By Austin Miller, founder of The Daily Hash—THE newsletter for foodies 🍔🍦🍜
So you want to get more followers on Instagram...Well guess what? So does everyone else!
With the ever increasing competition, you've really got to hustle your butt off to stand out from the crowd. Sure, there are popular sites (*cough* Buzzoid) where people go to buy followers, but there are also plenty of legitimate ways to help grow your numbers that don't just increase your vanity stats, but help you build an authentic brand. This can be especially true if you're trying to build an Instagram following as a B2B company. But don't worry, we've got you covered.
1. HASHTAG TIMING
If you use popular hashtags like #instagood #photography etc., you will see that it's not wise to wait a long time before adding your hashtags. The more popular hashtag threads are crowded with lot of uploads and your pics are likely to be lost in the fray. We suggest you have your hashtags already copied to your clipboard so that after you post, you can immediately paste them as a comment.
2. CUSTOM FORMATTING YOUR INSTAGRAM PROFILE
As you explore Instagram accounts in your niche you might find that some accounts have specially formatted Instagram bios as pictured above. Formatting your bio in a unique way not only catches attention, it's also a subtle way to help your brand stick out and say "Hey, look at us, we're different!"
If you try to imitate these bios through the Instagram app, you'll see that this isn't possible. To do so you will need to write your Instagram bio in an external text application such as the iPhone's built-in Notes app. After you create the formatting and spacing you like in this app, copy and paste it into your Instagram Bio. That's it.
3. Playing Nicely with Instagram's Algorithm
As with most companies, Instagram keeps their algorithms pretty tightly guarded to prevent users from "gaming" the system. But rumor has it that Instagram uses the following formula:
number of followers divided by number of engagements
With this in mind, the idea of buying lots of fake followers might be a risky strategy. If you have 20k fake followers, you are going to have work extremely hard to get a good percentage of people engaging with your posts thereby jeopardizing your chances at getting featured and attracting real followers.
It's easy to get caught up in trying to get more followers on Instagram for vanity's sake. But it's important for those of us using Instagram for business to remind ourselves that the buck doesn't stop there. Getting someone to follow you is only step one, converting those followers into customers or fans is the real goal.
4. Liking + Commenting
Liking and commenting on other users' accounts is a tried and true way to get more followers on Instagram.
If you plan on copying and pasting comments be warned that Instagram allows you to do so only a limited number of times or else you'll get a "duplicate comment" warning. This might be annoying for people trying to power their way to a big following, but the truth is that thoughtful and tailored commentary will net you better results.
It's also important to not overdo it. IG rules fluctuate but you should probably avoid doing more than 300 likes per hour to avoid getting flagged.
Pro Tip: Instead of liking and commenting random photos, search a hashtag in your niche.
5. Reposting Apps
If you're using your Instagram for business, you will really want to think about this app and how it fits into your overall branding. @getbookly does not use this method as we like to keep all posts original, however--there are plenty of accounts that do and to much success.
Reposting apps such as well, you guessed it "Repost"—work much the same way as Twitter where you can share other users content. This has the obvious advantage of saving time and energy—but if used to much you run the risk of looking lazy.
Of course, there is also the consideration of using someone else's photo. If you are going to use this tactic, it's important you get permission from the account owner before reposting any of their content. Make sure to always give credit after posting by tagging the original account.
6. Follow/Unfollow Apps
Everyone knows one of the best ways to get more followers on Instagram is by following other users. The easiest way to do this is by using a follow/unfollow app. This tactic is probably not the best long term strategy but the follow/unfollow strategy's an easy way to get a start on a following and start to get your name out there, get some validation, and to test out your content.
As you look for people to follow, try and find people that are following accounts similar to yours our posting hashtags that fit your niche. This will help better the chances that people who follow you back aren't just interested in getting another number next to their name, but might actually have genuine interest in your content.
7. Hashtag Placement
Using hashtags is a great way to attract new followers in your niche to your account. It's also a great way to get more likes on Instagram. You might be surprised at how many people are engaging with posts by searching hashtags. In theory, the more hashtags you post, the greater the chance that your post will get discovered. But posting a giant paragraph of hashtags is not very pleasing to the eye and is what many people would call a marketing taboo.
The way to get around this is once again using an external notes app. Once there you'll want to add a series of periods and spaces as pictured above. After posting new content, go to your comments and paste your hashtags with the periods stacked on top. Instagram will register the post as lengthy, and keep the hashtags hidden from your audience's view. The best part? People searching your hashtags will still be able to find you.
GIFS are an easy way to mix it up on your account. By posting content in the same format every time you run the risk of losing your audience's attention. As we covered in our article Viral Marketing: 27 Awesomely Scientific Ways to Make Your Content go Viral! , surprise is one of the most important elements to creating viral posts. Mixing it up with GIFS is not only a good idea, it's fast and free!
Our favorite app for finding and posting GIFS (with a built in integration for Instagram) is GIPHY.
9. Manage Multiple Accounts
The ability to monitor more than one account at a time is a relatively new and much needed Instagram feature. Switching back and forth between accounts is a regular task for many marketers, or people who want to manage both business and personal accounts separately. This new addition allows you to save time and to add likes to posts from other accounts.
Search your settings for the "Add Account" feature, add the accounts you want to manage. When you're ready to switch between accounts, hold your finger over the icon on the bottom right of your screen. A menu will pop up allowing you to switch between your Instagram accounts.
10. Getting Featured By Other Instagram Accounts
There are two basic ways to get featured by other Instagram users:
Tagging brands with pictures that highlight you using their products
Creating content (such as artwork) in honor of a brand/influencer
The approach with both of these is to take high quality photos that either highlight their brand in a positive or interesting light. When posting make sure to tag their official account (careful, there are a lot of fake ones) in the hopes that they will notice.
We recommend you use this approach sparingly as you don't want your brand or personal account to be defined by highlighting others. You need to have a strong voice of your own. Trying for the big boy influencers is great (especially if they respond) because you can reach more people, but bigger Instagram users are also likely to be busier and more inundated with requests/posts. Make sure you mix it up by reaching out to smaller influencers as well.
Side note: If you're an entrepreneur who uses Bookly's online bookkeeping service, tag us in your photos, we'd love to see what you're up to!
11. Add Music With Flipagram
Generally videos haven't performed as well as photos for us, but what is important is that you add variety to your feed. We do this by using an app called Flipagram. Flipagram let's you record, edit, and add music to your videos. The editor is much more robust than Instagram's and we find music always adds an extra touch. With a vast library of songs, Flipagram makes it so you don't even have to leave the app to source free and usable music.
Want more tips? Follow us on Instagram @getbookly