One billion is a big number. And it places Instagram ahead of other social platforms including Pinterest and Twitter, which have 250 and 68 million monthly active users respectively.

That’s not all:

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Images on Instagram get 23% more engagements than their equivalents on Facebook.

There’s more:

Brands on Instagram regularly experience an engagement rate of 4% of their total followers, which is miles ahead of Facebook’s 0.1% engagement rate. Businesses also see a 10× higher engagement rate across the board than on Facebook.

With all these data in mind, it’s clear that Instagram offers boundless opportunities for brand building, marketing and reaching out to your target audience.

But like every other social platform, there are wrong ways to use your Instagram account, clever ways to use it and right ways to use it.

On Instagram, high engagement rates and user buzz is the name of the game, so much so that there are 4.2 billion likes and 500 million active users daily.

The question now is, how do you get in on this beehive of activities? Simple, you need to increase your follower count and we’ll show you how.

In this post we’ll see tips, tricks and underutilized ideas that’ll boost your followers on Instagram:

Be Clever with Your Instagram Hashtags

Everyone on Instagram most likely has two goals, the first being to engage your current audience consistently and the other is to grow your number of followers.

By posting intriguing, quality and relevant content, you can satisfy the first goal, but to initiate growth you’ll find hashtagging your visuals to be crucial.

So much so that data revealed this:

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66.6% of all posts on Instagram use hashtags.

That’s 2/3 of all posts on the platform, which means Instagram users value the use of hashtags.

Hashtags make it easy for other users who are searching for specific terms to find your posts.

So what hashtags are the most effective? Just like with other social media platforms, Instagram users use particular hashtags more than other ones. If you include such popular hashtags to your posts, you’re more likely to be discovered and reach new people.

Here are the most popular hashtags as of September 2019:

  • #love – 1.221B
  • #instagood – 704.0M
  • #photooftheday – 478.6M
  • #fashion – 456.5M
  • #beautiful – 445.0M
  • #happy – 413.8M
  • #cute – 404.3M
  • #tbt – 401.4M
  • #like4like – 393.9M
  • #followme – 374.3M

Now, if you’ve gone through the top 10 hashtag list above and thought that none of them apply to your business or offer, then you’re on the right track.

Including hashtags to your visuals is one thing, but using the right ones is a completely new ball game. Popular hashtags will pull in additional likes and engagements, but they will not bring in interested followers, long-term engagements or even sales.

Some hashtags like #like4like may even attract an influx of bot followers, which are useless to your Instagram goals.

To properly hashtag your posts, you need to find relevant tags. This means you’ll need to carry out in-depth research to ensure you’re including hashtags that do not only describe your business but are searched for on the platform.

A perfect example of using hashtags the right way is the Adidas campaign for their Neo brand on Instagram.

Adidas told their followers to post Adidas-inspired content including the tag #MyNeoShoot. The followers with the best content were then invited to be part of a professional photoshoot, which would be posted on Adidas Instagram Channel.

The outcome was amazing; Adidas pulled in 71,000 mentions of the hashtag #MyNeoShoot and attracted 41,000 new followers. This shows the power of including creativity and relevance to your hashtags.

To get relevant hashtags, you can use free online tools like Websta or IconoSquare for a start.

The screenshot below from a Websta search on the hashtag #MensFashion shows a list of relevant, popular and related hashtags for the term alongside the number of times they have been used.

Source: Websta Screenshot

You’ll want to run this exercise repeatedly using different keywords that describe your product, profile or brand. By doing this, you get to build out a list of relevant keywords as you go.

Keep in mind that Instagram only permits 30 hashtags per post and popular terms will change with time, so ensure that you revisit your hashtag keyword lists monthly to make sure that they are still the best possible terms to describe your profile.

You could also get hashtag ideas from your competitor’s accounts that have the following you’re aiming for but ultimately you’d want to craft your own set of hashtags that specifically relate to your account.

Here’s a Protip:

If you’ve already been churning out content on Instagram for some time and feel like you’ve missed out on using hashtagging to build your audience, fear not. Go back to your previous posts and post comments with the new hashtag keywords and watch your followers climb.

Another Protip: Include Hashtags to your Insta-Stories

Hashtagging your posts on Instagram is the right thing to do, but a clever move would be to use hashtags in your Stories so they can be found by people who follow that particular hashtag.

Why? For one, checkout the average reach rate of Insta-Stories of Millennials Watch Stories given below:

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Insta-Stories is 5.82%

%

70% of Gen Z

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59% of Millennials watch Stories

You have two options, the first is to use hashtag stickers like in the screenshot below (which are in the stickers menu when creating your Story) or by simply placing the hashtags in your captions.

Image Source: Instagram

Users can now follow hashtags so every story you hashtag on Instagram can be seen both by your current followers or random users who are just checking it out.

Post Selfies to Attract more Followers (Yes, Really)

It’s a given that Instagram is sociable platform and users want to follow profiles that they can relate to, irrespective of whether it’s an influencer, business or individual they went to college with.

So it’s crucial to ensure that you make your Instagram as relatable and personal as possible. You need to get your brand out there and show people what it’s all about.

Take a look at Sasha Codes, who is a tech influencer on Instagram, by giving a personal touch to her page, in less than a year she was able to pull in 12,000 followers with engagement over 13%.

Here’s why:

Images with faces get 38% more likes on Instagram than those without.

One of the best ways to personalize your brand and take advantage of the data above is through video. You can share behind-the-scenes visuals that set the tone for users going through your profile and show people what makes your brand unique.

The jewelry brand Mejuri is an excellent example of a brand that puts it’s ethos and business out there via Insta-Stories and videos. With consistent appearances from the company’s designers, founders and business team as a whole, followers get to know the brand and feel a part of it.

Users want to know the individuals behind a brand, just as much as your products or company. And there’s no better person to describe your business than its employees, so why not get your team to share content about your special campaigns, business moves or launches?

If your team is involved in crafting content for your brand, you can add more behind-the-scenes insights and personality to your account. The end goal of this is that new people who previously had connections with your employees will see your page.

So when you’re making your next Insta-Story or ironing out the details of your IGTV video, be sure to include face-to-face sessions to make your brand relatable and personal.

Use Geo-location Tagging on Your Instagram Stories

Users can see Insta-Stories on Instagram Explore page, and this makes it possible for people who aren’t following you to be able to find and view your stories. And if your content is intriguing and relevant enough they’ll probably follow you.

Data proves this:

Instagram posts with geo-tagging have 79% more engagement than other posts on the platform.

However, besides being visible on the Explore page, your Insta-Stories can appear in the Stories for various locations.

Most Instagram geo-locations have their stories linked to them so users can easily locate and view recent stories that were published alongside a location sticker, even if they don’t follow the account that published the Story.

All you need to do is add a location sticker to your Insta-Stories posts. If you’re at a live event, holiday location or even a conference, you can easily get in front of audiences who are either a part of that event or are interested in it by the location tag.

The food delivery brand, Uber Eats takes advantage of this feature by tagging their posts with the location of where their partners are. This method has gotten them over 205, 000 followers with an engagement rate of approximately 5%.

By using geotags UberEats can reach their target audience interested in local restaurants close to them.

Using Instagram feature you can easily convert offline customers as they are already in your location and will find your business more relatable due to proximity.

Optimize your Instagram Profile

One of the first things you should do while trying to increase your followers is to customize your Instagram profile to give you a good image and attract the right people to follow you.

Ensure that your user name is easy to search and recognize. If your Instagram profile is for a business, endeavor to add your business name to the profile name. In situations where your username is different from your business name, you can add it in the “Name” field in the “options” section.

This way your business name will be visible under your username in search, it’s also important to keep your profile public.

If you want to gain more followers on Instagram don’t make your profile private. If it is private, people won’t be able to see anything about your brand when they check your profile. Making your account public will make your profile visible to your target audience.

An important aspect of your Instagram profile that you should not neglect is your bio. People will learn about you or your brand by going through your bio, it is therefore important that you provide enough information on your bio to let people know exactly what you have to offer them.

Below is an excellent example of how to optimize your bio:

An interesting and actionable bio is more likely to attract more followers than a boring one. You can also add your website link to your bio. Ensure the link is shortened and clickable so that people can have direct access to your website from Instagram.

If you have other social media accounts, you can use the same profile picture you use on them for your Instagram profile. This will enable your followers on the other platforms to identify you.

Here’s a quick visual summary of what aspects of your profile need optimization:

Promote your Instagram Profile on Other Platforms

An easy way to see a boost in the number of followers you have on Instagram is to promote your Instagram profile on other platforms.

If you are active on other social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, you can share the link to your Instagram profile on your other social media accounts. Online users no longer restrict themselves to one social media platform.

Statistics proves this:

Out of 8 social media platforms, the average American uses 3. The result of a poll conducted across 40 countries including 89,029 people revealed that the average person has about 7.6 active social media accounts.

Below is a chart showing the results of a study conducted to see how many social media users used other platforms.

You can take advantage of this fact and promote your Instagram profile on the other platforms.

This will be more effective if you have a large fan base on other networks, as your fans on the other platforms will want to connect with you on Instagram and by providing the link to your profile, you will make it easy for them.

It is, however, important to note that before you promote your Instagram profile on your other social media accounts; you need to have established your presence on Instagram by making a reasonable number of posts.

A minimum of ten posts is okay. If you have less or no posts, they may not want to follow you.

They need to be certain that the content you have to offer on Instagram resonates with their needs. You could also share some of the best posts you have made on Instagram on the other platforms, to attract more followers.

Have a Good Content Strategy

To get people to follow you on Instagram, your content strategy needs to be stellar. Don’t randomly post topics, you have to map out a solid content strategy that resonates with your target audience.

Here are a few things you should take note of:

Consistency

To increase your followers you need to be consistent in both the message you are passing across in posting content. Post as often as you can, or if possible, post daily.

Data supports this:

6 out of 10 Instagram users visit the site daily.

You need to keep your audience captivated daily. The more you post, the faster you will grow. You can plan your content ahead of time and post at the set time. You won’t only increase your followers when you post frequently, the engagement rates on your posts will also increase.

Pay Attention to Aesthetics

Attractive content sells more on Instagram because it’s a visual platform. Ensure that the content you put up has a clear color scheme that can capture the interest of your target audience.

Check out the color schemes in this example from PR brand Edelman:

To make you content attractive, ensure that the pictures you upload are original and properly edited. You can also create beautiful photo images with the help of tools like Phonton and Wordswag. You don’t need to hire the services of an expert graphics designer to be able to achieve this, most of these tools are easy to use.

Use Videos

Video posts on Instagram have 2.1 times more comments and an engagement rate that is 38% higher than that of image posts.

The interest in video content is increasing daily and you will be depriving yourself a considerable amount of followers if you ignore adding videos to the content types you create.

With videos, you can post a variety of exciting and interesting content that will attract followers to your profile. The good thing about using videos is that you can also use them to promote none Instagram offers effectively, just as Ikea did by elaborately showing off their products with a humorous video.

Use your Instagram Nametag

Instagram nametags are scannable codes like Facebook messenger codes and Snapchats snapcodes that enable Instagram users to instantly connect with you on Instagram. Once your Instagram nametag is scanned, it will direct the person to your profile.

A major challenge that brands face is the misspelling of their names and usernames in the search bar. A lot of users find it hard to spell names in the search bar especially names that contain abbreviations, underscores, dots or other special characters.

With nametags, this challenge is eliminated, they do not need to type you name all they need to do is to scan your nametag.

The nametag feature is available to every Instagram user.

You can access your nametag by going to the profile settings tab, which is a three-line button at the top right corner of your profile. When you click on it, you will see a list of options. Select “Name Tag.”

You can customize your nametag with 3 background options (emoji, selfie or color) you can edit any of these to your preference. To edit any of the background options, do the following:

  • Tap on any of the 3 background options you want to customize.
  • Tap on the screen background to change the color or selfie effect. If you want to change the emoji, open the emoji keyboard and select the one you like. Note: Choose the color or emoji that best suits your brand.
  • To customize your hashtag, tap on the screen background.
  • Tap on the “X” to close the window once you are done. All changes will save automatically.

Name Tags can be scanned in two ways first by opening the Instagram stories camera and holding the screen to scan the nametag and secondly through your Instagram profile. To scan through the Instagram profile, go to the nametag tab; tap “scan a nametag”.

Once the name tag is scanned the profile that the name tag belongs to automatically opens and if the person is not yet following the account with the name tag, a large button will be displayed on the screen to enable the person to follow the page.

To increase the number of followers you have you can distribute your Instagram nametags through both online and offline channels.

You can promote your Instagram name tags on other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the nametag can also be displayed in your store and you can share them at events.

Join Instagram Engagement Groups

If you have a new account and want to increase your Instagram followers, don’t neglect engagement groups.

Engagement groups are group conversations on Instagram where the members of the group are willing to engage (comment or like) with the posts of other members in exchange for likes and comments on their posts.

Depending on the rules of the group, the members may be required to just like the post or comment only or like and comment. Everyone is expected to attend to any request submitted by a member of the group.

The secret to increasing your Instagram followers is not in joining the largest engagement groups on Instagram, it is in joining engagement groups in your niche. If for example, your brand focuses on travel photography like the screenshot below, join engagement groups in the travel niche.

Actively participating in the activities of engagement groups can increase the number of followers you have. You can go the extra mile by following the fan pages of people who interact with your content.

Run a Contest

Running Instagram contests can increase the number of followers you have.

Here’s data that proves it:

A study showed that within 3 months, the number of followers of Instagram accounts that run contests grew 70% faster than accounts that didn’t.

Data from the same study also revealed:

Instagram contests have 64 times more comments and 3.5 times more likes than regular Instagram posts.

This is proof that people love contests and in-cooperating contests into your Instagram activities will increase your followers.

When running contests on Instagram ensure that the task is easy, straight to the point and there is a reward for the winner of the contest.

To run a successful Instagram contest, you need to describe what the contest entails. If there are any rules regarding the eligibility of participants, let it be clearly stated. Guidelines, restrictions, and the start and end date of the contest should be stated.

The prize you are giving away needs to be relevant if you want to trigger the interest of your target audience. The more relevant the prize is to your target audience, the more interested they will be in the contest.

If the reward is irrelevant to your target audience, you will attract the wrong people who have no interest in your brand and once the contest is over, they will unfollow you.

The contest needs to be easy to participate in as well, if it is too hard or the requirements for participation are strict, people may get discouraged. When a contest is simple and fun, it will attract more participants and by so doing, the number of followers you have will increase.

Leave Comments on Other People’s Posts

If you want to increase your followers, it’s not just enough to like other people’s posts, you also need to drop positive or thoughtful comments. Engaging with other people’s content moves them to engage with your content too.

The best approach to this is to find not less than ten people who share the same kind of audience with you, follow them, like and regularly comment on their recent posts.

Don’t comment asking them to follow you, rather leave a positive comment about the post. The comment should be unique, interesting and eye-catchy. When you do this regularly, they will follow you. You will also be exposed to their audience who will most likely check out your profile and once they like what you have to offer, they will follow you as well.

Verizon media did this excellently by commenting on a post made by Huffpost about Virgin.

Create Instagram Ads

Running an Instagram ad campaign isn’t hard and you should give it a shot if you want to increase your followers. Creating the right type of ad and displaying them to the right audience will increase your followers.

How? Well, stats have this to say:

75% of Instagram users will interact with an ad at some point.

There are different kinds of ads available on Instagram including Instagram stories ads, which you can use. The most important aspects of using ads to get more followers IS having the right content for the ad and targeting the right audience.

Ensure that the content fits well with your target audience.

To do this effectively, you need to take out time to discover what kind of content will interest your target audience. If it is videos, they engage more with; create video content for the ad.

Once the content is in place, the next thing to do is to target the right audience using a sponsored post. When using sponsored posts, Instagram does most of the work for you. Once you input the interest, you want to promote and the gender and age range that should be targeted, Instagram will display the ads to users who fit the specification.

Don’t make the mistake of creating an Instagram ads without a call to action. A call to action will guide the target audience to take the action you want them to take. The call to action will help you to achieve your goal faster. If you want the target audience to visit your profile and follow you, clearly state it in the ads.

This is what Bejeweled did in their sponsored post ads with influencers, which resulted in massive follower boost and increased engagement.

Create Instagram Stories Filter (Augmented Reality) For Your Brand

Augmented reality is the overlaying of digital effects or animations on real pictures and videos.

This feature was first launched in 2018 but at that time, only approved creators were allowed to publish their AR. However, everyone can now create their own designs.

Instagram filters are now so common that 18% of all pictures use a filter. You can take advantage of the popularity of filters to increase your followers.

When you use your AR filter in your Stories, anyone that views a Story with your AR filter will be able to see that you created it and they can try it out.

If they do use your filter on their stories, more users will see it and also visit your profile. As this cycle continues, your followers will increase.

Here are a few things you should consider when creating your AR filter:

Keep it Simple

Your filter should be simple and fun. The simpler the filter is, the easier it will be for people to add to their picture. While keeping it simple, make sure it isn’t boring. The Disney AR filter featuring Mickey Mouse ear is very simple yet fun.

Add your Branding

To boost the publicity of your brand, add an element of your brand to the filter. This will enable users to know who created the filter and give your brand subtle publicity.

Make it Shareable

Design your filter in such a way that it prompts the users to share the filter with their followers. You can add a subtle call to action in the filter to prompt viewers to not just try it out, but also share it. The more shares your filter gets, the more followers you will get.

Have a Long – Term Partnership with Influencers

Collaborating with influencers can increase the number of loyal followers you have. Influencers already have large followership, partnering with them exposes your brand to their followers.

It isn’t just enough to have a one-off sponsored post done by an influencer, you need to have a long-term partnership to gain the trust of your target audience. While collaborating with an influencer, you can organize giveaways or any other growth tactic that will endear the audience of the influencer to you.

Don’t choose an influencer because of how many followers he has, this can be misleading because many influencers have bot followers.

It is advisable to choose an influencer within your niche, who understands your brand, has access to your target audience with quality engagements from the target market.

Here’s a great example from hawkins and shepherd promoting ECCOshoes:

Conclusion

Gaining followers on Instagram is “smart” work, with the right tips and tricks you can have your follower count skyrocket. From using clever hashtags to taking advantage of Instagram Ads, the methods in this guide will help you grow your account following with ease.