It certainly helps if you are famous and able to take advantage of synergies with other social medias. But it’s not necessary. You can get many followers simply by posting good images and producing a great feed. Many successful Instagramers are rather anonymous outside Instagram.
I presume it’s an advantage to get followers who are genuinely interested in whatever type of images or motives you post. Consequently, the first advice is to analyse and define your target market. Where are they geographically? What feeds do they like? What are the typical motives? What do the successful Instagramers do in that segment? How do they tag their images?
Eight advices for success:
- Produce the right images and create an attractive feed. Content and quality of the images is of great importance, but also the gallery itself. Good and creative captions will also help to connect with your followers and is very important to make them to stay with you.
- Tag your photos to make them appear in the right feeds. If your passion is food you can probably do better tagging your images #foodporn or #healthyfood rather than #TagsForLikes. Many advisers on the Internet will tell you to use popular tags, but the disadvantage of that is that your images will disappear far down in the feed much faster. The response on feeds like #instagood is short, while less popular tags may result in new followers long after posting. You may use many tags, so exploit all useful tags that apply to you image. Use cut and paste to save time, but be careful to use relevant tags.
- Like and comment on others’ images. It’s so easy to go to someone’s feed and to explore images. Comments and questions are almost always answered and increase the possibility to get new followers’. Don’t forget to answer comments on your own photos too.
- Follow other people. Many follow back. A quick survey shows, provided the image interest is right, that about 50 per cent follow back. And of course, the quality of your own feed makes all the difference when it comes to response ratio. The fewer followers people have, the more likely they are to discover you. Instagramers with more then 10k followers is for an obvious reason not able to check the response on images the way someone with less than 100 is.
- Make icons. Keep in mind that the images appear very small on mobile phones. It’s not possible to zoom in on the picture on Instagram. High contrast and clear images works generally better if it’s possible to see the motive on the thumbnails.
- Keep your gallery clean. Remove images that have few likes. 50 excellent pictures make a better impression than 500 with varying quality. And the last 50 are the most important. Be consistent with the content. If people follow you for beautiful nature images, you can expect some to leave you if you start posting portraits.
- Create relationships with your followers. Good captions are also important. A good image can often become better or more interesting if you can put it in a context.
- Don’t post too many pictures at once. Many unfollow if you are bombarding their feed. Optimum flow is maximum three to four images per day, preferably not more than one image at a time. I have the best response at 22-01 CET and slightly more on Saturdays than on other days. The minimum level depends on what you want to achieve, but in order to remain in your followers memory it is good to post at least once per week, preferably once per day.
Start by creating a nice feed of at least 20 images and explore other Instagramers’ in your niche of interest. Then find people to follow. If you follow to many, there is a risk that you will not be taken seriously. With a thousand Instagramers in your friends’ feed it is almost a full time job to see all the images. Those who follow that many may have pressed the follow button, but what good is that if they never see your images?
When you begin to follow someone, give him or her some time to discover you. Then, if they haven’t begun to follow back, you can unfollow and select new ones’ to follow. Many follow others only to dump them after they follow back. Remember that People may be disappointed if it becomes too obvious.
Cheating is possible
There are plenty of ghost followers, spammers and junk out there. Just ignore them. And don’t become one yourself.
There are a number of methods to cheat and a number of methods to get followers the way that Instagram intended. We of course recommend the latter, but it might be interesting to know about the less recommendable methods.
If you want to cheat you can do it in two ways. The first and maybe most obvious way is to buy followers for a small fee. There are a number of services for this on the Internet. Suddenly you may have 5 000 followers and after a few weeks you’ll be back to where you were before. Maybe you’ll get some extra followers because they believed you are popular. But the truth is, you are not.
There is also software and web services that can act as one or many users on Instagram. With a few mouse clicks you can automatically and immediately like all the images with a particular tag, as they are uploaded to Instagram. Similarly, you can automate the interaction with other users such as comments, follow and unfollow users. When people follow back they can be unfollowed according to pre-set rules. But don’t go this way. It takes away the fun and the satisfaction of recieving followers for what you publish.
Tools for statistics
It’s much better to use a good tool for keeping track of your images and followers that comply with the Instagram rules of conduct. Look especially at the app Instafollow and the web service Statigram. These can help you become a more skilled Instagramer and help you post better images.
Getting your images featured
To have your images featured by for instance Instabest, Skyporn etc, is of course flattering and appreciated by many, but it seldom has any impact on your number of followers. The likes and comments that follow such honours don’t appear in your own feed and most Instagramers doesn’t bother to check out the featured artists. You should try it yourself however. It’s a great way of finding excellent artists to follow.
As usual, when it comes to social media, it is good to consider what to post beforehand, so that you don’t get an unwanted surprise. It would be a shame if you get a fatwa on yourself or is perceived as sexist, racist, or just plain stupid, because you were to hasty. Most of us, it can always remove the image and it will quickly be forgotten. But if you are a celebrity, politician or business leader, it can totally derail, spreading in social media like wildfire overnight.
If you are a professional, don’t hesitate to first show your images to friends before you post. You may get unexpected feedback.
Finally you should ask yourself if it’s really important to have many followers? Isn’t the quality and interactions with the ones you have more important?