Last Updated on October 22, 2020
Are you looking for solutions on how to increase followers on Instagram?
With over a billion users and a huge popularity, Instagram is one of the best ways to gain traction and make your brand recognizable. And this holds true for blogs, vlogs, products, services, basically pretty much for everyone and everything that runs online.
Whatever stage you are at right now, having an army of Instagram followers will boost your business, maybe second only to coffee. However, with increased competition, higher penetration, and probably saturation, it has become a little tougher to tap the potential of Instagram.
Even if it does for you, we are not addressing the same way in this article. So what’s the deal? We tell you the best and organic (FREE!) ways to boost your business through Instagram marketing. If done right, these tips would work for anybody, the newbies and the biggies!
You may still ask “BUT WHY THE HULLABALOO AROUND INSTAGRAM when there are so many other social media channels?” Fret not, read the following points!
- Images > text. As simple as that. Instagram is primarily an image sharing social network and nothing can beat a good visual representation.
- You can sell your items directly on Instagram! Yes! With Instagram Shopping, you can tag products and rake in revenues easily.
- Apart from the regular feed, story ads give you the power to focus on larger groups of target audience.
- No one uses hashtags like Instagram. With hashtags, you have the potential to reach out to a higher and wider range (even outside the target) of audience.
These are some of the reasons why Instagram should be in your priority list for social media marketing. And even if you are not a marketer and just a budding influencer or a mini-celeb of your hood, these tips will help you out! Now that you are convinced, let’s get to the real deal i.e. increase Instagram followers.
How to increase followers on Instagram
Following are some strategies to boost your Instagram followers.
Tip # 1 – Recognize Target Audience
The first step around marketing revolves around identifying the potential customers or audience. The targeted audience is the set of groups of people categorically sorted on various parameters, who are most likely to watch your content and proceed to buy a product or service you are offering.
Just visit the Instagram Insights, a part of Instagram’s analytics tool, to see various trends about the audience you are targeting. Narrow down your current audience based on characteristics, demographics, age groups, or any other criterion.
Once you have sorted the type of people and their characteristics, you have defined your target audience. Your content and your style would focus around this audience who is your primary consumer. Engagement of this target audience is our strategy.
Tip # 2 – Leveraging Other Social Media Channels
You might have stepped late on Instagram or maybe you simply focussed extensively on Facebook and Twitter for marketing. If you are struggling with this, it is time to leverage other social media platforms to boost Instagram following.
Direct your audience on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc. to your Instagram. You can post about a giveaway or freebies through a competition on Instagram, which may work for some types of businesses. Then, there are options of exclusive offers too.
Alternatively, you can make a simple declaration about the same asking people to “follow you on Instagram”. A good image (preferably curated) followed by a text will be superb and will help you to increase followers on instagram.
Tip # 3 – Making An IGTV Series
IGTV has become more relevant than now and Cisco in a study confirmed it by saying around 80 percent of internet traffic will come from videos in 2020. Hundreds of brands are creating their product mini stories on IGTV, often featuring real video reviews from customers.
This certainly implies that these brands are using IGTV to create serial content and tapping on the potential of finding new customers and increasing loyalty of old ones. For IGTV, the content creation strategy is a bit like shooting your own web series.
Try to maintain a repeatable (NOT dull) theme and style which will appeal to your audience. Don’t worry about the budget and set, more often than not, most of the popular IGTV feeds stick to editing apps and softwares for that special “impact”.
Tip # 4 – Choosing And Using Right Hashtags
One of the most widely used method to increase followers on instagram, Hashtags are important and they become even more important on Instagram. Hash-tagging makes your photo easy to access by the people who are searching for the specific word or series of words followed by a hashtag. Which leaves us with the question – which hashtags to use?
It is no brainier than you should definitely use the most popular Instagram hashtags around your post. You can access the list of such top hashtags and use the relevant ones in your post. Don’t fall in the trap of using popular ones and not the right ones.
The right ones here refer to the hashtags which describe your brand as well as are popular. Using right hashtags is probably more significant than using many hashtags. Using popular ones will fetch a few engagements and likes but for better and long-term engagement, the right set of hashtags is the way.
To find relevant hashtags and put them in your post, here are some pointers you need to keep in mind:
- Use of free tools such as IconoSquare or Webstagram. These tools will comprehensively search the app for the hashtags that are being used the most.
- Searching directly for target keywords in the app. This will give you a whole new perspective of creative and contextual hashtags.
- Visiting the leader/influencer profile in your niche or competition and noting down the hashtags used frequently and with variations.
- Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post. Stick to the limit and use it wisely. Keep visiting your posts every few months and change old hashtags to freshly popular ones.
- Don’t use hashtags in just your feed posts, but also Instagram stories. Use hashtag stickers too in your stories to been see by users who follow that particular hashtag.
Tip # 5 – Posting Consistently
This is a classic problem for starters. They start with a bang and then lose out on consistency. Regardless of anything, consistency is an attribute which is appreciated by everyone. Thus, regular posting on Instagram is too important.
The more often you post, the more likes and followers you will fetch. Maintain a frequency of posting at least once a day and you will see higher engagement of visitors. Further, it helps because complex Instagram algorithms have made it a priority to show active profiles above.
Once you have picked up the pace, you can post twice a day or stick to the target of posting 8-10 posts a week. Weekends see surge of users across various platforms; so create a strategy of posting at least twice on weekends for even better results.
Tip # 6 – Creating Fun And Appealing Content
Everything on Instagram is to “please the mind through the eyes”. And for that, we have pictures, artworks, illustrations, and so on. Users will notice and engage with your images more than anything else. The key is to grab their attention before it flies away to the next image.
The whole art of storytelling takes a new dimension on Instagram and if your visual-storytelling lacks lustre and creativity, well, ahem. The point is to make content that stands out and flirts with the users’ minds, almost compelling them to stay longer on the post.
The style, elements of photography, digital artwork, illustrations, or anything that goes in your posts should be in sync with the popular trends. You can learn editing skills or pass on the technical part to a professional. The point is to create content which speaks for itself.
Tip # 7 – Teaming Up With Micro-Influencers to increase followers on instagram
Reaching out to a new audience isn’t necessarily a path taken alone. Partnering with micro-influencers has proved to bring amazing results to the table and in a lesser compromising manner. A study has found that micro-influencers have the highest engagement rates (averaging at 7 percent) on their feed posts.
Moving ahead with the fact, these micro-influencers maintained these engagement rates despite having a broad and unrelated range of audience. This certainly implies that as a business, you should team up with micro-influencers to build brand value.
Regular collaborations which resonate with yours as well as the influencer’s audience can be a win-win situation for both. The trust of the influencer’s audience for him/her will soon transmit to your brand. There can be mutually beneficial offers, discounts etc. too for bringing in more people.
Tip # 8 – Choosing Right Filters
It may sound strange but choosing the right filters has surprising benefits in increasing followers. Instagrammers favor certain filters over others and having a preferred filter can be helping. Some of the popular filters include normal (no filter), Juno, Ludwig, Gingham, and Lo-fi.
However, it makes sense to pay attention to the filters preferred in and by your target audience. There isn’t exactly some science behind it but there has been recorded observations on correlations between use of filter and post impact.
Whichever filter you are using, remember to keep it low and in harmony with the theme of the picture. After all, visual aesthetics is what Instagram preaches!
Tip # 9 – Going Beyond Photo Posts
Photos were the core of Instagram content but with evolution, it has expanded to videos, live stream, and stories. This also opens new horizons for creating and offering content. In the process, users too get to interact with different forms of multimedia.
Stories have shown to be effective in the social media strategy of many brands. They were able to grow followers, even if at a steady pace, by posting content on stories and using appropriate tags. Having a live feed is also a good opportunity to connect with the target audience.
As mentioned above, source of internet traffic is shifting by a great margin to videos and when more than 400 million people are using the Instagram stories feature every day, there doesn’t any reason to not harness the power.
Tip # 10 – Theme Based Posting
Theme based posting simply refers to a series of posts in continuation with a theme. It is important to create a theme otherwise your feed will be just a haphazard collection of beautifully done images. This seriously hampers with the visual marketing tactics.
All you have to do is to formalize a theme and make your Instagram feed look and feel like a platform that’s linked to the products and corresponding to the brand. How to achieve this? Umm, first, look out for the photo composition itself.
The next thing is the subject, thereafter comes the frame, and finally, the edits (filters and effects). All of these together elements together make a picture perfect. For the successive post, not many things are changed except of course, the subject itself.
Tip # 11 – Opting for Longer Captions
We have talked sufficiently about visuals till now; it is about time to focus on the captions. Accompanied by hashtags, a caption is the first thing that tells preliminary about the image and then “you”. Writing long form captions is said to be the in-thing for 2020 Instagram marketing.
Brands are now focusing on long captions to reach out to their audiences about their products. For these captions, the average word count comes out to be 60-70 words, which is almost double since 2016. Long form captions have the tendency to connect strongly with your community people.
It lets your audience get involved in discussions, get pieces of information, or simply have a good time. Good write-ups are often considered to be a sign of extended effort and having a long caption can hit the sweet spot among your audience.
Tip # 12 – Post Scheduling
You might be consistent in posting but merely posting regularly won’t do the job. The timing of posting content matters a lot too. The visibility and engagement on your posts would be the maximum when you post at the right time.
By checking Instagram Analytics for Business accounts and using tools such as IconoSquare, you can decipher the best time to post your content. It will show you the history of your posting and engagement levels. And not just time, but day of the week is a decisive factor too.
For example, a fitness equipment page is most likely to get maximum engagement on its posts, which are submitted in the wee hours of the morning. Similarly, a club’s posts make more sense when the posts are published late in the afternoon, especially on weekends.
If you are not able to maintain a calendar or follow a schedule, there are numerous post-scheduling tools available to do the job for you. Simply said, these tools will automatically post the content on your behalf on your said time and day of the week.
Tip # 13 – Promoting Content From Users
Any business, offline and online, is appreciated when it engages with users and gives them a platform for expressing their opinions. Instagram is no exception. Your followers are your asset and so is their opinion in the form of comments.
User generated content refers to the content which is shared by users in the form of their reviews, experiences, and stories pertaining to a product or service you are delivering. You might have seen that Dove commercial where real women (not actors) share their reviews on Dove soap.
The most performing brands curate best of the user generated content and feature it on their own social media channel, either in the form of a clip or photo with a long caption. Of course, credits are given to the original creator too.
You can get creative and ask your followers to share their stories through your page. Using appropriate hashtags will invite even more people to join the bandwagon and you get authentic, original, and free content! What’s better than that?
Another benefit of this move is that people tend to lookout for real persons, and not ambassadors, to share their experiences. Having real people sharing their content on your page will motivate others to do so, which in turn, increases the trust score.
Tip # 14 – Getting Along With Audience
This tip also places focus on the importance of audience engagement. We have already seen how to invite and entice users to share their own content. Along with this, having conversations with the audience is equally important.
The followers on your page look out to you to have an interaction. The interaction could be in the form of appreciation, questionnaire, or simple disagreement on opinion. You, as a brand, have the responsibility to respond to the users’ comments, whenever and wherever possible.
Social interaction has no substitute and engagement with the audience will give a “human” touch to your brand, which also will improve your trust score. The point is to form a long term relation where users can converse on one-to-one basis and express themselves.
Tip # 15 – Creating An Appealing Bio
Your bio is the first introduction to your brand. Having a good first impression will push a user to further explore your feed. Thus, we cannot emphasize enough on the importance of having a good and impressive bio. It should impart information about your brand in the simplest and most comprehensible manner.
Long bios are a big turn-off and you should create a bio which is short and to the point. It shouldn’t give vague description about your brand. Also, use of too many of the emojis should be avoided. That being said; don’t shy away from using the relevant emojis where there’s a scope.
You can go ahead and include a brand hashtag and link to your homepage too. On Instagram, you can’t link through posts unless they use Instagram Shopping feature (described above), so, all you have got is your bio to send people to your homepage.
Tip # 16 – Sneak Peek Into BTS (Behind The Scenes)
Remember how a movie trailer was exciting and you went to see it in theaters? Also remember the time when you purchased a DVD of the same movie just because it included some additional footage and behind the scenes? If you do, you already get the idea.
With BTS posts, you benefit in two ways. First, it gives a fresh touch to your feed. Users usually expect your brand to showcase products and services in one way or another on the page. With behind the scenes content, they get a fresh perspective to see your brand beyond its range of products.
Second, BTS posts can often come handy when you are running out of ideas or don’t have the time to post new content. You can always go, click some photos, or shoot some clips, and post them with relevant captions as well as hashtags.
What to feature in BTS? For the start, you can give sneak peek at new products being designed or manufactured at the facility. Moving on, interviews of your employees or showcasing a day in their life at the workplace can be also an option.
Tip # 17 – Popping Up In Related Accounts Suggestions
On Facebook, when you visit a page, you might have seen the “suggested for you” list which features pages similar to the page you are on. Similarly, remember how you are shown similar looking sandals when you are checking out the new Birkenstocks on Amazon?
Now imagine, being shown in the list of suggestions when a user is checking out a mega brand page. What do you think the chances are of the user checking out your page too and maybe, following it too? Highly likely! We think you get the idea of how capitalizing it can be!
Instagram creates a list of profiles based on interests and the pages you follow. The algorithm shows you the content and the profiles you are most likely to visit and which already match with your activity on the app. Of course, there could be competitors popping up on the same list, together!
The point is, appearing in this list is a fantastic way to gain followers. People tend to associate your stature on the basis of your position with respect to the competitors and showing up in line with them is a cool way to send a message – “I have arrived”!
How to do this? Well, there’s no fixed pattern or method to get on this Suggested for you list. It is all about trying and trying. However, you can improve your chances of showing up in the list by following these two tips –
a) Keywords in Instagram profile
Just like any other app or social media platform, your username and name field are independent of each other. This means you can change your name field in the bio. Naturally, you cannot alter your username once you have setup the account.
The words that you use in the name field are searchable just like individual accounts are. So if a person is to search for a specific person, he or she would type in the name of the person along with some attributes. Similarly, to increase your visibility, your name should appear in the search easily.
Perform a quick test on the words that you have chosen for your name field, review them, and make necessary edits.
For example, if you own a shoe making company “Charles” and you have mentioned just your brand name in the name field, changing it to “Charles Shoes” will put you in line with those big brands which have used the word “Shoes” in their names.
b) Interaction with complementary businesses and brands
Brands collaborate and often recommend each other. A gun store in your neighborhood might collaborate with a gun accessories business that is being run online. Or a franchisee pet shop of a big brand might collaborate with a custom pet dress designer who runs her page on Instagram.
You see the pattern here? These businesses are complimentary to each other. Interaction with such complimentary brands and businesses is a great boost. After all, engagement, whether it is from individual or a brand, is the most valued aspect on Instagram.
Try to build a relationship with such complimentary brands and businesses by liking, engaging, and commenting on their posts. Since it is mutually beneficial in some cases, the other brand or business too will engage in the same manner.
Tip # 18 – Stealing Your Competitors’ Followers
Your competitors on Instagram are actually your assets in disguise. These already established competitors can prove to a source of many things such as set of target audiences. These set of people already have interest in the type of products or services you intend to sell.
So, rather than searching here and there, you can simply go to your competitor’s profile and see the people you should bring to your table. NO! We are not asking you to contact every Tom Dick and Harry on the page; what we are focused at is collective attention.
For getting collective attention diverted, you have to simply engage yourself with them. The next question is how to effectively engage? On Instagram, you have three ways –
- Follow a person
- Like a photo
- Comment on a photo
Of course, DM’ing (direct messaging) is out of context because of two ways –
- Unless done highly professionally, it may seem like an unwanted invitation or rather, an intrusion.
- Users may not opt for DMs open to everyone.
To begin with, choose a local or the immediate competitor and perform a quick check on its followers. Your first priority should be to hit the users who share same characteristics as you do, for example, your city. The next step is to follow the first best 100 of the competitor’s followers.
You can like their photos or simply put in relevant comments asking them to check your profile/product range out. Slowly, add another batch of 100 followers to your list and perform the same activities on them.
Although, it is again a matter of hit and trial but what isn’t? The more you engage with people, the more likely they are going to follow back and place their faith in you, this is a sureshot way to increase followers on instagram, that are most relevant.
Tip # 19 – Organizing Contests
Contests excite everyone! Obviously, who doesn’t love a cool freebie and getting a sense of achievement? There’s a joke which is often told, “When everything else fails, organize a contest”! Contests are an easy way to increase reach and gain followers.
There are posts like “like this post, share it with 5 people, and follow” to participate in a content. In the same way, you can invite your existing followers to like, share, and comment/tag their friend to enter a contest. This way, you will get attention of a new potential follower too.
Tip # 20 – Using Story Highlights
We have explained how Instagram stories are increasingly getting more attention and how they are bringing in more brand presence on the app. These stories are seeing higher engagement than regular posts and to milk them in the right way should be on the top of the list.
Stories help with timely updates and forming long narratives about the brand. You can keep story highlights pinned to your profile page. When a new user comes on your page, he or she can run through them and get an idea about your business. If done in a compelling and creative way, the new visitor will follow you.
Remember, story highlights should be presented as the summarized version of your brand. Don’t pick one dimension and leave another. By pinning stories to your profile, you’re able to showcase the value of your Instagram account to promote new following.
Tip # 21 – Posting Quotes
It may sound obnoxious but a humongous following is a fan of quotes. Pick any social media platform and you will see people sharing quotes often accompanied by a fancy photo. The best part of this is that you will never run out of quotes to post!
Quotes are easy to engage with and they have a higher probability of getting shared on other platforms and tagged too. Further, they stand out from regular photos and thus, create a distinct impression. The only challenge remains is to pick a quote which resonates with your business.
So, whenever you are lacking ideas to post new content, pick up a quote relevant to your business and create a stunning visual around it. There are online tools such as Canva to edit and design such photo quotes. Use appropriate hashtags and post it to your feed.
Tip # 22 – Even More Selfies!
Selfies – Instagram started it all. There is no denying in the fact that if there’s any social media platform which has popularized selfies more than any other app or website, it is definitely Instagram. The majority of posts on Instagram consist of selfies.
In the context of business and marketing on Instagram, people tend to follow accounts which they can relate to. This relation is made more human by the way of showcasing people, employees, users, personnel etc., which are related anyhow to the business.
Significantly, try to make your Instagram account as personable and relatable as possible. To gain followers for your brand, try to bring in the same people for selfies (or any other type of photos with human beings in them). You can ask your designers, writers, business team, or technical team, pretty much anybody!
People don’t want to look at products all the day, regardless of howsoever the fancy looking they are. For giving a change to your feed and making your business look more amiable, it is suggested to rope in your team for a photo-op!
There are no better representatives of your business than your employees are. It surely makes sense to ask them for a short clip or a photo session where they can talk about new products, improvements in old ones, campaigns, or any recent innovation.
Tip # 23 – Monitoring Instagram Following
You might have done all these things and even garnered a considerable amount of followers too but this exercise isn’t enough. It is not only important to get new followers but also to retain them. There’s no point in losing followers on one end and gaining on another.
There are free tools to analyse your growth in terms of followers, the losing rate, and overall retention. If you don’t intend to make a purchase, you can also use the feature in Instagram Business account where the Instagram Analytics dashboard offers valuable insight for free.
You will be able to see how many people are checking you out, the reach of your posts, the type of posts that are getting maximum engagement, and the demographics of your followers. All these inputs will help you formulize your strategy for the next move.
These tips will help you see which strategy works for you and which doesn’t. Retaining followers is important because all of your efforts will go down the drain and monetization is possible with quality as well as count.
Tip # 24 – Cross-posting
Cross posting is similar to announcing your presence on other social media channels except the fact that it is a constant process. You might have seen businesses sharing their Instagram posts on their other social media channels and vice-versa.
You can share your posts on Instagram to other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This will give you additional leverage in terms of reach and followers. You can join sub-groups, communities, and forums on popular websites such as Quora and Reddit and share your content there too.
Another great move would be to embed Instagram photos in your blog posts or add Instagram feed to your Facebook page. Long story short, spread your word as far as possible to gain traction.
Tip # 25 – Proper Use of Instagram Tools
The Instagram Analytics is a great tool in itself but if you are in the mood to expand and explore more horizons, use other tools as well. There are literally hundreds of tools, free and paid, to help you with your Instagram strategy.
Some of the key Instagram tools are IconoSquare, Later, and Webstagram. IconoSquare is a great tool for information, analytics, and other insights into your posts’ performance, followers, and account in general.
Later tool will help you with scheduling and publishing your posts from your computer or mobile device. Finally, Webstagram is a great tool to find the best hashtags for your posts. You can also use it to find best people for your sponsored posts.
Tip # 26 – Geo-tags and Local Market Penetration
If you are running a local business, say for example, a manpower supply company or pet-grooming salon chain, which is restricted to a local city or town, geo-tagging becomes even more relevant for you. Geo-tagging, short for geographical tagging is tagging your business to a particular geographical location.
The era of Yellow pages is gone and now people turn online to search for services and facilities catering in their area. Why not use Instagram to harness this? For the start, you can use hashtags of city names, for example, #DenverDogWalker or #BostonPetgrooming.
Thereafter, you can make your Instagram posts and stories discoverable by tagging your location, either the city or the venue of the photo/video. Locations have their own Instagram feed and users will be able to search for your business easily.
Tip # 27 – Paying For Instagram Ads ( Instant way to increase followers on Instagram )
Free things are wonderful but not always they work. The same goes for optimization. If none to these tips work considerably for you, maybe it is time to expose yourself to paid promotions through ads.
On Instagram, you can create feed and story ads to promote your business. Ideally, you should consider both and create high quality and attractive (naturally, you are paying so why take a chance?) campaigns for broadening your reach, increase followers, and get more visibility.
On hitting the right audience with these ads, you will see surge of new followers who are more likely to convert into buyers. Of course, if you are just starting with your Instagram profile, ads aren’t a economically viable option but if all fails, go for it!
Instagram is one of the top five social media platforms and re-planning your online marketing strategy around it is unavoidable. These tips would help you gain followers and monetize the popularity. We hope you will apply them diligently and grow your business. Let us know which of these tips worked for you to increase followers on instagram!