Among all the social media networks available today Instagram is probably the most exciting one. People sharing and exchanging pictures of beautiful moments and things in their life. What could be more positive and inspiring?
However, if you’re new to Instagram, posting pictures and receiving nothing but a few likes and comments from your (Facebook) friends can quickly become a depressing experience. But of course, it doesn’t have to be like that. Time to upgrade your strategy. These 10 amazing hacks will help you get more followers and become an Instagram star:
- Identify your niche and create your own unique style.
- Post the right content at the right time.
- Get other users’ attention by using creative captions.
- Always stay on top of your hashtag game. And don’t forget to mix them up.
- Engage your target audience.
- Get your friends to help you grow your following.
- Connect with big influencers in your niche and learn from them.
- Use call to action to engage your Instagram followers.
- Know your local community’s interests and use this knowledge to your advantage.
- Cross-promote your Instagram on all social media channels.
It might be a lot to take in at once, so let’s begin with baby steps. There are some core rules you should follow in order to make your Instagram account stand out, and therefore attract new followers.
What to Do If Your Instagram Isn’t All That
Today Instagram has become a rather tricky system. With things and “rules” constantly changing, there’s not always an answer on how to make the most out of your experience on the website. That’s why we regularly find and test new and improved methods to get more (real) followers on Instagram.
Start Treating Your Instagram Seriously
Forget the low-quality pictures. Dress your feed to impress other Instagrammers: only use the photos and graphics of consistently high quality. No one built a big following on the platform with dark grainy photos from a Saturday night out.
Don’t leave it days or weeks without posting. Instagram favors accounts that produce new content regularly. Make it a rule to post on certain days of the week and never break it. You can use a planning app to help you stick to your new schedule. Some examples of those are Buffer, Plann, Planoly, and Later.
While following these two rules is a good start, it won’t make you the king (or queen) of Instagram. But we all know that getting a ton of followers will.
How to Get Followers on Instagram
We’ve put together a 10-step strategy on how to gain real followers on Instagram. Of course, you don’t have to follow all ten of them in order to thrive on the platform. Choose the ones that suit your style/theme/genre/niche most, and don’t forget to experiment!
1. Identify Your Niche
Finding your “niche” — your feed’s main topic/style/voice — is the first and most important step in gaining followers on Instagram. And I’m afraid that choosing “travel photos” as your niche isn’t enough. There has to be something special and unique about your photos, whether it’s certain colors, shapes, or your photos’ subjects.
James Frew, Instagram manager at MakeUseOf, says:
“An account that is all over the place, posting without a theme, is less likely to get a following. People enjoy niches, so it pays to find yours and then post consistently about it. Going off topic every now and again — especially in the Stories — is fine, but the majority should stick to what people expect.”
Once you get your theme down, you can start following accounts that are aligned with yours. It will help you gain followers interested exactly in what you’re posting, and it will be easier to engage them in what you share.
Note: You can only follow 30 Instagram accounts per hour without risk of being banned.
2. Timing Is Everything
We mentioned being consistent and posting only high-quality content as two of the main rules to growing your Instagram following. But there’s more to that.
Some researchers tried to find an answer to the question of what kind of photos to post to get the most engagement from your followers. Some suggest posting photos of everything blue, and the ones with the most light in them, other social media scientists advice to use more faces in the photos.
No matter what you post, research shows that the best times for it are 2am and 5pm EST. If you’re not planning to share photos every day, make sure you post on Wednesday to get the mid-week visibility, and on Sunday, as there are the fewest images posted on that day.
3. Use the Power of Storytelling
You know what to post and when to post it. It might be enough to keep you going on Instagram, but it’s not enough to turn you into a network’s superstar. There are a few ways to enhance the content you share — one of them is captions.
Photo by @lucasfogliaphoto. Kenzie hangs from her safety rope inside the Vaughan Lewis Glacier. Every summer since 1946, members of the @juneauicefieldresearchprogram have traversed the Juneau Icefield, contributing to the oldest continual study of a glacier in the Western Hemisphere. The Juneau Icefield in southeast Alaska is one of the largest ice fields in the world, covering more than 1,500 square miles. It is expected to completely disappear by 2200, if climate-warming trends continue.
Use captions to tell a story about your picture. Ask your followers a question. Ask for feedback, tips, or advice. Or, on the contrary, share your own insights. All of those things are bound to get you more engagement with other Instagrammers.
James Frew on Instagram tools:
“Instagram seems like a fairly simple app — a main feed where you post your best pictures, and stories where you can post anything you want and it’ll disappear after a day. However, there are so many different ways that you can use the features to your benefit. The best way to learn new techniques is to follow other Instagrammers and see what they do.”
4. Stay on Top of Your Hashtag Game
Master the use of hashtags — besides great pictures, they might be the most important tool for gaining followers on Instagram. Use hashtags that are known to help increase followers like Follow Friday (#FF), #l4l (Like for like), #instafollow, and #followback.
It’s also important to research your hashtags have a mix of more popular and less popular ones. While your goal is to reach as many people as possible, you also want to use hashtags specific enough they will reach the audience you’re looking for.
For example, there’s no point of using #instagram that has over 131 million posts. Your post will last on a user’s feed with that tag for about 0.001 seconds. You want to find hashtags with the number of posts in tens of thousands (ideally, anything from 20,000 to 100,000 posts). It both has enough posts to have a decent reach and is precise enough to limit its reach to your target audience only.
Note: Use the full 30 hashtags and post them in your first comment rather than in the caption.
5. Build Your Tribe
Another very important aspect of growing your following on Instagram is how you engage with your followers. Instagram ranks accounts that get a lot of likes and comments in the first 15 minutes higher. It also gives preference to posts that users share with each other via DM.
Always aim to have great content that people will love and want to share, like, and comment on. But don’t be afraid to reach out yourself first by commenting, saying Hi, or liking other people’s stuff.
Author Neil Patel suggests you like hundreds of random photos from people in your target audience. Using this strategy he found that for every 100 likes he did, he received 6.1 more followers.
6. Get Your Friends to Help
Ask your friends that you already have on Instagram to help you get more exposure. All they need to do is like and/or comment on your posts in the first 15 mins after the content being posted.
The aim of the game is to boost your posts up and create more chance for them to appear in the Explore section for even more exposure to new followers.
7. Think Big
Instagram is great for networking. You can use hashtags and tags to connect with big influencers in your niche and learn from them. It could be individuals with an extensive Instagram following, big companies, brands that you’re using, magazines, or photographers.
Note: Be a little cheeky and ask an influencer to mention or tag you (or your product). While there’s no guarantee that this will work, if it does it will likely bring you many new followers.
8. Excite Your Followers With Clever Calls to Action
Like other social networks, Instagram is built for a dialogue. Don’t just broadcast your content, find ways to get your followers’ response. What do you want people to do with your posts?
Once you figure that out, try and make it sound fun or clever (or both). If used right, call to action can be a great way to get your Instagram content shared and even go viral.
James Frew on engaging the followers:
“Running giveaways/shoutouts/requests for comments and then posting the best in your stories and tagging the users means that people get excited by your content and the allure of maybe getting featured keeps them coming back.”
9. Act Local
Get to know your local community’s interests by using geotagging in your posts. When you geotag your photos, you’ll get noticed by other Instagram users in your region. A great way to get the attention of local Instagrammers.
If you go to the Search page and choose Places tab, you can also see what’s trending right now in a specific area. That could be your neighborhood, your city, or an event in a certain location.
10. Cross-Promote Your Instagram
There are countless ways to promote your Instagram online, and for free.
Start by syncing up your Instagram with your Facebook page, Twitter, Youtube channel, etc. Mention your Instagram name across your other social media accounts, and in your email newsletter (if applicable). Create your own branded hashtag and encourage your followers to use it both on Instagram and other social media channels. All of this will lead to more exposure and, ultimately, more followers for your account.
Putting Theory Into Practice
With that knowledge in your pocket, we’re confident you can win the hearts of thousands of Instagram followers in no time at all. Whether you’re new to Instagram or already have some experience of using it for marketing purposes, we’d like to hear from you before you go.
How popular is your Instagram account? How many followers do you have and hope to reach in the future? How do you get followers on Instagram? Did it help you increase your following? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.