How to Grow Your Instagram Following with an Outbound Strategy

On Instagram (and any social media channel, really) it’s easy to get caught up in how many followers you have, who is engaging with your posts, and how well your account is performing.

But those aren’t the only measures of success.

As a matter of fact, if you want to grow your Instagram brand faster and with more quality followers and connections, you need to be doing more than just putting out great content and hoping for the best.

You need to develop a marketing strategy that will connect you to your ideal customers on Instagram, and draw them in to your brand. You have to get outside your existing sphere of influence, and show up in new spaces, demonstrating that you are an active, valuable member of the community.

And the way you do that is with an outbound marketing strategy. I’ve included a simple outbound strategy to get you started in my free Two-Week Instagram Challenge (click here to download it now!), but first, let’s talk about what outbound marketing actually is, and why it’s different.

What is “outbound” marketing?

Marketing experts will sometimes talk about “inbound” versus “outbound” marketing.

Inbound marketing is the kind of marketing content that draws people in and invites them to come to you. This includes activities like, writing blog posts, posting content to Instagram, creating a lead magnet that people can download, etc.

Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is a strategy in which you go to the customer — instead of asking them to come to you. This might include activities like going to networking events to introduce yourself, sending an email or calling up a customer you really want to work with, or buying a paid ad.

Think of your audience as a series of concentric circles, like a target.  The smallest, center circle is your customers, people who already love you and buy from you. The next largest circle is people on your email list who have said they want to hear from you; the next level is social media followers, then friends of followers, and then people who don’t know anything about you or your brand in the biggest circle.

With inbound marketing, you’re mostly talking to your existing circle of followers and trying to bring them in to the next closest circle. (Sure, new people will stumble on you from time to time, but not reliably or frequently.) When you put out a social media post, or a blog post, or an email, for the most part, only people who are already aware of you will see it — and you can use it to bring people closer in, into the center where they become customers.

With outbound marketing, you’re “jumping over” the imaginary wall between the people who already know about you and people who don’t know about you yet. The goal is the same: to bring them into the next smaller circle. But you’re reaching an entirely different audience with outbound marketing than inbound marketing.

Create an Instagram outbound strategy

In Instagram terms, an outbound marketing strategy is all about creating connections between you and other users and brands.

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels are updating their algorithms to put an emphasis on the quality of connections between users. That means it’s just as important for you to create real, meaningful connections on these channels as it is to grow your own follower count — in fact, it might even be more important.

It’s just as important to be someone else’s follower, most engaged user, top commenter, or strong member of a community as it is for you to have those things for your own brand.

The good news is, doing outbound marketing on Instagram is as easy as engaging in the same actions and habits you normally do in the app — while being mindful of your larger purpose and goals.  

Your outbound Instagram marketing strategy might include:

  • Following 10–20 new accounts that already reach your ideal customer every day for a week (as suggested in our Two-Week Instagram Challenge!)
  • Leaving meaningful comments on other posts
  • Engaging people in conversation on other posts
  • Responding to comments people leave on your posts (quickly, and with more than three words for the algorithm to smile on you!)
  • Sending direct messages to followers to continue the conversation

And so on.

I find that this can actually be the fun kind of work! I like Instagram, personally, and so it just makes sense for me to use it to its full potential by engaging and creating real relationships.

And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. If you find you tend to “go down the rabbit hole” on social media — or, alternately, that you set up an account and then don’t do anything with it for days (or weeks!) at a time — give yourself 15–30 minutes a day for Instagram marketing. Put it in your calendar and treat it like any other appointment or to-do on your list.

If you are consistent with a thoughtful outbound marketing strategy, I can practically guarantee you’ll see more followers and more engagement on your own account!

Want to get a head start?  Click here to download my free Two-Week Instagram Challenge — it’s ready to start right now, whenever you are, and gives you two weeks of simple but powerful strategies to employ to start building your brand on Instagram. It’s normally only available as part of the Ignite Your Brand on Instagram Destination Guide on Business Class — so grab it now!


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