Okay, that title was a little extra, right? The truth is … we all secretly want to be insta-famous, whether we choose to admit it or not.
You may be the aspiring model building your portfolio, amateur photographer starting a business, experienced baker opening an online pastry shop, or a fashion influencer launching a blog (mwua). Maybe you’re one of those adorable humans that created an Instagram for your dog (no judgment, I follow plenty of poodles).
Anyways, enough about cute poodles (and labradoodles, and other schnoodles out there). You are reading this guide because you want to grow your Instagram following and increase your engagement. Yay!
Let’s jump right into the tools and methods I have found extremely useful … ones that helped me gain over 80,000 real followers!
Develop who you are on paper and identify your industry.
This is UBER important. You need to develop yourself on paper before you can jump into ‘the gram’. There’s nothing more confusing then seeing an awesome photo, jumping to the IG profile, and wondering who the f*ck the person is, what they do, and why you should follow them.
Are you a wedding photographer? Street style blogger? Birthday cake chef? Narrow down your niche to be as specific as you can. Super important. Like, super. Now stick to it like jelly on bread.
Create content, research hashtags, and all that jazz.
Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, you need to begin creating content. Already on IG? Then you need to keep creating content. Plan on or continue posting between 4-7 times per week (this has been proven to be the optimum posting amount in order to gain more eyeballs – ie. more followers to your profile).
When creating content, think quality over quantity. I see so many instagrammers posting 1-2x a day (which is great), but their content doesn’t have a purpose. Their outfits aren’t desirable, the lighting is off, and the caption is so ‘BASIC, BETCH’. Every post should have a purpose and 100% effort in order to entice more people to follow or engage with you.
There are a few sites like top-hashtags.com that will tell you the trending hashtags for the day, in addition, to the ah-mazing Latergram (see tip #4).
Warning: Be sure that the hashtags you are using are not shadow-banned. What is shadowbanning? This is when IG blocks overused or spammy hashtags from being searched. You can go online to find out which hashtags are shadow-banned for the day. Also, switch up your hashtags every day (rotate them if you’d like).
Random tip: When posting, tag the city you are in. This helps boost you to more eyeballs! What if Italian tourists are searching San Francisco tags and see you? Gasp, an international follower is gained (and maybe a place to stay in Italy)!!! One that you wouldn’t have had before.
Invest in Latergram and plan out the week.
Do you have multiple social accounts like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram? Then definitely invest in latergram (it’s not even an investment, it’s $9 per month!).
This system plans and schedules posts across all platforms of social media for you. Time, place, caption, lighting, all of it. This way, you can synchronize all of your social accounts to post images at the same time! Less manual labor, ya’ll! You can also see the week/month/year at a glance on an overview calendar. This is great when trying to see the general aesthetic of your IG over a span of time.
There are so many other great features, like hashtag recommendations! The system also suggests certain tags that are trending and go with your niche market. Less work, more time for wine. 😉
Follow other like-minded influencers in your industry.
I can’t stress this enough. Follow similar influencers or people who generally interest you. Not only will you be able to see who their followers are, but you may get some major inspo (and even a follow-back, gasp!).
Stay away from FAKE.
Fake friends, fake meat, fake everything. Stay away! Hundreds of celebrities got busted for this one (yes, I’m looking at you Katy Perry). They bought hundreds of thousands and even millions of ‘fake’ followers … aka bots that are not real people.
This is just plain. old. dishonesty. I’ve come across a few accounts of influencers who I just want to slap the fake followers right out of. They have 100,0928348029834 followers, but receive less likes and comments than your neighbor’s dog.
Not only does this look obvious, and plain old desperate… you can get in big trouble for this when Instagram does it’s annual ‘fake follower’ sweep. While you won’t get in “trouble-trouble”, people will be shocked when your followers are cut in half. Brands are less likely to work with you, and the ones that do, will not be happy with the results (because they expect more from all of the “followers” you have).
Join a few booster groups.
Remember the IG algorithm (duh how could you forget, it’s terrifying)? Joining a few booster pods (groups of people on Telegram or IG DM), can up your chances of being boosted. Basically, whenever someone posts, they alert the group and all members must like and comment on the post within the hour. This is a LOT of work (I was once in sixteen groups with over 400 members). I. Almost. Died. And I’m pretty sure I have carpal tunnel. Anyways…
Educate yourself on the dreaded, Algorithm
The rumors are true (GASP)! Instagram does have an algorithm and it is constantly changing. The faster people comment and like on a recently posted image … BOOST. The more people that engage and like a recently posted image … BOOST. Comments that are five words or more have much more weight than those who are one generic “CUTE”! If you engage right after someone comments on your photo, BOOST! If you follow a bunch of people in the ‘suggested’ bar, BOOST. The more active you are, you guessed it … BOOST!
What do I mean by BOOST? Like rockets go off? Your jet pack turns on? Close. Basically, Instagram will push your posting and/or profile out to more people when you do certain things (see paragraph before). You may even end upon the search/discover feed of thousands of ‘grammers’. The rumor is that one hour after your most recent post is when you are most likely to be boosted to more people if you do certain actions. So if you are really serious about your IG game, block off one hour per day to focus on commenting/liking/responding right after you post. BOOST baby BOOST!
Partner with brands and other influencers on giveaways
This is one I have delved into recently, teaming up with 10 influencers on giving away a Gucci bag. I have also teamed up with other brands giving away store credit. All parties post one image with the giveaway details and followers from both accounts must follow participating parties’ accounts. I gained over 500 followers in 12 hours with my latest giveaway. Depending on the collective follower count of all brands/influencers involved, more eyes with be tempted to follow you in order to enter!
Budget Instagram dollars for advertising
I actually am still researching this because I just got into it. Basically, if you are a business account, you have the option of paying for IG ads. This guarantees that a certain amount of people will see your posting and/or profile. You can direct them where to go and create a call-to-action button so that it is clearer what you want from viewers. I plan on dedicating another 1-pager to this IG ad section … so stay tuned. In the meantime, read the latest book on Facebook/Instagram Advertising, 2019. Mama is still learning!
Join an influencer / brand connection platform
There are SO many of these platforms out there, so it can be hard to find the right ones to join. Basically, brands will put ‘ads’ out for what influencers and posts they are looking for. Influencers apply and if approved are paid or offered free product in exchange. A few of my favorites are AspireIQ, Social Fabric, TapFluence, Grapevine, Izea, Obviously, Influenster, BrandBacker, HashtagPaid, InstaBrand, Niche.co and Brand Snob.
You need to give in order to receive
The whole point of Instagram is to share eachother’s lives with one another. In order to receive likes or comments, you have got to give them. In my opinion, a good influencer ALWAYS gives more > than they take or ask for.
While I can’t guarantee that you’ll be insta-famous from these tips, I can promise you that you will learn a lot AND gain some traction you didn’t have before. XOXO
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.