There are many ways to increase your following on Instagram or any other social network, but going the wrong route can get your account banned. Buying followers or mass follow / unfollowing are ways to get whacked by the ban hammer.

You don’t want that, especially if you’re using Instagram to promote your business. You need a smart strategy combined with good tools of the trade. Let’s look at how it’s done.

1. The basics

Make sure you stick to one particular topic which your product or service is about. Theme-based profiles get a lot more following than random profiles that try to do everything for everyone. Pick a catchy profile pic relevant to the topic that you have outlined for yourself. While choosing a username, minimize the number of underscores if you don’t get the desired username right away.

For a good example, let’s Take a look at Instagram’s own profile.

Instagrams profile on the social network

2. Hashtags

Using the right hashtags in your posts is as important as the post itself. To get an idea of what hashtags are trending head to websta.me. It not only gives you top 100 hashtags but also top locations, most followed, most popular posts and most following (an astounding 1 million people have been followed by photogeekdom. My guess is they either used a bot or spent years following people manually.)

Pay careful attention to popular posts to get an idea of what works and what does not. You can also insert some related hashtags in your bio which could make your profile more searchable.

3. Hashtag app

Since hashtags are so important it’s better to use an app to help you with it. TagsforLikes is an app which quickens the tagging process. It can identify trending hashtags and automatically apply them for you. But keep in mind that some users may be turned off if they feel you’re abusing hashtags. The hashtag is like a topic guideline, so it should be relevant to the content you’re sharing.

Another tip is to add these hashtags to older photos. This could revive some of them and the effort put in could be worth the engagement. In addition you can add your own unique hashtag with all other tags.

For example, if you are in the fitness industry and your company’s name is Exercise Hero you could make that you own unique hashtag #ExcerciseHero and make sure this tag is in your bio too. If it catches on, you could reap a windfall of engagement.

4. Scheduling tools

Posting at optimum times will help you gain more followers. Create posts with a good schedule in mind. Posting two or more photos at a time can be detrimental. Too many photos at once will clog up people’s timelines and can annoy them enough to unfollow you. Keep a systematic schedule using freely available web tools.

ScheduGram is a tool which can be used for bulk posting and have them posted at times of your choice. Instapult and Latergramme do the same but all of them come with a cost from $9.50 to $13. This could be especially useful if you are going for a break or during a conference when you are juggling too many things to be bothered with Instagram.

5. Timing

Now that you have the tools to schedule posts all you need to know is the right time to make the post. To get this information you can use a tool called Iconosquare, which was formerly known as Statigram.

It’s a good analytics tool for Instagram which not only indicates the peak hours to post but also lets you know which of your posts have been the most liked and shared. You can also access a follower growth chart. Other features include holding a contest.

You can also follow or unfollow Instagram users from within Iconosquare.

6. Give and get shout outs

Imagine someone with tens of thousands of followers gives you a shoutout and your Instagram following jumps up by a few hundred. Though it’s pretty rare for something like that to happen, you can start with giving out shoutouts and maybe they would return the favour. Leverage your people skills and get some friends to do it for you. Every follower counts.

7. Engage with other people

I have personally noticed that liking and commenting on people’s photos actually increases engagement on my own posts. Not only that, you can gain followers by engaging with relevant people in your community.

8. Type of posts to make

Content is key no matter what social network it is. If you take a good look at the top posts using websta.me you’ll see that most of them are personal and lifestyle based. Fancy cars, luxurious lifestyle, and food images seem to make it to the top most of the time.

Initially you may need to experiment a little with what works and doesn’t work for your account. Then you can zero down on the type of posts to make regularly.

9. Sync Facebook, Twitter and other networks

This is an easy way to increase your following. Your friends will be more likely to follow you than strangers. Just by connecting to Facebook I receive a hundred more followers. You can also choose to post the pictures from Instagram to these social networks.

This will create more awareness about your Instagram account and you’ll add up those precious followers.

10. Make a collage of pics

This will help you create more variety on your profile. There are several apps which can help you do this. You can use InstaCollage or Picstitch for this purpose.
If your account is about food then you can create a collage of starters, main courses, and dessert. Being creative can surely do wonders to your account.

11. Organize a contest

This is good strategy to go viral quickly. Contests can help you create awareness about your brand and bring in a lot of followers. When non-followers will see how much value your followers are getting they will gladly hit the follow button and engage with you.

 

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