Instagram used to be an app that simply let users share a picture with a cute caption and a neat filter. Over the years, however, Instagram has become an essential tool for many businesses and content creators. Considering that Instagram has 1 billion users each month, it’s a fantastic platform for you to interact with potential customers.
Because Instagram is a visual platform, it’s easy for you to showcase your product, content, or service in a way that attracts consumers. In this modern age, we are very visual creatures. We don’t want to read about a product or service; instead, we want to see it in action. We crave content in the form of pictures and videos because, to us, it seems like we’re saving time and using less energy than it would take to read, for instance, a blog post.
If you have a business of any kind and you’re not utilizing the crazy marketing power of Instagram, what are you waiting for?
It’s not always easy to know where to get started with building your following on Instagram. But in this article, we’ll go over the many, many ways you can optimize your Instagram and expand your customer or fan base. You’ll learn exactly how you can get more organic followers on your Instagram and continuously build your platform.
How to get more followers on Instagram
Everyone is going to have a different journey growing their following on Instagram. What works best for a jewelry business may be different than what works best for a food blogger. So our best advice would be to browse through and take note of all the following tips, and then over time, see what works best for you.
What not to do when trying to get more followers on Instagram
If you’re at the beginning of your journey on Instagram, it may seem overwhelming to gain more followers. If you haven’t put any thought into your Instagram strategy, you probably only have a handful of followers right now. And the numbers just aren’t growing as fast as you want them to. It can be easy to fall into the following traps, but trust me, these are not going to do much to grow your following long-term.
Avoid generic hashtags
We’ll get into hashtags more later on, but here’s a brief description. Hashtags are used to help filter your content and allow people to find you based on search terms.
Here’s a great example that has frequently been used in the modern age. A lot of modern weddings will create a custom hashtag for their guests to use for any photos taken at the wedding; for example, John Smith and Jane Doe might use the hashtag #SmithandDoeWedding or something along those lines. Then, any Instagram user who uses that hashtag in their photo throws their photo into the mix when anyone wants to look at content under #SmithandDoeWedding.
In this same situation, if someone takes a picture of the bride and groom at the wedding, they may use the following hashtags: #love, #ido, #cutestcouple, and other generic hashtags that are being used by tons of other Instagram users. If you’re trying to grow your Instagram following, using generic hashtags like #love will rarely result in your post being seen, liked, or commented on by people outside of your current following.
When you can, try to choose niche hashtags that align with what you think people might search to find your post.
Avoid gimmicky #followforfollow hashtags
People will frequently use cheesy hashtags like #followforfollow, #likeforlike, #pleasefollow, etc. Although this may earn you a few followers, it makes you look desperate and it won’t earn followers who actually want to see the content you’re posting. If someone follows you because you are going to follow them back, they don’t care about your content – they just care about getting followed back. And there’s a good chance they might unfollow you later and hope you don’t notice.
Avoid paid likes/followers
When you’re just getting started on Instagram, it can be really tempting to pay for likes or followers. Nowadays, it’s super easy to do this. You pay $10.00 for 500-1000 followers and you’re set, right? Wrong.
A lot of these “pay for followers and likes” type sites will follow you with bots. Instagram has gotten really good at catching fake followers and removing them. So although you might like the high number of followers you see right after you pay for them, that number will start dwindling.
Plus, even if your paid followers stick around, they’re not there for your content. They’re not going to like your posts and engage with them. When someone sees that you have 1000 followers, but no engagement on your posts, they’ll likely know something’s up.
I promise you – putting in more work to earn your followers will result in better Instagram growth. And you’ll gain followers who actually care about seeing the content you’re putting out there.
Avoid quantity over quality
If you’re only able to put out 1 to 2 good posts per week, that’s okay. 1 to 2 good posts will do a lot better than 10 to 12 sub-par posts. If you’re posting blurry pictures, haphazard pictures, or anything else that doesn’t look polished, it’s likely not going to do well.
If you’re a bigger business and you’re able to pay someone to pump out awesome posts multiple times a day, go for it.
But most people don’t have that kind of money to give to a dedicated social media manager. Most people only have the time for a few posts per week, and that’s okay. It’s better to post quality posts your followers will love than a bunch of lackluster posts that don’t get much engagement from your community.
Come up with a thoughtful content strategy for your Instagram
In order to be the most successful you can be on Instagram, you need a strategy. A strategy keeps you accountable and motivated to keep at it.
What are your goals?
First, you need to think about why you want to gain more Instagram followers. Do you want to broaden your fanbase to share your content with? Do you want to increase your business’s visibility by increasing traffic to your website? Or do you want more followers for some other reason?
Whatever your goal is, you need to write it down or keep track of it digitally somewhere. Make your goal as vague or as specific as you want it to be, though specific is always better. For instance, “I want to increase my website sales from Instagram by 25% in 6 months” is a better goal than “I want to increase my sales.”
Who is your audience?
Next, you need to think about who your audience is. Who do you want to see your content? How old are they? What does that age group like to do in their spare time? Where do they live? Gathering information like this about your intended audience will be immensely helpful in designing your content strategy.
When you design your content around your audience, your audience is more likely to be receptive to it. For example, say a jewelry seller on Etsy wants to boost her sales by promoting her jewelry on Instagram. If this person makes jewelry primarily for women, they’ll need to target their posts toward women. And if this person also just happens to make more unique jewelry that caters to people who like video games or precious stones, then they’ll need to think about the person that might wear that jewelry. What would make that person want to buy their jewelry?
The same business strategy can be applied to anyone else trying to grow their following on Instagram.
So, to wrap it up:
- You need to write down what you expect to get out of increasing your Instagram followers.
- You need to think about who your Instagram posts will be targeting.
Optimize your Instagram profile
Before people follow you, they’ll go to your profile. They’ll check out your bio, your latest pictures, and might even click on the URL in your profile. That’s why you need to make sure your profile is captivating enough to make someone click that “Follow” button.
Keep your bio short, but informative. You don’t need to launch into your whole life story or come up with some witty tagline. If you’re a food blogger, you can write something like “Hi, there! I’m a food blogger. I make delicious, easy meals you can cook in 30 minutes or less.” You can only have one URL in your bio, so make it count. You can link to another social media, your website, or any other URL you feel appropriate.
Make sure your profile picture is a great representation of your brand. If you’re a business, you’ll likely want a clear picture of your logo as your profile picture. If you’re a content creator, you’ll likely want to have a clear, professional looking picture of yourself.
Here’s another handy tip: your name and username are searchable on Instagram. So if you’re a personal chef, you might consider making your Instagram name “John Smith | Personal Chef” to help people find you in searches. Whatever you want people to search to be able to find you, try to put it in your profile name.
Post quality content that people want more of
I briefly mentioned this above, but make sure the content that you’re posting is quality. No one wants to see a blurry, crooked picture of your balcony. People want to see pictures with a nice aesthetic. Whether you’re posting a picture of a scene, a person (or yourself), or of something, like food or a product, make sure it’s well-focused and well-lit. Those two things alone will make a world of difference in your pictures.
Think about your captions as well. A good photo can make an even better Instagram post if it’s accompanied by a great caption. You can go motivational, witty, happy, serious, etc. Pick whichever tone you feel fits your photo and the message you’re trying to get across. If you don’t know what to write in your caption, you can’t go wrong with just choosing a few emojis.
Repost related content from other Instagram users
When you repost content from other Instagram users, you’re sharing it as a new post of your own. You would typically use #repost to signal that you are getting the content from someone else and then follow up with the Instagram handle of that person. Check out the photo below for an example.
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𝗔𝗹𝗼𝗵𝗮 𝗙𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘆! 🌺 Mahalo @roamrentalshawaii 😊🤙🏼 Pregnancy shoot next! 📸 @kylewrightaddison #Repost @roamrentalshawaii — Congrats @angelaleemma on the news!! 👶🏽 We think you’ll be a champ at motherhood too and are so happy for you. 🥳 #atomweightchamp #onechampionship #atomweight #femalemma
Reposting content is a great way to fill in the gaps if you don’t feel like coming up with more original content, but you want to stay active. Plus, it creates visibility for both you and the person you’re reposting from. With the example post above, @roamrentalshawaii tagged @angelaleemma, probably with the hope that she would respond to the content in some way. In this instance, she reposted the content, potentially influencing some of her followers to follow @roamrentalshawaii and vice versa.
Reposting content is also a great way to get your name out there. If you’re reposting content in your niche, there’s a good chance that the people you’re reposting from and giving credit to will follow you, engage with the post, or do the same for you. If you could get someone with more followers to repost your content, that would be an excellent way to gain new followers in your niche.
Consistency is key
This is one of the most important things to remember when trying to get more Instagram followers. If you only post once every month, your followers might get restless and unfollow you. Or, if new people see one of your posts, visit your profile, and see that you only post every now and then, they might not think it’s worth it to follow you.
If you can post once a day, that would be optimal for gaining the most followers. But if you know you can only commit to posting 2 or 3 times a week, set a schedule and stick to it. Being consistent is one of the best ways to build up a great community and interact with your followers.
If you think you’ll forget about posting, look into scheduling your Instagram posts in advance. This way, you can choose the picture, the filter, the caption, etc. all ahead of time! Here are a few great Instagram schedulers:
Hashtags are your friend – when you use them correctly
I mentioned creating custom branded hashtags earlier, but what does that mean for your business? Well, if you have a contest or a certain event that you want to capitalize on, create a custom hashtag and encourage your followers to use the hashtag. You can even incentivize them by saying you’ll repost your favorites or share them to your story.
You don’t have to create your own branded hashtags in order to get the most hashtags have to offer. It’s one avenue, sure, but it’s not the only avenue. Find hashtags that work for your niche and use them to your advantage. If you’re having trouble finding good hashtags or just can’t think of any on your own, try out these hashtag helpers:
Once you have your hashtags, where should you put them? And how many should you use?
Well, some people put their hashtags at the bottom of their captions. If this look is too messy for you, you can also put all your hashtags in your first comment on your post. Once you start getting enough engaging comments, your comment full of hashtags won’t be at the top anymore.
And as for how many you should use, you can use up to 30, but you might want to stop around the 9-10 range. That way, you don’t look like you’re just spamming hashtags. Instead, you’re choosing a select number of hashtags that will help people find your posts and hopefully follow you!
Check out the use of hashtags in the post below. She only uses 3 hashtags and although she could probably use more, the ones she chose are highly effective. They’re narrowed down enough that her post is likely to be found through searches. Imagine if she had used #food or #goodeats. Those hashtags aren’t nearly as unique and her post would probably get lost.
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New — NO BOIL Chickpea Noodle Casserole 🤤 This creamy, cozy, and veggie-packed recipe takes dump-and-bake casseroles to the next level! 💯 We’ve already made (and devoured) this twice and I think it’s going to become quiiite the weeknight staple around here 😏 Tap the link in my bio or head over to https://frommybowl.com/chickpea-noodle-casserole/ to get the full recipe! #vegan #casserole #vegancomfortfood
Tag your location and relevant users when possible
Whenever it’s possible, try to tag your location. It increases the chances that other people in your area would be able to find you. People like to follow like-minded people.
Also, make sure you tag relevant users whenever possible as well. If you take a picture while you’re eating out at a restaurant, check and see if that restaurant has an Instagram. If they do, be sure to tag them in your photo because there’s a good chance they could repost it or share it to their story. By tagging them, it increases the chances that they will check out your post, like it, comment on it, and possibly share it with their followers. Any chance you have to tag a relevant user, go for it because it can only increase your reach on Instagram.
Instagram is a community – be engaging
Remember that Instagram gives you the perfect opportunity to connect with people. If you want to get more followers on Instagram, make sure you are interacting with the community. Like people’s pictures, comment on people’s pictures, follow like-minded people.
And when people take the time to like one of your photos, go over to their latest picture and like it as a nice gesture. If someone comments on your post, make sure you respond to them and make them feel heard. If you interact with people and leave a positive impression, they’re more likely to go over to your profile and follow you.
Utilize Instagram stories, Lives, and IGTV
Like I said before, we are very visual creatures. And honestly, we’re sometimes too tired for pictures and captions – that’s where the video portion of Instagram comes in.
If you’re unfamiliar with Instagram stories, it’s essentially a picture or a video you can share that’s separate from your Instagram feed. People use their Instagram stories to respond to other posts that they’ve seen, to ask their followers questions, take polls, and more. Instagram stories are only available to see for a short period of time, unless you save the story to your profile.
Check out: 10 best Instagram Story apps for Android
You should absolutely use Instagram stories on your profile to help entice people to follow you. If someone comes to your profile and there are Instagram stories they can watch immediately, they’ll see your personality or what you’re offering and be more likely to follow you. Instagram stories are also a great way to collect common posts. For example, if you’re a food blogger, you can group your stories with titles like “Breakfast,” “30-Minute Meals,” “Favorite Kitchen Tools,” and more.
When you go live on Instagram, your followers get a notification and are enticed to tune in. Instagram Lives are a great way to interact with your community because people can like and comment on your video in real time. If you have something big to announce, using a Instagram Live is a great way to do it.
Lastly, IGTV allows you to post longer videos that you can also put on your profile. Think of IGTV as YouTube within the Instagram app. People can advertise IGTV videos in a regular Instagram post. When your followers see it, they can watch the first bit of the video, but then they have to click “Keep watching on IGTV.”
All of these video features on Instagram are yet another fantastic way to engage with your community. If you’ve never really even posted anything on Instagram, all of these video features are probably overwhelming. Just choose one to experiment with and leave the other two for when you’re more well-versed in Instagram.
Share your Instagram everywhere
Anywhere you can, share your Instagram handle. You can put your Instagram handle in your Twitter bio, on your blog or website, in your blog posts, in your email signature, on LinkedIn – the list could go on. And that’s just online platforms.
If you have physical products, like business cards, bags that you give your products away in, menus, etc., make sure you print your Instagram handle on them. If you run a physical business like a hair salon or a dentist office, make sure your customers know that you’re on Instagram. Maybe even offer them an incentive, like a coupon, if they post a picture on Instagram and tag you in it.
Post fun contests and giveaways from time to time
Giveaways and contests are a great way to gain more followers on Instagram. Although there are some people who may follow you, like your post, or comment just for the giveaway with plans to unfollow you after, others won’t. Some might forget that they’re following you and some might fall in love with your content.
Contests and giveaways are a great way to extend your reach on Instagram. If you post a giveaway with entry requirements of follow, like, and tag a friend, you’re going to get a ton of traffic headed your way. People want to be entered in the contest and the only way to do that is follow your requirements. By them tagging a friend, the friend might see the contest and want to enter as well. Before you know it, you’ve got a ton of Instagram users seeing your content for the first time.
Collaborate with small influencers to extend your reach
If you are able to give out samples of your product or service in exchange for someone with more followers talking about how great your brand is, go for it! Utilizing small influencers can help your business grow immensely. When you use small influencers, you may not reach as large of a following, but you can often pay them in product or service instead of money. When you’re just starting out, this can be really helpful. Try to choose someone in your niche that has about 5-10,000 followers.
Be specific and methodical about who you follow
There are some people who recommend following a lot of people on Instagram. This is because when you follow someone, that person gets a notification and will sometimes click on your profile out of curiosity. Depending on what they see, they may follow you back or they may not.
I would recommend that you follow relevant accounts in your niche. Go check out one of your competitors on Instagram, someone who is slightly bigger than you. Then, check out the list of people that are following them. Follow people from that list; the people who follow your competitor may also want to follow you because you offer a similar service or product or post similar content.
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Consider paying for ads on Instagram
I mentioned earlier that you should not pay for fake followers or likes on Instagram. But paying for ads is different. You’re not forcing people to follow you; instead, you’re paying for a targeted ad that will be seen by people in your target audience.
Paying for ads on Instagram is not necessary to gain more followers, but it can speed up the process. If you have some money in your advertising budget, it might be worth testing it out once or twice and seeing how your ads fare. How many new followers do you gain after starting an ad campaign? What about likes? Or how about comments? Be sure to pay attention to the effect ads have on your Instagram to know if they’re truly worth the investment.
Pay close attention to your analytics and learn from them
Although all of these strategies will help you with how to get more Instagram followers, you need to monitor your account’s growth. Here are a few great ways to check your analytics:
Keeping track of your analytics will help set you up for success. Pay attention to your numbers before and after you do certain things, like increase the number of times you’re posting per week or increasing the amount of photos you like from other users. Consistently monitoring these numbers and testing new strategies will help you gain more Instagram followers in no time.
Develop your own unique style
There are a ton of Instagram users out there, many of whom want to know how to get more followers. So how do you stand out?
You need to make sure that your posts represent you and your brand. Over time, you’ll become a master at the nuances of Instagram and develop your own style. You’ll figure out which filters are your favorite, whether you like Instagram stories, and which hashtags perform well for you. You may even pick a color scheme to stick to.
Whatever you do on Instagram, make sure you always have your brand and your content strategy in mind.