Instagram is a marketing and brand-building powerhouse. There are 500 million daily active users, and those users are engaged. It’s why Instagram images get up to 23% more engagement than their Facebook counterparts. And since 60% of users learn about new products through the platform and 80% follow at least one brand on the platform, you can’t afford to skip it.
Instagram can result in increased brand awareness, relationship building, social proof, leads, and sales. In order to get those results, however, you need to be ensuring that your content is showing up in your audience’s feeds, so growing your follower count is essential.
Struggling to see that follower counter climb? In this post, we’re going to go over 10 foolproof ways to get more Instagram followers, looking at how to use each strategy and what not to do, too.
1. Pick Your Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags act as clickable, searchable topics on Instagram, and adding the right ones to your post can land you in front of your target audience. Your posts could show up in their searches, and now that users can follow hashtags, the right hashtag could even land you right in their personal feed.
You can add up to 30 hashtags on your Instagram posts, and your best bet is to use a combination of hashtags that have different purposes. Location-based hashtags, for example, will help you connect to local audiences, while niche-interest hashtags like #techtuesdays will put you in front of your specific audience niches.
Hashtag research tools can help you generate a list of hashtags that you want to use for your business. I recommend Hashtagify, which will give you a bundle of information on any given hashtag, including volume and popularity, along with a list of related terms to check out, too.
2. Ask Users to Create UGC & Tag You
User-generated content is powerful. Users are going to trust content created by their peers more than any marketing content created by your brand, and when they share it themselves, they’ll also expose most of their followers to how great your brand is, too.
Most businesses are aware of this.
Here’s the thing that most brands don’t know: your followers are happy to create UGC, but they want specific instructions on what exactly to share. More than half of all customers want brands to tell them what UGC to create, even though only a few brands do.
Share posts and information in your bio about what types of UGC you want users to create and how to do so. Ask them to share their “unboxing” or “best uses” or “favourite flavours,” and then to tag you in the picture and use your branded hashtag #theGREATESTunboxing.
Make sure that you ask users to tag you or use your branded hashtag. If you’re tagged, you’ll receive a notification, and if they use your hashtag, you can search for it. And even more importantly, without those tags, interested users seeing the UGC won’t be able to easily find you.
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3. Use Sponsored Posts to Leverage Social Proof
When you run engagement-oriented campaigns through the Facebook Ad platform, you can now choose to boost Instagram posts in addition to Facebook posts. This means that you can promote existing organic posts and have it placed in users’ feeds as it exists- standing social proof and all.
Use that social proof to your advantage and promote high-engagement posts to either retargeted or cold audiences. The high “love” and comment count will get people to stop, and if those comments are generally positive, even better.
Note that these posts do not have to be overly promotional; this strategy works best for gathering likes when that’s not the case, and the focus instead is on overall brand awareness.
4. Include Social Follow Buttons In Your Content
This is a straightforward tactic that’s incredibly effective. Add social follow buttons everywhere you can online, including your website and at the bottom of your email campaigns. Tools like AddThis can help you quickly add Follow buttons to your site, increasing not only your Instagram followers, but your follower account across multiple other platforms, too.
You may have plenty of customers who don’t follow you on Instagram yet, and getting them on board will increase your follower account quickly. Since these users are already familiar with you, it can increase the engagement on your account, too.
5. Host Instagram Contests
Instagram contests are popular for a good reason: they work.
You can choose from a number of different types of contests. Some of the most popular on Instagram are:
- UGC contests, which allow users to create and share their own pictures and videos following a specific request.
- Voting contests, where users will vote on the best UGC submission.
- Caption contests, which encourage users to create a caption for the photo that you upload.
No matter what type of Instagram contest you choose, you should always require that participants follow your profile if they haven’t already to be eligible to win. This is just one quick step that they have to take, and if following a page means they could get even $10 in free ice cream, you’d be surprised how many people do so without a second thought.
Contests can generate a lot of hype around your business. Promote it cross-platform, and make sure you’re using hashtags like #instacontest and #grandgiveaway to maximize your reach.
6. Share Tag-a-Friend Posts
Tag-a-friend posts work by engaging your audience and asking them to create a comment tagging a friend who they think would like a product or service that you’re featuring in that post. Sometimes this will be a requirement to participate in a contest, but you can create tag-a-friend posts even when there isn’t an incentive involved.
Most people are highly conscious about who they tag on Instagram, not wanting to spam their own friends. And on the flip side, if a friend tags you in something, you’re more likely to pay attention and trust their recommendation. 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations over advertising, after all, so one person vouching for your brand is a great sign to whoever they’re tagging.
Ideally, at least a few of new users who have been tagged won’t be familiar with your brand but will at least be interested enough to learn more. They could check out your profile and then become a follower from there.
7. Share Your Nametag
Last month, Instagram rolled out their new “nametag” feature, which works a lot like a QR code. Users scan someone else’s nametag with their in-app camera, and a prompt automatically pops up asking if they’d like to follow that person’s account, no searching involved.
Image source: Instagram
Nametags allow you to leverage the audience that you already have and convert them into Instagram followers if they aren’t already. In many cases, customers will look up a business on one social media account; they may follow you on Facebook, but not Instagram. If that’s the case, posting the image of your nametag on Facebook will drive more of your followers on one platform to join you on another.
You can also place your nametags on signage in-store if you have a brick-and-mortar location, converting visitors into followers.
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8. Partner Up with Other Accounts
Are there influencers that you could reach out to in your industry that could lead to a strong partnership? Are there other businesses that you could collaborate with in order to make more of an impact on Instagram?
Partnering up with other accounts-- whether they’re influencers or other businesses-- can be a great way to connect with new users in your target audience and get more followers. Influencers in your industry are often a good choice, and complementary businesses (think an activewear business and a yoga studio) are a great call. Share each other’s content and promote it, recommending their products or services when appropriate.
If you’re a local business with a brick-and-mortar store, you can get even more creative here. You don’t even need to find a business in your industry, just a local one that shares your values and your target audience.
When you all are swapping content, make sure that you tag the other business or influencer in your posts and ask them to do the same. This provides an instant, easy connection so that users don’t have any reason not to check out your profile.
If you’re ever hosting a social media contest to get more followers, see if other businesses want to go in with you. The more businesses who participate, after all, the better the prize, which makes the contest even more appealing.
With all parties promoting the contest (which can require following each account to be eligible to win through a neutral landing page from software like (ShortStack), this will give your contest even more exposure.
9. Run Targeted Video Ads
Instagram Ads utilises Facebook’s incredibly targeting system, allowing you to easily and quickly reach your audience quickly and on a massive scale. Your ads will appear in their feeds, and one of the best ways to get them to stop scrolling is by using video campaigns.
Video is an outstanding medium for storytelling, which is that thumb-stopping factor you need in order to get first-time viewers to pay attention to you. Telling the story of your brand and introducing how your products or services are different in a way that resonates with your audience is an excellent strategy.
You can also utilise retargeting campaigns, showing video ads to users who have purchased from you or recently visited your site but may not be following you on social media yet.
When it comes to getting followers, focus on brand awareness and brand recognition campaigns instead of going for the hardsell, and include call-to-actions CTAs like “Follow us on Instagram to learn more” or “Stay up to date by following us.”
10. Have a Strong Profile Page
Your profile bio won’t necessarily help you get more visibility, but it still plays an important role in whether or not you actually convert profile visitors into followers.
If you visit a new website for the first time and can’t really figure out exactly what they’re about, do you stay long enough to find out? Most likely not. You hit that back button, returning you to the search engine results page to your (SERP)s. Instagram bios are the same way.
If someone likes your post or clicks on a mention sticker and ends up on your Instagram profile for the first time, you may only have one chance to win them over. In order to do this, your profile page must:
- Be recognisable. Use the same profile picture that you do on other social accounts so that users will know it’s an official account. You should also select a username that makes sense and is straightforward.
- Have a link to your site. Giving users a link to your website will let them learn more about you if they’re interested. It also gives you a chance to build more of a relationship with them, which can mean a higher likelihood of getting them to click that “follow” button.
- Explain who you are. Tell users who you are and what you offer that’s valuable to them. What makes you different? Use your bio to grab their attention however you can and get them to scroll through your posts.
If you have a branded hashtag, go ahead and make it clickable in your profile bio. To do this, simple type out the full hashtag including the “#” in your bio, and it will become active. If you have a steady stream of user-generated content attached to the branded hashtag, it will send interested users to an entire feed of branded content and UGC, building trust and putting your best foot forward.
Getting More Instagram Followers: What Not to Do
Each of the strategies we discussed above are effective and will work for brands regardless of industry, size, or audience niches. You can use them together or separately to increase your follower account in effective ways.
There are, however, a few popular “strategies” to get more followers that aren’t so great. Even though these are commonly used, they’ll hinder you instead of helping you in the long run. Let’s take a look at the three things you don’t want to do when getting more Instagram followers.
In the vast majority of cases, buying followers will actually hurt more than it helps. These followers consist of fake accounts or bots in the vast majority of cases, which can end up getting shut down not long after you purchase them.
The accounts also almost never engage, and if they do, they won’t engage in meaningful ways. In addition to the fact that you’ll never engage these users enough to see results or dive sales, they’ll result in a lowered engagement rate for your account. This in turn then signals to Instagram’s algorithm that the content you’re producing isn’t as high quality and relevant, and you’ll start to see your content fall further down in the feed’s placements.
If you want to invest ad spend into your Instagram account, opt for the paid campaign options instead. This will allow you to attract members of your target audience to follow your account instead of wasting money on a false number that won’t benefit you.
“Follow for Follow” Campaigns
“Follow for follow” campaigns are only a few steps behind buying followers in terms of overall impact for your marketing. The principle is simple: some Instagram users are excited to increase their number of followers, so they’ll follow accounts in hopes that those individuals will follow them back. Some people even advertise this outright, slapping “#followforfollow” hashtags on their posts.
These campaigns will result in higher numbers of followers; you can watch your Instagram follower count skyrocket quickly, and they will be actual people running active accounts instead of just bots. Despite this, they still won’t be much good to you.
These users likely won’t be invested in your business; they only followed you because they want more followers. This means they won’t engage, and once again, you’ll see the engagement rate start to fall and negatively impact you.
Instead of utilising “follow for follow” strategies, opt instead to partner up with an influencer or another business. Promote each other in natural ways, and the increased visibility will help you both gain new Instagram followers that are relevant to you.
Relying On Just A Few Hashtags
Hashtags matter on Instagram, which is why choosing the right hashtags was our very first strategy for this post.
Hashtag diversity also matters on Instagram. If you find one hashtag that has great reach, you shouldn’t rely on it exclusively. Not only does this limit you and prevent you from finding other great hashtags that can expand your reach further, but it can eventually count against you.
If you’re using the same hashtag in every post, you’re not really introducing yourself to new audience members every time. This hinders the results you could be getting, especially if you’re failing to include hashtags that reach out to all of your niches successfully. If you were working for a business selling jams and spreads made in house, you don’t want to just use #homemadejam; you’d want to switch it up and include diverse options like #peanutbutterandjam #raspberrybasiljam #thismakesuswannajam depending on the post.
Diversifying is the not-so-secret secret to success. You can circle back to high-performing hashtags, but don’t use them in every post. To make this easier, I recommend creating basic “lists” of generic hashtags that you can cycle through relevant posts, adding additional relevant hashtags to them as necessary.
Getting more Instagram followers is a goal for most businesses, and it’s easy to see why. In order to increase followers and reduce churn rates, you’ll want to utilise a combination of strategies to find and attract your target audience on the platform. The techniques discussed in this post will help you do that, and as long as you’re consistently providing valuable and producing high quality content, you won’t have trouble keeping your audience engaged.