the Top Posts of whatever Instagram hashtags you tag on your content.
Activity that surfaces your username on this channel: First, make sure to use the hashtags that people that are likely to be interested in your content are checking. Then, know that the algorithm also selects the Top Posts based on their engagement so to get your username surfaced on the Hashtag feed as much as possible you also need to have the highest engagement possible.
The Activity feed
Interactions are shown on this feed so people come across your username here whenever you interact (follow, like, comment, or are tagged in) with their account.
Activity that surfaces your username on this channel: To show up on other people’s Activity feeds as much as possible you need to interact (follow, like, comment, or are tagged in) with people who are likely to find your content interesting as much as possible.
One way to do that is by hand, every day, or you can automate that with an Instagram bot (which can be dangerous for your account). If the people you interact with aren’t likely to be interested in your content, you’ll waste your interactions and your time because once they discover your account they’ll find it irrelevant and they won't follow you or check out your products or services.
The DM inbox
People come across your username here when they receive a DM from you or whenever someone else shares your content with that person through a DM.
Activity that surfaces your username on this channel: To show up on other people’s DM inbox as much as possible you need to DM people as much as possible, which I wouldn’t recommend because you’ll eventually get blocked, or get your content shared through DM’s as much as possible. Usually, the more engaging your content is, the more it’s shared, so having high engagement is ultimately the most effective activity you can do to be shared on DMs.
And that’s it! That’s all of the channels through which people can discover you on Instagram.
There’s no reason to make the process more complicated than it is. You get discovered by executing the activities that surface your username on the Instagram reach channels of the people who are likely to be interested in your content. The better you execute the activities, the more people will come across your username and the more people will discover your account.
Good luck pals! And remember, growing on Instagram isn’t about being cool or social, it’s about understanding the activities that lead to growth and executing them at a high level. I did it and so can you!
By the way, if you want to learn more about how Instagram works, read these articles on Instagram niches and why they are the key to growth, how to know if your Instagram is worth growing?, why your Instagram account isn’t growing, how to create an Instagram repost account that makes money, Instagram bots 2022, or many other valuable topics through my Instagram Small Business YouTube channel.