10 Tips To Get More Followers on Instagram

A great many reports suggest that it’s getting much harder to get engagement on Instagram.

The social media giant has clamped down hard on bots, purchased likes, and all kinds of other “black hat” ways of gaming the system and boosting your follower counts.

In the long-term, this is a good thing.  Especially for small businesses who are trying to create a bigger presence on Instagram.

It now means that people are now looking for legitimate ways to get more followers on Instagram.

If this applies to you and your business, you’ve probably noticed that much of the advice out there is inconsistent and contradictory. This is, in part, because many of the articles were produced prior to Instagram tightening up the rules.

Some of the most popular Instagram follow strategies out there are no longer effective. Even worse, they could be downright dangerous and leave you banned or penalized by Instagram.

Selena Gomez Instagram

Wouldn’t you like to have as many Instagram followers as Selena Gomez?

Fortunately for you, this round-up of tips to get more followers on Instagram is different.

It takes into account Instagram’s many recent changes and includes strategies that are legitimate and backed by experimentation and research.

Instagram Tip #1: Join In!

You can, to an extent, build some automation into your Instagram presence, and we discuss that later in the article. However, genuinely engaging with other users and your customers is essential.

This means following accounts in your niche, looking at their content, and dishing out genuine likes and comments. Over time you should start to build online relationships and notice that people begin to regularly reciprocate.

A follow back from someone who’s going to show and demonstrate an ongoing interest in your content is way more valuable than one from someone playing a numbers game.

This is crucial because – to quote Instagram word-for-word “the photos and videos we think you care about most will appear towards the top” of the feed.

Since Instagram switched away from a chronological news feed in 2016, interaction has become key to what people see near the top of their feeds. So spend a certain part of your day doing this, and you’ll see your own posts reach more of your followers.

Instagram Tip #2: Use Suggested Friends

The second best thing to manually surfing Instagram to find new accounts to interact with is to make regular and steady use of the built in suggested friends feature.

A study of the algorithm behind this feature revealed that the people appearing in here are typically a mixture of “friends of friends,” people who use similar hashtags to you, and people who line up well with the kind of thing you search for.

With this in mind, it does make perfect sense to follow them. After all, they’re people who may well follow you back and interact with your content. However, you will probably want to do so selectively, because some of those “friends of friends” are probably the kind of people you’d typically avoid on other social networks!

This is a tactic you’ll want to employ regularly – daily if possible. “Slow and steady wins the race” is very appropriate for Instagram, especially now, and this is a method of getting followers that will really pay off if you stick to doing it religiously.

Instagram Tip #3: Stick to your Niche

Boosting your Instagram count isn’t just about gaining new followers. It’s also about hanging onto the ones you already have.

One surefire way to keep your follower churning is to run a confusing profile with an unclear narrative. If someone’s followed you due to your history of well-composed travel snaps, they’ll be confused if you start posting unrelated content related to your new shed renovation project.

There’s usually some room for maneuver; For example, travel almost always means family and food as well as trains and planes – but if you go too random you risk losing even the most loyal of followers.

Instagram Tip #4: Concentrate on Photo Quality and Use the Right Filters

Instagram is a visual platform, and your posts will appear alongside those from brands with plenty of time and money to get everything looking perfect. As such, you need to put the effort in too!

Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to select the best from a handful of images, crop them, and use an app for grids and collages.

And then there are filters. Thanks to a huge study, we actually know which filters get the most likes the regional variations around which countries like which filters, and which subjects (i.e. people, places, food) work well with which filters!

So what are the headlines? Well, Clarendon is the most globally popular filter, followed by Juno. In the selfie category, no filter at all is the most popular option, with “no filter” coming in second for nature pictures.

So read the research and see if you’re using the right filters for your images. If not, you could boost your engagement by making that one simple change.

Instagram Filters

Instagram Tip #5: Work out YOUR Best Posting Time

There are many articles out there that claim to tell you the optimum time to post content on Instagram. However, many of them brush over the most important point, which is that you need to ascertain the best posting time for your audience.

There is definitely some information out there that’s worth keeping in mind, however. For example, a recent study, based on data from over 60,000 Instagram posts, produced some confident conclusions on the best times to post on specific days. These conclusions, unsurprisingly, found people up and engaged far later on Friday and Saturday nights than during the working week.

However, it’s your OWN audience that matters. Your own history of posts, likes and new followers should give you an idea of good and bad times to post. Time zones alone dictate that there’s no black and white answer, but there will be better times than others.

To see when your followers are most active take a look at the Insights > Audience tab of your Instagram profile.  You can see which hours and days of the week your followers are most active.

Instagram Tip #6: Consider the Use of Automation Software

With the above point in mind, it may occur to you that your perfect posting time(s) may not exactly prove convenient.

Automation is something of a dirty word in the world of Instagram; The service’s terms and conditions state clearly that accessing any content on the Service via automated means isn’t permitted. Instagress, a popular service that harnessed the power of bots to like and follow on your behalf was shut down in 2017.

Really, it’s no bad thing, because a social network populated with bots loses all its authenticity and this doesn’t work for anybody. However, there are plenty of automation tools out there that stay on the right side of Instagram’s terms of service (sometimes only just).

There’s really nothing wrong with using a tool like Buffer to plan your Instagram posts in advance so you ensure you hit those most valuable posting windows. Reputable software companies work hard to meet Instagram’s terms, and shouldn’t leave you facing a ban.

Instagram Tip #7: Up your Hashtag Game

There are many theories about the use of hashtags on Instagram, along with articles that suggest there’s a secret formula around how many to use. The number that seems to get mentioned most frequently is 11 hashtags per post.

The only solid truth out there – a truth that makes perfect sense – is that it’s best to use the full 30 hashtags available to you for every post. More hashtags mean more chance of people randomly finding your content as the result of a search.

It really is as simple as that, and people have done the studies to prove it. (Engagement seems to be at its greatest with 11 or more hashtags, which is why 11 comes up repeatedly).

There are some important caveats: Continually using the same hashtags, and trying to jump on bandwagons by using popular hashtags can potentially place you in shadow ban territory with Instagram. People thinking you’re spamming with your hashtags could mean having your posts reported.

Furthermore, conventional wisdom nowadays suggests that trying to get noticed using generic but popular tags like “#love” or “#beautiful” is pretty futile. There are simply so many posts like that that they will disappear from the search feed in seconds.

Instagram Tip #7: Use LOCAL Hashtags

Many people are passionate about the places where they live and work, and they demonstrate this passion on Instagram. You can easily benefit from this by adding in some local hashtags when you post content.

If your business is based in a certain town, do some research and find out the kind of hashtags being used by other local firms (things like #londonshopping).

It doesn’t matter if you’re an online business – you’ll likely still gain some support from people in the area where you’re based.

Furthermore, you’ll probably find hashtags that are super local, such as your specific town or district, as well as those that cover a wider country level.

You can employ exactly the same tactic whenever you’re traveling. Simply incorporate local hashtags while you’re sharing photos and you’ll quickly notice new likes and follows from people who are fans (and residents) of those areas.

Doing this also plays well with some of the other tactics discussed here; Working your Instagram on a local level will probably result in you meeting other local people online.

You can then mutually support each other’s efforts.

Instagram Tip #8: Consider Joining (Good) Engagement Groups

Engagement groups sometimes referred to as Instagram pods, are made up of Instagram users who make an agreement to help each other by liking and sharing each other’s content.

On a small scale, you can join groups of up to 15 people who operate within Instagram itself, sharing new content with each other via DM.

Then there are far bigger pods where members use Telegram, Slack or Facebook to communicate with each other.

Using engagement groups, especially larger pods is an Instagram strategy you’ll want to think through very carefully. There’s definitely a school of thought that suggests using larger groups is a risky, grey-hat technique.

Not only are the groups littered with leeches, huge sudden engagement in a new post looks unusual to Instagram’s algorithm. With talk of Instagram using shadow bans and other anti-spam techniques, the technique is too blatant to risk for most.

However, smaller engagement groups are very different, and really rather similar to old-school networking. Teaming up with other Instagram users in a similar niche and helping each other out as a group is a solid technique.

Reddit threads such as this one are the place to find these groups. Smaller groups make for more “slow and steady” progress, but with genuinely engaged people – whereas a large pod is really little different to paying for meaningless vanity likes.

Telegram engagement groups

Instagram Tip #9: Entice Customers to Post for your Brand

Brands of all sizes use enticement techniques to encourage people to reference them on Instagram, and it’s easy to copy these methods.

As an example, a sunglasses brand places a free photo booth in duty-free shop and encourages people to post pictures of them wearing the shades to Instagram, complete with their hashtag. The result is a whole load of branded content that, essentially, generates itself. Coca-Cola took this to the very highest level with branded bottles and cans via the #ShareACoke campaign.

But you can do it on a far smaller scale too! If you have a small product to sell, you can send out some freebies in return for people posting pictures on Instagram. The key is to offer something fun or free as a bait for customers to be your online advocate.

AdWeek discusses this as a legitimate strategy for 2018 – giving people a small but gentle nudge that makes them want to engage with your brand online, but without forcing them into it.

Instagram Tip #10: Monitor your Results

You’ll no doubt notice if a particular Instagram post wins you lots of likes and new followers, but it’s possible to be far more scientific than that.

Instagram Insights (included with business accounts only) tells you far more about your reach and your followers. Studying the information regularly will help you learn what kind of posts work and which fall flat. Perhaps you’re overdoing the pictures of your puppy or new baby?!

Instagram Insights

Learning what works and doing more of it is the key to success in any business. If you want to get properly analytical, you can go way further, with third-party analytical tools such as Sprout Social and Picture.io.

It’s also, as discussed here, well worth taking the time to track people who visit your business website as a result of finding you on Instagram. A great starting point for this is to send them to a dedicated landing page, rather than the homepage. You can then see how they interact from there.

Instagram may be getting harder to game, but that should mean that the cream rises more easily to the top. If you’ve ever seen your follower count rise and fall due to bots, you’ll know that black hat techniques only really serve to irritate everyone on the network.

Following these legitimate tactics should help you get more followers on Instagram – perhaps not as quickly as was once possible, but they will be engaged followers, rather than meaningless numbers.