Followers are the lifeblood of a solid Instagram account. The more followers you have, the more useful your account will be for getting your message in front of more eyes. A larger reach gives you more opportunities to make money as an individual or a business, or to have a platform to push forward the conversation about issues that matter to you.
Whatever you want to do with your account, it will be easier to accomplish your goals with more followers. Make it a point to grow your Instagram followers so you can use the platform as another tool to grow your personal brand or your business.
How to Differentiate Real vs. Fake Followers
Before you learn how to gather followers, you have to remember that there are certain followers you want and others that you want to avoid. Fake followers are used regularly to beef up the follower count for scam accounts and aspiring influencers who want to inflate their numbers.
If you’re serious about being an influencer or growing your following, fake followers are a bad look. You need real followers if you want to get more traction moving forward.
You can usually tell fake followers from real ones by the way the accounts act and how suddenly they appeared. For example, an account with a high follower count and a low percentage of engagement indicates that a portion of the followers are likely to be fake accounts. Accounts that follow a large number of people without having any followers or posts of their own are also highly likely to be fakes, though this isn’t always a reliable measure.
When all the data is there, it’s easy enough to tell which Instagrammers have fake followers and which don’t. It’s better for you to be on the side of real followers rather than being found with fake followers.
Real followers aren’t out of reach. Here’s your all-inclusive guide to growing your real follower count as quickly as possible.
Laying the Foundation
Before you start doing anything with your profile or your content, it’s wise to set up a central goal for your account so you can plan a strategy around it. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Write down a specific goal. In this context, your goal could be something like this:
- Reach 10,000 followers in 6 months
- Get 50 new followers per day
- Double current followers within 3 months
- Obtain 2 new brand relationships in 1 year
- Send 20% more people to brand website within 1 year
These are examples of specific goals for your Instagram account. Whatever you choose should be something that’s realistic and makes sense for what you want the account to accomplish.
Once you know your goal, it’s time to create a strategy of how you’re going to reach that goal. A content strategy on Instagram outlines the specific actions you want to take, the types of content you plan to make, and the general attitude or “voice” of your account. You can optimize your profile accordingly with a profile picture, links, and bio that match your strategy.
Your Instagram content strategy answers 5 questions:
- Who is your target audience for your content?
- What type of content are you delivering to them?
- Where are they going to see your content?
- When will your audience see the content?
- Why should your audience care about your content?
Answering these questions gives you coherence to your profile. With the knowledge of what kind of content you’re focusing on and who you are targeting to see it, you’ll be able to make better decisions that align well with each other.
Deciding on a strategy is a great first step! Once you have a bit of structure to plan out your next steps, you can then start putting into practice some of the content tricks and useful practices that will help you get more followers. Here are some of the ways you can optimize your content and your account for growth in real followers.
Posting Valuable Content
If you’re posting attractive, useful content on a consistent basis, then people will be more inclined to follow you once they do find you. What makes good content on Instagram? This is largely up to you.
Instagram is all about attention-grabbing images. Without something to make people stop and look, you’ll have trouble keeping or attracting an audience. Try to utilize high-quality images or videos for every post. Low-quality images won’t look as good on larger phones and make your profile look less refined in general.
Valuable content on Instagram tends to be images that people find useful for one purpose or another, including:
- Funny pictures
- Art (handmade, photos, etc.)
- Beautiful pictures
Find your niche, then post content that people in that niche would love to see. Make it bold, attention-grabbing, and relevant to your intended audience.
Write Long, Engaging Captions
Instagram allows captions of up to 2200 characters, with the first rows of the caption displayed above the fold. Although people on Twitter get away with very short messages, the best formula on Instagram is a bit more counterintuitive. Most engagement experts say you should actually use as much of the caption space as possible, as long as you can fill up the space with relevant, engaging, and useful words.
The key to Instagram captions is to put your best foot forward. Focus most of your energies on making the first 3 lines captivating and engaging to draw people into reading the rest of the caption. Always include a call to action (CTA) at the end of your Instagram captions.
Hashtag Best Practices
The jury’s out on exactly how many hashtags you should be using for optimal results, but everyone agrees that they’re a must. The right hashtags make your posts easier to find. Each post is allowed up to 30 hashtags. Whether you use them all or not is up to you.
Some sources suggest using all 30 hashtags, while others say that less is more. The best advice seems to be that quality trumps quantity. Use as many hashtags as are directly relevant to your posts. Using 30 tags can make your post look spammy, while using only one or not using any could make it harder for people to find you.
This plays back to your content strategy. It’s often useful to hashtags ahead of time by researching them and keeping a running list of which tags would be best for helping you meet your goals. Tie them into your content as well as possible.
If you really want to grow your following, you need to post regularly. Develop a daily posting schedule and plan how you’re going to make it happen. To keep up a strong presence on Instagram, it’s recommended that you do the following every day:
- 15-30 Instagram story posts
- 1 official post (image or video)
- 1 live video (announced ahead of time or at the same time daily)
The more quality content you’re posting on your page, the more followers you’re likely to get over time. Quality posts also bring more engagement, which in turn helps you to grow your followers faster and to get more use from your account. High engagement is a good metric for influencers to have.
See Also: 8 Instagram Trends You Need To Know
Make Yourself Relatable
Being relatable and human is something that many people look for today. There are too many accounts run by individuals and brands that look very polished and perfect, almost robotic. While this works in some contexts, many people prefer to follow pages they can connect with on a more personal level. Your selfies can help people feel more connected to your account.
Don’t take this as a license to post nothing but selfies. You always need balance. But, putting selfies into the mix where they’re relevant or right for the context of a post helps people to put a face to the account and to understand who’s behind the brand. That’s great for your overall image and it makes you more relatable.
Follow Your Target Audience
You’ve already defined your target audience and you know roughly what they’re looking for. Now, go and find other Instagram accounts that your target audience follows. Look through their followers and follow as many of them as you can. If your content is similar to the account where you found them, they may follow you back.
Follow as many people as you can every day. There are limits placed by Instagram that prevent you from following more than around 50 people per hour to prevent spam accounts from growing too fast. But, work within these limitations to follow as many of your target audience accounts as you can every day. Set a goal to follow a minimum number of people every day and stick to it. The more people you follow, the more likely you’ll get follow backs.
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On Instagram, you can be a contributor or a participant. Posting daily and optimizing your account for followers makes you a contributor. Engaging with people and responding to others makes you a participant. There’s a big difference in terms of how people view you and how connected they get to your account.
Engaging with other people means responding to comments, posting on others’ content, answering messages, and generally communicating with other people on Instagram. Joining in and being part of the conversation increases your visibility and your account’s stickiness (how well you keep followers over time).
Don’t Fear Collaborations
Cross-promotions and collaborations with other Instagrammers can help you both improve your accounts. It’s easy enough to do, but you should be selective about who you work with. Look for people who aren’t direct competitors and those who overlap in relevant followers. Since you’re looking to grow your follower count by capturing some of their followers, the goal is to find users who are in the same industry doing something complementary to you.
Micro-influencers are a great place to start for mutual benefit. These smaller Instagrammers are usually more open to collaborations because they have just as much to gain as they’re also building their accounts and looking for more real followers.
Challenges & Giveaways: Worth It or Waste of Time?
Depending on what type of commitment you can put into a contest and what kind of account following you’re trying to build up, challenges and giveaway contests can be useful to increase your followers.
However, doing it right takes a lot of attention and energy. You may also accidentally build up a bunch of followers who aren’t interested in your normal content and are just there for the free stuff. This doesn’t help you much at the end of the day.
One of the most effective ways to grow your follower count is to get your high-quality content in front of more eyes. Ads and sponsored content are the fastest way to make it happen, but you will need to dedicate a budget to pay for it.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it shares the advanced ad system that Facebook uses. You can make your content ads highly targeted to your specific audience type. Make sure you thoroughly define who your audience is for the ads in order to get the best response. Every ad post needs to be engaging, attention-grabbing, relevant to your account, and it should have a CTA to follow you.
If you are a business or if you sell merch of any kind, putting your Instagram handle on your packaging at your physical business location or on your product branding could help people connect with you. This gives people who know your brand a way to connect on social media. Otherwise, your customers might not have known that there was such option.
Check Out IGTV
Have you ever used Instagram TV (IGTV)? This is one of the more recent features Instagram has been pushing. It’s free and easy to make an IGTV channel and start publishing longer videos there. Most accounts can make videos up to 10 minutes long, while larger accounts can make videos that are up to one hour long.
IGTV is another platform for showing off your video content. Rather than publishing a bunch of shorter videos in a row, IGTV allows you to make better quality long videos that go more in depth into your topic. This is a good model for accounts in industries that lend themselves to longer informational videos, tips videos, live examples, sketches, etc.
IGTV is just one more way to get your content in front of people. It may take a little more effort to make good videos for IGTV, but the extra engagement and views generated could translate to even more real followers for you.
No matter what you’re doing, you should be tracking it. Analytics are the heartbeat of a good social media campaign, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tiktok, or elsewhere. You have to track the stats of your posts or the traffic generated to your landing pages to see what’s working and what isn’t.
By tracking the engagement and activity on your content, you can improve what you’re offering and let everyone walk away with a better experience. According to GetVoIP, a great customer experience is directly linked to higher conversion rates and loyalty. If you’re building your brand, you can link your analytics from different social media networks, your website, live chat tools, email marketing, and other online avenues to make sure everything is working together for success.
Get started growing your Instagram followers today. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll experience the growth you’re looking for to really put your account on the map!