I’ll admit that I’ve avoided writing this specific blog post for a while. Not because it’s not a valid topic, but because I’ve hidden this message in other blog posts to avoid the hustle of finding more followers on Instagram.
You see, one of the (if not the) most common question I get asked is how to get more followers on Instagram. People are obsessed with growing their follower counts. And, yes, I get it. I do! I’m happy to see my numbers go up, just like anyone else. BUT, there’s so much more to growing a following on Instagram than *just* the number of followers.
So, to appease those of you who keep asking, this blog post will focus on my strategic tips to get more quality followers on Instagram. That means finding your ideal target audience. That means that your follower count isn’t going to explode exponentially overnight. That means putting in real work to find and gain those followers.
These tips are not games, tricks, or even simple solutions.
They are work. But they do work!
And I’m not talking about any tools or 3rd party apps to facilitate this either. These are things to do within the Instagram platform.
This is probably one of my favorite ways to track down new audiences and followers on Instagram. I “insta-stalk” event hashtags where my target audience are hanging out. For me, that’s usually at social media conferences. Whenever there is a major social media conference going on anywhere in the world, that I find out about, I go stalk that hashtag on Instagram throughout the conference.
Depending on the size of the conference and the level of Instagram activity, I may have to check in on the hashtag multiple times a day or maybe only once a day. I scroll through every single post shared on that hashtag and “like” everything of relevance, posted by anyone at that event. Which means I usually end up liking every post (there are some that aren’t appropriate that I may not actually engage with, but these are minimal).
Why does this work? Because my target audience are people who want help with managing social media. Who do you think is attending social media conferences? My target audience! Then, when I go through and like all these people’s posts, my name is showing up in their notifications repeatedly. They think, “hey, who’s this jenns_trends person?” and they come over, look at my profile, usually realize I’m someone they are interested in following, and there you have it – I have a bunch of new followers, all of whom are my target audience.
Depending on the size of the event, the number of people posting, and their level of engagement, I can get anywhere from 10-50 new followers per conference. Like I warned before – this isn’t explosive growth overnight. But those are highly targeted individuals who are likely to engage with my content and end up on my email list.
You can easily do the same thing, finding events and gatherings related to your industry. You can also find hobbies or interests that appeal to your target audience and use the same strategy.
Hashtags on Your Posts
I’ve honestly written about hashtags plenty of times, and I recently wrote about my specific hashtag strategy to find your target audience on Instagram. So rather than rehash that here, you can go read that post for all those details.
Who Follows Your Competitors
If your competitors or other influencers in your industry/niche have good followings and good engagement from their followers, investigate who those people are and engage with them.
You can see all the people who like their posts or who comment on their posts. Go check out those people’s accounts, like a few of their posts, leave a comment (not spammy, self-promotional crap!). If you generate that engagement on their content, they are likely to follow you and engage with your content… especially if they already have an interest in another company in your space.
You can take advantage of your existing audience to help you grow your audience with their friends on Instagram. Find fun and unique ways to ask your followers to mention (aka tag) their friends on your posts. Now, don’t do this all the time, but mix it into your strategy for effective results.
Some things that work well are sharing a valuable tip or tutorial or breaking industry news. Then, in your post caption, leave a call-to-action asking your followers to tag their friends in the comments that would find this helpful. Some people also do this with motivational posts or inspiration pieces and ask their followers to tag their friends who can relate or who can benefit from this post.
Get creative with what works for your brand and your content strategy, but think of reasons why people would want to share with their friends, and use that!
User Generated Content
Speaking of having your audience do the work for you, have them create content around your brand and share it to their own Instagram accounts. They do all the work, you get the rewards 😉
If you’re a product based business, this is sometimes easier because your customers are actually using your product. Include a thank you message with their packaging that encourages them to post to Instagram with a hashtag and by tagging your company.
If you’re a service based business, you might have to get a little more creative, but there are ways to do this. Whenever I host a live seminar, I encourage attendees to take a photo of the event and post it to Instagram. The same thing goes for webinars or even podcasts – if they’re learning and listening, I want them to share it with their friends and tell them it’s with @jenns_trends.
Their friends trust them and if they are promoting your brand on Instagram, then you can bet you’ll get some more targeted followers on Instagram too.
Partner with Parallel Brands
A great way to build your audience with target customers is to partner with another brand that has your target audience. Then each of you mutually support each other to your audiences via shout outs or features in order to get new exposure.
The key here is to do this with brands that are parallel to what you do, but not direct competitors. For example, a clothing company may partner with a jewelry company. A florist may partner with a photographer. A web designer may partner with a printing company. You see where these are aligned companies, but the two partners aren’t direct competitors to each other.
Then, of course, you want to enter into an agreed upon relationship where you state the terms and expectations for your exposure on each other’s profiles. How will exposure be given? A regram? A shout out? A piece of content that combines both your products and you both post the same image? How often will you promote each other to your respective audiences? You want to ensure you are both in agreement before any cross-promotion is done.
But, you can set one of the criteria for contest entry to follow your account, and the second criteria as having all entrants mention 3 (or two or at least one) of their friends in the comments on your post. This directly exposes you to new people and if they want to participate in the contest too, they have to follow you and name more people. This is hugely valuable to grow your audience quickly. And, as your audience gets used to you regularly hosting these contests, engagement and participation will grow – as will your audience.
To be honest, I’m a pretty big fan of Instagram Live. And as new features roll out and it expands, it will only get more powerful. The great thing about Instagram Live videos right now is that they aren’t “super” popular with brands and businesses, which means if you’re running a live broadcast, you have a good chance of showing up in the Explore/Search area on Instagram and getting in front of new, targeted users.
If you’re good with video, and enjoy doing live broadcasts, this should definitely be a part of your strategy, and not just to get more followers on Instagram.
There are other ways you can utilize Instagram and various 3rd party tools to generate more followers. You *could* also buy followers but that’s an absolute hell-to-the-no in my book. There are always other tricks or tactics, but these listed here are my tried and tested tactics and the tactics that I recommend to my clients.