Are you marketing on Instagram? Then you're likely looking to grow your audience. Increasing your following might seem difficult, but we have good news for you: in this article, we're going to discuss tried-and-true tactics how to gain followers on Instagram. Ready to learn how to get users to follow you on Instagram?Let's dive right in!
Marketing Coach and former Director of Social Media at eHarmony
8 Feb, 2019
11 min read
It’s no longer a question of whether Instagram needs to be a part of your marketing strategy.
Today, it’s a matter of figuring out how to best leverage your time and energy spent on the platform in order to achieve your desired results.
One of the most puzzling components to work out is how to gain followers on Instagram – without begging people and/or paying for (fake) followers.
Becoming the popular kid in high school might seem like an easier task than trying to get a large number of strangers who don’t know you to follow your Instagram profile.
Don’t worry, though – we’re here to tell you how it can be done!
With some clever, yet basic, strategies we’ll share with you in this post, you’ll start to see your Instagram audience grow day-by-day.
But before we dive into explaining how to gain more followers on Instagram, let’s lay some ground rules that will help you get the right mindset for the job:
Patience is key. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your Instagram following
If you want to gain followers on Instagram in an organic way, you should know it will require three things: blood, sweat, and tears.
Of course, no one is bleeding out over here – it’s just an analogy, and a particularly accurate one. What we’re talking about is hard work and consistency of effort. If you leverage the strategies we’re about to discuss every day and stay patient, you’ll see the results pay off in just a few months.
Be genuinely curious about other people
Most of these strategies won’t work if you don’t have your potential follower’s interest at heart. After all, you need them to follow you.
Understanding your target audience is an essential part of marketing and also half the work required to get started with the strategies outlined below.
Don’t dread rolling up your sleeves and getting to know your customers! Get excited about the opportunity to make a real connection with some great people on Instagram. When you do this, you’ll bound to see a greater R.O.T. (return on your time).
That’s it. Hopefully, you’re in the right mindset now to learn the tactics to get more followers on Instagram, so let’s dive in!
The first strategy to gain followers on Instagram is to partner with Instagram influencers.
Why should you do it?
Just like in your old high school days, sometimes it’s good to stick with the popular crowd, as it has two assets you can leverage: lots of valuable connections and influence.
Partnering up with influencers who have more followers than you (especially if the followers are your target audience) can be a major win for your business.
All you need to do is develop a sound strategy that will allow the influencer to showcase your company in a compelling way through their Instagram content.
In return, you’ll usually have to compensate the influencer monetarily or offer them your products or services free of charge.
Are you hesitant about this investment?
Let us tell you this: it is totally worth it. Through engaging influencer campaigns, you can tap into the attention of the influencer’s followers and encourage them to follow your Instagram profile.
I’ve hired many different levels of influencers on Instagram – from micro-influencer accounts with just a few thousand followers to celebrities known worldwide.
When I was Director of Social Media for eHarmony, we hired “The Bachelor” host, Chris Harrison, to make special content on Valentine’s Day. He delivered roses to unexpected couples throughout the day. The company account’s reach and follower count increased from his influence during the 24-hour campaign.
Collaborating with micro-influencers (users with an audience under 1,000) is key to building quality relationships with new audiences.
It is also a proven way how to gain followers on Instagram.
Do not discount micro-influencers’ small following! They actually have higher engagement and conversion rates due to the tight-knit relationships with their audience.
Close communication and interaction with their followers is a priority for micro-influencers, which is why their influence is so valuable. Micro-influencers can be super effective in showcasing your brand in a way that will send more followers your way.
Again, to ensure your influencer collaboration results in an increase in your follower count, it’s essential to develop an effective campaign. If you’re short of ideas, check out these seven influencer marketing examples to inspire your next campaign.
PRO TIP: In my experience, it’s better to create a campaign that requires the influencer to post multiple times over a certain period of time. While one post from a great collaboration can help get you new followers, the repetition and brand awareness of multiple different posts will help increase your chances of folks seeing you in their Newsfeed.
One of the most unique and functional aspects of Instagram are hashtags.
Unlike their less popular use on Facebook, on Instagram hashtags serve a clear purpose of linking you right to where you want to be.
Think of hashtags as keywords your potential follower would enter into a Google search. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they like? What are their interests? What are they trying to learn more about? How do they want to be entertained on Instagram?
To be able to make the most of Instagram hashtags, first do some homework and make a list of 30-50 hashtags that are relevant to your content and your audience’s interests. Then, make another list of popular Instagram hashtags, for example #happy, #instagood, or #love.
Find out how to use Instagram hashtags like a boss in Socialbakers’ ultimate guide!
You can add a maximum of 30 hashtags to each post. Make sure to combine business-relevant with the most popular hashtags – this way, you’ll increase your chances of being discovered by both your niche and wider Instagram audience.
The result? You’ve guessed it – more Instagram followers!
Make sure your posts are great. Give the new people who will find your recent post via a hashtag value by having them land on your amazing profile. The more users connect with your content, the higher the chances are of them following you without any initiation from your side.
PRO TIP: Use Instagram Stories to enhance your discoverability. Choose the #hashtag option and insert a popular keyword or phrase that your audience is already searching for to attract new followers to your account. To see if your strategy’s working, head over to the Insights section of your Business profile. There, you’ll be able to get data on Impressions, Accounts Reached, Follows, and more for each piece of your Stories.
This next strategy how to gain more followers on Instagram is an organic, totally free process to build your following.
Do you spend the majority of your time scrolling through your Newsfeed (aka passive participation) versus leaving the Newsfeed to go find new friends to connect with (aka active participation)?
Then this strategy is especially for you!
Many businesses looking to grow their follower count assume that if they create great content, the “if you build it, they will come” theory will handle it for them.
In reality, the sheer amount of content published on Instagram every minute can easily overpower your posts and harm your visibility.
If you want to cut through the noise, you need to proactively reach out to and interact with the Instagram community.
The key in this strategy is to find, connect, and build relationships with like-minded individuals on Instagram who would love to be a part of your Instagram audience.
Here is a simple, yet effective, 8-step process to finding and building relationships with new potential followers. For this example, let’s say you’re a travel agent who’s interested in those who are sharing content about travel plans or dreams of discovering new places.
1. Leave home. Go explore.
Just like moving into a new neighborhood, staying inside 24/7 isn’t going to have the whole street knocking on your door all at once, simply because you’ve arrived. Everyone is busy. Everyone has lots of choices as far as what media they want to consume. Even inside one app such as Instagram, it’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” of content.
You must make the effort to leave the comfort of your house to go find people you want to talk to and get to know better.
2. Click Explore.
This is where the magic happens to help you discover new potential followers. There are over one billion monthly active users on Instagram, which gives you plenty of room to expand your audience.
One of the most effective ways to discover new, relevant users you could connect with is leveraging the “Explore” option. To access this section, open your Instagram app and tap on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom.
3. Type in relevant keywords.
Now, refer back to your top hashtags per your interest list that we discussed in chapter three. Select relevant hashtags or short phrases and type them into the search bar – just like you would do with Google.
For this example, let’s use “#travelbucketlist” which assumes a person has aspirations to see certain places in the world.
4. Follow that keyword or hashtag.
After you see a list of search results, tap on the hashtag that’s most relevant to you. As a result, you’ll land on a dedicated profile, featuring posts containing that hashtag.
Tap on the “Follow” bar. This handy feature places top posts with your chosen hashtag into your Instagram Newsfeed each week alongside the posts of those you’re already following.
5. Tap on “Recent.”
By changing your view from “Top” to “Recent,” you’ll find posts that have just been published with your hashtag.
If you engage with those fresh posts, it’s more likely you’ll catch the person who published the posts (sometimes within seconds) still on the app.
Also, the “Top” posts have accumulated much more engagement, meaning your comments may be lost among the hundreds or thousands of others users posted over time.
In order to stand out more and have a chance to really connect with the person who just posted, spend time engaging on “Recent” posts instead. These are also usually created by people who don’t have large followings.
6. Click through an interesting post and engage.
Select three to five quality posts to like and leave a genuine, sincere comment. Spend at least 30 minutes searching for content and interacting with it. The more customized your thoughts and responses are to users’ posts, the more likely they’ll engage back with you.
PRO TIP: Ask users a question that requires a response. By creating a dialogue you’ll stand out from the others who either aren’t putting genuine effort into creating thoughtful comments, or who are perhaps using automated, pre-formed generic comments generated by a bot.
7. Follow the profiles you find relevant to your goals.
If you discover a user whose posts are interesting enough to make you want to follow them – do so. There’s an unspoken Instagram common courtesy to follow back someone who first followed you.
The platform itself seems to be encouraging this behavior with their “Follow Back” call-to-action button you can see on profiles that have already followed you.
8. Repeat step 6 and 7.
Spend at least 15 minutes per day on engaging with selected Instagram posts and following Instagram users. Over time you’ll curate a targeted group of profiles who all have connected well with you and your profile. Continue to nurture the relationships and be consistent with engagement on the recent content of users you’ve followed.
PRO TIP: Don’t follow someone in hopes that they’ll follow you back and then unfollow them later. It wastes time and effort and simply falls flat. Similar to a bait and click trap, a person who receives a “follow” from you may be looking forward to building a genuine connection.
(Side note: In the time it’s taken me to write this section, the user I just found for our example has already responded to me several times in a matter of minutes! If I specialized in travel or something complimentary, this would be a great connection to build upon. For now, I’m just happy connecting to someone else who has an appreciation for amazing travel photography and white sand beaches!)
There are many ways how to gain followers on Instagram without having to pay for fake followers.
While growing your audience artificially through buying followers might seem tempting, in the end it will hurt your engagement and distance you from your goals.
If you take the time to identify who your preferred follower should be, it’s much easier to put in the effort to find the targeted audience members. Create amazing content, reach out to the Instagram community in an authentic and meaningful way, and you’ll gain followers on Instagram easily and quickly.
About the Author
Kerianne Mellott is a Marketing Coach, Founder of www.LearnToGoLive.com, and Social Media Expert with over 14 years experience helping individuals and corporations make money and grow their businesses online. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Marketing and has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs teaching them the inside tricks to using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest and more.
While leading her team at eHarmony, she was able to touch millions of lives through her efforts in social media marketing. She worked directly with her teams at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google to create effective social media marketing campaigns in order to create real, authentic content and to increase the bottom line.
by Kerianne Mellott
Marketing Coach and former Director of Social Media at eHarmony
8 Feb, 2019
11 min read