Instagram is a massively popular social media platform, which means it’s a great way to reach a vast audience and market your brand—even if you are a small business. However, due to Instagram’s sheer size, it is saturated with other companies trying to do the same thing. How can you stand out amongst the crowd? Well, there is an audience on Instagram for you somewhere, you just need effective strategies for connecting with the people who will become part of it. Here are a few ways to get followers for your small business’s channel:

Publish compelling content

When it comes to social media, it is impossible to understate the importance of content. The images and videos you share are the reason why people click the “follow” button. If you want them to click said button and stick around, then you need to provide them with something that they are looking for: in broad terms, you can boil it down to information and amusement.

When you give information, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and become a resource for education. An Instagram user, for instance, who has no knowledge of pastries but enjoys eating them, might find it fascinating to follow a bakery’s account that posts the histories of different cakes and delicious recipes. Everyone loves to laugh, so people are also more likely to follow accounts that bring a bit of joy into their lives.

Polish your profile

Would you follow a profile that looks incomplete or inactive? Probably not—you might even assume that the profile doesn’t belong to a real person! Polish your Instagram page so that when people visit it, no one doubts that you are an active, legitimate online presence. Besides having a recognizable profile picture, you should have a solid bio and a link to your website. It’s also beneficial to plan out your feed itself: with tools like Plann, you can arrange how your posts will look together ahead of times so that you can compose an aesthetically pleasing page.

Interact with your followers

One of the other most important things you can do is interact with your followers. While one of your goals is clearly to attract more of them, you should also measure Instagram success in terms of engagement. Out of however many people your posts reach, how many of them click the “like” button? How many people comment, and what do they say? How many people share it? There’s not much point to having thousands or millions of followers if they just sit there and do nothing.

Interact with your followers directly. Respond to comments, answer questions, and re-share user-generated content that they tag you in. When you acknowledge your followers, you make them feel appreciated, and consumers are more likely to do business with brands that recognize them and make them feel comfortable. Non-followers will notice that you engage with your audience instead of ignoring them, and they might want in on the action.

Establish relationships with other brands and influencers

While liking other people’s posts and expanding your reach the long way is important, it’s practical to tap into pre-existing audiences that might be interested in your business. Cultivate relationships with favorite Instagram personalities or brands related to your industry and see if they would be interested in a partnership (as long as they are not in direct competition with you). Influencers can give shoutouts and attest to your legitimacy and quality, while other brands can offer their customers benefits at your business while you do the same for yours.

Make sure people know where you are

If you are a brick-and-mortar small business, make sure that you tag your location on Instagram so that people know where you are. Marking your place is helpful for local SEO and increasing your visibility (and even if you are also participating in the ecommerce space, consumers appreciate knowing where their packages come from).

Employ relevant hashtags

Hashtags are essential for spreading your content on social media. Hashtags categorize and catalog images and videos so that people who are interested in particular subjects can find your posts more easily. Which hashtags to use requires a fair bit of strategy: you do not want to label your posts with keywords that are already full of content that will drown yours out, but you do want to put them in channels that people are actually searching. Look at how many posts are labeled with each tag and decide from there (creating your own branded hashtag is a pragmatic idea, too).

Instagram is a straightforward platform, but using it to achieve your goals means you need to put thought and effort into how you use it. What measures will you take to attract followers to your small business Instagram?