If you noticed your Instagram account has had an influx of followers lately, it may be because an Instagram campaign has seen success or your carousels have attracted attention on the Explore Page. Whatever the cause of your follower growth, it may be time to manage your Instagram followers more effectively.

These 10 tips cover the various marketing funnel stages and how to nurture your Instagram followers at each stage. Not all followers are created equal. A new follower needs some guidance, while an actively hostile one might need some restrictions.

1. Optimize your Instagram profile

How do new followers find you? To attract new Instagram followers, your profile needs to be easy for users to find. Besides linking your social accounts from your website and email newsletters, think about how users organically find you on Instagram.

SEO matters in your Instagram handle and bio. You only get 30 characters for your Instagram username and 150 characters to craft an impactful Instagram bio, so make every character count. Business bios should at least have your company name and your major products or services.

The Lip Bar uses their allotted character count to introduce who they are, product info and where to find them. It gets bonus points for adding fun emojis and a relevant hashtag.

The Lip Bar optimizes their Instagram profile.

Businesses with physical locations need to make sure their location tags are accurate. After all, you don’t want to have someone tag your address only to find out a different business shows up for it.

2. Create a customer service strategy

After finding a brand on social media, consumers perform various actions. Seventy-six percent of consumers will reach out for customer service and support. And 47% of consumers believe that a brand is performing well on social if they offer strong customer service.

There are several ways to demonstrate that a brand uses Instagram for customer service:

  • The brand answers both public and private consumer questions
  • There are CTA buttons available for contacting the brand
  • Service hours are listed in the bio
  • When someone opens up a DM, they’re greeted with an Instant Reply or messaging status

3. Be responsive to IG comments and DMs

When a customer messages a brand, there are some expectations on timeliness. According to the Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVI: Above & Beyond:

“40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours.”

A fast social media response time should be part of a company’s social customer strategy. It helps build trust with new customers and retain current ones.

But if you’re seeing an influx of messages because of your Instagram follower growth, it’s important that you maintain customer relationships and not miss a message. This is where Sprout’s Smart Inbox shines. Filter through all incoming messages based on profile or message type and mark them as complete once you’ve taken action on them.

Sprout Social Smart Inbox filters all message types into a single inbox.

4. Be proactive against trolls or spam

Accounts with larger followings attract bots and spam accounts. It’s an unfortunate side effect to growth, but there are a few ways to combat this. First, don’t wait until you get that first influx of spam comments.

Handle spam proactively by updating your settings in Settings > Privacy > Hidden Words. There, you can manage comments and messages based on custom words or phrases. Instagram keeps its own list of offensive words to filter and hide from your account.

Instagram has settings to filter custom words and phrases that may be offensive or spam.

Instagram’s privacy settings have many options available to you that are worth exploring. This is you granular control over whose messages go into the Messages Requests folder or if people can reply to your Stories.

5. Have a plan for blocking or restricting accounts

Some accounts exist solely to cause chaos, create disinformation or actively harass brands. Or, there’s a follower who constantly posts hurtful or spam comments.

It’s important to have a crisis communication plan in place for instances like these and more unforeseen situations. When is it appropriate to block or restrict an Instagram follower or account?

Public criticism is a part of managing a growing brand. And when it happens you should be prepared with a clear communication plan. Unless there’s clear harassment, blocking an account is usually not the first response. Feedback and reviews are opportunities for a brand to listen and respond.

Instagram offers two alternatives to blocking unruly or disrespectful users. Restricting an account stops DM read receipts, mutes comment notifications and requires approval for comments. This is a good option if you want to limit engagement from a troll but not entirely block.

As recently as July 2021, Instagram introduced a Limits feature, which automatically hide comments and DM requests from people who don’t follow an account or recently followed.  This is to help protect people experiencing a sudden spike in comments. or DMs from people they don’t know. With Limits turned on, you’ll be able to approve comments on posts and stop certain accounts from interacting with you.

Instagram has privacy settings that allow you to limit how much an account interacts with your profile and posts.

6. Welcome new follows with have a dedicated  Instagram Highlights or welcome post

If a potential new follower is visiting an Instagram account for the first time, you want them to have access to all the relevant information. We’ve already covered the need for a great bio, but more can be done.

Start by ensuring that an Instagram Highlight is dedicated to introducing your brand. Think “Our Values,” “About,” “Company” and “History” – you get the idea.

The Museum of Craft and Design’s Instagram account makes it clear that it’s a museum. But moreover, there’s an Instagram Highlights about what to expect as a visitor and their current exhibitions.

Museum of Craft and Design has a dedicated IG Highlight for Visitor Info.

Another way to welcome and acknowledge new followers is to make an introductory post every so often. This works well for smaller brands and content creators. The posts can be made anytime or after a big influx of followers, such as a giveaway or big event. Brands can often be faceless, so showcasing the people behind the account is a good way to humanize the brand.

“Meet the maker” is a common phrase used by those in creative industries. Those feeds tend to be filled with the product but not the person or people behind it. Paul of Timeless Custom Projects did an intro post to acknowledge any new followers.

Instagram introduction post from Timeless

7. Stay on brand and use saved responses

Establishing a brand voice is crucial if you have multiple people managing your Instagram account. Responding to those common questions and concerns takes up valuable time. Instead of retyping the same answer or having a different voice, consider using Instagram’s saved replies feature.

The Instagram saved replies feature is available to professional and business accounts and keeps you on-brand in your replies.

Instagram has a quick reply or saved reply shortcut setting.

Sprout Social’s Saved Replies feature works across all networks. With saved replies, you’ll free up even more time for your team and keeps everyone on the same page for every customer care situation.

Used saved replies in Sprout Social so all your team members stick to your brand voice in every scenario.

8. Get to know your audience

How can you create an effective Instagram strategy if you don’t know who your audience is? Use your Instagram Insights to understand your audience’s demographics, location, age and most active hours.

Sprout Social Instagram Business Profile Demographics insights.

With a social media management tool such as Sprout, you can access a Post Performance Report that offers up post-level insights. Similarities in top-performing posts are great indicators that your audience is resonating with your content.

Post Performance Reports in Sprout Social gives you insight on what posts resinate with your audience.

9. Routinely evaluate the account’s performance

To effectively manage your Instagram followers, you also need to know how your account is performing. A monthly or quarterly social report and an Instagram audit are good options for this.

Sprout Social Instagram Business Profile report tracks your page performance over time.
And if you want to take it a step further, benchmark yourself against your Instagram competitors. See how often they’re posting and how quickly their accounts are growing.
Sprout Social Instagram Competitor reports compared your audience growth against your competitors.

10. Keep track of your influencers

And finally, keep track of your account’s influencers. It doesn’t matter if they are part of your influencer marketing strategy or loyal fans. These people are the ones who want to talk about your brand.

There are several ways to keep track of your influencers. Instagram now allows you to “favorite” accounts so you can toggle to that feed. The “following” feed shows you only posts from people you follow. Both are chronological so that you won’t miss the newest posts. Use the Favorites and Following feature to stay connected with influencers.

Instagram introduced two Feed types: Favorites and Following.
Source: Instagram

Lastly, the Close Friends list on Instagram allows you to connect even further with the most important accounts. Nurturing these customer relationships goes a long way in managing your followers.

Similar to Instagram’s Favorites feature is Sprout’s VIP lists. This cross-platform list creates a customized feed for those selected accounts. Another helpful feature in Sprout is Notes. These are private notes that are attached to the account’s profile. Use these notes to jot down interactions or essential facts about various accounts.

Sprout Social VIP List options in settings.

Manage your Instagram followers

It can be overwhelming when your Instagram account starts to take off. Managing your followers with a larger account requires more thought and care. You don’t want to spend time investigating every account because this will be unfeasible at a certain point. When you can use strategies like the ones above, you’ll find that you’re still managing your followers but in a more effective manner.

One step to managing your followers is to benchmark your business and have content plans in place. Use this toolkit to unlock social success for your company.