How to Get Instagram Followers


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If you’re hesitating to answer, it might be time to learn how to get followers on Instagram. The larger your audience grows, the more opportunities you have to engage with users and create unique experiences for them.

But sometimes brands take the easy way out when trying to get more Instagram followers. Pay for likes and follower sites are everywhere, but we’ll be the first to tell you organically building an audience will drive much better results.

Did you know that roughly 48 million Instagram users are fake? And since that statistic first started making the rounds, Instagram has been hard at work to put an end to fake followers once and for all.

This means no matter how many Instagram followers you have, if they’re fake, they’re not going to your landing page, referring others to your site or making a single purchase. That’s why it’s critical to focus on building an authentic and organic audience on social media.

And we’re here to give you 11 tips on how to gain followers on Instagram:

Optimize-Instagram-Account
1. Optimize Your Instagram Account

While you’re trying to figure out how to gain followers on Instagram, one of the most important steps is to have your account fully optimized. Think of your brand’s Instagram bio as the “homepage” to your account.

Without a bio, image captions, a proper username or profile image, how will people know the account belongs to your brand? It might seem silly, but many companies don’t fill out their bios or use a link to a landing page. This is your one spot to drive Instagram traffic to your site, so optimizing your account is essential.

If you’re uncertain where to link, try marketing or product pages that relate to specific keywords, hashtags or campaigns on your Instagram account. Linking to your homepage is OK–but why not give users a cohesive experience when moving from your bio to a site?

Additionally, keep your username as search-friendly as possible. If your business name is longer, shorten it to something your audience would recognize. Don’t add numbers or special characters to your username.
Instagram-Content-Calender

2. Keep Content Consistent

The worst thing you can do when trying to get followers on Instagram is to irregularly post content. If you’re lucky enough to get users following you in the beginning, the last thing you want to do is make them forget they followed you in the first place.

To combat this, keep to a regular posting schedule. Typically, brands shouldn’t post more than a few times a day, but whatever your cadence, keep it consistent. Approximately 200 million Instagram users log on daily, so to cast your net even wider, try publishing a few times throughout the entire day.

In fact, our very own research on the best times to post to Instagrampinpoints the top times to post for multiple industries, or you can follow our research of the best times across all topic areas below:

Sticking to a schedule will help you build a consistent experience for your followers and keep them in the know of your brand. But if you’re wondering how you’re going to remember to publish at these different times in the day, we’ve got you covered with Sprout’s scheduling and optimal times features–read on for more details.

3. Schedule Instagram Posts in Advance

While the Instagram algorithm has changed to show users more content they like, posting at the right times can still give your posts more visibility.

There’s a lot your brand can do, and now with Sprout Social, scheduling Instagram content is one of them. With our newest tools, we can help your brand schedule content through an easy process.

By scheduling content in advance, your entire team can see campaigns and schedules more efficiently. It’s always smart to build out content in advance and with our Instagram scheduling tools, you can reach your audience and maintain a consistent flow of content at the same time.

You can also use Sprout’s patented ViralPost feature and let us do the work for you. ViralPost analyzes your own account’s engagement history and identifies the optimal times for you to post algorithmically.


Perfect your Instagram content plan with Sprout Social

In addition to scheduling a complete picture of your Instagram content calendar, Sprout offers even more features to perfect your brand’s feed.

Share IG-approved visuals with your team using our Asset Library, or test out our grid preview feature to make sure every aspect of your presence is true to your brand style.

4. Get Other Accounts to Post Your Content

When you’re learning how to get more Instagram followers, it’s important to. The larger your follower count grows (organically), the more buyers and interested customers you will have.

The best way to get customers to follow you is to get in front of them and be present. It’s critical to be present on your own Instagram as well as others. Try sponsoring to get your brand in customers’ feeds. You can also hold Instagram contests to get your brand out to a larger audience.

Another way is to get your handle in front of a much larger audience. Try to work with larger Instagram accounts in your industry to share your content to their audience. And it doesn’t have to be only on Instagram.

Just make sure you’re providing something of value. The last thing you want to do is seem too salesy. Find marketing collaborations and co-marketing plans with other businesses to build your Instagram audience.

There’s always the possibility your Twitter has more followers than another brand, which you could leverage, trade mentions or share content.

5. Know the Difference Between Fake & Real Instagram Followers

There’s a huge difference between an Instagram account having fake and legitimate followers. It might seem tempting to simply purchase Instagram followers, but the backlash outweighs the perks of organic follower growth.

Fake Instagram followers tend to:

Deceive new followers

If users come to an inactive Instagram feed with tens of thousands of followers, things feel deceiving. Don’t trick people into following you. Build trust and long-lasting relationships for better engagement.

Have no ROI

It might seem easier to buy followers, but your acquired bot or unmanned new followers won’t be purchasing anything. People follow brands on Instagram for a reason–they like what you’re posting or your company in general. These are actual spenders and bring monetary value to your business.

Create little-to-no buzz:

If you have 10,000 fake followers, how many are going to comment, like and share your content? More than likely, these bot or fake accounts will be cleaned up by Instagram, deleted and make your posts seem like engagement graveyards.

Real people have the ability to share, like, comment and engage with your Instagram posts. Additionally, these users enjoy when there’s someone on the other side responding.

For example, takes the time to answer various product questions, which results in users coming back, following or possibly sharing with others. These interactions will always have more value than a set of inactive followers.

6. Showcase Your Instagram

How are people going to find an account unless you Make sure your Instagram account is listed with your website and other social networks.

Creating visibility and awareness is one of the best ways to get discovered. If you truly want to get more Instagram followers, let people know where to find you. You could add to your website and blog to help promote social shares across all your networks as well as show people where to find you on Instagram.

Another great idea is to cross-promote across your social media accounts. The regularly spreads awareness about its Instagram through Twitter. You can easily leverage your other social networks to direct users to your Instagram.

However, make sure that you’re not just asking for a follow. Instead, you should try to promote unique content on your Instagram so users have a reason to follow you there. Luckily with Instagram video, you have a great opportunity to build followers through creative content.

7. Post Content Followers Want

While this is easier said than done, it’s smart to learn what content your followers want to see. You’ll quickly find on Instagram that some content performs better than others. This is why testing is so important.

Whether it’s filters, captions, content types, or post times, the smallest detail can make all the difference. Keep your ear to the ground with so you know you’re posting popular content.

To take your analysis a step further, your brand should invest in it. This will make it easier to track, benchmark and analyze Instagram content across accounts.

Be confident in your content strategy by analyzing different filters, captions, and more to see what works best with your audience. If you’re unsure where to start, try analyzing your competitors.

You shouldn’t directly copy your competitors, but it’s smart to take notes on what they’re doing or posting that drives engagement. A little competitive research can go a long way. You can use our to get a look at what’s working for other brands in your industry.

8. Get the Conversation Started

One of the best ways to make users aware of your Instagram is through conversation. According to the , nearly 35% of customers chose social media for customer care.

That percentage outranks live chat, email, 1-800 numbers, and in-store assistance. People are continuing to use social media as their contact reference for brands. And for your business, you need to be supportive and communicative on Instagram.

Try to respond to as many questions or comments as possible, because it could mean the difference between getting a new customer, follower, or improving your relationship with your audience. In fact, our discovered 71% of users are more likely to make a purchase after a positive social interaction.

The more conversation grows around your feed, the more likely you’ll gain followers. Appreciate your followers and don’t be afraid to reply.

9. Get Users to Participate

If you truly want to get more Instagram followers, you have to provide something of value. Whether it’s through great visual content, insight on new deals or showcasing users on a brand account, you have to be somewhat valuable to your followers.

And one-way brands are getting users to participate and follow is through user-generated content. For example, does a wonderful job of promoting user-generated content on its Instagram account.

This type of user promotion can spark more people to send content, use your branded hashtag, and get shared across multiple accounts. That type of exposure is exactly what leads to your brand getting more Instagram followers.

The trust and fun experience you create will help garner future relationships and possibly form some brand advocates on the way.

10. Find Hashtags That Convert

One of the most tried-and-true ways to get followers on Instagram is through hashtags. For years hashtags have allowed us to extend our social reach. As a marketer, you want to build your community by gaining followers and hashtags provide just that.

For starters, find hashtags that are not too populated points this theory out by explaining how the hashtag #love has more than 184 million photos connected to it. Trying to highlight your Instagram content in a sea of millions of pictures and videos is not an easy thing to do.

You have to find hashtags that people in your target audience are more likely to check. If a relevant connection is made, these users will be more likely to follow your account.

For example, does a great job at localizing hashtags to an event where they are participating. By using hashtags , the brand targets its audience more directly where the spotlight concert event happens and creates awareness.

Understanding how your hashtags perform on Instagram is also just as critical to using them. And with Sprout Social’s, you have direct access to hashtag performance and usage data to see what’s working best.

Don’t go blindly into the hashtag universe, know what you’re tagging so you can build your following.

11. Make Your Instagram Followers Happy

Last but not least, when you make your Instagram followers happy, you see the payoff in audience growth. Following the previous tips is going to help you make your Instagram followers happy. So the last thing you want to do is seem needy, sales-driven, or robotic.

Try with good intentions and provide content to your followers as if they were your friends on your personal feed. Instagram is only growing so taking advantage of these tips to get followers will help you increase your reach.

Build great audiences and get more eyes on your content because social media can be a very powerful marketing driver.

1. Use the right Instagram hashtags

Your goal on Instagram is to [engage your current audience] on a regular basis while also growing your number of real followers. Posting new, interesting and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement, but to begin growing you’ll find hashtagging your photos to be extremely important. Hashtagging your photos makes it easy for people to find your photos that are searching for those specific terms.

So which hashtags should you use? Just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram use certain hashtags over others. If you use within your photos, you’re much more likely to reach new users and be discovered.

If you looked at the list above and said, “But none of those apply to my products or brand”, you’re likely correct.

Using hashtags is one thing, using the right tags is a completely different thing.

Popular tags like the ones listed above will likely net you additional engagement and likes, however they will not lead to increased long-term engagement, new interested followers, and most importantly, sales.

If you want to tag your photos properly, you’ll need to find and use the most relevant hashtags. This means doing the appropriate research to make sure you’re using hashtags that not only describe your brand, but are also being searched for on Instagram.

To find relevant hashtags, you’ll want to use a free online tool like IconoSquare or Websta to start.

Below, I used Websta to find relevant, related and popular hashtags for my men’s accessory brand by searching for key hashtags that are closely related to my brand.

As an example, searching the hashtag #MensFashion, I was able to pull the following list of additional keyword hashtags along with the number of times they have been used (popularity).

You can also find more related hashtags and their popularity if you search for any of your target keywords directly in the Instagram app.

You’ll want to go through this exercise trying different keywords that describe your brand and products, building out your hashtag keyword list as you go.

Keep in mind that Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. Additionally, the popular words will change over time, so make sure you revisit your hashtag keywords every few months to make sure you’re using the best possible terms.

You can also steal hashtag ideas from competitors or similar accounts that have the kind of following you aspire to have, but you ultimately want to create your own groups of hashtags to use that relate to your specific account.

Protip #1: Here’s a trick that I use for my ecommerce businesses. For every product and product category for my stores, I have done the research to see which are the most popular Instagram hashtags around those product categories. I came up with 15-20 popular hashtags for each category of products I sell, as well as a base of 5-10 popular tags that describe my brand and product offering overall. Finally, I also created a list of popular local specific hashtags that relate to my brand.

For example:

(Brand keyword hashtags)

#mybrandname #mensfashion #mensaccessories #mensgoods #fashion #mensstyle #instafashion #menswear

(Product category keyword hashtags)

#bugatchisocks #happysocks #corgisocks #socks #sockswag #socksoftheday #sockgame #sockswagg #socksofinstagram #happysockday #sockwars #funsocks #happysockday

(Location specific keyword hashtags)

#Toronto #TorontoFashion #TorontoFashionBloggers

All of these groups of keyword hashtags are stored in a page on Evernote. This makes it easy and efficient when I’m on the go to post a new Instagram image, optimized for the most relevant keywords.

I can easily open my Evernote and copy my standard brand, product and location specific hashtags to post with each photo. Some Instagram scheduling tools also let you save caption templates that you can use to store your hashtag groups.

Doing the work upfront of researching, organizing and saving the most applicable and popular hashtags will save you a ton of time down the road, increase your engagement and help garner new followers.

Protip #2: If you’ve been posting to Instagram for a while and feel like you’ve missed out on all these opportunities to build your audience by using keyword hashtags, fret not. You can still go back and post a comment with your new hashtag keyword lists and watch the likes and followers roll in.

Using hashtags in Instagram stories

Hashtagging on Instagram posts are a given, but you should also be using hashtags in your Stories for the chance to be seen by users who follow that specific hashtag.

You can use hashtag stickers (which can be found in the Instagram Stickers menu when creating a Story) or just hashtag directly in your captions for a chance to be featured in a hashtag story.

Now that users can follow hashtags, your stories on Instagram have a chance to be seen by both people who are following that hashtag and anyone who’s just checking it out.

2. Use the right filters on Instagram

Keyword hashtags aren’t the only thing you should pay attention to. The Instagram community responds to certain photo filters more favorably than others. Using these preferred filters can have an impact on your engagement.

Here are the 10 current most popular filters on Instagram according to Iconosquare:

  1. Normal (No Filter)
  2. Clarendon
  3. Juno
  4. Lark
  5. Ludwig
  6. Gingham
  7. Valencia
  8. X-Pro II
  9. Lo-fi
  10. Amaro

TrackMaven ran a study on Instagram accounts to see how filters affected engagement and found that Mayfair, Hefe, and Ludwig drove the most interaction.

But more important than the general Instagram community’s favorite filters, are your particular audience’s favorite filters. Consider this custom graph which correlates filter usage to engagement from my own Instagram account:

You can use IconoSquare to review the performance of your own account to understand what is and is not currently working for you.

3. Post on Instagram at the right times

Beyond adding the appropriate hashtags and using the best filters, you should also be considering the timing of your posts.

A targeted approach is to analyze what has and has not worked for you in the past. By visiting IconoSquare’s optimization section, you can get a detailed analysis of your posting history vs. engagement. This report will also highlight the best times of the day and days of the week to post.

The dark circles indicate when you usually post media. The light gray circles shows when your community has been interacting. The biggest light gray circles represent the best times for you to post.

Instagram posting habits

You can also get a lot of great insight from Instagram Analytics for Business accounts for free, under the Followers section.

You may want to consider using a social media scheduling tool to schedule and automatically publish your posts for when your audience is the most engaged.

4. Steal your competitor’s followers on Instagram

One of the best ways to find and attract a new following is by seeking out your closest competitors’ Instagram accounts and engaging with their audience. These people have already shown some level of interest in the products you carry simply by following your competitors’ account.

So how do you effectively steal your competitors’ followers? You can steal your closest competitors’ followers by engaging with them. There are several ways to engage with Instagram users, and the more work you put in, the more followers and repeat engagement you’ll get out of it.

The three types of engagement on Instagram are:

  • Follow a user
  • Like a photo
  • Comment on a photo

I ran an informal test with my business account to see how my competitors’ followers responded to my marketing advances. I targeted the followers of a close, local competitor. Since I know many of his followers would be local, I added my city to my profile to create a greater sense of familiarity between my brand and the people I am targeting.

I began by simply following 100 of my competitors’ followers. Later, I followed another 100 but I also took the time to like one of their photos. Finally, I followed a third group of 100 and liked as well as commented on one photo from each account…

Here were the results:

  • Follow: 14% followback
  • Follow + Like: 22% followback
  • Follow + Like + Comment: 34% followback

Although the are many variables and the test was far from scientific, the results were clear. The more you put in and engage with people, the more you’ll get out of it.

5. Pay for sponsored posts and product reviews

All this optimized posting to your account is great but if you really want to make an impact, you need to take advantage of influencer marketing on Instagram, exposing your brand to a wider audience.

So how do you do that? First, unlike the tactics above to grow your account this one usually isn’t free. However, if done correctly, it’s good value.

To get started, you’ll need to make a list of large accounts in your niche. For example, if you sell beauty products, you’ll want to find large accounts from beauty bloggers.

You may already be following these accounts, but if not you’ll need to find them. One of the best ways is to use Webstagram (mentioned earlier) and search for some of the closest hashtag keywords you uncovered in the beginning of this post. When you do a search for your keywords, not only will it show you the related keywords, but it also shows you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.

There are a few things to look for in the profiles results:

  • A large following—usually 20k to 200k
  • An email address in the profile

If there is an email address in the profile, it usually means they’re open to sponsored posts or a shoutout in a sponsored Story.

You’ll want to email them and ask them their sponsored post pricing. In general, I have found the average rate to be around $20-$50 per post, depending on the size of their following.

However, if you’re selling a unique and original product, you may also want to consider sending them your product to review and post. The more natural and less advertisement-like the image, the greater the engagement and response usually.

You don’t necessarily need influencers with a massive following, but rather ones with a high engagement rate (likes and comments relative to follower size), which many influencer marketplaces can provide.

6. Use geotags on Instagram for local discoverability

Besides hashtags, you can also make your Instagram posts and Stories discoverable by tagging your location, either the city you’re in or the venue where the photo or video was taken.

Locations not only have their own Instagram feed but also their own Story just like hashtags that you can contribute to when you use the location sticker in your own Stories.

geotagging on instagram

Local businesses can get the most value out of location tags by posting regularly to these feeds and also engaging with posts from prospective customers who are physically in the vicinity.

7. Organize your Stories into Highlights

Whenever a potential follower lands on your profile, you have a short span of time to convince them to follow you.

One way to do this is by using the “Highlights” feature on your profile to organize your in a way that communicates what your account is about.

Since Stories have a 24-hour lifespan, Highlights can be used to give them a second-life and entice others to follow you so they don’t miss out on more Stories in the future.

story highlights on instagram

Use Story Highlights to:

  • Create trailers that tease what your account is about
  • Organize your Stories into themes (like countries you’ve visited to for travel accounts)
  • Explain your products through pictures and videos
  • Promote your products using swipe-up links (you need at least 10K followers and a Instagram Business account to do this with your Stories)

8. Ask for more followers

It sounds obvious, but it deserves to be said: Don’t be afraid to occasionally ask your audience to follow you.

The same way YouTubers ask their viewers to follow them at the end of their videos, you can also ask viewers to follow you for more content.

Sometimes people might really enjoy what you put out on Instagram, but need a nudge before they actually follow you. Sometimes you just need to remind the users of a platform that they can subscribe to get more in the comments of a post.

You can also do this in your Instagram captions or even work it into your content by pitching what your audience will get if they follow you or hinting at content that’s coming up that they won’t want to miss.

9. Hop on trends for more followers

When the opportunity presents itself, aligning your content with trending topics or hashtags can improve discoverability and engagement.

For example, you can ride the wave of a trending topic or event, such as a holiday, in a relevant way to boost your engagement and reach. Or you can participate in one of the many hashtag holidays that exist, such as #NationalCoffeeDay (falling on October 1st in 2018). Mark relevant events in your calendar so you can prepare relevant content in advance.

Be sure to join the conversation in a meaningful way and when in doubt, ask yourself if your target audience would actually pay attention to the trend.

10. Run a giveaway to attract Instagram followers

One of the best kinds of comments you can get on any social media post, not just Instagram, is a comment where one user tags a friend. Not only do these comments contribute to your post’s engagement, which in turn makes it favorable to the Instagram algorithm, but each tag brings you a new audience member who arrived through a recommendation and who you could potentially win over as a follower.

One way to encourage this behavior is by posting relatable content that begs for 1:1 sharing (e.g. A gym meme that asks you to tag a friend who skips leg day). But a more reliable way to get your audience to tag their friends is by running a giveaway that encourages your audience to tag a friend and follow your account.

Be sure to check out our post on running a giveaway for more, as well follow Instagram’s promotion guidelines and any legal requirements for running a contest that apply in your country of operation.

For inspiration, here’s an example of a successful product giveaway from the5th that incentivizes people to follow their account and tag a friend for the chance to win two free products for the both of them.](http://)