There are now 800 million monthly users on Instagram, with 500 million on the platform every day. It won’t be long until it rivals the user base of Facebook, its parent company.
It’s no wonder that brands are flocking to the platform to take advantage of this booming popularity. However, many brands take a while to find their footing on Instagram. It can be fairly difficult to gain followers at a decent rate.
With that in mind, here are 25 ways that can help you grow your following faster and more effectively.
1. Automate your Instagram activity.
Maintaining an Instagram account can be taxing. It takes a lot of time to do everything that’s expected of you. To become popular on the website, you need to put some serious effort into liking posts, leaving comments and following others. You also have to post high-quality content on a consistent basis to incentivize others to do the same for you.
This is where an automation tool can come in handy. You can use tools like SocialDrift to find and interact with potential followers. It targets real users through a multitude of filters that you can customize to fit your strategy. Automation lightens the load for you, so you can focus your energy on other important things.
2. Use hashtags to get maximum exposure.
Hashtags are the connective tissue that brings users together on Instagram. Instagram’s search function is based around hashtags, which is the main way to discover content. If you aren’t using hashtags, it’s harder for people to find your account if they don’t already know your username. Don’t just slap any hashtag in your captions, though. Make sure they are relevant to your content, or your posts may be ignored or even reported as spam.
Some businesses create their own branded hashtags. Often these hashtags are attached to a specific marketing campaign. If you can get enough followers to use it, you could get it trending and pull in new followers.
3. Make a good first impression with your profile.
We all know how important first impressions are in real life, whether we’re meeting a new person or doing a job interview. A bad first impression can be disastrous: it can close doors and narrow your opportunities.
On Instagram, the first impression can make the difference between somebody stopping to check out your content and giving you a follow, or passing on you entirely.
So, how does one make a good impression? The answer is with your profile.
You profile is the very first thing that anybody sees when they visit your page. This includes your name, profile picture, and bio. You want to make sure these areas are as polished they can be.
Your name should be the one your business is most commonly known by, to avoid any confusion. Your profile picture should be aesthetically pleasing, and should scale down well, so it’s striking and coherent at a small size. Keep in mind that that the eventual picture displayed will be circular. And finally, your bio should give the viewer an idea about what your brand does and what its personality is like.
Don’t forget to include a link to your website or store as well. This is the only place you can have a clickable link.
4. Post regularly and often, and at peak hours.
If you want to raise your visibility on Instagram, you need to be more active. Accounts that post too infrequently are rarely seen and often overlooked.
You should post at least twice a day. To maximize their impact, you should also post at the most optimal times. A study by Latergramme suggests that posts made at 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST tend to get the most attention. However, they note that there’s some variation between days.
Do some investigation and experimentation of your own. Look at a sampling of your followers to get an idea of when they’re active. Change up your posting times to see if it results in better engagement rates.
5. Develop a unique, identifiable style.
Instagram is a social network based around visual content. It’s the primary reason that users go there. If you can’t deliver in this area, then you don’t have a shot at gaining much of a following.
To establish yourself on the platform, you should adopt a style that reflects your brand. Consider how your aesthetics convey your identity. For instance, certain color schemes give off different moods. Pastels will give you a relaxed, light feel. Vibrant, contrasting tones will make you seem energetic. Dark and muted shades will imbue your images with a serious edge.
Style and form are what ultimately resonate with viewers. People are drawn to those who have an individual flair.
6. Keep your content high quality.
Some brands make the mistake of uploading everything they have on their camera roll, regardless of quality. This isn’t recommended. Even though it fills your feed with plenty of content, it doesn’t exactly bring in followers.
Most users aren’t going to flock to look at blurry, dimly lit snapshots. Not when Instagram is filled with gorgeous, well-composed photography that’s more worthy of their time.
Hold yourself to a high standard of quality. Be selective about what you post. If you need to, spend some extra time polishing your images with editing tools. The additional effort to deliver the best will pay off in the end.
7. Demonstrate consistency.
People want to know what to expect when they invest in something. It’s why we read product reviews, or watch trailers before we go to movies. For some people, it can be an unpleasant shock to anticipate one thing and get something else entirely. That’s why many tend to play it safe with their choices.
Consistency is a virtue on Instagram. If people like what they see on your feed, they’ll follow you to get more of it.
Try to make each post flow into the next. Ensure there are recurring themes across your content. Maintain a similar tone and voice that the viewer can associate with your brand.
8. Incorporate trends and popular subjects.
Always keep an eye on what’s favored and fashionable on Instagram. Capitalizing on current trends could be your ticket to winning over followers.
There are many studies that give insight into what content audiences find compelling. Some sources say that blue is the most predominant color on Instagram. There’s also evidence that people respond more to photographs with faces than those without.
Do you have any direct competitors on Instagram? Follow them and track their activity. You might find something they’re doing right that you could learn from. Just don’t get too obsessed with copying them. You should take inspiration from all sorts of sources.
9. Put effort into your captions.
Think of captions as important supplementary material. A great caption can enhance a viewer’s experience with a post.
For one thing, you can use the captions to give your audience some context to the post. You can give them information about how it was made or your intent behind creating it.
Another approach is writing something amusing to make your viewer laugh. The majority of viral content on the internet is humorous.
10. Liven things up with emojis.
You shouldn’t underestimate the power of emojis. It’s easy to dismiss them as silly little cartoons, but they serve a purpose.
One of the hardest things to get across in text is tone and emotion. Emojis make this much simpler. You can communicate a lot in a single character.
A smiley face can indicate that you are being friendly, while a tongue sticking out shows that you are being silly. An “okay” sign shows that you understand what somebody meant. Throwing in a cocktail glass implies fun and partying ahead.
Well over half of Instagram users utilize emojis, and posts with emojis get 47.7% more interaction than those without them. Not only are they common; they’re also beneficial for companies that are seeking to engage their audience.
11. Tell stories with your posts.
There’s nothing that captivates an audience like a good story. It’s our primary source of entertainment. We read books, watch movies, and binge television shows because we all love stories.
Stories can come in many forms, large and small. A photograph or video can tell a story. An ongoing narrative can happen across a sequence of posts. That’s why Instagram is a perfect platform for storytelling.
Let’s say your business gives talented women the chance to succeed. An image of a woman demonstrating her talents can tell an inspirational story in itself. You can further expand it with a caption that gives some background information about her life and struggles.
12. Target a niche audience.
When you want to amass a sizable audience, your natural instinct is to try to appeal to as many people as possible. Yet it rarely works out that way.
The problem is that people have vastly different tastes and preferences. In order to appease everybody, you have to make your content blander, and run the risk of appealing to no one at all.
Meanwhile, specificity in marketing tends to provoke a deeper response. It makes readers feel you are speaking directly to them and their experiences. That’s why niche audiences tend to be more passionate and dedicated to certain brands.
13. Ask questions and solicit input.
Most people on social media enjoy attention. It’s why so many join networks like Instagram in the first place. They want to be recognized and heard by others.
A surefire way to gain followers is to notice others and let them speak their minds. You can do this by asking questions and requesting their opinions in the captions of your post.
Who knows, you might even get some valuable and innovative ideas in the process.
14. Make a call to action.
Sometimes you can get things done by telling your audience what to do. A smartly placed call to action can help you extend your reach by using your followers to boost your content.
To illustrate this, let’s say you create a post with a relatable picture. You could tell your followers to “tag a friend that this reminds you of!” That will lead to more users discovering your account.
15. Showcase user-generated content.
User-generated content has proven to be one of the greatest assets to social media marketing. It’s basically free content made by fans and loyal customers of the brand.
Brands will often feature this content on their Instagram feed. It motivates other people to make their own content so they can get the same spotlight.
Don’t forget to ask for permission first, though. Also, you should definitely give the user credit in the captions of your post.
16. Form partnerships with influencers.
Recently, influencers have had a significant impact on social marketing. These are prominent members of internet communities, whose endorsements and opinions hold weight with their followers.
Influencers are trusted because they are viewed as honest and genuine. Many of them are outspoken and don’t pull punches with their stances, so gaining their approval can give a brand the stamp of authenticity.
The best partnerships arise when there is cohesion between the brand and the influencer. When an influencer genuinely appreciates a brand, it works out well for both parties.
Communication is also important when establishing a relationship. Make sure that both of you understand what the other side wants before solidifying a deal. Trust and respect are vital here.
There are many different ways in which you can work with an influencer. For one, you can ask them to review products or feature them in their Instagram posts. You can also invite them to take over your account for a short amount of time.
17. Attract local users with geotagging.
Geotagging photos is a fun and straightforward process. All you have to do is hit “Add Location” before sharing your post, and then search for and select the appropriate address.
Your post should now appear on the Instagram page for that location. Anyone who views this page should be able to see it.
18. Use Instagram Stories.
If you aren’t already using Instagram Stories, you should be. It recently hit 300 million daily users this last November. Snapchat, which pioneered the ephemeral image-sharing format, pales in comparison, with only 173 million users.
Instagram Stories are viewable to all users, not just your followers. This increases the odds of being found by random users who are browsing around.
19. Encourage followers on other platforms to join you on Instagram.
It’s safe to assume that you have other social media accounts. Why not inform the followers you have on them about your Instagram?
Ask your followers on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and elsewhere to do the same on Instagram. Some of them might not have even considered that you were on there too.
Additionally, you can link your Instagram and Facebook accounts. To do this, go into your Instagram settings and tap “Linked Accounts.” After that, tap “Facebook” and then “Ok” to confirm your choice. Now you can set it so that all of your Instagram content gets automatically posted on Facebook. You should see the option for this on the page where you write your captions before sharing.
20. Participate in #followforfollow, #s4s and #likeforlike
There are a variety of hashtags on Instagram where people trade favors with other users. Some of the most popular ones are #followforfollow, #s4s and #likeforlike. These tags are meant for exchanging follows, shoutouts and likes, respectively.
21. Run contests and giveaways.
When in doubt, have a contest or a giveaway. These are certain to lure in a horde of new followers. People love winning free things, especially if it costs them little to nothing in the end.
You should have conditions for your contest. Require them to at least like a post and follow your account before they can qualify. If the contest involves user-generated content, ask them to use a branded hashtag in the captions.
Rewards can vary. Usually it’s a free product or gift basket. With UGC contests, winning submissions are typically featured in a post. Some brands have gone even bigger and put the users’ photos on a billboard.
22. Foster an inclusive community.
Take a moment to look over the comment sections of some of your posts. Ideally, they should be positive and welcoming spaces. If they aren’t, then that’s a serious issue.
Moderate your comments thoroughly. Remove anything that’s offensive or aggressive toward other users. You want to cultivate a community that anybody could feel secure in joining.
23. Have meaningful interactions with others.
Even if you are using an automation tool, you should still take the time to hold conversations with users. This will assure them that there’s a human on the other side. Feel free to socialize, joke around and leave personalized comments on other people’s posts.
24. Promote your Instagram in real life.
Most businesses still have their own printed marketing materials. If you’ve got the room, think about squeezing your username in there somewhere. All you need to do is put the Instagram logo next to it and viewers will understand what it means. You can include it on fliers, posters, stickers, cards and whatever else you might hand out.
25. Adjust your strategy based on analytics.
If you aren’t gaining any followers, it’s probably best to step back and reflect upon your performance. An analytics tool like Owlmetrics can aid you in doing this.
Examine your biggest successes and failures. Look at the posts that resulted in the most engagement, and compare them to the ones that went overlooked. Draw conclusions from your observations, and make adjustments to your plans if necessary.