When you increase followers on your Instagram account, you have access to a wider audience of people you can engage with and pitch your services to.
This follower growth could be slow and organic, so people like your posts, follow you, and in five or more years, you have thousands of followers ... or it could be fast and strategic.
This involves using tested techniques that still work to increase your followers. Here are six ways you can do this:
1. Be strategic with your hashtags
Hashtags are one of the earliest methods of promoting your Instagram, and they still work today.
There are two ways people use hashtags on Instagram. They get every tag they can lay their hands on and publish them, literally throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks.
The second set of people choose their hashtags wisely and use tags that are related and relevant to their post.
You should be strategic when choosing your hashtags because that's what gets your posts found.
It's the same thing with every search on Instagram: hashtags rank above accounts when you search.
Hashtags put you in front of people you normally won't be able to reach because they're using similar hashtags on their posts.
Hashtags encourage audience interactions, and this is something you can use to spread the word about your new products or arrivals if you run an Instagram store.
Use industry-specific hashtags
Using industry-specific tags is the fastest way to get in front of an audience that will be interested in your offers.
Many people struggle with choosing hashtags but you can get that solved with tools like All-Hashtag.
If you sell running shoes and you want to search for hashtags around that, you simply input running shoes into the search bar and you'll get results like the one in the image.
Use branded hashtags
You should probably not worry about this if you're a new business in your industry; people don't know you enough to share with your hashtags, but when you develop some sort of following, you should do it.
Try to feature popular posts with your branded tags on your Stories; it encourages others to use those hashtags.
2. Increase engagement with your audience
That's how social media works, right? People share stuff about their day and lives and you browse their timelines and like, share, or comment.
As engagement increases on your post and account, the Instagram algorithm begins to feature you even on the timelines of people who don't follow you.
Here are techniques you can use to boost engagement and increase your Instagram followers.
#1. Post quality content
Now, quality content is subjective. What's great for A may be poor for B.
There's only one way to navigate this: look at your Instagram Insights to discover the posts on your account your audience engages the most with and use them as a guide for future posts.
#2. Post at the right time
There are 24 hours in a day but people aren't on Instagram all day. You'll need to find out when your followers are most active on Instagram, and tools like Preview app can help you with that.
#3. Use story stickers
500 million people view at least one Instagram Story daily. That's a huge audience and there are different Story stickers you can use to engage with that audience.
The question sticker is the first you should consider.
You can use this to find out about the challenges that are common in your industry and what people will consider an ideal solution.
If you've recently released a product to the market, you can use the sticker to get feedback on your new product.
The poll sticker is another one.
Story polls are like question stickers but in this case, the question is up to a vote.
You can use polls to jump on trends you feel your followers will be interested in or take a major business decision.
If you want to change something major about your business, put it up on a poll and go with the poll results; it'll show your followers that you care about their opinions.
3. Get the right influencers
When you're not getting enough traffic on your website, you can publish a post on an authority blog that accepts guest posts to direct visitors who liked your post to your website.
On Instagram, the authority figures are the industry influencers. Here are some tips you can use when working with Instagram influencers:
#1. Start with micro-influencers
Micro-influencers have 1,000 to 100,000 followers. You should target them first when outreaching for influencers as their engagement rates are usually the highest and they're the least expensive option too.
#2. Give them an exclusive offer
Providing exclusive offers is a way to collaborate with influencers to promote your content.
It helps spur people to buy as they don't have to pay the full price and it also helps you track the influencers that are generating the most sales since each of their links are unique.
#3. Invite influencers to your events
This is a good way to spread the word about your event. Using brand hashtags here will really take effect because it'll increase the popularity of your hashtag making it easier for people to discover you.
4. Use your stories
One of the features changing how people share information is Instagram stories. This feature allows users to post a slideshow of either a photo or a video that disappears after 24 hours.
Instagram stories usually appear at the top of the feed which ensures that your followers see them and this increases the chances of clicking.
Here's how you can use your Stories to increase your followers:
#1. Story highlights
Story highlights were introduced in Dec. 2017 and it has changed the way people use their Stories.
Normal Instagram Stories expire after 24 hours, but Story highlights are placed permanently below your timeline.
Increase your follower count with highlights by using hashtags and location tags in the Story. The top stories for a particular hashtag can rank in an aggregated Story hashtag.
There's a reason you should include location tags in the story.
If you don't get a lot of views on your Story, it won't rank in the top Story aggregation tag but if you include a location, it can rank for the top Stories in that location.
#2. Host a contest
Your Stories are the perfect location to provide a quick announcement and announcing contests can get you a lot of followers because people will want to know how to participate and also follow to get any updates.
Eliminate long registration processes so your contest is easy to enroll. Try to offer discounts during the contest.
Hosting a contest on a Story means you have 24 hours to get your ROI so encourage participants to share with your branded hashtags on their pages.
5. Get on the trends early enough
Story question and poll stickers still work because not everyone is doing them. If they were something very important, people will get tired of responding to these stickers.
Your brand should be using exciting Instagram trends to engage with existing followers so they can spread the word and here are some that you can use:
#1. The explore tab is getting bigger
Instagram's Explore tab provides posts for your feed based on past likes, interests, and content you've engaged with.
Interests are now segmented by industry so if you're interested in gaming, you'll have your own dedicated Explore tab.
Getting featured on Explore will take some time but you can start by engaging the audience in your niche.
If enough people interested in food are checking out your food posts, the algorithm will consider you an influencer in that industry and you'll start getting those Explore features.
Using location tags also apply here as you can rank in the Explore tab for your particular location.
#2. Shoppable influencer posts
Remember when you had to go click an account's bio link every time you saw something you liked so you could be redirected to their product page?
That's changing now with the shoppable feature and you should use it for your business too.
You need a business account to do this and the little padlock at the top right of each post just shows that the post contains embedded links.
When people click on a particular product, they're redirected to another page on Instagram with price details and a checkout link to your business website.
You can also create outbound links on your Stories but you'll need a business account or a regular account with more than 10,000 followers to do this.
6. Get your best image out there
Instagram is a visual social media platform so you need to be taking good photos to attract people to your page.
You're not going to have a DSLR with you all the time so you need to know how to take good shots with your phone.
The good thing is, a lot of the phones out there today have really good cameras so poor images are more of a technique problem, and here's how you can fix that:
#1. Stick with natural light
Except when you have to snap in the dark or at night, try to use as little flash as possible; it helps produce a brighter image.
#2. Shoot at the right time
Don't shoot when the day is too bright or when it's too dark, there's always that time of the day when the brightness of the environment is at its best level; that's when to shoot.
#3. Change your view point
Most people will simply hold their phones a bit above their forehead every time they want to take a picture.
Be different. Try to take shots at different positions and compare to get the best.
Instagram is one of the main marketing channels on the Internet. When you increase your followers, you have a wider audience to market your products and services to and the strategies in this post can help you with that.