How to Increase your Instagram Followers
Have you heard of the story about the tortoise and the hare? They both take part in the race, but the hare is overly confident of winning and so decides to take a nap under the tree. The tortoise knows he is slow but keeps going at a steady pace (without having a nap) and eventually wins the race!
The moral of the story here is that slow and steady wins the race. For the most part, this is how you should view growing your instagram account. Some accounts can, and do go viral (sometimes helps if there is some controversy around one of their posts), but this doesn’t happen that often. If you’re feeling like your growth is non-existent (or really, really, really slow), don’t worry. Everyone’s been there. We want to show you some ways to increase your following and that’s why we’ve written this post – here are the 10 actionable steps you can take today to actively and organically grow your Instagram followers.
The grass is greener where you water it, so start watering!
1. Start with the basics and post quality content
You have to give people a reason to follow you – whether it’s for your stunning photographs, personality or educational value etc., make it easy for someone to want to follow you.
If you’re starting off as a photographer, you already have a competitive edge as you know what goes into creating quality photographs. If you’ve never picked up a camera before, don’t despair – you can learn. Youtube is a great place to start, and the basics you start with are the 3 pillars of photography (ISO, aperture and shutter speed).
Editing is the next step – your feed will look A LOT more cohesive and inviting if your photos are edited in a similar style. You won’t figure this out straight away, but will develop it as you take and edit more photos. To begin with, you can use presets on Lightroom to make it easier for you to stick to a style you like.
You also need to make sure that the photos you post are aesthetically pleasing and work well together in a grid. The best way to do is by downloading an app that allows you to preview how your photos look together – such as the Preview app. This helps you to plan ahead and which photos look good next to/above each other. You can also pre-write some of your captions to make your life easier when it’s time to post.
Photos with subjects in tend to do better than those without – people like looking at other people/animals/babies) so if you can, add a person! For example, below are 2 photos on our feed – one with 2 subjects so far away you can hardly see them, and the other where we are the clear subjects. It got a whole lot more engagement than the other - 5.5 x more profile visits, 3x the reach and twice the number of likes.
2. Post regularly
Consistency goes a long way on Instagram – ideally you should post once a day to see the best results. With each post, there will be a group of new people who have not seen or heard of you before, which gives you a chance to show them why they should follow you. So the more you post, the more quickly you’ll see your followers grow.
Below is an example of how we gained just 27 followers on a day we didn't post, followed by a gain of 107 the next day after we'd posted. If you’re posting fewer times a week, you’re giving yourself fewer chances to be seen.
3. Switch to a business profile
Switching to an Instagram business profile will give you access to more features and better insight into your follower demographics. Data is so important and when you know who your audience is, the better you will be able to cater to them and post what they want to see (instead of what you think you need to post).
You can track your performance with insights to see if any changes you make are working, to help perfect your growth strategy.
4. Post at the right time
Another reason to switch to business profile is that Instagram will then show you how many of your followers are online or active at particular times of the day, and which days of the week. This is very valuable information as if you post when your followers are online, you’ll get an initial engagement boost which sets your photo to do even better over the next 24 hours. The more of an initial boost you get with your post, the more discoverable it will be and the more the Instagram algorithm will keep your post showing up on other people’s feeds or the discover feed.
You won’t know your best posting time to begin with, but as you post and monitor your engagement, you will start to notice a trend. You can use various apps to see when is your optimal post time such as When to Post.
5. Optimise your instagram post - Make use of the location, hashtags, and tagged accounts
ALWAYS put in a location, the correct hashtags and tag related accounts in your post.
These all help to make your post discoverable, and the more discoverable you are, the quicker your followers will grow. For instance, if you put your location as London, Instagram users who search for London as a location may see your post and then go on to click your page. It is a very useful way of helping Instagram categorise your photos. If you don’t try to fit your posts into a particular category, it makes it so much harder for them to be seen.
Again, using the right hashtags will give others a chance to stumble on your post. You can only use 30 hashtags per post, and you wouldn’t want to be putting all 30 in your caption as it can make you seem a tad spammy. Place maybe 6-7 in your caption, and the rest as a comment (they still work, but try to post the comment as soon as possible after your post has gone up).
Coming up with the best hashtags is another challenge – we suggest starting broad and then becoming more specific. You can start with location specific hashtags (for example morocco). If you’re struggling to come up with similar tags – this is what we suggest: type this into the search bar in Instagram and a dropdown list of similar tags will come up (along with the number of posts in it). The more posts that are associated with the hashtag, the harder it can be to be discovered in it, as you might get lost in the sea of posts, but the upside is that more people tend to look at it which can increase your chances of being seen. However if you use a hashtag that fewer people use (eg if there are a few thousand posts with that tag), if someone searches for that particular tag, your photo is more likely to come out top. It is a delicate balance, and the larger your account is, the more likely you’ll show up as a top photo in a busy hashtag. When you’re starting out (<50k followers), it is best to stick to hashtags with less than a million posts in, ideally 50-500k.
Always try to tag 20 other accounts in your photo (in your niche), particularly reshare accounts. This also increases the chances of you being discovered!
6. Interact with your potential followers
Identify the accounts who are in your niche, and interact with THEIR followers.
This is a targeted approach to finding Instagram users who might be interested in following your account. You already know that they have an interest in your particular niche and you’ll likely have more luck converting them to your followers instead.
Here are some ways of interacting with Instagram users:
Liking their photos
Commenting on their photos
Commenting on their question stickers in their stories
A few notes on liking/commenting: try to interact with 2-3 of their posts, and don’t leave general comments like ‘that’s great’ or ‘cool photo’. Instead, leave specific comments like ‘Love the lighting here, and can’t wait to visit New York myself!’ – these are more personal and more likely to get a response or even a follow.
In terms of following – we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, as you don’t want to be following too many people. This will make you seem spammy and less authentic, especially if you are following and then unfollowing them. Besides, if you unfollow someone they’ll probably just unfollow you back.
7. Be social also with other accounts in your niche
For example if you are a foodie, why not reach out to another foodie account and arrange a meetup if logistically possible? You’ll get exposure to a whole new audience with an interest in what you’re doing and potentially get a ton of followers from it. It’s a great opportunity to learn from someone else, and you might make plenty of good friends along the way as well.
8. Get reshared on large accounts
Getting reshared on a large re-share account can go a long way in increasing your exposure and gaining followers. This however is obviously easier said than done, and the larger your account is/the more quality content you have, the more likely you will get reshared.
If you don’t ask, you won’t get – so just reach out to these accounts and ask them nicely to repost one of your photos. If they feel your photos are a good fit with their page, they will most likely be happy to share it.
Nowadays, a lot of re-share accounts might then turn around and ask for payment. It can be worthwhile to pay to increase your exposure, but you need to check first if the account is ‘real’ or not. Check their engagement rate (you’d expect it to be around 5%), and have a proportionate like to comment ratio (for example a photo getting 2000 likes ‘should’ be getting up to 90 comments – obviously this does vary). If you’re still unsure, you can use www.socialblade.com. Type in the account name into the search bar to see their rate of growth – you should be suspicious if there are large spikes of activity (such as 1000 new followers on one day, followed immediately by days of growth of only 10-15 followers or even a follower loss).
9. Utilise your Instagram stories
Instagram stories are a great way of keeping your current followers engaged with your content, and also a potential way for other instagram users to discver you. The same rules of tagging your story with a location, hashtags and other accounts also work for stories, and you should definitely be doing this.
10. Make use of a number of social media platforms
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tiktok, anything you can think of! This is another way of letting others discover your account as you cross-refer people to your various platforms.
11. Host giveaways and competitions
Sometimes you’ve got to give others a little bit of an incentive to follow you. Hosting a giveaway or a competition can be a great way to boost your following – for instance you can team up with various brands to give away particular products, or give away your own products for free in exchange for a follow/comment/share. The caveat is that while you may get a large boost, you may find you’ll quickly get a large chunk of unfollowers immediately after.
These are the 11 steps that you can take TODAY to increase your instagram followers. The more of these steps you take, the more likely you’ll be successful in growing your account. Enjoy your growth, and let us know how it goes!