If you’re just starting out on Instagram, posting photos can be pretty depressing. When all your excitement and hard work are met by nothing more than few likes from a handful of followers, it’s easy to get discouraged, even if you know the benefits of social media marketing, which are waiting if you can find success with your initiative.
This article will help by giving you 50 ideas for increasing your followers and getting them to interact with your posts. You’ll notice that many of the ideas below are focused on increasing engagement (likes and comments), and here’s why: lasting engagement naturally leads to followers.
As you implement the strategies below, keep in mind that there’s no substitute for regularly posting engaging, creative and relevant images that your audience loves. Use the tips below liberally; just don’t forget that engagement should always be your underlying goal.
1. Use hashtags that are known to help increase followers: #FF (Follow Friday), #instafollow, #l4l (Like for like), #tagforlikes and #followback.
2. Like hundreds of random pictures from people in your target audience. Neil Patel has used this strategy and found that for every 100 likes he did of random pictures, he received 6.1 more followers.
3. Hold a contest on Instagram. One of the easiest ways to do this is to post an image promoting the contest and then ask people to like it in order to enter.
4. Promote your Instagram account on your other social media accounts and profiles. Tell people what they can expect once they’re following you (e.g., behind-the-scenes photos, sneak peeks, coupons, etc.)
5. Like and comment on other users’ photos. This is the most natural way to gain new followers.
6. Use popular hashtags so your images get found in search. Some of the most popular ones are #love, #instagood, #tbt and #photooftheday.
7. Post photos at 2am or 5pm. Research shows that these are the most effective times to post.
8. Search for and follow people who are using popular hashtags like #followme and #likeforlike. Many will follow you back!
9. Remember that quality beats quantity. Edit your account to leave only the best images. No one wants to follow someone with thousands of pointless images of food or other random shots.
10. Use the Mayfair filter. According to Track Maven’s Fortune 500 Instagram Report, it’s the single most effective filter for marketers.
11. Make sure your bio is complete. Include relevant keywords and hashtags, and a link back to your site. Above all, don’t be spammy; this is a guarantee that no one who reads your profile will follow you!
12. Ask questions in the captions of your photos. This is a great way to increase engagement.
13. Post on Sundays: Sundays see the fewest images posted, so posting then may get your images more visibility.
14. Be consistent. Know why you’re posting, and who you’re posting for. Be consistent about how you use the platform and your follower count will grow organically.
15. Use calls to action in your photo captions. Get your followers engaged by asking them to take further action (e.g., “Let me know what you think in the comments”).
16. Don’t be afraid to post often. While you might expect that businesses that post many times a day receive lower overall engagement, research suggests this isn’t the case. According to Union Metrics, there is no relationship between the amount of images posted and the engagement received….at least not a negative one.
17. Follow your suggested users. Go into your settings and click the gear icon in the upper right of your screen. Click ‘Find and invite friends’, and then ‘Suggested Users’.
18. Use Piqora to help you see which types of photos are leading to the highest engagement….then post more of them.
19. Use geotagging, especially if you’re a local business. When you geotag your photos, others who post photos in your region will see your images on the location’s page. This is a great way to catch the attention of local users.
20. Use Later to schedule and publish your Instagram posts. Posting consistently is key to growing your follower count over time.
21. Really engage. All the tips, tricks and strategies in the world can’t compete with really engaging on the platform. Be intentional about liking photos, and leaving thoughtful comments. Regularly find new people to follow, and engage with them by responding to comments and questions.
22. Combine multiple photos into a collage for maximum engagement. Use a tool like PicFrame to combine up to 9 photos or videos.
23. Ask an influencer to mention or tag your product. If you know of an influential Instagram user who has used your product, ask for a mention. It just could work…and will likely result in a ton of new followers.
24. Post photos of things that are blue. Some research suggests these get 24% more likes than photos that are orange or red.
25. Post on Wednesdays: Images posted mid-week receive slightly more engagement than those posted on other days.
26. Use the word ‘comment’ in your captions. Some research suggests these get significantly more comments than those without.
27. Use faces in your photos. Dan Zarella found that images with faces received 35% more likes than those without.
28. Tag people in your photos when relevant. This ensures those photos show up in those users’ feeds, and makes it more likely they’ll share them.
29. The lighter the better: Photos that have 65–85% light get 24% more likes than those that are less than 45% light.
30. Create a branded hashtag. Come up with a hashtag and encourage your followers to use it. This encourages your fans to engage with your brand, and increases your visibility at the same time.
31. Share behind-the-scenes photos. Candid photos convey the personality behind your brand. Share images that show there are real people behind your logo.
32. Invite a guest to post on your account. If you have connections with an influential Instagrammer, consider asking him or her to guest post on your account. This is a surefire strategy for sending your engagement through the roof; not to mention all the new followers you’ll receive.
33. Share user-generated images. Re-share your followers images, especially ones where they’ve mentioned your product(s). This will encourage others to share photos of your products as well.
34. Consider canning the filters. Some research suggests that images with no filters get the most engagement.
35. Promote your Instagram account to your email subscribers. Periodically share an image in your newsletter and link it up to your Instagram account.
36. Promote your Instagram username on your physical marketing materials: signs, car decals, product sheets, etc.
37. Follow all your Facebook friends on Instagram, and many will follow you back. To do this, simply go to your Instagram profile and click on the 3 dots icon on the top right of your screen. Select ‘Find Friends’ and then ‘Find friends on Facebook’.
38. Use edges and structures in your photos. Images with many edges receive 125% more likes than those without.
39. Tell a story. Use your image captions to tell an engaging story. Storytelling helps create an emotional connection to your brand or product, and including a captivating story is much more likely to get your image shared.
40. If you’ve been at a live event and have taken photos, tag well-known Instagrammers for increased visibility and sharing.
41. Use Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) to track the growth of your account. Find out which images resonate best with your audience and post them more often.
42. Use a photo editing tool like Aviary to crop your images, add frames or effects, or to just generally make your photos pop!
43. Use the word ‘like’ in your captions. Some research suggests these get 89% more likes.
44. Plan, prepare and then act. As with most things in life, being intentional is your best chance at success. Make a plan for how you’re going to use Instagram, then create a schedule to keep yourself on track.
45. Post image quotes. Image quotes on social media are huge. Overlay motivational, inspirational or humorous quotes over your images using a tool like Canva.
46. Connect your Instagram account with your contact list. Click on the 3 dots button at the top right of your screen, and select ‘Find friends’ to connect to your email contact list.
47. Network with Instagram influencers. Search for hashtags relevant to your business, and pinpoint users with high follower counts and engagement. Leave thoughtful comments on their posts, and start developing relationships. You never know where these connections will lead!
48. Use a tool like Crowdfire to analyze how your Instagram posts affect your follower/unfollower stats.
49. Arrange co-promotions with other users. Find users in a complimentary niche who have a similar follower count and arrange for mentions or shout outs to help build each other’s audience.
50. Build a community using a special hashtag. Create a challenge or campaign that your community can participate in, and give it a unique hashtag. Here are some great tips on creating your own hashtag campaign.
Remember that having a large number of followers is useless if you don’t take the time to really engage and interact. And in the end, converting followers to customers is the real goal. These 50 tips will help you build your audience and facilitate lasting engagement with your followers that leads to conversions over time.