Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there. But it’s not just about cat pictures and selfies - it’s also become an essential marketing tool. In fact, it’s become so vital for brand establishment that after you create a website, your next step should be to create an Instagram account.
This isn’t hyperbole. Instagram marketing is an extremely useful way to expose your brand, and a solid Instagram presence can help your business reach new customers, funnel more traffic to your website and increase conversions.
But growing your account is by no means simple - it takes time and hard work to get all those followers.
These 12 strategies will help you get more Instagram followers right away:
Why use Instagram to grow your business
Instagram now has over 1 billion active daily users, half of which are 18-29 years old. If your target audience falls within this demographic, Instagram is an ideal way to connect with them. But with a solid strategy, Instagram can be a powerful tool to leverage any brand, from small businesses to established enterprises.
A strong presence with an Instagram business account for instance helps build brand awareness and recognition, which allows you to foster a sense of trust and familiarity with your followers. It also provides a way for new people to discover you through creative and engaging visual content. Lastly, with a large following, you have more ways to make money on Instagram, such as when partnering with brands.
How to use Instagram and get more followers
There are two basic strategies to increase your following: through organic growth and through paid ads. Organic growth is slow and steady because there are seemingly infinite content creators on Instagram, so getting people to notice your profile isn’t an easy task. It takes consistency and strong visual imagery to gain a following.
Remember that in order to run paid ads you'll need an Instagram business account, you can switch from a personal to a business account from your current account.
Most people decide within seconds if your content is worth their time, so your message needs to be immediately clear. This isn’t just true for your profile, but for every piece of content you produce, be it posts, stories or IGTV videos. Your social media branding should be well-defined and accurate.
If you choose to utilize paid ads, you can market to a large audience of potential customers and Instagram provides valuable marketing insights which you can use for future marketing efforts.
But before you start creating content, ask yourself what your brand stands for and what message you want to convey to your audience. Think about what makes you unique and what value your content can bring your followers. This will help you define the focus of your content and narrow down your strategy.
12 Strategies to get more Instagram followers
01. Make sure to post high quality images
Showcasing high-quality content is the bread and butter of any successful Instagram account. The platform is highly saturated with talented content creators posting beautiful images, so your profile needs to stand out.
Visually pleasing content captures the viewer’s attention immediately. People aren’t likely to visit your profile if they run into a blurry, unprofessional photo, no matter how interesting your caption may be.
Your content should be high resolution and as professional looking as possible. But this doesn’t mean you need a photographer, illustrator, or any expensive gear. You can use most smartphones to create, capture and even edit stunning images. You can also try downloading apps such as Snapseed and VSCO to help edit your photos so they look as professional as possible.
02. Diversify your content
Your followers don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. That’s why it’s important to post a medley of content, from pictures and video posts to Instagram stories. Diversifying your content also helps reach new audiences that may have slightly different interests.
Most successful Instagram accounts utilize all available options. It’s a great way to provide more content, without being repetitive. Whatever you choose to post, the golden rule here is to ensure that all of your content is in line with your branding and what you stand for.
03. Use the right hashtags
Instagram hashtags are one of the most basic tools Instagram provides to help users organically reach new audiences. Before posting, make sure to include hashtags relevant to your niche or market to increase your exposure. A well-performing post that gets high levels of engagement may appear in the Top Posts section of a hashtag, or even pop up on people’s Explore page. All of which will increase your post’s visibility, potentially getting you more followers.
If you're wondering how to determine which hashtags to use, a good strategy is to incorporate a combination hashtags with varying numbers of is posts.
Because of their extreme popularity, using hashtags that get used often gives you the chance to be seen by more people. But on the other hand, your post has more chance of flying under the radar. It might be buried under hundreds of new ones within minutes, limiting your exposure. This is why you'll also want to use some less popular ones, as well.
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post, so don’t hold back! Do your research by searching for competitors or other influencers in your field and see what hashtags they use. You can also do a search on Influencer Marketing Hub to find out the popularity of any hashtag. Compile a list of 10 keywords from each category and start by using these in your posts. You can always switch them up later if you want.
04. Use CTAs in your content
Using call-to-actions (CTAs) directs your followers what to do after viewing your post. It’s a way to keep them engaged so they return to your page again and again. Calls-to-action examples can include asking followers to tag their friends in your post, click links in your bio, leave comments, view your stories, come back to your page the next day for a sale, or to check out your other social media platforms. Another helpful trick is to use a teaser, such as posting an image telling your followers to return the next day for a big reveal of some sort.
To get people to actually take action, you need to be creative in your approach. Try testing out various types of CTAs and see what works best with your following.
05. Make sure your bio is engaging
Getting visitors to your profile takes a bit of work. But what happens once they arrive?
One of the first things people will see is your Instagram bio. This is where you present yourself and what you do. Your bio is limited to 150 characters, so only include the most important points while keeping it visually appealing. Your bio caption should pique your visitors’ curiosity and get them to stick around and explore more of your page.
The other important role your bio plays is it’s the only place on Instagram you can link to external links (unless you’re verified for story links).
Have you seen the term “link in bio” while scrolling through Instagram? This is a way to direct your followers to a particular link. You can switch this link out from time to time as you post newer content and want to direct followers to new links, or use a third-party app like Linktree. Linktree allows you to work around the one-link rule and consolidate all of your links in one place. You can then put a single link to your Linktree page in your bio. When users click on it, every link you have ever directed your followers to will appear there.
06. Include user-generated content (UGC)
User generated content (UGC) refers to any picture or video your followers create that mentions your brand. Incorporating UGC into your Instagram strategy is a great way to build a sense of community, allowing your audience to feel like an important part of your brand. It’s also a way to market your brand or show off your product from satisfied customers.
You can use CTAs to get your followers to create and share content relevant to you. This can be anything from photos with your products to dance challenges promoting a certain cause. Creativity is your only limitation, just make sure to ask them to tag you.
Share the content via Instagram stories or post it on your profile and tag them. Quality is less of a concern when it comes to UGC. It’s all about forming a connection with your followers and broadcasting it for all to see.
07. Have a consistent posting schedule
Instagram’s algorithm loves consistency. Keeping a consistent posting schedule can increase your visibility and help get new followers. But it’s not just about algorithms. People like consistency too. Your followers will get used to your posting rhythm and may ultimately come to expect new content at set times, especially if your account is popular.
More posts means more engagement and exposure. But it’s more effective to post regularly at a pace you can commit to, than to post sporadically and unexpectedly.
While there is no hard and fast rule of how often you should post, a good rule of thumb is 2-3 times a week. But if you can’t commit to this, simply create a schedule that works for you. It’s better to post one quality post a week like clockwork than two posts one week and zero the next.
08. Post at the right times
Instagram tries to present people with the most relevant content. Newer is always considered more relevant, so the time of day that you post has an impact on your post’s visibility.
You should post at times when you know your audience is active on the platform, ready to like, comment and share your content.
Generally, people are most active on weekday afternoons. But this information is far from set in stone. You should do your own research into when your followers are active. You can also monitor your posts to see what days and times perform best.
Don’t forget to consider where the majority of your audience is located. You may live in New York, but if you’re huge in Japan, posting at 2pm EST probably won’t be fruitful.
Keep in mind that there’s no need to stress about being online to post something at the right time if you aren’t available. You can always use external Instagram tools, such as Later or Agorapulse, to schedule posts or create ready-to-publish drafts. With ready-to-publish drafts, you’ll only have to go on the platform to hit the publish button.
09. Pay for sponsored posts
Instagram offers users the ability to run paid ads in the form of sponsored posts or stories. This is an incredibly useful tool for businesses and marketers, allowing you to reach massive audiences without having lots of followers.
The first step of Instagram advertising is to create a business account. This is free and simple to do. Once this is set up, you can sponsor any of your posts for a selected amount of time for a low cost. Instagram will then show it within your selected market. Having a business account and utilizing sponsored posts will also let you collect valuable analytics and data about your profile, posts and engagement.
10. Collaborate with other influencers
Collaborating with other Instagramers is a mutually beneficial way to market your brands. You can share posts mutually or even create content collaboratively. It's a strategic way to introduce each other’s audiences to both of your pages.
Another popular marketing tactic is influencer marketing. This is when you pay, sponsor or provide free products to influencers in your niche to promote your products or service.
Don’t confuse influencer marketing with sponsored ads, though. Influencer marketing is done without Instagram’s intervention. You’ll need to find influencers that fit your brand’s personality and strike a deal between the two of you. While searching, just be wary of fake influencers. These accounts may have thousands of followers but if you search the “comments” section and only see generic responses such as, “Amazing,” or “Nice pic,” chances are it’s a fake account. On the other hand, if you see real engagement and other users tagged, you can trust that it’s an authentic account.
The other option to find influencers to work with is to use an influencer marketing platform, such as Upfluence or Tap Influencer. These sites will help you narrow down your search and provide audience data and insights about individual influencers.
Influencer marketing is extremely useful, as it utilizes another account’s organic reach. Being associated with popular figures shines a positive light on your brand and can bring you a whole new audience.
11. Save your stories as highlights
Stories are one of the most popular features on Instagram. In fact, some people don’t even use regular posts but only post and view stories. So you should definitely use this tool to your advantage.
Because stories are temporary and disappear after 24 hours, Instagram lets you pin them to your profile as highlights without a time limit. You can also categorize your saved stories into various highlights and give each a name and separate image to appear as the icon.
Highlighted stories are one of the first things people see when they visit your profile. It’s free real-estate Instagram provides for you to communicate your message, so make sure to take advantage of it.
12. Increase your online presence
You should absolutely leverage your following on other platforms to get more followers on Instagram. For example, you can use Twitter to broadcast your Instagram handle or even run a promotion on Facebook to incentivize people to follow you on Instagram. Your social media presence should be strong and consistent across channels.
Another important piece of the puzzle is your website. Your website should be the place that expands on what you have on your Instagram. Include as many details as possible about yourself, your brand or your product and make sure your visuals are just as high quality as they are on your Instagram page.
You may be trying to funnel people from Instagram to your website, but the opposite is just as important. Add clearly visible social media buttons to your site’s pages and use a wide range of social media apps to promote your Instagram profile. Don’t forget to add your Instagram feed too, so visitors see what they’re missing out on. If they weren’t following you before, they sure are now!