Who doesn’t want more Instagram followers? If you’re serious about building your account, you’re going to have to be ready to make some sacrifices. Just posting anything at any time isn’t going to cut it. You need to exactly what to post, when to post it, and how to use hashtags to your advantage.
Follow these tips to help you grow your Instagram account.
Start with your profile
Make sure your profile tells people exactly what to expect from you. Let people know who you are, that you have a blog, and what they can expect to find if they visit that blog.
Know when to post
Timing is everything. If you want to get engagement quickly, you need to post when people are active. Keep track of how much engagement you get when you post at certain times. Use proven activity data as a guide to help you if you aren’t sure yet.
I’ve found that late night and early mornings (11pm-2AM EST, 8AM EST) tend to work best for me, but experiment with your followers and find your best times.
Use a posting scheduler
They can’t post for you (Instagram doesn’t allow their API to be used this way), but they can tell you when to make your posts. Buffer and Hootsuite have this functionality, as well as Instagram specific tools like Planoly (referral link), Plann, and Later (referral link). You can even type up your descriptions and hashtags ahead of time. All you have to do is copy and paste into Instagram once it’s time to post.
Use a scheduler with an Instagram-like demo feed to see exactly how your photos will appear in your stream. All the Instagram specific apps I mentioned above have this.
Curate your feed
Keep it consistent. Use the same filters, colors, or branding. Even the type of content. People should know exactly what to expect from you. You can go off brand from time to time but try not to. Or use that content for an Instagram Story instead!
Pimp out your profile link
Leaving it just as your homepage URL is such a waste! Mention it in your post descriptions. Change it up every now and then as needed, either to your latest post or a lead magnet to get people signed up to your email list. Because you definitely have an email list, right? *wrist slap if you don’t*
Use those hashtags
The biggest mistake I see people making is not using hashtags. Or not using enough hashtags. Hashtags are how you can be found by people who don’t already know you exist. Can you imagine that? People are not using the number one way to make their content visible.
Did you know that Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags? Well, you do now! Make use of as many useful ones as you can. Use a mix of popular and niche specific tags. Popular tags will get you lots of views, but your posts won’t get buried as quickly in specific tags. They might even make it into the Top Posts.
You can see how many posts are available under hashtags as you’re typing them out or through the Instagram search. Plan out your tags ahead of time and store them in a note app so you can quickly copy and paste them into your posts.
One last hashtag tip: add the majority of your tags to the first comment. Posting hashtags in comments does work, but photos will only show in tag searches if they’re posted by the photo poster.
Why hide your tags? Posting the tags in the first comment keeps your descriptions looking clean without a mess of 30 hashtags. You can post a few in the original description, but then add the others in the first comment.
Instagram doesn’t play friendly with multiple line breaks within text, so add a period on each line to add some buffer space so the tags aren’t showing before someone else comments on your post. Here’s an example of what I mean:
Follow people with similar interests
Following is probably ~always~ going to be the best way to attract attention to yourself, but don’t waste it on random people who might not be into your posts that you’re just going to unfollow anyway. Use your follows on people who post things you actually care about or that you know will actually like your posts. You can find these people by checking out your competitors’ followers and followings.
The benefit of following people you care about means you won’t have to be spending time unfollowing tons and tons of people. Because you know… you’ll actually enjoy seeing their content. If they don’t follow you back right away, no sweat. Spend some time engaging with their posts to give them a chance to notice you.
Not everyone will follow you.. and that’s okay! Focus on creating engagement over hoarding followers. Numbers aren’t everything anyway. I’ve found that when I’m less obsessed with trying to build numbers, I actually gain more followers than when I’m consciously thinking about it. Or at least it seems that way.
Like and comment on posts
Preferably from people who engage with content similar to your own. It might take a little digging, but at least you know these people share your interests. Go through several posts so your likes and comments stand out.
Also, try to target people who only have a few followers. People with large follower counts have so much going on, they’re less likely to notice or even be paying attention.
Check out your competitors
Get your spy gear out and start searching out other influencers in your niche. Study what they’re doing and incorporate things that make sense for your brand. Look at their photos, their profile, even their descriptions.
Feel free to follow them as well so you can
keep tabs on them. I mean so you can be nice to them and comment on their stuff too! You might make a new friendship or at least a blog/business partnership.
Post at least once a day, preferably every day. If you’re not posting every day then post on the same day(s) every week so your followers know when to expect you. Experts say that posting 1-5 times per day is optimal, but make sure whatever you choose to do is something you can keep up. If you burn out trying to post 3 times per day (helloooo, like me!) then don’t force yourself.Try scheduling posts in advance
Try scheduling posts in advance to meet your goals. If you find you just can’t keep up, hire a VA to manage your account or find a schedule that you can handle. Slowly but surely is better than quitting after not being able to keep up.
Even if you have a business account, using a service like Websta.me or Iconosquare can provide you with useful insights, like what time you get the most likes, follower count tracking, and which filters perform best (if you use Instagram’s default filters).
For business account users, you get some stats directly inside the Instagram app. The one I find most useful shows you how active your followers are daily at each hour and also overall activity for each day.
Add your branding to images
Add your @username and blogurl.com to your text based images. Photo based images are best left alone for the photographic value, but quote graphics or announcements should include your info.
DO NOT add your branding to images that you don’t own the rights to do this with.
Hold a giveaway
If you’re thinking about dropping some cash, having a giveaway might be more effective than paying for Instagram ads. You can host your own or participate in loop giveaways. These are nice because you can get exposure to a large, targeted audience depending on who you partner up with.
Loop giveaways can net you some serious followers, but remember that a lot of them will probably unfollow you after the giveaway is over. So while you may gain 3,000 followers, maybe only half of them will actually stick around. Still, it could be worth it just for those extra 1,500.
Include a call to action in descriptions
Go ahead, tell people exactly what you want from them. Want them to check out a link? Tell them. Want them to tag a friend? Just ask. You’ve probably seen an image or description asking you to “double tap.” That’s just the Instagram way of telling people to like your photo.
Time to get more Instagram followers!
Ready to get started? Go over your account and fix up your profile. Keep these tips in mind as you upload new photos. Take a look at Planoly, Plann, or Later and start curating the perfect Instagram feed! Get out there and get more followers.