One of the most powerful marketing tools that you can use when you’re trying to build and expand your business is Instagram. While most have focused mostly on Facebook and YouTube, Instagram is often a platform that people would just create and account and leave it alone. However, if your business is in sectors such as fashion, food, or a niche that often needs to show off beautiful images, then this visual platform is what you need to focus on today. I’m sharing here 60 powerful tips that you can leverage on to build your business and followers on Instagram.
(1) Develop a Clear Social Media Strategy
Have a clear social media strategy across all your digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or others. This will let you confirm your objective and all your staff or team members can then align all their efforts towards that objective and start attracting the targeted followers.
(2) Develop a Brand Story
You should also develop a brand story that aligns with your objective to increase your Instagram followers. This is so that you can create your content according to your objective. How did your company started? Was it due to certain challenges and you wanted to solve those challenges? Do you have an employee that’s extra special? Share your story on the visual platform, maintain a consistent voice and personality and your followers on Instagram will be engaged.
(3) Choose a Short and Good Username and Profile Photograph
Choose a short and easy to remember username that’s relevant to your business. Try as much as possible not to use weird symbols like underscores, hyphens or exclamation marks as it will look like a spam account.
Also choose a good, clear photograph that represents your business, be it a logo or a product/service so that potential followers will know what your niche is all about when deciding whether to follow you. For example, if your business is all about dogs and dog-related merchandise, use a photo of a dog logo or a dog and also litter your profile with dog photos.
(4) Get an Instagram Shoutout on Other Social Media
If your business has other social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, be sure to promote your Instagram account there. It’s very likely that your followers on other channels will follow you without a thought.
(5) Offline Channels are Great too!
If your business also have stores or outlets, staff business cards, products with packaging or company shared transport like company cars or vans, you can also print a sticker and stick it on them with your Instagram account handle. Put this handle also on signage during your activities and events as this can help increase your followers too.
(6) Use Relevant Hashtags
Use hashtags that are suitable and relevant to your post and also try to use more than one word for your hashtags. Mix them up to tell a story such as #storyofmyicecreamshop or #naturalhealing.
(7) Use Popular Hashtags
Also try to use popular and trending hashtags that can help increase Instagram followers so that you let Instagram users know your intention. Using research tools, we found that the most popular hashtags include #tbt, #instagood, #beautiful, #amazing and #photooftheday. But use hashtag generators such as all-hashtag.com or seekmetrics hashtag generator to find which are the hashtags that are top and trending in your industry.
(8) Create a Dedicated Hashtag for your Company
You can also choose to create a dedicated hashtag for your company, such as #johnvintageshop, and put it on your profile everywhere, such as on your social media profiles, website, emails and also in your outlets, delivery vans, mobile sales vehicles if you have. Use this dedicated hashtag on your photos and don’t forget to include it in your bio. Give your fans a small prize if they use it to share any images or content about your company.
(9) Like Other Instagrammers’ Images
Try and like images of the Instagram accounts in your industry or the industry that your target audience are in. A tried and tested formula used by most famous influencers and bloggers, it helps them to increase their followers every time they execute it.
(10) Drop a Comment on Other Instagrammers’ Photos
Dropping a relevant comment on other Instagram accounts’ images is one of the fastest and easiest way to get new followers on Instagram. Use suitable hashtags to find other Instagram accounts in your industry, scan through and find suitable accounts, and then comment on their photos. Some will start to follow your account.
(11) Develop a Competition or Contest
Start a contest or competition for your followers on Instagram. For instance, upload an image on Instagram that has your contest details, or even a related photo or vector, asking your Instagram followers to like it, use some relevant hashtags and also tag, for instance, at least 2 to 3 friends in order to qualify for the contest.
You should also share your contest on other social media account such as Twitter, Facebook or even YouTube and Pinterest. As much as possible, try to list the perks and special offers that your fans or followers can get if they follow your account.
(12) Post Photos at the Right Time
As much as possible, you should upload photos at the time when your target audience are most active on Instagram. For Singapore, it’s in the mornings between 7am – 9am and 6pm – 8pm when the workers are on the trains, and the only thing that most of them will do is check their phones and social media. The optimum timing could be different across different countries, so do research and try different timings to find your most effective time. Check out Instagram’s native insights for more statistics on your time and followers.
(13) Find and Follow!
You should regularly search for hashtags such as #follow, #followme, #tagsforfollowers, #likeforlike, #followus, #followback and follow people in your industry or niche. Many will likely follow your account back.
(14) Follow Random Users Under “Suggestions”
Under the section “suggestions for you” on Instagram, there should be some users that have been suggested for you. Follow those that you think are related to your business because as a rule of thumb, about 20 to 30 percent of them will likely follow you back.
(15) Use Bright and Nice Photographs
Instagram is mainly a visual platform, so remember to only post photos or images that are nice and adhere to your brand image. Hire an in-house photographer or use a good smartphone to take your photos, or use Photoshop to touch-up any blemishes. Some tips are to choose a theme for your account, for example, according to colours, such as whether it’s black and white, colourful or in one particular brand colour only.
(16) Make Use of Your Bio
Your Instagram bio is the most important space in your account and the only place where you are allowed to place an active link. So make use of it to include as many relevant information as possible, such as your website URL, relevant keywords, what you do and hashtags. Make sure also to include as much information as possible in your Name space; try to include some keywords there too. One small tip – change your URL once a week or twice a month to your sub-domains to highlight another product or service and set up another post to promote this new URL.
(17) Insert Your Instagram Button on Your Website
Insert an Instagram widget to plug your account into your official website, so that your web visitors will be led to your Instagram account to follow you. This can be in the footer of your website, or any of the side bars.
(18) Ask Questions!
When uploading your posts, also try to ask questions in the captions, especially intriguing questions that your followers will be eager and tempted to answer, either to win a prize or share their knowledge. For example, “Double tap if you agree!” or “Share your experience below!” This will increase engagement on your account.
(19) Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories, a relatively new feature of the platform, is often a lesser use but very important feature of Instagram. You can use this feature to showcase your raw images or videos that your followers love, for example, your factory or working environment, behind-the-scene images or your staff or team. Make it fun for your followers!
(20) Use Some Filters
Keep using filters! Try to choose 3 or 4 of filters that fit your images and use them in different ways. But remember to keep to a uniform theme to make your account stay professional. Research have shown that the Mayfair filter is the most effective filter for marketers, but there are other popular ones such as X-Proll, Lomo-fi, Hefe and Earlybird filters. Try and see if it works for you.
(21) Post on Sundays
Try to post on days where there are less posts, such as Sundays according to research, to see if your posts will get more engagements and likes on this day.
(22) Post Often!
It is important to post as often as you can, at least once a day to make sure your account keeps active. Some followers will drop off if you post too many times daily but don’t be afraid to post because research have shown that there is no relationship between the amount of posts and the engagement received.
(23) Cross Promote With Users Who Have Similar Audience
Look for accounts with similar audience to your business, and attempt to build a relationship. Ask them if they can do a co-promotion with you, or even give a shoutout on each other’s Instagram. An example would be photography and fashion products, or photography and food accounts. However, don’t overdo it or else your account might start to look spammy.
(24) Leave Thought Provoking or Funny Comments
Go ahead with liking photos, following new accounts that are relevant to your niche, and leave thought provoking or funny comments that’s appropriate to the images posted. Do it in a genuine manner to show that you are not a bot. Also respond to your followers if they leave any questions on your Instagram.
(25) Be Strategic with Your Comments
This strategy is from Sue Zimmerman, an Instagram expert. Firstly, list down between 10 to 20 people or brands with audience that are similar to yours. Visit each individual account and leave genuine comments or feedback on their latest posts. Always attempt to be the last one to leave a comment so that those who sees that post in the future will see your comment. Do not use generic, one or two-word comments that sounds like a bot, such as “nice pic!”, “cool!” or “keep it up!”. The key here is to be genuine and engage with your audience.
(26) Use Geotagging
Geotag your photos if your business is active in one location, so that other Instagrammers who are located in the same location will see your posts on the location’s page and some might just like or follow your account.
(27) Use a SaaS Software to Look for Photos with the Highest Engagement
Use a SaaS software such as Instagram Feed WD, Hootsuite, SocialInsider, SocialRank or Crowdfire to look for images with the highest engagement on other accounts. Also do research on your own feed using the native insights and post more similar photos that will get you more or as much engagement.
(28) Sync Your Instagram with Facebook
One important task that you must do is to sync your Instagram account with Facebook as this will likely increase the chance of your feeds appearing on both social networks when you post on Instagram, potentially increasing your chance for new followers. Just head over to ‘Settings’ on Instagram and you will see an option for you to link to a Facebook page.
(29) Show Appreciation for Your Followers
Constantly engage your base of followers on Instagram, interact with them and be involved actively in the community. Respond to their comments, follow them, engage with their posts and see your fan base skyrocket.
(30) Multiple Photos into A Collage
Stitch many photos together into a huge collage, slice them up into square sizes like each Instagram post, and them upload them one by one together in the correct sequence on Instagram. You can either do it manually in an image editing software like Photoshop, or use an app like PicFrame to help you. Such a post will most likely give you a much higher level of engagement on Instagram.
(31) Partner with An Influencer
In the search bar, key in some related keywords in your niche to look for some influencers. Then turn on the post notifications to be alerted every time they share new posts. Select some influencers and strongly advocate your cause and ask them if they could mention you in their post or tag your products or services. It takes time to nurture such a relationship with influencers, so do not push for it too hastily.
(32) Use ‘Comment’ or ‘Comments’ In Your Captions
Using ‘Comment’ or ‘Comments’ in your posts’ captions can sometimes help you get more likes and followers. This is according to research as well as testimonials from influencers. For example, you can say “Let us know what you think of our new product! Comment below to get a gift if you are selected!”
(33) Analyze Your Competitors
Check out your competitors, such as the kind of content they are creating for their followers on Instagram and whether such posts are getting followers, likes or engagement. If not, find out why, and if some posts are working well, modify them to suit your brand or product.
(34) A Face Speaks a Thousand Words
Usually, using faces of humans with happy expressions or cute pets such as dogs, cats or rabbits will likely give you more likes and followers. This does not only apply to Instagram actually, but on all other marketing channels too, as research have shown.
(35) Follow Popular Users Who Follow Many Accounts
Look for Instagram accounts that follow many users, much more than they have followers, as this may mean that they are looking to increase their followers on Instagram rapidly. Follow them, and they will very likely follow you back.
(36) Post on Wednesdays
Research have shown that posting on Wednesdays will receive slightly more engagement than those images posted on other week days. It might not work for every industry but there’s really no harm trying it and testing this strategy for yourself.
(37) Check that Your Profile Has Been Set to Public
Do check that your profile has already been set to public by clicking ‘Options’ in your Instagram account, and then make sure that your ‘Private Account’ is turned off.
(38) Post Images with More Light
Again, research have shown that photographs that have 65 to 85 percent light gets on average 24 percent more likes than those that are less than 45 percent light. Strange, but true. There’s no harm in trying it on a few posts.
(39) Post Photos that are Blue
Similarly, photographs of things that are blue are said to get 24 percent more likes than photos of things that are in orange or red.
(40) Use a Combination of Short and Long Hashtags
Use a mixture of short and long hashtags, including short ones such as #picaday, #instasg and long ones such as #vintageredshoes or #cutelittlekittens. This is because the short hashtags will expose you to more people in general, while the longer hashtags will give you more targeted followers who are more likely to buy from you.
(41) Tag People In Your Photos
Tag your followers on Instagram or people in the same niche to ensure that these photos show up in their feeds, thereby exposing your posts and making them more likely to be shared and liked.
(42) Use Apps to Speed Up Your Tagging Process
Use this strategy sporadically, but you could try using mobile apps such as Instag, TagsForLikes, or InstaTags4Likes to speed up the tagging process and increase your post likes and engagement. These apps allow you to just copy and paste a variety of popular tags that are trending on the day you post.
(43) Local Strategy
Keep track of what’s happening in your country, or the country in which your business operates, by going to the search page and choosing ‘Places’, typing in the name of your country. Then you can view all geotagged posts for your own location. Use this data to see what kinds of posts get more responses in your location, and modify them accordingly for your own account.
(44) Find Friends in Your Phone’s Contact List
Check out the ‘Find Friends’ button on the top right hand corner of your screen, which grabs your friends’ Instagram accounts according to their mobile phones. Ask to follow them and encourage them to be your followers on Instagram.
(45) Publicise Your Instagram Account to Your Email List
This strategy can do wonders if you have a huge email list. When you are sending out your promotions or news updates to your email list, do remember to include your Instagram account handle so that your email subscribers can check out your account and follow you. You can also run a contest on your account for them so that they know that in order to win a prize, they have to follow your Instagram account.
(46) Delete Tagged Photos that You Don’t Want
It’s good for your brand image to only feature the best content about your business on your Instagram account, so do remove any user-generated tagged photos of you or your business from your account. How do you do that? Just tap on ‘Edit Tags’, and then select the ones that you want to remove and ‘Hide from Profile’.
Under ‘Options’, ‘Photos of You’ and then ‘Add Manually’, change your settings so that tagged photos will not show on your profile unless you physically approve them.
(47) Schedule Your Posts
Use software such as Hootsuite or Latergramme to schedule your Instagram posts because it is important to post consistently to increase your followers over time. Schedule it to post at least once a day, or twice a day, track the follower increase on your insights and modify your strategy accordingly.
(48) Amaze Your Audience with a Story
Use short, interesting snippets or stories to get the attention of your audience. Amaze them constantly with good, targeted stories with well-taken images and this will make them like and follow you.
(49) Insert Your Instagram Images or Posts in Selected Blog Posts
Place some of your best posts on Instagram on your website or blog sections, so that visitors to your website or blog will also know about your Instagram account’s content, and if they like it, they will likely choose to follow you.
(50) Try to Get on the Instagram Explore Tab
At the bottom of Instagram, you can see a small magnifying glass icon – that’s the Instagram Explore, where there is a curation of the most popular posts of either images, videos or posts from Instagram Stories. Although it’s not so easy to get featured here, do try to create engaging content that are targeted at your audience to get noticed, and if that happens, you will see an explosion of likes and followers.
(51) Use the More Important Keywords to the Front
Use the most important keywords in the front part of your captions on posts, as some text will be cut off at the end when Instagrammers are browsing through their feeds.
(52) Ask Your Followers to Tag Their Friends
Ask your followers on Instagram to tag their friends in the comments below your posts to increase engagement. You can say something like “Tag a friend whom you think will love this!” or “Tag your buddies who want to win this prize too!”
(53) Emojis Work Wonders
Emojis are like highlighters on Instagram, bringing to light your posts. Use them on some of your posts to generate more comments, likes and followers.
(54) Share Interesting Videos
As much as possible, use videos on your Instagram to engage followers actively. For example, you could upload your live events, conferences, seminars, live promotions, or your fans gathering. Any activities that you have offline can be very interesting for your fans online. Set it to disappear after it ends or let it remain there for 24 hours. Videos on Instagram is more likely to get you likes and engagement.
(55) Use Captions with Different Lengths
Long content usually works better than short ones, but for different industries, this could be reverse. Try it on your account and see which format works better. For example, try a spectacular image with a short caption or a simple, clean image with a long caption. See and track which one works better for your business and audience.
(56) Get Statistics from Instagram Insights
Check out Instagrams’ native insights and you can see which posts are giving you the best engagement, likes and followers. You can also check out the age, gender and location of your top followers. Such statistics will let you see the trends so you can tweak your strategy accordingly.
(57) Get a Small Team to Manage the Account
Get a small team of at least 2 persons or executives to manage your Instagram account. This must be someone who is well versed in the intricacies of Instagram and social media, and not just any intern that have many followers on Instagram, and whom you hence think is an ‘expert’. You should also brief your Instagram managers with your objectives and KPIs, and let them know of specific dos and don’ts before handling over the task to them.
(58) Create a Common Storage Folder for Contributions
Create a folder in your Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, where everyone in the company can contribute videos, stories or images. Make it fun and rewarding for your staff by providing an attractive prize for content that are to be used for your Instagram account.
(59) Keep Different Accounts
Do not use your personal Instagram account for your business. Create another one for your business with exclusive images or videos that are relevant for your target audience, as branding is very important for any business or startup.
(60) Develop Your Own Theme
As mentioned above, you can create a theme or branding style for your Instagram account as this will in general give you more followers. Find a theme that’s suitable for your brand, and integrate this into your images, videos and captions. For example, themes that are in the same uniform colours, or adhere to a certain image like food, animals or fitness are more popular.
Using Ads to Increase Followers on Instagram
Finally, you can choose to buy some Instagram ads to boost your followers, as this is a much faster way to grow your account. This is useful as you will likely get more targeted users based on location, demographics, interests or behaviours.
These 60 free ways to increase your followers on Instagram are not difficult to follow, though some of them might take some time to implement. Pick those that you’re more comfortable with, see which ones work, and replicate them again. With more than 800 million users monthly, you just cannot ignore this platform as a business, as it’s an affordable way to generate brand awareness and leads.