20 Proven Tactics to Increase Instagram Followers.

Most people believe posting often is key to social media stardom. However, the reality is blasting posts every hour of the day does more to hurt your online brand and drive followers away. Let’s not forget the other do’s and don’ts to increasing your social media circle.

Check out these 20 proven tactics for improving your Instagram follower count.

1. Quality over Quantity.

The key isn’t how often you are posting, it is what you are posting. One important aspect is the quality of the photos you are sharing to the world. For instance, National Geographic has over 24 million followers on Instagram. You might be telling your computer or device, “It’s the National Geographic Society! Of course they have so many followers! They are a magazine that was founded in 1889!” That’s correct, but the quality of their photos is the main selling point of the magazine. And the same goes for @Natgeo on Instagram. They post only the best photos their photographers shoot.

2. People Hate Spam. Spread Your Post Out!

The same goes for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every other social media website. If you have a few great photos, spread out the magic. If you post 10 photos at once, the same users will most likely “like” them. But if you spread them out over the course of a day or two, you increase the likelihood of attracting new followers. For example, take the idea of shooting one shotgun shell versus one bullet. The shotgun shell fires several small BBs in a spread, hitting the target in several places. On the other hand, the bullet is singular and only hits the target once. Both the shotgun shell and the bullet are fired with one pull of the trigger, but only the BBs hits the target in multiple areas. By spreading out your posts you’ll hit different users in different dayparts.

3. Post During Peak Traffic Times of the Day.

When do most people browse the Internet and all the various social media apps? Sure someone might be looking at your photos at 7am on a Sunday, but chances are you will have a better engagement 12-hours later. I prefer to post in the early morning after 7am CST so it is seen early and possibly later that day. Most people get online when they get to work and in the evenings after dinner. Radio and television has similar peak listening or viewing times that ad agencies pay top dollars to place their ads in. If marketers know when to advertise their products, you need to know when to get your photos seen by more users. If you’re looking for some statistical data on peak social media post times, check out this TrackMaven article.

4. Tag! Your it!

#Hashtags are the keyword locators for what you are sharing. If you are sharing a photo of a fun day at the community pool, how are other people looking for similar photos? Hashtags are how they find you. That poolside photo caption might read. “Having a #blast #swimming with the #kids at the @RidgeView #pool! #Summer #fun” In that one short sentence, we used six hashtags. Six possible words that other Instagrammers might be searching for. The more hashtags you can string together, the better. However, Instagram only allows for a maximum of 30 tags per photo so use only the best tags. And if you are curious what hashtags are just really popular, check Websta list of Top 100 tags (from 2014).

5. Tag! Your it! Part 2.

Using hashtags is key to drawing new followers that are interested in the same topics and subjects you are. So it’s important to tag nouns, adverbs, adjectives, and only the most descriptive verbs. Let’s use the same example we used above. Swimming is a verb; kids and pool are nouns; blast and fun describe the action; and summer is just a time of the year so we just threw a hashtag on it. Why no hashtag on “having”? Because it’s a generic verb that doesn’t describe what is in the photo. Hashtags aren’t meant to be generic, they’re meant to be specific just like your photo.

6. Get their Attention! Tag People!

Another method to gain the attention of users is to tag them in posts. The pool photo example we used earlier had the @RidgeView user tagged in the post. If this was a real user that didn’t follow us, they would be alerted to this photo. If they like your content enough, they might choose to follow you. And if you’re really lucky, that user might repost or share your photo on Instagram or on another SM network thus increasing the possibly of growing your follower count.

7. Those Little Reminders

After you’ve inserted hashtags and user tags, soliciting and reminding users they should follow you is a good practice. It can’t hurt to tell people that they really need to be one of your followers.

8. Add a Geolocation Tag

Where was that cool photo taken? By adding a geolocation tag to the post, you are telling the world where they can find the same sights or have the same experience. Let’s use the @ViralLabs Instagram feed for example. I post LOTS of outdoor photos. If there is a scenic overlook in my home state of Tennessee, most likely I’ve been there. The embedded photo below was taken at Savage Gulf State Natural Area near Palmer, TN. By adding a geotag, I’m telling followers where the photo was taken. Let’s not forget, you’re not only sharing the photo with the world, but you’re also sharing the location.

9. The More IGers You Follow, the Better the Odds They Follow You Back.

Follow4aFollow. It is a SM concept that has been around since the birth of MySpace. If you follow me, I’ll follow you. But the same isn’t always the same with Instagram and also Twitter. Choosing to follow a user may not always result in a follow in return. The National Geographic has 24 million IG followers and yet they only follow 94 IG users. Those 94 are probably 93 photographers and one president of the society. The best rule of thumb is to follow users that F4aF. They tend to be more active with reciprocating likes and comments in return. Don’t expect a professional account like @natgeo to like or comment on your photos. The professional users are great to follow, but they are poor shutter bug buddies.

10. Find Your Niche and Connect with Those that Share it.

Watersports, the outdoors, bike riding, auto racing, traveling, crafts, firearms enthusiasts, airsoft, DIY. These are all examples of niche or micro-communities on the Internet that have popular forums and websites with very active users. So the same goes on Instagram. There are scores of users that only post niche photos. Find and follow those users that share the same passions that you do.

11. Interaction is a Must!

It is all, but too easy to “like” another user’s photo. But commenting on that photo reminds them you find their content worthy of taking a few moments of your time to respond. That short social media interaction tells users you are active and not a bot. With that said, you don’t have to interact with all your followers on a daily basis, but time to time would be wise. Staying active helps keep your brand visible.

12. Generic Comments are a No No.

Everyone has those online friends that leave the shortest most generic comments on their posts. “Nice”, “that’s cool”, “great shot” are all but a few I can remember seeing on my past photos. We all see them, they aren’t personal. If something makes a photo pop, leave a comment mentioning it. “Great light”, “perfect exposure”, “cool subject matter”, “nice angle”, and the “perfect color” are all good examples of a noteworthy comments to leave. Bots leave generic comments, people share exactly what makes the photo magically.

13. Carpe Diem aka Seize the Day!

This social media nugget is about capitalizing on current events. The day before I wrote this article, the women’s U.S. Soccer team beat Japan to win the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Now, if you are an athletic apparel company or have anything to do with soccer or just a crazy soccer fan, it would behoove you to congratulate the team while posting various #FIFA, #World Cup, and #USA related hashtags to attract the attention of soccer loving Instagram followers. News events, political elections, sporting events, bizarre weather phenomenons, popular technology trends, and pop culture shockers are all key areas you might want to roll the dice with to attract new followers. Just think, this tip is as easy as looking in the newspaper (or on a popular news website) to see what the BIG story of the day is.

14. Using the Right Filter Can Draw Attention.

There is a whole micro-community of Instagram users that love the over saturated look of HDR. While some prefer the sun-kissed glow of a magic hour filter. The interesting thing is there’s actual proven research data, conducted by Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs, that points to the use of certain filters draw higher engagement than other filters. The study found “filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones.” So which filters were the biggest winners? Research showed the ones that added “warm temperatures, higher contrast, and higher exposure increase chances of receiving [both] views and comments”. In the words of Star Trek’s Spock, “fascinating”. If you’d like to pour over the data like a research student on Adderall, click here. In other words, people REALLLLLY like HDR photos.

15. An Oldie, but a Goodie. The Photo Contest.

Anytime someone mentions the words “contest” or “give-away” online I reminisce back to my radio days doing promotions in Nashville. Photo contests are an easy and also cheap way to add new followers and create a buzz for yourself. Just announce the prize, the deadline, what photos qualify, and what #hashtag to post. The idea is so popular, both Instagram and the Social Media Examiner published “How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest”.

16. Science Shows People Really Like Emojis.

If feels silly to add this as a tip, but Instagram’s own data proves the silly face icons and other characters improve engagement versus posts with just plain old text. Andrew Thompson over at Post Planner noticed the same impact of the tiny little icons, adding it “TRIPLED [his] Instagram engagement by calling in a sniper squad of cute little emojis.” WOW! Who would have thought that small little winkie face had so much power online?!?! Andrew points out, photos like the one below are proven to draw high engagement.

17. Cross Promotion is the Name of the Game.

For some time Instagram has made it simple to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare. So share away, but don’t forget to remind your friends on the other social media sites that they really should follow you on Instagram too. Just because someone friends you on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, it doesn’t mean they know you exist on Instagram. If you want to get really creative, add this Instagram feed to your Facebook page. It’s simple and free.

18. How to Effectively Add Links in Instagram.

Currently, Instagram blocks the ability to click-thru a hyperlink inserted into the comments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found this so frustrating. However, there is a work around to this problem. Try adding the URL into the “location” field or add it to your profile with the caveat of “link in my profile” to the photo comments. It may not be the perfect system, but it is better than nothing.

19. Video Can Tell a Story Photos Cannot!

With the addition video to Instagram, your message is like a short :15 television commercial shared with the world. The site locowise.com ran the numbers discovering that “only 10.81% of all posts [were] in a video format, 17.51% of all comments are posted on video posts”. What that means is posts with video scored big. Want more proof? Take the infographic below as an example of why marketing and engagement on Instagram is better than Facebook or Twitter. Add some video to your post and those numbers will improve.

april 2015 engagement20. Go Forth and Explore!

This one is easy. Not every photo or social media post will resonate, so don’t be afraid to try something different and experiment. Sometimes it’s better to be the trendsetter than the trend follower. Experience and learn from your efforts.

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