50 Tips for Building a Massive Instagram Following

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Instagram is currently the fastest growing social network. Half of the world’s internet users are now on it. Nevertheless, even if you post amazing images, it can often be a struggle to pull in a decent-sized audience. This is disheartening for anybody who is just starting out.

Here are 50 tips to help you dramatically increase your Instagram following.

1. Be Responsive

Instagram is a social network, and its central purpose is to give people a platform to socialize on. So companies should use it as an opportunity to interact with followers directly. Respond to any comments, questions or complaints you receive on your posts. If you are personable and acknowledge your audience, they will be more likely to bond with your brand.

2. Leave Comments

Don’t limit yourself to replying to people on your own posts. Reach out and leave comments on the content of other users. Compliment their photos and try to start conversations.

See this as an chance to humanize your brand. People will be more attracted to a business if it takes sincere interest in others and isn’t totally focused on advertising.

3. Like and Share Other People’s Content

Many Instagram users aren’t just there to follow other accounts. They also post their own content, hoping it will be noticed. Liking and sharing this content will make them feel appreciated, and they might return the favor.

Brands that embrace and celebrate user-made content tend to be viewed more favorably by internet communities. It could even encourage them to make content featuring your brand, and as a result spread awareness.

4. Follow Others

One of the best ways to get followers is simply to follow people yourself. They will usually take notice and follow you back if they’re interested.

Look for users who are in your target-audience demographic. In particular, try to follow the most influential people within their respective communities. If these figures follow you back and share your content, you might be able to gain some of their followers.

5. Post Every Day

A steady stream of content is necessary for any successful Instagram account. You should post something new every day in order to stay at the top of people’s feeds. While there isn’t a limit to how much you should post in a single day, you should avoid overloading your followers with content. Space it out a little.

6. Publish During the Most Optimal Hours

A study by the Huffington Post found that 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. were the best times to post on Instagram. These are the hours when users are most likely to view and interact with your content.

However, you might find that different times work better for you. You should experiment and analyze the results. You can also use Owlmetrics to see what times your content performs best.

7. Have a Consistent Schedule

After figuring out which times yield the most engagement, establish a schedule and release your content at regular intervals. This will give your followers something to look forward to each day.

There are a variety of tools available, such as Later, to help you create your posting schedule.

8. Use Trending Hashtags

Hashtags are the quickest way to get noticed on any social network. Their primary function is to unify the platform. Anything that gets posted on a popular hashtag will be seen by many people in a short time span.

Be purposeful with the hashtags that you choose, and make sure the content is relevant to its topic.

9. Create Your Own Hashtags

Once you’ve established yourself on Instagram, try making a unique hashtag of your own. It could be part of a campaign, or just a general-purpose hashtag you come up with.

If enough people spread it, it could go viral and bring attention to the brand.

10. Tag People

Instagram offers the ability to tag people in your image before publishing. This could be used to your advantage. You can tag influential accounts, for instance, and their followers will see your content as they browse the explore feed.

Don’t abuse this feature, though. You will likely get ignored and deemed to be spam if the content is unrelated to the account being mentioned.

11. Get Your Followers to Tag a Friend

Create a relatable piece of content, and tell your followers to tag a friend if it applies to them. You could also include products and ask your followers to tag any friends who might like it.

These sorts of posts are very common and tend to spread like wildfire. You can use them to show a sense of humor.

13. Use Emojis

Regardless of how you feel about emojis, they have been proven to be effective visual communication tools. They are remarkably useful in helping establish the tone and emotion of a post. Some have even found that using emojis tripled their rate of follower growth.

14. Tell an Instagram Story

Instagram Stories, which are temporary posts that disappear within 24 hours, can be used to give updates, advertise products or inform about flash sales. This will incentivize users to follow you in order to keep up with new events.

15. Utilize Instagram Ads

Another feature at your disposal is Instagram Ads. With the customization options, you can focus your ads on specific demographics. Doing this will increase their effectiveness and bring in people who are most inclined to follow your account.

16. Call Your Audience to Action

Sometimes the most direct method is best. Don’t be afraid to use the captions of your post to ask viewers to follow you. Let them know the advantages of following you, such as being up to date on the latest news and offers. You might find that all it really takes is a straightforward prompt to nudge them in the right direction.

17. Ask for Opinions and Suggestions

Try asking questions in your photo captions. These might be questions about the brand, or they might be a general solicitation of attitudes toward a certain topic. People on social networks love voicing their opinions whenever they get the chance. Some users might even have valuable and creative ideas that can shape the direction of your campaigns.

18. Listen to Feedback

If you strike gold with your content, your viewers will let you know in the comments. Pay attention to what works and try to replicate your successes. The same goes for any missteps you might make. Don’t ignore criticisms and complaints. They could point you toward issues that are preventing you from attracting more followers.

19. Theme Your Content

Instagram is a social network that emphasizes aesthetics. The photo and video content is the main attraction, so it’s expected that brands put thought and care into their visual quality. Most brands tend to settle on a certain visual theme. This helps to unify their content and make it instantly recognizable.

20. Pick Filters Wisely

Instagram offers a wide selection of filters. However, don’t just start applying them at random.

A fair amount of research has been done into which filters appeal the most to people. Take the time to investigate and review the data before diving in. It is also perfectly acceptable to avoid filters altogether. If your images have a strong enough style without filters, just use them as is.

21. Don’t Edit Too Much

Some people take photo-editing too far and create total messes out of perfectly fine images. Too many filters, for instance, can muddy picture quality. Uploading eyesores will certainly scare away potential followers. Show some restraint. As they say, less can be more.

22. Create Videos

A vast majority of Instagram content is comprised of photos. Videos only account for slightly over 10% of all posts. However, they generate nearly 18% of comments from viewers. This means that videos are an untapped area of the platform. You could gain some serious traction by posting attention-grabbing, high-quality videos.

23. Try Out Instagram Live

Live-streaming video has been gaining in popularity in recent years, especially with websites like Twitch and Periscope. So it should come as no surprise that Instagram has launched its own free live-video feature.

You can use Instagram Live to interact with your audience in real time. Try having a session where you answer questions and respond to comments as they appear. These sorts of events tend to attract many users who want to get in on the fun and be recognized during the stream.

24. Get Candid

Consider giving viewers a look behind the scenes of your operations. A lot of people are genuinely curious about how companies operate. This also allows them to associate the brand with a more human element, which will help build trust with your customers.

24. Share Quotes

Posting quotes is a simple and quick way to generate content. Select quotes that inspire deep thought and stir emotions. Even though they are easier to make, you shouldn’t slack on the quality of these posts. A plain block of text won’t do. Put consideration into its design, from the font choice to the background.

25. Maintain a High Level of Quality

Your followers will be holding your posts to a certain standard. You should strive to live up to their expectations. Consistently delivering high-quality content will ensure that they stick around and that many more join them.

26. Tease Upcoming Products

Feel free to give your followers a sneak peek every once in a while. Show them some upcoming products or whatever projects you might be working on. This can generate buzz and bring in new followers.

If you want, you can evoke intrigue by adding a touch of mystery to these teases. Obscure the product a little, and include cryptic clues in the captions. There could even be an ongoing series of teases to build hype to a final reveal.

27. Write Compelling Captions

Each piece of content deserves an appropriate caption. Some content might only warrant a word or two, while others need a sentence or two. Either way, you want your captions to be captivating. This will enhance the viewers’ enjoyment and give them a reason to follow you.

28. Study What’s Popular

Take some time to browse Instagram periodically. Look at the content that gets the most attention and try to ascertain the reason for its popularity. Is it the visual style, or perhaps the subject of the image?

You can learn a lot by observing trends. If you see anything that you think would mesh well with your brand, take inspiration from it and make it your own.

29. Make Collages

Photo collages can make for striking content. You can make them effortlessly using apps such as Layout, PhotoFrame, Photo Collage, InstaCollage or Photo Grid.

30. Focus on Faces

When looking at images, people tend to gravitate toward faces. It’s a natural instinct. We do most of our nonverbal communication through facial expressions and cues.

Studies have found that images with faces receive 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram than those without. While not every image needs to have faces, it would be wise to have some that do.

31. Choose a Good Profile Pic

Profile pictures are key. Every time someone visits your Instagram page, they see this picture at the very top. Pick one that you think best represents the brand. Also, make sure that it looks nice at 110px by 110px, which is a one-to-one aspect ratio.

32. Keep Your Grid Cohesive

The next thing that visitors will notice on your page is your grid. This is the overview of all of the posts so far in your feed. Before publishing, you can preview your grid and move things around to your liking. Some images might look better when placed next to each other, so try rearranging your grid until it seems unified.

33. Include Your Instagram on Your Physical Marketing

These days, physical marketing (billboards, signs, flyers, etc.) usually has a space for your social network presence. This typically includes the icons and user names for sites like Facebook and Twitter. You should add your Instagram on physical marketing too.

34. Target Niche Groups

It’s not always best to cast your net wide. With a network as varied as Instagram, sometimes it’s difficult to appease everybody. Venture out into the smaller, specialized communities that fit within your target demographic.

Build a bond with them by following some accounts and liking their content. Then generate content of your own that is targeted to them. These niche groups are often ignored in favor of broader audiences. They will appreciate you catering to their interests.

35. Court Your Competitors’ Audiences

Take a look at the users who are following the brands competing against you with Owlmetrics. These are the people that you want to win over.

Use the same tactics mentioned above with the niche groups. Your goal should be to offer an engaging alternative to your competitors. Show your audience that you are more responsive and sociable.

36. Avoid Buying Followers

There are many services that allow you to buy vast numbers of fake followers. Some companies do this in order to give the appearance that they are popular. While it may be tempting to buy followers, there are major drawbacks to doing this.

The biggest problem is that there are websites that allow people to check how many of an account’s followers are real. If you buy followers and someone catches you doing so, your brand might gain a reputation for being phony and insincere.

The best option is to cultivate an actual, thriving community of your own. It may be small at first, but it’ll be far more loyal and authentic than any legion of bots.

37. Moderate Your Community

Every company has a responsibility to make their communities as positive and inclusive as possible. This involves making sure that discussions in your comments sections don’t get out of hand.

Nobody wants to join a community where people bully and attack each other constantly. Monitor your community closely and be quick to resolve conflicts. If deleting comments and blocking users is necessary to maintain peace, then so be it.

38. Convert to a Business Account

If you don’t already have a business account, you should definitely consider the switch. There are many exclusive features that come with it, such as a contact button and access to Instagram’s analytics tools.

39. Review with Analytics

Instagram’s analytics tools, like ours, will provide you with a lot of vital information about your followers. You can learn a variety of facts about them, such as the times when they are the most active on the platform. You can also find out which of your posts have been the most successful, so you can hone your strengths and improve the quality of your content.

40. Expand Your Bio

Even though it might seem inconsequential, you shouldn’t overlook your Instagram bio. It’s one of the parts of your page that visitors will look over before deciding if they want to follow you. Use your bio to give them relevant information about your company, send them to your main website via a link or include a call to action.

41. Include Geotags

Were any of your photos taken in a notable setting? Then you should geotag it. Anybody else who uses or searches for the same geotag will be able to see it. Additionally, you can use geotags to give viewers your actual business locations.

42. Work with Influencers

Take advantage of influencer marketing while you can. Influencers are influential figures on any social network. Their opinions and recommendations are valued by a multitude of users.

Partnering with influencers has proven to be a winning marketing strategy. They are often seen as honest and trustworthy. So if they approve of a product, then their followers will take interest. Reach out to any influencers who might enjoy your brand. Offer them free products to review. If the influencer seems enthusiastic, you could consider making them an official brand ambassador.

43. Let a Guest Take Over

Instagram takeovers are where you let a guest take control of your account for a period of time. The guest could be an influencer or a brand ambassador. It could also be a celebrity, such as when Marie Claire’s UK Instagram account let renowned chef Tess Ward take over for a week. These events are a fun way to spice up your feed and inject it with some new perspectives.

44. Promote Your Instagram on Your Website

Visitors to your main website won’t know about your Instagram account unless you link them to it. Why not put a badge somewhere on the page to let them know?

45. Link Your Social Accounts

Networks like Facebook and Twitter have options to link your Instagram account to them. You should do this so you can post your content to multiple networks at once.

46. Invite People to Join Instagram

Some of your followers on the previously mentioned platforms might not follow you on Instagram yet. You should make a post prompting them to do so.

47. Hold Contests

Contests are great at bringing in new people, since they come with the incentive of a prize. A common type of contest involves asking users to submit their own photos or videos. You then pick a winner from the submissions. Don’t forget to ask any participants to follow you in order to qualify.

48. Have Giveaways

Contests aren’t the only way to attract users with free stuff. You can simply give products away. However, you should still require people to follow you first. You can also ask them to share the post or tag their friends.

49. Give and Get Shout-Outs

A shout-out is where an account recommends another account to their followers. Look around on hashtags like #s4s, #freeshoutouts, #shoutoutforshoutout and #shoutout4shoutout. You should find plenty of accounts willing to make a trade.

50. Partner for Co-Promotions

There are many other similar brands on Instagram. You can try to strike up a partnership with them and work on a promotion together. This might take the form of a joint contest, a giveaway or a promotion.

About the author

Neal Hallenbeck

Neal Hallenbeck is a graduate of Adrian College. He is a freelance writer, media critic and computer game designer.

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