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5 Key Tips to Gaining Real Instagram Followers

Brock Gratton
Brock Gratton
Director at Xplode Marketing

Get Into the Instagram game and dominate

Deep down, we all want our photos and videos to be seen and loved by everyone. Otherwise, we wouldn't sign up for social media platforms built around popularity and sharing photos with friends and potential customers. How do we gain more followers and increase our popularity with real people and not fake accounts? Below are five key tips to making this dream a reality.

Tip No. 1: Focus on quality content

If you want to grow your followers within a particular niche, you need to make sure you're posting photos and videos your target audience will be interested in. If you’re a fitness model looking to grow your following, but you're posting photos of your kid eating chocolate or the Grand Canyon, you're not going to appeal to anyone.

One of the best examples of a model who has become instafamous and used her fame to start a brand is Pia Muehlenbeck (@piamuehlenbeck). Take a look at her Instagram and you will see perfect photos of her in various outfits, bathing suits, locations, etc. Brands all over the globe reach out to her for promotions simply because she has an enormous amount of real followers. Followers = exposure + opportunity.

Focusing on posting quality content is key. The best advice I can give is to do market research. Find the most popular person or brand in your niche and learn from them. Follow the way they're posting content, focus on growing your brand with lifestyle photos and photos your target audience can relate to. Think outside the box and try not to be boring. The last thing you want is for an existing follower to hit that awful unfollow button.

Additional Tip: Prune your past posts and remove content that hasn’t received a lot of engagement. Keep your Instagram page filled with content your followers liked. Remove the nonperformers, or the posts that did not exactly reach your average like count or comment count. You're doing this so that new visitors see the best of the best and, in turn, will feel confident that the photos that land in their feed are nothing but amazing.

Tip No. 2: You gotta keep your follow/unfollow/like/interaction game strong

The only way to be seen by people is to follow, like or comment on their account or accounts they follow. Nobody will find you if you're just posting photos and not interacting with others. Think of it this way, if I liked your photo, wouldn't you be curious to know who the random person was that liked your awesome photo? Following people has an even stronger effect. 

There are a number of ways to accomplish these goals manually. Further, there are affordable ways to keep your game strong, and some companies will manage these tasks for you. Regardless, this is the method you should use to get people to find and follow your account.

  • Follow, comment  or like accounts that follow your competitors
  • Follow, comment, or like accounts that use hashtags in your niche
  • Unfollow these users two to three days later (so you’re not following a million randoms as your limit is 7,500 at one time)

There are Instagram growth services out there that can grow followers for you. Many claim to help you gain anywhere from 100 to 200 new real followers per day. I tested a service called Instafeatured.com with @siestakey.beach, which is a random Instagram account I created to showcase the beautiful beach that I live close to. I signed up for the InstaPopular account and within 24 hours, I was gaining an average of 95+ followers per day. There are a number of these services out there; just make sure you use one that is compliant with Instagram's guidelines and offers proven results.

Another tip is to not only like unknown profiles but to also like your existing followers so they stay engaged. 

Regardless of whether you grow your account on your own or use a service, the follow/like/interaction game is extremely important. Even if you stick to liking accounts, you're sure to grow.

Tip No. 3: Always use appropriate hashtags

Using hashtags may seem like the “uncool” way to gain followers, but it still works. Using the right hashtags is similar to using search engine optimization for your website. If you use the right targeted hashtags within your niche, you'll gain followers. If you choose the right hashtags and have the right amount of engagement, you may get featured and get even more exposure. Using the right hashtags on your posts will get you discovered. Below are the top 20 hashtags according to Websta:

  1.  #love 
  2. #instagood
  3. #photooftheday
  4. #beautiful 
  5. #fashion 
  6. #happy 
  7. #tbt 
  8. #cute
  9. #followme 
  10. #like4like 
  11. #follow 
  12. #me
  13. #picoftheday 
  14. #selfie 
  15. #summer 
  16. #instadaily 
  17. #friends 
  18. #art 
  19. #girl 
  20. #repost 

I’m not saying you need to be the crazy hashtag person, just utilize ones that are relevant to your post. If you post a cute bikini photo from last summer on a Thursday as a throwback, use #cute #summer #girl #tbt #fashion. See what I did there? I just used five relevant hashtags from the top 20 list above. It's the little things like this that will grow your followers.

Tip No. 4: Utilize the stories feature

If you haven't noticed, Instagram stories has been a huge success since they launched it back in August of 2016. The reason why you should post stories periodically is to always be in front of your followers and keep them engaged. Instagram now has a very complex algorithm. Have you ever noticed the photos you see most in your thread or the first ones in the stories section are the accounts you like and comment the most on? 

Posting stories won't increase your followers alone. All it does is simply engage your current followers to like and comment on your photos and account. The more likes and engagement on a particular photo or video you receive will only increase your power when people are searching through hashtags. In business it's all about keeping your customers happy and staying relevant, so be sure to capitalize on your existing follower base and do just that.

Tip No. 5: Stay active

Instagram loves accounts that are active. The more you post, the more likes your photos/videos will get, and the more engagement you receive, the more they will show your posts on your followers' feeds. It’s a never-ending engagement battle. 

Moral of the story?

What’s the moral of the story to grow your Instagram followers? You need to hustle and continue to hustle. And if you don't have time to hustle? Work smarter and not harder by utilizing these five Instagram tips to gain followers and keep them engaged. More engaged followers equates to more sales for your potential product or service and more opportunity. If you're not working your Instagram, then you're missing a huge chunk of the population who is.

Image Credit: Matej Kotula/Shutterstock
Brock Gratton
Brock Gratton
business.com Member
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Brock Gratton co-owns and operates Xplode Marketing & Media Whale. He and his business partner Blake Gratton (yes they're identical twins) co-created the JellyTank, the ultimate desktop jellyfish aquarium. He enjoys writing about his experiences in all facets of branding, marketing, product development, sourcing, web design/development and more. He and Blake started their first business when they were 12 and have never looked back.