As the Instagram platform continues to explode in growth, more and more people are waking up to the fact that having a strong Instagram account is a valuable asset for your personal or business interests, and it’s probably only going to grow in value. The problem is, getting followers is no longer as easy as it once was. In the early days of Instagram if you showed people that you were regularly posting interesting content, people that found you would follow along. Now, Instagram is much more competitive and getting your account seen amongst the noise is harder than ever. Here are four of the strongest ways to get a lot of followers on Instagram.
Give first, then receive. Getting busy on Instagram is a sure way to create some action for your account particularly when you are just starting out growing a new account. Reach out to similar users and give them a like, give them a comment and follow their account. If you target the right users many of them will come back to your account to check you out and if your account is good, they will follow you back. Sounds pretty basic, right? It is. But it works, and the more you do it, the more followers you will get (up to a certain point). Instagram does put a limit on the amount of activity you can perform on the platform. You can follow or unfollow up to 160 people per hour. You can like up to 350 posts per hour. So, why not make the most of this strategy to grow your account? Because it takes time. Lots and lots of time. Most people get bored with this approach and slow down or give up after a few weeks. After all, who has the time to sit on Instagram all day liking, commenting and following?
This is where automation comes in. Provided you are comfortable with using it, you can use software to do essentially the same actions you were doing manually (liking, commenting, following) but at a much more consistent rate. The software won’t get lazy like you do, which means that it will be reaching out to users and drawing attention to your account even while you are asleep. Despite being somewhat insincere, it is relatively harmless and is in fact giving many users what they actually want – engagement on their accounts. It is not too dissimilar to simply paying someone to do the same, such as a social media manager, something that almost all brands already do. It does however, come with a word of warning as you can get in to trouble if you abuse the service or inadvertently commit any Instagram faux pas in the process. Check out our previous post on how to use Instagress without getting comment banned.
This is another obvious growth strategy that many people do not use to it’s full potential. There are a plethora of Instagram account out there that are simply curating other people’s content to create a good looking feed and provide value for their followers. This means they are actively looking for good photos to share with their (sometimes massive) following. Despite the benefits of this many people assume tend to assume they will gain a lot more new followers from this approach than is actually the case. In practice, getting featured on an account with a few 100,000 followers might only entice a few hundred people to actually click through to see who took the photo and follow your account. That said, it is still very much worth doing if you can build it in to a consistent approach.
Provided you can take great photos, with a bit of hashtag research you should be able to build a list of accounts that are looking for content. Usually their bio will state “Use our hashtag to get featured” or similar. You can include up to 30 hashtags per post which gives you 30 chances to be featured on one of these accounts every time you post. Keep in mind it is hard to get featured as there a lot of good photographers out there doing the same thing! If you niche down to a specific area of interest you could have a better chance of getting notice by a curated account. If you build this strategy in to your posting schedule then you can simply go back to focussing on shooting even better content, which is possibly what you would prefer to be doing anyway.
Appearing in the ‘Explore’ section of the App
Not many people consider this, but if you think of the user experience of someone using Instagram who wants to find new accounts to follow it probably goes something like this. They hit the search button on the bottom menu bar in the App. They are taken to the ‘Discover’ page and are shown a grid of photos based on Instagram’s algorithm. The algorithm uses several things to determine the kind of photos a user will see. “Based on people you follow” “Based on photos you liked” “Based on Instagram popular searches” “Popular worldwide”. You may be able to get creative here and find a way to exploit the process of appearing in this ‘Discover’ page based on how Instagram’s algorithm works. We know of one way that you can do this, but to find out how it works you’ll need to get a copy of our latest ebook The Advanced Instagram Growth Guide.
Ok, we’ll give you hint. Posting a lot is one way. The problem with the discover page is that you will not be featured there for long. Each post gives you a chance to appear in the discover section of users looking for people to follow for a brief window, then it will be gone. You need to post again to appear back in the ‘discover’ section and continue getting the benefits of being there. When you consider this, most people are probably not posting enough. Yes, overdoing it will drive some people away, but many large established accounts (see @Natgeo) post a LOT. The trick is maintaining good quality posts when you are posting so frequently. Aim for at least 5 posts a day to increase your chances of being in the discover page. If you don’t have enough content of your own to keep this up, consider using user generated content or re-sharing other users content and crediting them for it. Appearing in the discover page on the App is not an easy strategy, but it has lead to the fastest legitimate growth we’ve ever seen on the platform. And when we mean fast, we mean 0-50,000 real followers in 2 weeks kind of growth. Mind-blowing.
Running a Competition
This is another simple strategy that gets results for many. However, it works best for users that already have a decent following. It’s also one of the most ‘authentic’ ways to get real followers fast. Most brands are using this strategy regularly to draw in a lot of new followers and the results can sometimes be huge. There are several different ways to run a contest, depending on what you want to achieve (new followers, engagement, traffic to website etc). Here we are going to discuss one of the best ways to run a contest to get new followers.
The key to maximising this approach is to give away something that is highly desired to make it a ‘no-brainer’ for people to enter the competition. Something like a Go Pro or an iPad. Something you are confident most people will want. Don’t be tempted to give away low value product or discount codes, as people will be less likely to commit to taking the steps to enter the contest. The next step is to build ‘vitality’ into the contest but asking entrants to actually share your image of the prize and details of the contest. This is a big ask for many which is why it’s so important that you give away something with a lot of value. Ask users to like the contest image (an image of the product plus contest details), follow your account and tag 3 friends when they post. If you’ve done things right the contest will take off and get shared amongst users social networks. One recent example of a contest like this gave away a $4,000 camera and it went viral and generated over 40,000 new followers for the account.
Depending on what products you have access to this can be an expensive approach, but potentially worth the investment if you have a decent marketing budget. Running a lot of competitions might turn some users away and it is a bit sales-y and it doesn’t look good in your feed. You can alway deleted the contest photos afterward to maintain a clean gallery.
Buying an existing account
Not everyone is going to want to do this, but we thought it was important to cover it here as it is one of the ways you can get a lot of Instagram followers fast, more so for businesses with a decent marketing budget. Instagram does allow you to change the name of an account, so it is possible to buy an existing account that already has followers, change the name and hey presto! You’ve got a large account. However, technically it is in breach of Instagram’s Terms of Service to buy an account, so here are a few workarounds and suggestions if you are interested in pursuing this approach.
Although you can’t officially buy an Instagram account, you can buy a website and it’s associated assets which includes social media accounts. So if you want to purchase a pre-existing account that appeals to you, make sure it comes with at least a simple website and you should be in the clear.
But how much should you pay for an account? And what if the followers are fake? It depends mostly on engagement. Real followers are engaged users who like and comment on posts. So check the average number of likes of the previous dozen or so posts. A ‘normal’ ratio of likes to followers is around 5-10% of followers liking an image. However, this varies and begins to drop as the number of followers goes up above 20k. In our experience the value of an account is around 1$ for every like an image gets, but fluctuates pretty broadly depending on what you are able to do with the account after purchase and the person selling it. Also, as selling accounts is such a new concept there is no real ‘going rate’ for accounts and many people simply don’t know what their account might be worth. There are many people growing accounts with no specific idea about what they will do with them in the future so you may be able to find a bargain. If you get offered an account for considerably less than 1$ average likes on a post that’s probably a good deal. But you still need to be wary of fake followers and whether the person you are dealing with does in fact, own the account!
As you can imagine, buying accounts comes with a lot of risks, so you will need to be careful when managing the purchase and takeover process. Because it is not condoned by Instagram there is not a lot of security for you if things go wrong with the transaction. It’s early days in the world of Instagram accounts but who know’s, maybe in the future buying and selling accounts will be as common as buying and selling websites is now?
There are many other ways to grow Instagram accounts and the methods really depend on how personal and tailored you want to get, relative to the more automated and scaleable approach. Strategies will also have to be adjusted as your account grows as what works when you are starting out, will not necessarily work when you have a larger following. New techniques for growth are constantly being discovered on the platform so keep an eye out for future posts where we will share things here as we learn more about Instagram.