Instagram has a helpful feature to get you started. In the upper right-hand corner of your profile page, there’s a little “gear” icon that represents your settings. If you click on that you’ll see a menu list, and the first item is “Find People to Follow.”
When you click on that, you’re taken to a page that allows you to import the contacts from your smartphone, as well as your Facebook friends. This is not there by accident; Facebook owns Instagram, so the two applications are well integrated.
The “Connected to Facebook” link tells you how many of your Facebook friends have Instagram accounts, and when you click on it, you’ll see the list of exactly who they are. You can select them individually, or choose the option to “Follow All.”
Below the links for connecting to your Contacts and Facebook Friends you’ll see a list called, “Suggested For You.” It’s worth going through this and following as many of these profiles that you find appealing. The Instagram algorithm has done some of the work for you and chosen profiles that align to your tastes according to the profiles that you already follow.
Follow Relevant Users
Like Twitter, if you follow someone on Instagram, there’s a fair chance that they might follow you back, even if you’re not already connected in some other way. Beyond the methods mentioned in the previous section, you can find relevant people to connect with by several other ways.
One way is to search for hashtags that may be associated with your target audience. You will be shown a random selection of popular photos that have used that hashtag recently. Open an image that appeals to you, and you’ll have the option to follow that person (click the “follow” button in the upper right-hand corner) or double click the image to “like” it.
Another way is to use the Explore feature to find trending photos to “like” and popular profiles to follow. These people and pictures arrive here via a complex formula that pushes them into the spotlight. The chances are, they are active Instagrammers and probably worth following, although they may or may not be in your target demographic.
Follow the Followers of Influencers in your Industry
Since these people already have a targeted list of followers, it makes sense for you to connect with these same users. To do this, go to an influencer’s Instagram page, and check their “followers” tab. Scroll through it, and notice that you don’t get much information here; only their handle, a profile picture, and if you’re lucky, their actual name. So to do this right, you should click on each profile individually to see if that person is worth following. If they appear to be relatively active, go ahead and follow them.
Do this for as many people as you like—the more, the better for now. And in fact, you should repeat these steps for several days, with the goal to get about 25-50 new followers every day until you reach the number that you’d like.
Clean it up!
After you’ve done all of these steps for a few weeks, it might be time to use one of the popular programs such as JustUnfollow (website and mobile app) to evaluate your results and eliminate inactive accounts or those that didn’t follow you back. Be fairly aggressive with this, because it’s to your advantage to (eventually) have more followers than profile that you’re following. The free version of this gives you a maximum of 25 follows and 100 unfollows per day, but for $9.99/month you can (un)follow an unlimited number, up to the limits of Instagram’s terms of service.
Speaking of which, Instagram has placed limits on the number of profiles that you can follow, although the limits are high enough that they hardly enter into the equation. In early 2013, Instagram changed the platform limits to prevent spam. All Instagram accounts are now limited to following 7,500 other users. Furthermore, while not officially published, most agree that Instagram “only” allows you to follow (or unfollow) 160 people per hour.
Applications and “Free” Followers Services
Although there are applications and websites that boast the ability to give you thousands of free followers, most are used for spamming—or worse, spreading viruses and malware or stealing your personal information. The best way to get free Instagram followers is to become active daily on Instagram, and utilize the advice given in this guide. Don’t EVER give out your personal information such as address, date of birth, or social security number to any of these companies. The reputable ones won’t ask you for anything more than your name and email address.
Ø Keep posting new and interesting photos! This might be the most important rule of all.
Ø “Like” and comment on other people’s photos often, as this will eventually gain their attention.
Ø Respond to other people’s comments on your photos. It’s good Instagram “etiquette.”
Ø Time your posts. If you want people to see your photos, you need to post them at the right time. Some say that he best time to post on Instagram is during the morning and after work. Instagram photos last around four hours in a person’s feed, so if you post in the middle of the night, many of your followers may never actually see the images.
Ø Space your posts out over the course of a day. Five images posted at the same time does not have the same reach as five images spaced out over the course of the day.
Ø Try setting your account to “private.” Some people feel that a private account appears more “exclusive,” and will attract more people who are curious to look at your photos.
Ø As your account grows, don’t hesitate to unfollow accounts that appear to be inactive, uninteresting, or aren’t following you. Remember, you want to eventually get to the point where you have more followers than you are following.
Statistics show that Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform today. Therefore the potential to grow your audience is huge, and the longer you wait, the further behind the curve you’ll be. For your business to keep pace, you need to boost your followers as quickly as possible.
Start by focusing on quality images. Without this element, everything else will be an uphill struggle.
Next, get active with your account by following other influencers in your field, and commenting on their photos. Reach out to anybody who might be a potential client, customer, or collaborator. Be social!
Actively manage your account by reviewing your followers and cleaning things up once in a while with applications such as JustUnfollow.
And then finally, to really get your new Instagram account off the ground, considering kick-starting your Instagram reach by buying some followers. If you work with a reputable company, it’s a fast and safe way to get your business noticed.
We’ve only just begun to see the power of this increasingly important marketing force. Capture that power in a photo and put it to work for you!