Are you struggling to get any new followers or any love at all on Instagram? I hear you!
When Instagram was first introduced to the world back in 2010, it boasted an impressive 1 million users within just 3 short months.
Instagram grew so quickly and organically that Facebook saw it as a potential competition.
So what did Facebook do? They bought Instagram for $1 billion in April 2012.
Now the photo-sharing mobile app. is sitting at a cool 800 million users and climbing so it’s safe to say that Facebook was right and this social media platform is not going anywhere anytime soon.
A number of businesses have already used Instagram to double or even triple their profits, the question is, are you willing to work on your Instagram game and do it as well?
Instagram used to be a pretty simple app. You took a selfie, you put a filter on your photo to make yourself look hotter and then you share it with your Instagram followers.
Done and dusted.
Nowadays, Instagram has a number of automation features, advanced photo editing features, and amazing filters to keep up with the rest of the rising social media platforms such as Snapchat or Periscope.
So what does a successful Instagram look like?
Two words: “user engagement.”
If your Instagram account is raking in new followers every day, and your current followers are liking and commenting on your photos and using your brand hashtags all the time then you’ve got a powerful Instagram account in your hands.
Let me walk you through a step-by-step process on how you can make this happen:
1. Design a kickass profile
The very first thing you need to look at is creating an attention-grabbing Instagram profile. Everything in your profile matters so your profile name, username, profile photo and profile description needs to be on point.
First, you need to create an Instagram profile that people will be interested in.
If your business already has an Instagram account then here are some powerful tips that can elevate your Instagram account to another level:
– Profile name: Make sure your profile name directly reflects your company and your products.
– Username: Make sure that your username is unique, catchy and short and sweet. It’s a lot easier for users to mention your business on Instagram if your username is easier to remember.
– A URL on your bio: Instagram has banned people from posting clickable links to crack down on a number of users excessively spamming other users. You can, however, add a URL to your Instagram bio by clicking on your profile and then on edit profile which is next to your profile photo you’ll see a website link field. This will actually be clickable as soon as you enter a URL.
– An interesting bio: This is a brief description of your business so you need to make this description as compelling and engaging as possible.
2. Follow 100 users per day and interact with them
It’s quite simple really, if you give love then you get love back.
If you follow other Instagram users related to your niche or industry then there’s a big possibility that they’ll follow you right back.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t want people abusing the system so they’ve set some restrictions to keep users from following too many people. The limit is around the 7,500 mark but I seriously don’t think you’d have the time to follow 7,500 people per day!
A healthy rate would be around 100 users per day. sometimes if you try to follow too many people within a certain amount of time Instagram won’t let you follow people anymore. If this happens just wait for around an hour and try again.
Don’t forget to give some love to your followers. If an Instagram user follows you, follow them right back – just make sure it’s not a spam account. If an Instagram user comments on your photo, respond with another comment directed toward them.
Like other people’s photos, comment on their photos and just be plain sociable. Chances are, they’ll give love to your photos as well so you’ll get higher user engagement.
If you find a compelling photo from someone you follow, you can also repost their photos on your account as long as you ask permission from that user because you don’t want to get hit by a copyright claim.
The best and fastest way you can ask permission to repost someone else’s photos is to comment on that user’s photo and ask them in the comment section if it’s okay to repost their content on your account. Let them know you’ll credit them on the repost. 9 out of 10 times they’ll probably say yes.
3. Strike an Ex-Deal with an influential Instagrammer
The term ex-deal is short for “Exchange Deal” wherein two parties involved can trade or exchange something of theirs in return for something they want – in essence, it’s a partnership where both parties can benefit from the arrangement.
The fastest way of growing your Instagram account is partnering with Instagram influencers within your niche and striking an ex-deal. If you don’t have any marketing budget whatsoever, just make sure you can offer that person something substantial and of value in return for the cross-promotion – maybe one of your free products perhaps?
You need to target influencers that have 5,000 or fewer followers because if you target influencers with 10,000 followers and over they’ll probably ask for payment.
To find the right influencers for your business try looking at websites that have a database of influencers such as Iconosquare, Revfluence or InfluencerDB.
Another way of finding influencers that’ll suit your business is to look up a hashtag related to your niche and find influencers who’s had a history of xDeals in the past. You can do that by going through Instagram accounts that post content where someone else is referenced as the creator of the content.
Once you’ve agreed to an ex-deal with an influencer just make sure the terms are clear because you don’t want to piss off an influencer and tarnish your brand.
4. Use the right hashtags
Even if you’re engaging with your followers and posting jaw-dropping photos – if you’re not using the right hashtags your efforts are useless because you won’t gain any new followers.
For the newbies out there who are new to Instagram, a hashtag is created by including the symbol “#” in front of a word or words without spaces. A hashtag is a label used on Instagram that makes it easier to find information about a particular theme or topic. After you’ve posted a photo you need to include a relevant hashtag then you’ll be able to tap that specific hashtag and be directed to a page that shows all photos and videos other Instagram users have uploaded with that hashtag.
Don’t use generic hashtags like #cute or #happy because you’re not really targetting the right audience. Use hashtags that are related to your industry and focus on the ones with lesser following.
For example, if you’re a restaurant owner and you decided to post one of your creations on Instagram. If you click on hashtags, Instagram will actually give you hashtags other people have been using.
Here’s the trick to using hashtags, if you’re going to use hashtags like #food #foodporn #foodie or #foodblogger – you’ll be competing with MILLIONS of people who use the same hashtags.
However, if you use hashtags like #foodbloger #foodblogs or #foodbloggerlife you’ll be competing with fewer people so there’s a higher chance of your photo staying at the top of that hashtag’s “Top Posts” area.
You can still use the popular hashtags in your field, however, you need to use them sparingly and use more of the hashtags with less following to rank higher. The more obscure the hashtag is, the higher the chances are of your photo staying at the top of its “Top Posts” area.
5. Increase the visibility of your Instagram account
If you want to drive attention to your Instagram account then you need to increase your follower count and level of engagement from your followers.
One simple thing you can do is to place social media badges on your website. Make sure you don’t overwhelm your readers by placing 10 different social media platforms to follow! Keep it short and sweet, keep it to around 2 to 3 or maximum 5 and make sure you include links to your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account as they are the most popular social media platforms.
You can also ask your followers on other social media platforms like Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook that you’ve already built a following on to follow you on Instagram for extra reach.
Another trick you can do is to promote your Instagram account to your email list and include a link to your Instagram account in your email signature. You can include a link to your Instagram account at the bottom of your email whenever you send a new email out. The more times you promote your Instagram account the better.
6. Post drool-worthy photos
It’s quite obvious that amazing photos is what drives user engagement on Instagram. Here are some suggestions on what sort photos can generate more followers, likes and comments:
– Post something Inspirational. People are typically drawn to inspiring, compelling content. Before posting a photo on Instagram, try to think how you could inspire your followers. For example, if you’re a fashion designer, how about posting a photo showing your incredible wardrobe? Or maybe a quick sneak peek at your funky and chic office to get your followers to see where the creative magic happens? You can even post about your lifestyle and the cool parties you get invited to. Just make that you also write a compelling caption to go hand in hand with your photo.
– Post behind the scenes photos.Most people would love to see the creative process behind a product – behind every great product is an epic journey and your followers would certainly love to see the creative journey behind your product.
– Post something that demonstrates Social Proof such as a testimonial. You can always post a compelling photo of your products in use and then add a testimonial from a customer of why they love your product.Reposting a customer’s post is another good idea of social proofing.
– Post an educational content.Whatever your area of expertise is, why don’t you share a few tips visually? Something simple as a tutorial can go a long way and engage your followers who are probably hungry for knowledge.
7. Add a location to your photo
Did you know that by adding a location to your photo you can attract new followers to your account?
Why do you ask?
Because your photo will register for that location. Anytime an Instagram user searches for photos taken within the area you took a photo from, they will come across your photo as well. I highly recommend choosing a popular hot spot for your photo so that it will get more visibility since the hot spot gets more eyeballs than other locations.
8. Organize a posting schedule
Consistently posting on Instagram is the best way to engage your audience and gain new followers because if you’re not actively posting anything then no one is going to follow you.
If you’re really serious about growing your Instagram I recommend posting a photo and video every day as well as an Instagram story. Majority of the big Instagram players post a LOT of photo and videos consistently on a daily basis because that’s what they do. If you can post more than once per day then that would be great for your brand, if not, then at least post something once a day as a bare minimum.
Don’t forget to post videos as well because you’ll seriously get a lot of engagement from posting videos and stories.Live videos on Instagram may not be as big as Live video in Facebook but it’s still a useful feature. If you’re thinking of posting a live video it’s best you let your followers know by posting an earlier photo or a story informing your followers when your live broadcast will be so that you have a guarantee that people will be watching your live broadcast.
9. Target your competitor’s followers
One of the best ways to gain new followers on Instagram is to target your competitor’s followers because if you follow them they’ll probably follow you right back because you’re in the same industry or niche.
First, you need to determine who are the big players in your industry. You can do this by tapping the search bar from your Instagram feed.
Tap “tags” and start searching for a term that is relevant to your niche. Let’s say we type in #fashion in the search box this is what comes up:
I then click on the middle photo for example, and it’ll take me to the Instagram page that it belongs, The photo belongs to Kempire Daily.
Here’s the thing, if these 68.6k Instagram users follow @kempiredaily, then they might potentially follow you as well because you’re in the same industry and you’re providing similar or possibly even better content and value.
10. Encourage and post user-generated content
User-generated content campaigns are always a hit.
Because involving your followers and other Instagram users will always result in a far greater interaction with the audience and your brand.
Here’s proof confirming what I just said:
After reviewing the world’s top 20 largest brands, Kissmetrics discovered that 25% of their search results are actually links to user-generated content While Moz on the other hand, also discovered that 67% of prospects always turn to reviews when it comes to making a final purchase decision.
So how do you get Instagram users to create content for you?
Well, first you need to give them a reason to create content for you, maybe offer some sort of price? You can create a competition for the best content and the winners will get a prize. This should be a good incentive for them to get creative. It’s a win for them and a win for your brand.
If you end up using a photo of one of your followers just make sure you credit them as a sign of good will.
11. Instigate a call to action
A great way of engaging your current followers and winning new followers is to instigate a call to action. Basically, you need to create captions that ask users questions or asks your followers to do something.
For example, if you’re a fashion designer and you decided to post a photo of an evening gown you created, you can write on as a caption “tag a BFF who needs a sexy cocktail dress like this one.”
If you’re a model you can post one of your workout photos and caption it “tag a friend who would want to join me for a workout.”
If you’re a photographer you can post two versions of a landscape photo you took side by side and caption it “do you prefer light and cheery or dark and ominous?”
If you’re a fashionista you can post one of your photos taken at a fashion show and caption it “tag a girlfriend who would like to join me as a VIP at the New York fashion week.”
Get it? I’m sure you can come up with your own captions but I’m just giving you a simple example of how it works.
12. Write a compelling Instagram caption
Breathtaking visuals may be what Instagram is all about, but if you want more likes, comments, and followers then you need to have an effective Instagram caption as well. You need to add some personality to your captions or inspire users to engage with you.
1. First, you need to know your audience. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to get them to engage with your photos.
2. You need to have a consistent brand voice. Your captions should sound and feel like the rest of your marketing campaign. I recommend checking out your competitors’ Instagram accounts, find out what their captions are and maybe you can tweak it and use a similar caption on your Instagram account.
3. Try to use emoji’s, because emoji can easily catch the eye of your audience and add personality to your captions.
4. You can try using inspirational quotes – just make sure you mention where the quote is from and that the quote is related to the photo you posted so it’s not just a random sounding caption.
5. Adding mentions is also a great way to engage your audience. If your post features another Instagram user then mention them in your caption and you’ll probably engage that user as well as some of that person’s followers.
Be fun and creative, a bland photo can easily become a viral hit if your captions are spot on. Here are some examples of captions that are effective and highly engaging.
If you’re really stuck with what caption to use for your photo, try the tool Captiona – it generates ideas for Instagram captions for when you just simply can’t think of a decent one.
13. Running a competition
Running a competition is always a great way of engaging people, just make sure you have a decent prize to give out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cash, it can be anything of value as long as people would want it.
Here are some examples of the sort of competition you can organize that’ll drive engagement to your Instagram account. You can do this on a weekly or maybe monthly basis.
Users can “like” your photo to be in the running of winning a prize, users can “follow” your photo to enter the competition, users can “comment” on your photo to enter the competition, users can send you their email address to be in the running of winning a prize or you can give out a share-worthy hashtag of your brand and users have to post photos using this hashtag in order to enter the competition – the photo with the most engagement wins the prize.
Just make sure that when you run a competition you’re very specific at the start time and end time of the contest and that you announce the winners for transparency purposes. If you want to give out decent prizes you can always approach potential sponsors and explain what you’re doing so that you can give out a decent prize and draw in more users.
Make sure you promote this competition in all your social media challenge for maximum engagement and if you have a website make sure there’s a link to this competition from your website.
Following the steps I enumerated above is just the tip of the iceberg – they may be effective strategies to help you increase your follower count and enable you to gain a loyal and engaged following but you need to keep in mind that Instagram is always changing so you need to just go with the flow.
You need to keep tabs on what’s working with the strategies you’re implementing and you need to keep track if anyone’s clicking on your website link or if your website’s getting any traffic from Instagram. Keep working on your strategies and don’t forget to provide share-worthy content and interact with your followers to engage them.
By the way, don’t expect a big chunk of followers the first time you try these tactics, it doesn’t work like that.
You’ll probably get less than 10 followers initially, then eventually you’ll start getting maybe 10 to 30 followers daily and after a few weeks, you’ll notice a massive difference in your follower count.
Hit me up if you have any questions.