How to Get Followers on Instagram: Actionable Steps for 2021
Did you know that Instagram helps about 80% of people decide to buy a product or use a service? No wonder over 70% of American businesses are learning how to get followers on Instagram.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world with more than one billion users. It offers great potential whether you want to gain followers for your business or purely social needs.
When compared to Facebook, Instagram can generate four times more interactions, making it invaluable for social marketing. Need to increase your brand reach and boost sales? Instagram can help, if you have enough followers.
Instagrammers spend almost an hour a day on the platform, so there is ample time for them to see your content. You just need to get your account noticed by the right people, and for that you need a good Instagram following.
Businesses are just as popular as influencers on Instagram — half of its users follow at least one business account. But how can you get those followers to notice you?
Stick around, because that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing. There are many strategies you can employ to gain followers on Instagram, but we’re only looking at the top 14 options.
14 Actionable Ways to Get More Instagram Followers In 2021
There is a lot of advice on how to get followers on Instagram floating around on the internet. Some of the suggestions and ideas offered are really good, others not so much.
We’ve gathered the most useful and impactful information from various sources to give you the best shot at making your Instagram account work for you.
We’ll discuss topics such as Instagram Stories, live video content, your Instagram profile, engagement, fake followers, and more.
It’s possible that not all of the tips will work for you, but you will find at least a few ideas to get your Instagram account more followers than it already has.
Without further ado, let’s dive into how you can grow your Instagram account and get people to hit that follow button!
1. Establish the Purpose of Your Instagram Account
The first thing you need to do is determine what your goals are for your Instagram account.
Do you want your Instagram followers to buy from your e-commerce shop? Do you need to drive more traffic to your website? Are you hoping to boost sales through clever posts and contests?
All of the above?
This step is fundamental, without a good idea on what you want to achieve, you cannot plan any other strategies.
More than half of Instagram users follow their favourite brands, yours could be supported as well. But, only if you nail this step and have a way to keep yourself accountable for expected outcomes.
When you have your goals pinned down, you can measure your results and determine your return on investment.
If there’s no rewards to work towards, there’s no real point to learning how to get followers on Instagram. What will you do with them when you have them? How will you use your account to convince people to buy what you’re selling?
Be as specific as you can be with your goals, that makes it easier to make sure you’re getting the most out of Instagram.
Here are a few examples of goals for an Instagram account:
- Drive website traffic
- Connect with influencers
- Improve audience engagement
- Boost sales
- Generate an affiliate marketing income
- Build a loyal brand following
- Improve brand reputation
These are just a few ideas and your own will be unique to your situation. Keep in mind that although you need to have goals, they may change as you grow your Instagram account and your business.
As long as you always have something to work towards, you won’t lose sight of what’s important.
2. Build a Brilliant Content Strategy
How do you build a brilliant strategy? How do you know it’s brilliant, anyway? It can feel easier said than done, but it’s absolutely possible.
Don’t feel like your content strategy has to be perfect or flawless. You just have to put a lot of thought and love into this – it’s the foundation of your success.
You know your goals for your Instagram account, so now it’s time that you think about the content you’ll be sharing.
Remember, the content you create and put out into the world will be judged, and sometimes harshly. Make sure that you only come up with content that reflects your brand.
When thinking about how to get followers on Instagram, you need to consider what kind of content gets the most attention.
Instagram is a visual platform, so you won’t be creating a lot of text-based content. Don’t get me wrong though, text still has its place, it’s just overshadowed by videos and images.
Avoid creating random content – you’ll attract random followers and that won’t do your brand any good. These followers won’t be passionate about the same things as you, they won’t be invested in your brand.
As such, they won’t take the actions you want from your Instagram followers.
Use your set out goals to influence the content strategy you build. That way, your content will have more impact and more valuable results.
Don’t neglect putting meaning behind everything you create. Your content should have context, or it might just fall flat.
For the best results with your content, it needs to be delivered to the right people, at the right moment.
This can seem like something tricky to get right, but it’s not as difficult. Make sure that you offer some way for your audience to connect with your content. It should have meaning and purpose.
Types of Instagram Content
Once again, your goals come into play. They determine what kind of content you want to share.
You need your audience to see your human side, that you’re more than a brand or distant, cold business. For this, you need to make people-centric content.
Show off your company culture, give people a look at what happens behind the scenes. Share the faces of your team, and how they make your business run smoothly.
With this type of content you can create an emotional bond with your followers, and they’ll feel more connected to you.
Here’s an example of a people-centric post, and it got more than 60,000 likes:
On the other hand, service-centric content also performs really well. Share photos or videos of people loving your product or service. It looks good and is much more relatable than simply saying people love what you do.
To get this kind of content, consider asking for it. Give people a challenge and a hashtag and leave the rest to your happy customers.
For example, Wayfair, the online furniture company, asked people to share how their shopping sprees went.
Their unique hashtag, #wayfairathome got more than 50,000 posts.
Text-based content is great for when you don’t have any user-generated content yet. Quotes are always going to be popular, as long as it’s funny, witty, or otherwise appealing.
Motivational quotes, quotes from your customers or influencers in your industry are good ideas to get you started.
Recipes are also great text-based content options if you’re in the cooking niche.
If you want to know how to get followers on Instagram, remember that they’re only human. And humans love user-centric content, especially on social networks.
For this purpose, content provided by your customers works best. Brands like GoPro know just how successful it can be. Their posts get thousands of likes within hours.
If you’re not sure what content will work best for you, experiment with different kinds. Share what you think will work and learn from how well it performs.
3. Make Your Instagram Profile Interesting and Engaging
One of the best pieces of advice offered on how to get followers on Instagram is that your profile must be fantastic.
Your Instagram account needs to be one that interests people and makes them want to see more.
Your name, picture, and description is your way of introducing yourself to your target audience. And despite the popular saying, people do judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, a brand by its Instagram account.
People will look at your profile and bio, and decide whether or not they want to visit your website and browse your content.
Look at the account of Later, the marketing platform. It’s attention-grabbing, interesting, and shares all the important information potential clients need:
You should use your brand’s name, or your own, if that’s what will work for you. Your photo should either be your brand logo, or a photo showing you smiling.
The username you pick needs to be unique and relevant to what your Instagram account is all about.
You get one clickable link on Instagram, so use it wisely. Either link to your website, or your profile on LinkedIn, or another platform.
Your Instagram bio needs to be warm, informative, and carry a tone that represents your brand. It’s what people will see first, and an important step in getting Instagram followers.
4. Come up With a Posting Schedule
If you want to gain followers on Instagram and keep them, you need a good posting schedule. You’ll have to do research about your target audience and determine when they’re most active.
It’s not always feasible to be online when your audience is, which is why it’s so important to have a scheduling tool that can post your content for you.
SocialPlanner is a great tool that is easy to use and will make planning your content a lot easier. It can even find trending content for you, if you’re in the need for something interesting.
Start your 7-day free trial now and find out why thousands of clients love SocialPlanner.
The schedule you have will be influenced by your goals and your audience, but there are some general guidelines on what you should be posting, and how often.
One or two photos a day, one video, and between five and 30 Instagram stories a day should suffice.
Pictures are the most popular content forms on Instagram, so you should not neglect sharing some. You shouldn’t go overboard, though that’s difficult on Instagram, but many photos mean more exposure, which means more Instagram followers.
Videos are essential too, even if Instagram started off as an image-sharing network. A great approach is to share both videos and images, and have a schedule that you always stick to.
Doing so will drive more engagement, just ask brands like Pepsi:
You may think that up to 30 Instagram Stories a day is a lot, but they only last 15 seconds, so the more, the merrier.
Of course, the amount of videos, images, and Instagram Stories you share is entirely up to you.
Figuring out how many works best is part of learning how to get followers on Instagram without working yourself to death.
You should also create live videos, they are great for engagement and adding excitement to your followers’ Instagram feed. And when your current followers are happy with your content, they’re more likely to recommend you to others.
5. Find and Follow Your Target Audience
It’s no secret to brands and successful users that part of knowing how to get followers on Instagram is knowing who to follow.
Yes, that’s right. To get Instagram followers, you need to follow others. A really nice way to find the people in your industry is to do a search and find your competition.
Then, start following their followers.
Why? Because if those Instagram users chose to follow your competition, they might want to follow you as well.
But keep in mind that Instagram doesn’t like it if their users start mass-following accounts. You should follow no more than 7,500 people. It’s likely that you won’t reach that high a number, so that’s not a problem.
You should also not go around following people and unfollowing them as soon as they follow your account. No one likes that cheap trick and you’ll only lose the respect of Instagram users.
Before you follow accounts, make sure that they’re not bots or inactive users. There’s no point in following someone who isn’t active, and bots are a waste of time.
Also, Instagram will stop you from following people if you start following too many at one time. Stick to about 50 an hour, and not more than that.
As you follow Instagram users, they will start to follow you back. If you share quality content and keep to your schedule, you’ll be able to amass a following soon enough.
You can also search for Instagrammers in your industry by searching related hashtags. You should be able to identify the kind of people who would want to follow you.
6. Engage and Interact With Your Audience
So, you’ve found your audience, now it’s time to take things further.
Engaging with your audience is a big part of nailing the ‘how to get followers on Instagram’ objective.
You can show your new followers that they made the right choice by following you by initiating conversations.
If you get comments on your content, respond to them, and comment on any relevant content that they share.
Be friendly and interesting, but don’t make it obvious that you are trying. You should be okay with just being engaging — that’s what people want from brands on Instagram.
Make a point of responding to questions and comments from everyone who decides to interact with you.
Don’t limit your responses just to your followers, treat everyone the same. When you respond to as many people as possible, the Instagram algorithm will be pleased too.
Potential customers and followers will also see that you’re active and open to having conversations.
You should also consider commenting on the posts of thought leaders and influencers in your niche or industry.
Doing so is a nice way to introduce yourself to our audience. Being visible goes a long way to help grow your Instagram and gain new followers.
Another nice way to get the attention of your potential Instagram followers is to strategically use tagging. You’ll notice that influencers like to share photos and tag the brands they mention for visibility.
You can also use this approach and tag those relevant to your industry.
Be an Active Community Member
If you want to grow your own community on Instagram, you need to be active in the wider community.
Instagram is more than a social network, it is a place where like-minded people gather and you should always keep that in mind.
To be an active member of the community, follow back any new followers. Of course, keep an eye out for spam accounts, and don’t follow people who may affect your reputation.
When you reply to a comment, be sure to mention them. Follow the hashtags that interest your brand and like photos shared using that hashtag. You can also like the comments on these photos and videos.
7. Ensure the Content You Share Grabs Attention
If you want to get more new followers on Instagram (you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t!), you need to grab attention.
The only way to do so is to share content that is interesting and makes people want to see more. Stunning visuals are vital, and the heartbeat of Instagram.
Although all the steps here will help you gain a strong Instagram following, this one directly answers the question of how to get followers on Instagram.
You should use most of these steps together, but if you can just get this one right, you can win half the battle.
Check out what Recess, the sparkling water infused with hemp extract and adaptogens, does on Instagram. They’re sharing quality images that are captivating and fascinating.
Human brains were made for visual stimulation and that’s exactly what it gets from this brand’s account.
You too can have the kind of content that people will come back to time and again. There are several ways to ensure what you create hits the right spot.
Create a Theme
One of the best ways to give your content a quality feel is choosing a theme that will be present in all your Instagram posts.
Having a consistent theme will show people that you put a lot of effort into your content. Even if you didn’t, your account will still feel more authentic and valuable.
Your theme will also help make your brand more memorable because with every new Instagram post, you reinforce it in people’s minds.
Consistency improves how reliable your Instagram followers think you are, creating trust between you. A consistent theme will help with this.
Use similar elements in all your posts, such as logos, colours, and fonts. For best results, use one colour palette and stick to it.
Colour psychology plays a big role in digital marketing and you can use it to grow your Instagram following as well.
With the right colours, you can stand out even in a saturated field or industry. You’ll notice your follower growth steadily increase if you keep your content consistent in timing of posts as well as overall feel and theme.
It’s quite obvious to see the theme here:
This is something that will definitely make every Instagram post you share stand out. Come up with a dominant element that shows up in your visuals all the time.
It can be anything, as long as it’s related to your brand and industry. You could use a special prop that is always in the background, your logo, or even an emoji.
Get Creative with a Dominant Filter
Using only one filter will give your content an agreeable hue that is ever-present. If you’re working on building a personal brand, you should definitely consider using a dominant filter for all your Instagram posts.
Use a Strong Call To Action
Placing a good, enticing call to action in your posts is a good idea. Get people to want to click on your content and you’re sure to get more followers. Use interesting captions to call your audience to action.
Location, Location, Location
It’s a wise idea to use the Geotag function. If your Instagram post has a location added to it, you’ll enjoy better visibility. Anyone looking up photos taken in the area you tagged will see your post.
This feature is especially great if you’re looking to attract attention from locals. However, you don’t have to be limited to where you actually are.
In fact, you can choose any popular location, as long as it has something to do with your post.
Be Original with Your Instagram Posts
Share original photos to grow your Instagram following. People like seeing fresh content and definitely not an account filled with reposted images or stock photos. Also make sure that your Instagram posts are relevant.
When you share Instagram content, think about the audience you are addressing. What will grab their attention the most?
8. Use Hashtags Strategically and Creatively
The fuel of Instagram posts and a driving force behind boosting follower count are hashtags. You should always add hashtags to your posts, but you need to do it right or they’re just wasting space.
Your hashtags need to be added strategically, and this will call for a bit of creativity. Want to know how to get followers on Instagram? Use relevant hashtags, and use them often.
To grow your following, you should use hashtags in all your posts, and make sure they are related to your audience.
Hashtags give Instagram posts and accounts visibility and puts them in front of the eyes of the people who are most likely to matter.
Instagrammers like to ‘surf’ the platform, going from one trending hashtag to the next.
Which Hashtags Should You Be Using?
Well, that depends on your brand, Instagram content, and audience. If you use common hashtags like #happy or #nature, you will find it hard to get seen by the right users.
Instagram uses hashtags as a form of catalogue, and it should describe the content of your Instagram post.
If you’re an artist, and you share a sketch of something you’re working on, you might use #art #sketch #artoninstagram #artstagram #artistofinstagram and similar hashtags.
That way, any users interested in art are more likely to see your content. The platform puts all the content with the same hashtags together, like a catalogue.
Your hashtags can be brand-specific, event-specific, location-specific, or product-specific. They can even be focused on challenges, contests, and campaigns.
However, there are right and wrong ways to use them. Never put your hashtags in the actual photo. They go in the comments, for best results. It looks better because your captions should be clean and attractive, and anyone who uses Instagram knows how messy a bunch of hashtags can look.
Many users forget that hashtags are not for others to see, but instead serves as a way for people to find you. They don’t need to lay eyes on the hashtags at any point.
You should be specific with the hashtags you use, no matter how much creativity you have at your disposal.
Your Instagram posts should have relevant hashtags that are specific to your content, brand, or industry.
Sure, you can reach more people with a hashtag like #love, but you won’t likely get new followers.
With specific hashtags, you appeal to your audience, and have more of an emotional connection.
But with that said, you shouldn’t be so specific or unique that nobody uses or knows about the hashtags.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use?
Many Instagram users make the mistake of flooding their content with hashtags. That’s not a good idea, and it’s recommended that you use more or less 30 hashtags. Never use less than five, but don’t exceed 30.
The thing is, if you’re adding your hashtags in a comment (which you really should), Instagram won’t let you post.
Keep in mind though, that if you’re using a lot of hashtags, you should balance it out with a long caption, or message.
Finding hashtags that are relevant doesn’t have to be difficult. You can start off by typing in hashtags that are relevant to your audience and industry. Additionally, you can also check out your competition.
If certain hashtags are working for them, they should work for you as well. Use them and see which ones get you the best results.
Keep a close eye on your Instagram analytics to determine which hashtags are most useful for you and your brand.
You should create a spreadsheet where you store all the hashtags you’re using, or want to use.
9. Give Your Posts Long Captions
If you’re looking for a secret tactic in the quest to determine how to get followers on Instagram, this is one of them.
Not many users know that if they have longer captions, they’ll have more valuable content and they will get more Instagram followers.
Ideally, you should have several paragraphs of text to go with your photos. Don’t put just anything there, though. It has to add to your post and random gibberish isn’t going to help you achieve anything.
You are allowed to write up to 2,200 characters in your Instagram posts. That is quite a lot, and you’ll be able to say much with that allowance.
People will only see the first three lines of your caption in their feed, so make it count. If you can grab enough attention in those lines, you won.
Note that Instagram, for some dubious reason, doesn’t allow line breaks. This can result in your caption looking unattractive. However, you can write your caption out in your Notes app, and then copy and paste it into your planned post.
This will also help you with spell checks and save you from unnecessary embarrassment.
Writing Awesome Captions
It’s common knowledge these days that people don’t really like to read, especially not when they’re spending time on social networks.
For this reason, you must make sure that the first part of your caption has all the important information packed into it neatly.
Remember, only the first three or four lines will show in feeds, so you need to make a good impression.
Have your action call in that first paragraph so people will know what you want them to do.
Be creative with your captions, and consider using various strategies to engage your new followers and audience.
For example, you can make recommendation requests, ask industry-relevant questions, or ask people to tag their friends. You can even share personal stories to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look.
Try to use humour in your captions, but don’t be overly silly if your brand or industry is a serious one.
10. Partner up With Influential Instagrammers
Influencer marketing is a great way to boost your brand reach and awareness. You should partner up with influencers in your niche and cross-promote with all relevant users that appeal to you.
Hoping to get a better understanding of how to get followers on Instagram? This is a sure-fire way to do so.
When you see the results of working with big names in your industry, you’ll understand the value of a good cross-promote and collab strategy.
You will be able to tap into the strong Instagram following that the influencer has, and win some of them over to your side.
Content that is cross-promoted is trusted by the followers of the Instagram user you’re working with.
Choosing the person you work with will take some research and planning. It won’t be in your best interest to try and partner with your competition. You should find someone (or many someones) with a following that is like your audience.
It can be time-consuming to sift through the many profiles to find a good partner. That’s why you should consider making use of a database or service that will help you find the right users.
Working with influencers may seem like a daunting endeavour, but it will definitely pay off. You may have to pay the influencers of your choice, or entice them with your products or services.
Never expect an influencer to work with you for free – that’s just a slap in their face.
Sony worked with 30 influencers on Instagram to get their marketing done. Their collaboration was part of a competition to bring awareness to the then-new Sony Xperia Z5. It was a very successful campaign and the company gathered 17 million potential clients.
What Can You Offer?
Influencers need to know there’s something in it for them if they work with you. You should look at how you can make their lives easier, or how you can reward them for working with you.
While money is usually the payment of choice, if you have something unique or interesting to offer, the influencers might go for it.
Get to know the influencers you want to work with and come up with strategies that will benefit all the parties involved.
11. Incorporate Instagram Ads
Sometimes, to get more followers on Instagram, you have to pay to play. Paid promotions are a nice way to get your content in front of your audience.
You can run Instagram Ads much the same way as you run Facebook Ads since Facebook purchased Instagram back in 2012.
To get started, you have to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page. Once it’s done, you can run your future ads without connecting the two again.
Head to your Facebook page and click on ‘Instagram Ads’ and select ‘Add an account’. After that, provide your Instagram username and password.
To create your campaign, head over to the Power Editor/Adverts Manager. Now, you can run your Instagram ads from Facebook.
You should have an objective for your campaign, such as awareness or conversion. You can choose your objective and define your audience.
There are several factors to consider when choosing your audience, such as language, age, location, gender, and more.
After that, you’ll choose your budget, how long to run the ad campaign, and its placement.
You will also be asked to choose your ad format, choose images, and write a caption. You’ll get to preview your ad to ensure everything looks as it should and then you can place your order.
It’s recommended that you spend a good while planning your ads. They should be creative and interesting enough to appeal to your audience.
The fast-food sandwich brand chose to address geeks and nerds with one of their campaigns.
It’s a decision the brand did not regret, and they gained many Instagram followers and customers after tapping this market.
It worked so well for Arby’s that they stuck to their winning formula, using the same approach in later ads as well.
You should consider setting up a retargeting campaign. It works the same way as normal Instagram ads, but you target people who engaged with your brand in the past.
Use the Facebook pixel tool to identify people who took actions on your website so you can retarget them.
You can also monitor the effectiveness of your ads with the tool.
12. Hold Contests and Run Challenges
Challenges and contests are fun and highly effective ways to get more Instagram followers. It’s also a quick way to grow followers and drive traffic.
People love winning things and if you can give away something that your audience wants, it’s only natural that they’d want to follow your account.
Despite the fun involved, Instagram contests and challenges are actually hard work. You’ll have to plan them carefully.
But, if you do it well, you can get more Instagram followers and increase your brand awareness at the same time.
How to Run Contests and Challenges Effectively
You need to think about how you want people to take part in your contests. You can host a ‘follow to win’ contest, which asks people to follow your account to be entered into the competition.
While this works in getting new followers, some of them will unfollow once the contest is over.
A ‘like to win’ contest asks people to like a photo in return for an entry, and ‘comment to win’ contests ask for comments on content to stand a chance to win.
You can also host an ‘enter email address to win’ contest. With these, entries are gained when people give you their email address. This isn’t a really good option if you’re hoping to get more Instagram followers. It is good for building email lists for email marketing though.
There are also ‘participate to win’ contests. These ask people to do something specific to get an entry. You could ask for user-generated content such as photos with your products, along with relevant hashtags.
Or you can ask them to do something new every day and post their content to stand a chance to win. This is a popular approach and great for boosting engagement.
Ask participants to tag a friend, and get even more people involved in your contests. This will help increase your engagement and following.
You may even consider doing a combination of these contests. Ask people to do several actions to get an entry and you could have even better results.
However, don’t make it too difficult or tricky for people to enter or they’ll just skip your contest.
Make sure that the rules for your contest are clear to avoid any misunderstandings and problems.
People need to know exactly how long the contest is running, what the prize is, how they can enter, and when and how winners will be announced.
You also need to make it clear Instagram isn’t affiliated with or sponsoring the competition.
13. Go Beyond Instagram
Here’s something few people will tell you: to get Instagram followers, you mustn’t confine yourself to Instagram.
Social media platforms are not the only places people reach out to businesses, so it shouldn’t be the only place you’re active.
You can take things offline as well, and still be successful at gaining Instagram followers, as long as they know where to find you.
Add your Instagram handle to the packaging of your products, or in the thank you emails you send when people sign up for your service.
Take things even further and put a hashtag directly on the product, if possible. It’s a unique way to show people that you’re on Instagram and get them interested in your online presence.
When you make sales, ask your buyers to share their experience on Instagram. Get them to talk about why they support you and how your product or service has enhanced their lives.
This will make people curious to see what goes on over there on your Instagram account and follow you.
If you have email subscribers, they can be invited over with a link to your Instagram as well, and don’t hesitate to promote your content on any other social media platform you’re actively using.
14. Be Consistent
This might sound obvious, but consistency is worth a lot on Instagram. If you are looking for new Instagram followers, you have to give them consistent content. We’ve touched on this earlier, and we’re repeating it because it’s that important.
Make a point of sharing content every day, at the same time if you can, and don’t deviate.
Use SocialPlanner to plan your content ahead so you will always have something fresh to entertain your old and new followers with.
Consistency is key for brand awareness, and your following (and potential followers) will see that you’re dependable and serious about being available on social media.
By sharing content regularly, you also show your audience that you’re active on Instagram and there if they want to know more and choose to follow you.
Monitor Your Progress
Once you’ve identified your audience, created a fantastic Instagram profile, shared Instagram Stories, cool user-generated content, and a live video or ten, you might feel impressed with your progress.
And you should, you have gone a long way towards getting new Instagram followers. But your work is not done.
You need keep an eye on your Instagram analytics and learn from it. You can use Instagram to build your business and improve your brand reach, but only if you continue working hard.
Look closely at the engagement you get, which posts work best for you and track the number of followers you have at any given time.
Use the data to take your Instagram account to the next level and get as many Instagram followers as you possibly can.
Continue to post on Instagram religiously, ensure the quality of your Instagram content is as good (or better than) what you offer on your e-commerce site or blog posts. Cross-promote on all your social media networks, and don’t forget about influencer marketing.
All the strategies and ideas discussed here are meant to help everyone who want to learn to use Instagram to their benefit. As long as you’re dedicated, you can have an Instagram account that will be the envy of your competition.