14 Ways to Grow Your Instagram Following
annamcnaught November 11, 2017
First, please remember that it is NOT about the number of followers you have. I want you to enjoy what you are doing and the reason you are growing your Instagram page in the first place. Whether it’s to share your beautiful photography, promote your business or share your life story – the passion is your niche – not your number of followers.
But, with that being said, we all know that engaged followers help to grow brand recognition, build trust and gain new clientele.
So without further ado, here are 14 easy ways to grow your Instagram following.
1. Optimize your bio for higher conversions
Use Keywords: Instagram has a search feature, as we all know, but it also has the capability of acting as a keyword search. In the ‘name’ field on ‘edit profile,’ add your niche. For example, mine is, Anna McNaught | Photography
Share an email and/or phone number: If you’re using a business account, you have the ability to add an email and/or phone number opening up the doors for collaborations and paid work.
Use a Call to Action: One of the best ways to get your Instagram followers to actually click the link in your bio is to give them a good reason as to why they should. Maybe you are offering 20% off, giving away a freebie, sharing some exciting new content. Whatever it is, use strong marketing tactics and entice your audience to click on your link.
Use Multiple Links: This is optional, but if you have more than one website or more than one page of your website that you would like to direct traffic to, I recommend using Linktr.ee.
2. Create a theme and color scheme
This is one that I will continue to repeat. What do you want your Instagram to say about you or your brand? Someone should be able to take a quick glance at your page and instantly know what it’s all about.
Think about it this way, when you are scrolling through Instagram, what makes you stop and look at someone’s account? What makes you hit that follow button? Take a long hard look at your page and delete old photos that no longer fit your ideal theme.
This goes for colors too. I recommend trying to stay in a general color scheme.
3. Like photos
Go like a bunch of photos. Click on the explore page and go through and like everything that’s on the page. (Tip: if it’s something weird, tap the three little dots at the top and click “See fewer posts like this” eventually your explore page will become tailored towards your preferences.) Every time you have free time, go like some photos. Aim for 100 a day but the more you like, the more people will see your page.
It’s even better to like photos within your niche or from your target audience. To find photos in your niche, click on your hashtags and like photos from each one. Also, explore locations and like photos from some of your favorite places. A great way to connect with someone is realizing that you both share a love for your favorite childhood vacation spot!
4. Engage with others
Commenting on other photos is a great way to not only share positive feedback and compliments but also get your name noticed. If someone comments on your photo, be sure to comment back! Spend some time offering valuable comments on other peoples photos while you’re scrolling through the feed. Just don’t be one of those people who trolls Instagram being an asshole! Constructive criticism is one thing but being rude is a sure way to get blocked or reported.
5. Host a giveaway or contest
One of my favorite ways to get my followers engaged and excited and bring new followers to my page, is to host a contest. I love hosting FFAs (Free for All) editing contests where users have access to a selected amount of photos and must edit the images with their creative vision. It’s a great way to give people a hands-on experience. Another idea is to have a basic giveaway contest and ask followers to tag three people in the comments. Get creative with this! There are countless ways to run contests and mini story contests!
6. Post consistently
Accounts that post 1-2 times a day perform better than those that post seldom. Posting on a consistent basis gives your followers something that they can count on. It also ensures that your posts are not pushed out of site with the constantly changing algorithm. Instagram wants to see that you are active and using their features.
7. Use quality, researched hashtags
The right hashtags can place your images in front of thousands of people within a targeted audience. It’s proven that in the beginning stages of growing an Instagram account, it is absolutely crucial to use targeted hashtags. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post and I recommend using all 30. There are ways to use 60 as well but may lead to some account issues. (fair warning)
Spend some time researching your hashtags and make a list. See what your competitors are using or see the recommended tags in the search bar at the top of the app by performing a keyword search.
Another way to discover hashtags is to check out Websta where you can look at popular hashtags and search for relevant keywords.
8. Use less popular hashtags to make it into the “top 9”
In general, it’s best to use hashtags that have 15k- 500k posts. The higher the number, the less chance your posts have of being seen. It can be very tempting to use hashtags that describe your image or use the most popular hashtags but this actually hurts your visibility.
Using hashtags such as #love, #happy #dog have millions of posts, but they won’t do much for your account’s growth in the long run. Start researching smaller niche hashtags (under 50k posts) and use these on your next post. Ranking in the top 9 increases your chances of having your post seen by thousands of people.
9. Create Your Own Hashtag
Creating own hashtag is a great way to build buzz around your page or business. If you are sharing other people’s work, a hashtag is a must! Instagrammer’s can use your hashtag for a chance to be featured on your page. This is also beneficial if you are running a contest and want to see who entered, or creating a new campaign.
10. Use Instagram Stories regularly
Instagram stories are a great way to share behind the scenes, offer quick lessons, sell to your audience, or share funny and memorable moments from your day. Stories appear at the top of the page and are prime real-estate for your account to be seen. Instagram also favors to those that use their stories or go live on a regular basis and may feature your account on the explore page.
11. Only post your best content
The harsh reality: if you are trying to grow your Instagram page, personal posts or random blurry and unthought out photos are not going to cut it. Think of Instagram as your business’ “going out face.” You only want to show the best of the best. And please, never post an out of focus, unrelated image! If someone is following you because of your beautiful images, they will likely unfollow you when they see an image that is “off brand.” Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t post fun, random pictures here and there, but just make sure the images pass your newly trained, critical eye!
12. Geotag for local exposure
Adding a location to your photos and stories is shown to improve engagement. This feature allows users to click on the location and see all of the images that were taken in that particular place. I love tagging my vacation photos, checking on the tag to see other Instagrammer’s photos and then either connect while I’m there or virtually connect over our love for the same place.
13. Use tags that will get you featured
Spend some time researching feature accounts in your niche. You may already know of a some. For photography, there are hundreds of feature pages and this is a great way to get more exposure. When a page features your image, they will credit you in the caption and tag you in the photo. You are basically leveraging their followers and the goal is that these people will now become your new followers and eventually potential customers. Instagram allows users to tag up to 20 accounts on the actual image itself.
14. Tag a friend
Ask your followers to tag a friend. Because guess what? Their friend will tag their friends and so on and so on. I will often post photos with captions that say, “who would you take to this beautiful spot” or “tag your partner in crime” or “tag some people who you love” in a photo that relates. It’s been a great way to organically grow engagement and again, leverage someone else’s audience.
Bonus: 15. Collaborate
One of the most amazing aspects of Instagram is the ease of collaborations. Now The Hub makes it easier than ever to reach out to someone that you want to work with. I love collaborating with other photographers and models because it’s a great way to keep my creativity fresh, meet super cool people, and gain their audience’s attention. Collaborations could come in the form of, photo edits, photography, modeling, small brand deals, etc.
And never be afraid to reach out to someone and ask about a collaboration. Even if they have thousands or millions of followers. You never know when they just might answer. The worst that could happen is that they ignore you, or say no. I’ve been turned down or ignored countless times but some of my favorite pieces have come from people that have said yes!
How have you grown your number of Instagram followers? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Anna McNaught runs an incredible blog called TheLikedPhoto.com. The Liked Photo has countless free resources for photographers to build their brands, along with tutorials, presets, and business advice.