In our first two weeks on Instagram, we went from zero followers to more than 10,000 by following a set of rules that we crafted.
Then, with some experimentation and elbow grease, we went from 10,000 followers to amassing more than 2.5 million real Instagram followers--setting us up as one of the top accounts in our niche. We’ve been able to crush sales and conversions, drastically increase our online exposure and audience, and scale our business at a rate that’s exceeded the norm and even our own expectations.
All thanks to Instagram.
In the following comprehensive post, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide on how we did this and how you can do it too.
As Instagram and its audience have continued to evolve, so have we. We’ve altered our plans and adapted our methods to see what sticks, and managed to climb the ladder to 2.5 million organic followers.
Now, we are here to show you exactly what we did to get this far and exactly how you can too. Discover how to amass a huge following and start taking advantage of the power of this exciting and ever-flourishing social network.
1. Choose Instagram Content That’s Right for You
This part is going to take some thought and effort.
To gain a huge following of real people on Instagram, you have to produce content that’s not only made specifically for Instagram but also content that’s the right fit for what your audience wants. Finding the right approach and style is crucial because it’s going to become the way your followers recognize you.
Generally speaking, there are types of images that work well with a lot of industries; posters with inspirational or humorous quotes, quality food photography, or scenic images are safe starting points.
That being said, carefully consider what type of content it is that you’re producing. You have to remember that Instagram is such a hit because it’s a wholly unique platform, and the experience it provides the user is completely different than something like Facebook or Twitter.
…produce content that’s not only made specifically for Instagram but also content that’s the right fit for what your audience wants.
Consider things like: How are people going to find your content? What hashtags are you going to use? If someone searches one of these hashtags and finds your posts, are they going to be intrigued enough to click through to your account, or will they be disappointed that there’s no correlation between your post and the hashtag?
What is it about the images you produce that will make people do more than just scroll on by? According to MIT neuroscientists, the human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. In less than a second, a person decides whether or not you’re worth their time. That means you need to stand out.
Once you settle on your content type and strategy, it’s crucial that you stick to that theme.
The number one thing that keeps people coming back to any brand or business is consistency, whether it’s a Starbucks Macchiato or a Snickers bar.
It’s exactly the same as Instagram.
Be consistent with your content.
The reason Foundr has so many real followers on Instagram is our dedication to high-quality posts. They know that we constantly share high-quality content.
This is also why we’re highly selective of the type of accounts and posts we share, also known as “share-for-share” (S4S). We’re extremely protective of our brand and our audience, which is why we only ever want to be producing content we’re absolutely certain our niche wants.
A common problem a lot of people face when starting out on Instagram is that they’re not entirely sure what type of theme or content it is they want to produce. Unfortunately, there really is no simple solution, because at the end of the day you don’t want to be a copycat of a larger account. To be really successful on Instagram, you need to be a little unique.
The best way to get started is to do some research on hashtags (don’t worry, we’re going to dig deep into hashtags further on in this article). Check out SaaS’s (software as a service) to find out what hashtags are trending and which one fits you best.
Find competitors who use the same hashtags as you do, or even find users who follow these hashtags and see what other kinds of content they like.
READ MORE: How to Develop Powerful Business Core Values and Mission Statements
From there, it’s just a matter of testing out your content. Do some A/B testing, try one type of content one week and try something else the week after. Find out what works best, and really get to know your audience.
To get you started, we highly recommend using Canva. We have been using Canva on all of our posts, and we love the freedom it gives you to create the designs you want. Plus, it’s free to use!
2. Creating Content Your Audience Will Love and Interact With
Once you know what type of content is right for your brand, it’s time to really focus on creating great posts that you know are going to connect with your audience. This might seem obvious, but we always see the content creation itself getting neglected. Find out what your customers enjoy seeing on Instagram or what themes resonate with them, and populate your account with relevant images.
But you’ve got to connect with your audience, specifically. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
That’s why it’s so crucial to develop a good relationship with your audience so you learn what type of content it is they like. There have been numerous times when we’ve posted something that we thought would absolutely crush it with engagement, but it turned out to be a dud. Other times we’ve been left scratching our heads as to why this one post is so popular.
One good way to find out what your customers like is by checking out what your competition is posting, or what kind of imagery is used on the websites or blogs that are popular in your industry.
…develop a good relationship with your audience so you learn what type of content it is they like.
If you’re in an industry where what you’re selling is already visually appealing, photos of what you do is not a bad idea either. However, keep such images in the minority; posting a lot about yourself on social media is just like being the person at BBQ who only talks about themselves.
On that note, it’s really important that you don’t run the risk of “oversharing.” A celebrity can get away with it because a large part of their appeal and brand is their personal life. Fans are genuinely curious as to what Beyoncé is having for dinner or what exactly it is The Rock is cooking.
If you’re running a personal account, that’s also totally fine, because it’s explicit and clear that this is an account for sharing your everyday life.
However if you’re running a professional account, unless your personal photos actually fit in with the theme of your brand it’s not a good idea. For example, as a CEO or founder, a personal photo of how you’ve organized your work desk would fit in with your theme. A personal photo of you in Vegas doesn’t have the same effect.
Likewise in the post below, MeccaMaxima has shared a photo of their staff member. This content is on-brand, showcases their newest product, and adds relatability into the fold.
Be wary of oversharing. Oversharing means that you lose out on engagement because your content is just too off-topic and confusing to build a consistent audience.
IG Growth Tip #1: People Like Seeing Other People
Include faces in your photos. Images with faces have been known to increase engagement because our brains naturally want to interact with other people. Also, images that don’t include faces but instead are a point-of-view can help people feel like they’re a part of the image.
Have a look at a sample from Nokia Mobile’s feed. Not only has the image with someone’s face garnered almost double the likes of the other images, it immediately jumps out at you.
IG Growth Tip #2: Calls to Action (CTA)
Every post should have a strong CTA encouraging your followers to interact with you. This can be liking the photo, commenting, adding thoughts, or sharing it in their stories. By adding in a call to action, people are roughly 25% more likely to follow through on that action than without it.
The CTA should be relevant to the photo, and not the same as the one you used in your bio (more on your bio later). It’s a softer ask.
Think of a CTA as a way to remind people that there is an action they could take. By adding a CTA to your image, all you’re doing is reminding your followers that they don’t have to just scroll on past, they can actually do other things including liking your picture, or writing a comment.
Ask questions in your captions to encourage people to respond. This is a very simple tactic to make sure that your Instagram followers are interacting with your account.
“Putting a question in your caption always creates interest and forces people to read and hopefully respond.” – Bianca Cheah, founder and MD of Sporteluxe
The end goal with your posts is to boost audience engagement. You want them to be interested in your account and personally connected to your brand. A CTA is a way to build your community, to gently remind your followers that they can interact with you personally.
Examples of CTAs are “tag your friends who are like this,” or “double tap if you agree.” Always give your fans something to do. This helps your account spread like wildfire.
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IG Growth Tip #3: Develop a Story
Capture people’s attention by providing a narrative; don’t just settle for a generic line of text. Get people invested and show off how much value you can provide in one go.
One of our favorite accounts to follow is Cereal.Entrepreneur. Each Instagram post is accompanied by either a small bio or an interview with the featured entrepreneur so you get a chance to know a bit more about them.
Developing a story also ties into emotion. Always look to elicit an emotion with your posts. Whether you’re looking to inspire people, make them laugh, or stun them, your posts should always aim to trigger an emotion with your audience. A great example to look at here would be Chubbies, and note how they’re always looking to make their audience laugh by posting an assortment of jokes and memes.
IG Growth Tip #4: User-Generated Content
Post some user-generated content whenever possible. Not only will this give your brand social proof and make people far more likely to follow you, but it’ll also help you build a vibrant and engaged community around your Instagram account.
Frank Body have almost built their entire Instagram strategy by curating user-generated content and the community hashtag #frankeffect. This has helped them build a community of engaged Instagram followers, as well as create hundreds of loyal brand ambassadors.
Regularly use your posts to ask followers to share their content with you. Make sure to give them an incentive for doing this, though, like running an Instagram competition or giveaway. You can easily curate their posts by asking them to use your branded hashtag.
IG Growth Tip #5: Your Instagram Theme
Getting more people to interact with you also involves maintaining a consistent aesthetic theme so that your Instagram feed reaffirms your brand identity. A simple way to do that is to use the same filter.
It makes your images more recognizable, and your overall feed will have a more professional vibe to it.
Notice how Nespresso maintains its aesthetic theme by constantly making sure their posts have similar tones and colors. Not only do these posts look great, but because of the consistency and strong branding, you can see how their feed has a natural flow to it that builds familiarity and affinity.
Remember that quality always beats quantity when it comes to Instagram posts. Don’t post something for the sake of posting. Always make sure your content is providing value to your audience in some way.
3. Treat Your Community On Instagram Like Gold
One of the biggest mistakes people make when building an Instagram account is that they only ever see their followers as numbers.
It’s easy to become obsessed with watching numbers rather than recognizing that each person who chooses to follow you is actually a real person.
It doesn’t matter what kind of account you’re running, the same is true everywhere. You must always respect your audience.
I really can’t stress that enough, and it’s become even clearer to us as we’ve gained experience with the platform. If you’re not paying attention and listening to your audience, then you’re no longer building something that has any sort of meaningful impact. All you’re doing is stroking your ego.
So how do you know if you’re connecting with your audience?
While your follower count may be an important metric, our journey to 1 million followers taught us that you must also pay attention to your engagement levels. This means how many likes you’re getting, how many people are bothering to actually comment on your posts, how many people actually go through your Instagram sales funnel.
According to the famed Pareto principle, 80% of your results only come from 20% of your audience or 80% of your revenue only comes from 20% of your customers. While more of a rule of thumb than a hard scientific fact, the Pareto principle should make you realize that it’s not about having a large follower count as much as it is about having a large core of engaged followers.
You don’t want a huge follower count because it gives you bragging rights; you want a huge follower count because by increasing your reach and exposure, you increase the likelihood of finding one authentic follower.
A true and authentic follower is someone who absolutely loves your content and what you do.
They’re the ones that, if asked, will put down money to support your cause. Think about any time you’ve been loyal to a brand and chose them over something else.
If you ever want to develop any sort of influence or exposure, this should be your primary goal in growing a huge follower count. Ten thousand followers isn’t that impressive unless you have at least 1,000 true followers.
That’s why we treat our community like gold.
Make an effort to reply to comments on your content, and be sure to respond to as many DMs as possible. Actually show that there’s a human behind the screen. It’s a surefire way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. The Body Shop does an excellent job of replying to comments and suggestions.
Be as conversational as possible when engaging with other users, and be true to how you speak in real life. Emphasize the personality behind your brand and let people know that you’re not just another robot.
It’s amazing how many brands forget the social aspect of social media networks. It’s no longer a one-way communication model where the audience passively has to accept what you have to say. If someone takes the time to actually write a comment on your post, the very least you can do is reply.
It’s a simple reward for those who bother to engage with you in a dialogue. Something as simple as that goes a long way toward turning someone into a true fan. We’ll even send private messages to our new followers when it’s appropriate. The key here is to make your Instagram followers feel welcomed and happy to be a part of your community.
As we discussed in the last section, you’ll find posts that have calls to action asking people to comment tend to garner the most shares and tags. By starting a conversation this way, you can show your audience that you’re not some faceless corporation, but a person or people who actually care about others’ opinions.
It might even yield unexpected results, as we often find real gems within our comments for ideas on articles and different people to interview.
4. Post on Instagram Regularly
Aim to post on a regular basis, about once every three to four hours. However, don’t bulk post a whole bunch of photos in one sitting; users will often regard this as spam and unfollow you. Think of it like sowing seeds.
You don’t want to just plug all your seeds into a hole in one go; you want to spread them out.
You’re going for consistency.
If your audience can’t comfortably rely on you to post regularly, you’re not going to find many people willing to follow you on the off chance that you’re going to post something every now and then.
One other posting tip is to always post on Sundays. Sunday is usually a pretty quiet day on Instagram, making it the perfect opportunity for you to get ahead of the pack and get your posts in front of even more people.
5. There’s Gold in Your Instagram Bio
On Instagram, your bio is a crucial piece of real estate. You can best make use of this section by having a strong call to action. You can use up to 150 characters, so a short snappy CTA works best.
A strong CTA should be an absolute no-brainer for your audience. You already know that they can see your content, so make it worth their while to actually take a look at your bio by offering something that you know they’ll love.
To create a strong CTA, you want to be as simple and no-nonsense as possible. Because you only get one live link when it comes to Instagram, which is in your bio, you want to be able to get as much value as possible out of that link.
Your bio should also be compelling. Your potential followers on Instagram have a few seconds to decide whether or not they want to follow you. Your bio should capture their attention and make them want to follow you, or at the very least, scroll down further to check out your content.
Your bio should also be searchable. We included the keywords “startup,” entrepreneurs,'” and “entrepreneur magazine” so when people search on Instagram using these terms, our profile will show up in their search results.
6. Use Hashtags to Get More Instagram Followers
Hashtags (keywords preceded by #) might seem like something only teenagers use, but trust us, that’s not the case.
They are a way for viewers to navigate easily to topics they’re interested in. Attaching #hashtags to your image, therefore, enables your content to be found more easily by those who don’t already follow you. Think of a hashtag as a categorization of the content shared.
First, research the most popular Instagram hashtags in your niche, and then compile them. For us, this involved building a huge list of keywords that we found were relevant to what we do and what our images generally are about (#entrepreneur, #business, #startup, for example).
Make sure the hashtags are relevant to the content you’re sharing.
If you are sharing your new range of pillowcases, don’t add tags for the sake of adding tags like #cooking or #celebrity. Keep it relevant.
IG Growth Tip #6: How to Find Hashtags
Check out what the top-trending hashtags are with Tags For Likes. Use Hashtags, TagFire, and Grama to find hashtags relevant to your niche. You can also copy the hashtags that the top influencers in your niche are using. Use this as a way to not only generate more exposure and gain more Instagram followers but as a way to get on the radars of other influencers.
“Users can use Instagram’s Explore feature to find posts related to trending hashtags such as #LoveWins, #CanadaDay, and #FullMoon. If these trending tags are relevant to your brand, include them in timely posts to aid discovery. On the topic of search, Instagram also introduced the ability to search by emoji.” – Jim Tobin, president of Ignite Social Media.
Next, round up about 30 that include a mix of high-performing and low-performing hashtags. Use around 10 hashtags that have over a million posts, then another 10 hashtags that only have 10k to 50k posts, with another 10 anywhere in between. This way you make sure your posts get as much exposure as possible.
You should also find out what the hashtag of the day is and use it if it fits with your content. Whether it’s something like #motivationmonday, #smallbusiness, or #entrepreneur, get in touch with an even larger audience by participating in these hashtags.
Create multiple sets of hashtags to maximize exposure. Don’t just settle for one set of hashtags, create around three different sets of 30 hashtags each. Regularly rotate them so that your posts reach a variety of people relevant to your niche. Save them in a notes file so all you need to do is copy and paste them, and not have to worry about writing each one out every single time.
IG Growth Tip #7: Where Do Hashtags Go: Caption or Comment?
If you have more than 100,000 followers, don’t put your hashtags into the description of the photo itself. Putting them in the comment section instead will hide your list of keywords after others have added comments. You also won’t unnecessarily bulk up your photo description, allowing you to keep your description section free for a compelling blurb about the photo.
Accounts with 100,000 followers or fewer have a higher reach rate when they put hashtags in the caption.
Reference each post with a full 30 hashtags. Instagram allows you 30 hashtags per post, so use each and every one of them to maximize your post’s exposure.
IG Growth Tip #8: Branded Instagram Hashtags
Create a branded hashtag to make it easier for others to find you. Original hashtags can help you facilitate conversations, increase your brand’s reputation, and help you build credibility.
Use your custom hashtag to build a community around your brand and regularly engage with your Instagram followers. It’s an incredibly easy way to make your followers feel like they’re a part of a larger community. You can see how customers and followers of Frank Body follow the custom hashtag #thefrankeffect, and how large a community has come together because of this hashtag.
You can also use a hashtag in your bio so that your account gets more exposure. This is a very easy way to make sure that your account shows up in hashtag searches as well.
7. Network, Network, Network: The Power of Shoutouts
It’s not all about pretty pictures and keywords. To thrive on Instagram, you’re going to have to reach out and interact with some real, live humans. Networking can work wonders in the social media sphere and it was a big driver of Foundr’s success.
When we started, we managed to get introduced to this huge network of entrepreneurs, all with accounts of over 20,000 Instagram followers. They helped us out big time by sharing our content, and there are similar networks for all kinds of industries, with users who are all willing to help out, so long as you return the favor of course!
Remember, if you help people without expecting something in return then you get good karma. Don’t approach joining and teaming up with other accounts with an attitude of, “What’s in it for me?” Rather, think of it as just helping your fellow person out, and you never know, good things may happen to you down the road.
IG Growth Tip #9: Use Shoutouts to get More Instagram Followers
When it comes to growing a huge following on Instagram, you’re going to have to get used to the idea of collaboration over competition.
This is where the incredibly powerful concept of S4S comes into play. For newcomers, S4S stands for “share for share.” If you’re looking to land a million followers on Instagram, or even tens of thousands, you need to get used to the idea of sharing other people’s content.
The basics of S4S are quite simple. You ask another influencer in your niche if they would like to share your content, and in return, you will share theirs.
This way you’ll be able to expose each other’s brands to each other’s audiences, some of whom likely have never even heard of you before. The best part is that if you choose who you do S4S with carefully, you’ll probably find someone with an audience who you know will like your content too. You’ll quickly discover that one of the greatest things about Instagram is that it allows you to tap directly into a niche with distinct likes, interests, hobbies, and needs.
As you can see from the images above, Kathmandu has shared an image from a travel blogger. Neither company is in competition with each other, but both are in the travel industry and instead compliment each other.
These types of transactions are unique to Instagram and absolutely invaluable for anyone who wants to cultivate a huge following. But remember that you should always look to be providing a mutual exchange of value.
Don’t think of others in your niche as your competition, but as potential partners.
If you’re afraid that someone is going to “steal your followers” and, as a result, refuse to work with others, then it is highly unlikely you’re going to develop any kind of real traction on Instagram.
IG Growth Tip #10: Types of Instagram Shoutouts
When you’re just starting out, it can be a little intimidating to ask other accounts to do a shoutout for you, but the benefits really do outweigh the costs. Having a large account shout you out will do more for your follower count than anything else. But it’s super important to make sure that you’re choosing the right accounts to get a shoutout from.
If you already have one strong account, use it to leverage your smaller accounts that may need more attention. For example, Actor Jason Momoa uses his own personal account to shoutout and promote his fashion label “So Ill”. His personal account has a reach of over 15million while his brand only has roughly 150k.
If you’re choosing an account based on pure followers and their theme or audience doesn’t match yours, then all you’ve done is wasted time and money, because there’s no guarantee that such a shoutout is going to get you a good ROI.
There are a few different types of shoutouts you can pursue.
- Caption only shoutouts: The page uses its own image and style that it usually would, and mentions your page in the caption. This is not as effective as your own image or branded image. Caption only can be a cheaper alternative.
- Or, your own image with your product or service + caption. This works better than just a caption-based shoutout, but you have to make sure the call to action is good. Some accounts will only let you put up the image for a certain period of time, and others will let it stay up. Usually the higher traffic the page, the more you see rules and restrictions.
The strategy behind the shoutouts can also vary. What we recommend is adding a CTA to follow your page instead of one that leads people to subscribe, as you can capture the audience and engage with them more.
We have tried both pushing the Foundr subscription and getting the viewer to follow our page, and we have found it’s more effective to get them to follow you. Clickable links won’t go in the captions, so it can be hard to get people to perform specific actions. It takes more time for people to go to the bio, find the link, click on it, and then subscribe than it does for them to click the follow button.
IG Growth Tip #11: S4S Bargaining When You’re Just Getting Started
Just like any other transaction in the world, S4S is all about having a mutually beneficial exchange. You have to ensure that both parties are getting something of similar value out of this exchange.
If you have an account with only a few thousand followers and ask another account with 500k followers, you’re either going to be ignored, politely refused, or outright laughed at. What possible benefit could that larger account get from the smaller one?
Unless you have something equally valuable to leverage, then you shouldn’t be asking someone to do S4S for you.
That leads to one of the questions we get asked the most at Foundr, “How do I provide leverage in S4S?”
A lot of people get discouraged by the idea of approaching bigger accounts for an S4S, because it seems like they don’t have a comparable follower count. But while your follower count may be the most important metric on Instagram, it doesn’t mean that it is the only metric on Instagram. If it was, then anyone could be an influencer with a couple of bucks and a few thousand bots as Instagram followers.
The best way to find leverage, in any business deal, not just Instagram, is to take a step back and think about what it is that only you can offer. What is that unique aspect you can bring that the other person might have a hard time getting?
For one, you can compare your engagement levels. If you can guarantee a highly engaged audience with many true Instagram followers then you can easily use that as leverage in S4S. Because the level of respect and loyalty you command from your audience is only something you can give, and that makes it a valuable commodity.
Beyond that, think about what else you can offer.
You can easily bring value and generate a ton of goodwill by being a regular commenter for a larger account. A valuable comment is something that is more than just the generic “oh wow, this is great!” statement. Stand out by taking the effort to be different.
Start an interesting discussion and let your targeted influencer know that you exist. Who knows, you might actually catch them in a generous mood and maybe they’ll give you a shoutout just because they like your moxie.
IG Growth Tip #12: Using Your Bio Link as a Bargaining Chip
One extremely easy way to offer leverage in a real and tangible way is by offering other accounts your bio link. On Instagram, the only place you can put a live link is in your bio. This is vitally important if you’re running any kind of sales funnel, but it’s also an extremely useful tool when trying to grow your follower count.
Use tools like Bit.ly or Pretty Link to track and monitor how much traction your bio link receives. This will give you hard data on how much value you can offer them.
As long as you keep the link short, fresh and you’re sure that the landing page leads to something your audience wants then there’s no reason not to offer your bio link as a way to leverage value. It’s a great way of establishing a business relationship by becoming an affiliate, and by offering something valuable in your bio link there is no reason you won’t be able to drive your follower count up.
READ MORE: How to Start a Podcast on a Budget
8. Working with Influencers to get More Instagram Followers
This is by far one of the best ways to increase the number of Instagram followers you have. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any other tactic to generate as strong as an ROI.
Create a list of 10-20 influencers you’d like to regularly engage with. Know exactly who it is you want to get in touch with because these will be the people who can help take your Instagram account to the next level. Get influencers to share your content or shout you out. Arrange for influencers to give you a shoutout by participating in an S4S deal.
Use hashtags to find out who the top influencers in your niche are. Take a look at what the top hashtags in your niche are and see if you can identify any particular account that consistently appears in the “top” or “trending” posts. You can pretty much guarantee that they’re an influencer and someone you want to connect with.
IG Growth Tip #13: Paying Influencers
You can also pay influencer pages to share your content or promote your product.
But before you do, make sure that you can get a guarantee on ROI. What you’re looking for is someone with an engaged audience, not necessarily a large number of Instagram followers. Remember that 1-2% of engagement is a minimum for working with someone. The higher, the better.
IG Growth Tip #14: Sponsored Posts and Full Disclosure
Be mindful that influencers and celebrities are required to disclose sponsored content on their social media channels. It all comes down to transparency and making sure followers are aware that someone has been paid or given something of value to promote a product as opposed to them just enjoying it.
In an effort to stamp out misleading product promotion or endorsements, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a simple guideline on what you can and cannot do.
Influencers and celebrities are now required to follow these guidelines using hashtags or other signifiers. If you choose to pay or sponsor another brand to promote yours, make sure you follow these guidelines. This includes specific hashtags and, if it’s a business account, a “paid partnership” tag. You can see both examples in the post below, #sponsored and “paid partnership with earthboundfarm”.
These rules only apply if there’s a financial, employment, personal, or family relationship. You are free to repost and share content from other brands that you love, just not pay, or be paid to do so.
IG Growth Tip #15: Influencer Account Swaps
Do an account swap with other influencers in your niche. Take over someone else’s account for a day and show off who you are to their audience and vice versa. This is a great strategy for anyone with a personal brand.
Australian based international contemporary art magazine ‘BeautifulBazaar’ hosted a takeover/collaborating with actress Emma Roberts and Karah Priest. The partnership allowed the magazine to promote Robert and Priest’s literary company “Belletrist” to their readers, as well as promote local artists and gain an insight into the behind-the-scenes artworld.
9. Bonus Instagram Followers Growth Hacks
Need some more growth hacks to supercharge your Instagram follower count? Here are 10 of our favorites!
IG Growth Hacks #1: Instagram stories and Reels
Did you know that in a study released by Instagram, more than 500 million users watch Instagram Stories on a daily basis?
Using stories and reels is an easy way to boost your brand’s exposure. Not all followers sit and scroll through their entire feed, and your latest post may get lost in the algorithm. By posting stories, sharing content, and essentially becoming incredibly active on the app, your posts will get a boost.
Instagram stories and reels give the chance to connect more with your followers.
They allow you to take photos, add custom effects and filters, and share them with their followers. As opposed to a post which stays online until you choose to take it down, stories expire after 24 hours although they are commonly stored in an account “archive” that only you can see.
If followers begin tagging your brand in their posts, a brilliant way to boost engagement and connect with followers is to share the content on your stories. They took the time to tag you, make sure you do the same. At Foundr, we love sharing this content in our stories as it boosts brand loyalty.
Make use of the Story Highlights option for your page, these are stories that you’ve shared that you want to stick to the top of your account. Highlights are a great way to share content that may not suit your feed aesthetically but are important to share. Below, Lulu Lemon has highlighted and categorized interesting and relevant stories.
In an effort to take over the gap left from the drama surrounding TikTok, Instagram has launched Reels. This new feature allows people to upload 15-second videos using featured music and other cool special effects, and it goes hand in hand with Instagram stories.
In addition to custom filters, gifs, and emojis, stories and reels also offer geolocation and other live-tracking data. Want to showcase your thermal-wear products to the local neighborhood? Tag your location, add the current temperature tag, and throw some cool effects over.
Pay attention to your story and reel insights. This data tells you important data such as CTR, skips, exits, and views per story.
IG Growth Hacks #2: Giveaways
Hold giveaways on Instagram that require users to follow in order to enter. Everyone loves free stuff. Get a bunch of followers overnight by running a giveaway, but make sure to promote it otherwise you won’t be seeing any results.
Require followers to tag their friends in order to enter. This is one of the best organic ways to quickly build your Instagram followers. We regularly do this at Foundr in order to promote our upcoming courses, reach new followers, and share inspiring content with others.
IG Growth Hacks #3: Instagram Ads
If you have a budget, and an Instagram Business account, we highly recommend that you take advantage of Instagram ads as a way to capture new Instagram followers.
IG Growth Hacks #4: Viral Images
Create viral images encouraging your fans to tag their friends. Get ideas for what types of posts tend to be popular by watching what’s trending in your targeted hashtags. Create similar posts in your own style, and ask people to tag their friends.
IG Growth Hacks #5: Geolocation Targeting
Use geolocation targeting to identify followers relevant to your niche in a certain area. If you happen to run a brick-and-mortar business, this is an excellent way of getting the attention of local clientele.
IG Growth Hacks #6: Offline Marketing
Take your promotional efforts offline and promote your Instagram account through the use of physical products like branded stickers or pamphlets, for example. If you happen to have a custom hashtag you’d like to promote, use these physical products as a way to get people more interested and excited about your accounts.
IG Growth Hacks #7: Fan Pages
Create fan pages and use them to drive followers to your business pages. Instagram now allows you to run multiple accounts through their app, so take advantage of this by creating another account designed to support your main account. Use it as a way to experiment with different strategies and connect with other influencers.
IG Growth Hacks #8: The ‘Thunderclap’ Strategy
Organize a “thunderclap” and get multiple accounts to share a post of yours at the same time. This is a fantastic strategy to drive more traffic to your account, especially if you’re looking to sell a product. A shoutout from not one, but multiple influencers in your niche will guarantee that several thousand potential Instagram followers will see your post.
IG Growth Hacks #9: Social Sharing
Automatically share your Instagram posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Give your posts that extra bit of exposure while simultaneously growing your other social media accounts. Similarly, make sure to reshare recent posts in your Instagram stories to boost engagement and visibility.
IG Growth Hacks #10: Psychographics
Fully understand your followers, not just through demographics but also psychographics. Consider demographics as black and white outlines in a painting, and psychographics as the color. Psychographics seeks to analyze your customer’s interests and hobbies, their lifestyle, and how they enjoy spending their time. It covers their characteristics, values, and beliefs. When it comes to data, psychographics represents the qualitative side of understanding individuals.
Our Favorite (Free) Instagram Tools
Video Editing Tools
- Veed.io – video editing tool that allows you to create amazing videos, add subtitles, and edit footage. We use the paid account, but they offer a free option for creating videos under 10 minutes 50MB with a small watermark
- InShot – A video editing app, we use it for basic video editing on the go
- VideoShop – another editing tool, we particularly use the split-clip tool and multiple selection editing
- Social Blade – used for tracking social media statistics and analytics. We love how accurate it is, plus it provides real-time updates and in-depth tracking
- Canva – a graphic design platform. Incredibly interactive and flexible in design, allows you to upload your own images and has custom templates for Instagram posts, stories, and highlights
- UNUM – an app that lets you play around with the aesthetic of your feed. See how your upcoming posts will look, add rough filters, and a paid option to view your feed as a “colour block”
Image Editing Apps
- VSCO – one of the most used editing apps, VSCO has countless filters and sliders to help bring any image to life. VSCO is good for adjusting the lighting and overall color of a photo
- Snapseed – Snapseed has more interactive editing but requires a little practice. Brush tools, selective filters, and portraits are our favorite tools
- ColourTone – the free version has limited filters, but we love how well they work on different images. All the filters have been created by professional photographers, and there is the option to pay for more options
- AgoraPulse – for our content calendar, we use AgoraPulse. It allows us to schedule, reschedule queue, or bulk upload your posts. We use the paid version, but the free version is useful
- Later.com – another popular option for social media scheduling, later.com helps to schedule and organize upcoming posts.
Before you go running off to do all of that though, we’d encourage you to think about why you want to be on Instagram.
We can’t guarantee this method will work as effectively for you as it did for us. It served our purposes because of our particular niche and what we wanted to get out of the platform. Instagram is certainly a powerful tool, but it’s not really for everyone or every business.
A few questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- Is my industry or my product visually appealing?
- Am I willing to share stuff that isn’t directly related to what I sell?
- Do I have time to engage in a new social media platform?
If you answered no to one or more of these questions, you might want to rethink why you want to jump on Instagram marketing. You don’t want to be wasting resources on something that just isn’t for you. Otherwise, we’d encourage you to use this guide to boost your followers.
What are we missing, Foundr family? I know you all have a few Instagram tricks up your sleeve. Share your favorite, or let us know if you have questions on any of these in the comments below.