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Instagram is one of the most popular social networks for brands. But, that means there’s a ton of competition. In fact, 25 million businesses are on the network.
So, if you’re going to compete, you’ll need to work strategically to build your followers. Not just any followers, though. A tribe of the right people who care about your brand and what you have to offer them.
That’s easier said than done, of course. So, it’s a good thing you’re here. This post will share 20 different tactics you can use to get tons more Instagram followers.
We’ve got some free resources here to help apply the information in this post. Download them all free here.
You might know CoSchedule is an all-in-one marketing management platform that helps teams get organized. But, did you know it can schedule Instagram posts alongside all your other social media? Stop forgetting to post to Instagram already, and instead do it with just a couple clicks. Go from spontaneous to strategic with CoSchedule’s Instagram scheduling.
Here’s a quick look at how it works:
As we welcome the Instagram scheduling feature, we want to help you grow your Instagram following. There’s no reason with hard work and these tools, why you can’t stand out amidst the 500 million active users on Instagram. Yes, that’s quite the challenge, but we believe in you and have 20 easy ways to get there.
Alright, now let’s get down to business.
First impressions are everything. According to Forbes, you have just seven seconds before making an impression.
The very first thing you can do to make a good impression with your Instagram account for new followers, is to complete your profile information.
There are four key areas to complete:
First, make sure your image represents you or your business well and clearly.
This thumbnail can be very small, so utilize your space well so that followers can instantly identify with your image. Next, make sure your name and bio are straight forward. The bio can often be changed to sometimes include a call-to-action or something you want to highlight for a time being, but otherwise it should be nice and descriptive.
Lastly, make sure to include a link to your website. This is the only area an Instagram user can directly click to find out more about your business or product so use it wisely!
Here is an example of our Instagram profile with each of these elements included:
Suggested users are chosen by Instagram that are based on people you follow, your contact list, or based off previous posts you’ve liked. This can be a great way to get new followers because you often already have something in common, helping you easier find your specific audience and niche. There are two ways to find suggested users:
Both of these ways will open up your following to a whole new world of accounts, and thus will let you connect with others that are looking to follow content just like yours.
What better way to grow your following than to reach out to those you’ve already connected with?
You can connect several users from both Facebook and your Contact List using the settings icon in your app. This option is both available to personal and business Instagram accounts so take advantage of your current circle.
When you follow them, they’ll receive a notification alerting them of your account, hopefully leading to a follow.
Instagram is arguably the most visual of all popular social platforms, which means there’s absolutely no way around creating and sharing good visual content. The primary focus of your imagery should be telling a story that’s focused around your brand, and then use creation tools to ensure it looks good visually.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite tools, 34 to be exact, that can help you with whatever type of post you want from beginning to end. If you do have access do a designer, let them focus on telling your story with a consistent theme from colors and imagery, to the filters they choose to use.
Once you have a completed Instagram profile, found some great accounts to follow, and have created some awesome content, you’re ready to post. And to post often!
But how much is too much? Our own Nathan Ellering analyzed 10 different studies, and found that 3 posts per day should be the max amount of daily posting, while 1-2 daily posts is the recommended amount.
In addition, if you post two times day make sure to mix them up so its not too repeated and thus boring or annoying for your followers. Followers always want interesting, fresh content so don’t feel too burdened to post multiple times per day. Rather, focus on quality, and then increase your sharing from there while always remembering to not be spammy.
Where should you start? Well, CoSchedule analyzed the top 20 studies and found that 2am, 8-9am, and 5pm are the best times to post to Instagram. Whether people are going to bed, just getting to work, or checking out to return home for the day, they’re checking their Instagram waiting for awesome posts.
That’s where you come in. What days you ask? Monday and Thursdays have shown to be the most popular; however, some recommend sharing on Sundays as there’s a less volume of posts that day. Plan ahead to post at these times to be more seen, and watch your following grow.
A perfect way to get your name out there, while also helping others expand their reach, can be found in tagging. In fact, Simply Measured found that posts that tag other users in the caption average 37 percent higher engagement! When you’re creating your Instagram post, anyone that should receive credit or a mention should get tagged in the final editing screen. This can be both people or brands.
For example, at CoSchedule we recently updated our swag packages with Scout Books. Thus, we tagged them in our post, and not only did they comment back, but they, then reposted our image!
View this post on Instagram
Special shout out to Scout Books for sending us some awesome, well designed post cards! 👏 Oh! Did I mention we've made new swag? Yep. We're welcoming these new Scout Books to our collection! #vscocam #vsco #bismarck #photography #styling #design #creatives #content #calendar #contentmarketing #socialmedia #coschedule #team #culture #content #celebrate #notebook #motivation #friday #hustle #workhard
Now the CoSchedule account is visible to not just our users, but to Scout Book’s as well with a simple tag.
Always use tagging when possible, and watch it do its magic.
Another form of tagging comes in the form of geotagging.
If you’ve given permission to have your location on, then you can tag all of your Instagram posts by the location related to that post. This is especially great to those known in certain areas, as Instagram users can search solely by location! Geotag your posts whether your traveling or at home in your office to give users just one more way to find you.
Hashtags are a great tool for finding and connecting with new audience members. Hashtags serve as a categorizing feature so you can find others, and more importantly, they can find you. Hashtags often include the topic, location, and words related to that specific post or benefits of your product.
View this post on Instagram
Let's be honest… social media can be pretty annoying sometimes, but that's where ReQueue comes in! Get more mileage out of your social messages while customizing your settings to send out the perfect amount at the best time. 👉P.S. We have a live demo of ReQueue today at 1pm Central time. See you there! Link in profile. #vsco #vscocam #bismarck #requeue #getyourtimeback #social #socialautomation #socialmedia #coschedule #content #calendar #besttime #annoying #strategic #dustinstout #warfareplugins #feature #new #product #launch #startup #startuplife #scheduling
How many hashtags should I use? That’s a great question. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags for each post, but its best practice to use 5-10 hashtags. While more hashtags often is better, is always important to remember to avoid being spammy.
You can find the perfect amount of hashtags to use by doing two things:
Where can you find popular hashtags? An easy way to find what hashtags are currently trending is to use Top-Hashtags.com. They provide a nice, clear list with the highest rated hashtags and how many posts currently have that hashtag. It also lets you click on the hashtag to see examples of how others are using it!
Lastly, you can also created a branded hashtag that you or your users can use whenever they post related content. Yet another way for users to find you! CoSchedule uses #coschedule and #cochat as two primary hashtags, but some other popular ones are #justdoit from Nike, #ShareTheForce from StarWars, and #WellTravelled from Herschel Supply. Find a value you love or a catchy slogan, create a hashtag, and use it to grow your audience.
Nobody likes change (well most of the time), and everyone finds a natural comfort in consistency. Let your audience find home in your consistent visuals, message, posting schedule, and overall tone of voice. Of course you may need to experiment when you’re just starting out to find what your audience enjoys most, but once you find that magic spot, stick with it. Suddenly your audience will keep coming back, growing new followers organically.
A creative way to make your content immediately noticeable amidst all the noise of other accounts, is to create banners that use multiple Instagram posts for one overall image.
As you can see in these examples, they creatively stitched together multiple posts to either announce or feature a specific event so the very second someone looks at their profile, they know something awesome is underway. There’s apps out there to help with this, such as this one or this one. Let’s get creative!
Now, its time to think outside of Instagram.
To grow your following, make sure your Instagram social icon is on all of your digital presences such as your website, blog, email, you name it. Depending on the platform, you can even embed your Instagram account within so your outside audiences see your account before even entering the app itself. For example, we’ve embedded some of our Instagram posts directly into this blog, giving you a first hand look at our account!
Lastly, don’t be shy to share your account on other platforms! When we really got started with Instagram, we announced it to our CoSchedule User Group on Facebook as well as scheduled a Twitter Campaign to reach our current audience on a whole new level. Your biggest fans want every piece of content you produce, so why not let them love you even more?
For the same reasons tagging worked in the Scout Book example above, actively reaching out to major influencers in your industry for a tag is also a great way to grow your following. This will expose you to a completely new audience, and hopefully one that’s already in love with the type of content you’ve created.
Before reaching out, make sure you’re willing to reciprocate the help. This might be by providing them with the graphic to post, or by sharing one of their posts in return. Either way, make sure its a win-win for both parties, and then you’ll be perfectly set up to reach a prime new audience.
Another great way to grow your following is by letting a special guest post on your behalf. By allowing someone else to share, your audience gets a new viewpoint, tone of voice, and visual presence that only adds even more interest to your account. Your special guest could be a big influencer, someone speaking at an event your hosting, or even someone in your local area that has value to give.
Whomever you might choose, make sure to have a quick conversation about your content so that you’re both on the same page, and then let them do their thing. The easiest way to do this, is by giving your feature guest the login credentials so it might be worth changing them for your guests, and then updating your login info after they’re done posting in order to be safe and protect your account.
For example, this past spring I was a participant of an event called OTA. They asked me and the other participants to take over their Instagram account for a day to show “the day in the life” of all of our passions. They did this during the weeks leading up to the event to gain traction and build their followers.
Why not utilize all of your hard work of collecting email addresses? Add your Instagram account information in your email newsletters, email reminders, or maybe even an independent campaign to announce that you’re not only on Instagram, but that you’re excited to have them join you. Your biggest fans are those that subscribe to your content, so share the invite and watch them follow.
Are you attending any events coming up? Add your Instagram information to your business card, presentation slides, or any other handouts you might use. Make it even more fun with designed stickers and buttons! Everyone loves some fun swag, so take advantage of the situation and include your social media presence on those materials.
Here’s a wonderful example from the North Collective:
Not only can you share content with others and have guests post on your behalf, but you can also cross promote some of your greatest campaigns. If you have a new, exciting announcement, a feature release, a podcast coming out, you name it, find the people involved and agree to cross-promote it on each other’s accounts. This shows your following a new, great connection but then you also receive the benefits of a new audience coming to you!
Instagram ads offer 2.8x higher brand recall than other forms of online advertising. Instagram ads are integrated with Facebook ads and can be in the form of image, video, or carousel style, where multiple images are in a scroll for your audience to tap through. Using what you already know, you can simply promote your posts to go just a bit further, making a big difference with your following. Here’s a great video on exactly how to set up your Instagram ad.
Whether you’re starting out or revamping your current Instagram, it’s never too early to start recording your data! If you can’t track your efforts, you’ll never be able to see if your strategy is working. Take out a notebook, create a Google Doc, Evernote, or your favorite tool, like Iconosquare, to track your results. Once you have your data, you can see trends and post content proves to grow your following. No more guessing, just growing.
There’s not doubt that the best Instagram accounts are, well, awesome. In order to find your niche within the Instagram network, think about what you or your product are about, and be awesome. Be fun, excited, energized, authentic, and willing to share the journey with your audience. There may not be a way to measure the ROI on this, but we all know its true. Everyones loves awesome.
Instagram might seem intimidating at first, but if you start with just one of these tactics and continue to do more as you can, you’ll notice a huge difference. After all, Instagram engagement is 10x higher than Facebook and 54x higher than Pinterest, so what do you have to lose? Think about the story you have to tell, develop a habit of posting consistently with CoSchedule, and then make your account as visible as possible. You’ve got this!
P.S. Have you tried out CoSchedule’s new Instagram scheduling!? Yes, you heard that right! Quit forgetting to post on Instagram, and instead do it with just a few clicks. Not only that, but now you can see your Instagram schedule alongside everything else in your all-in-one CoSchedule calendar! Get a free 14-day trial today, and check it out for yourself.
This post was originally published on Nov. 30, 2016. It was republished with updated information on May 23, 2018.
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