Love it or hate it, Instagram is a major force in marketing these days. It’s no longer a social network for just the cool kids. Instagram has hit the mainstream, and that’s excellent news for you. Like anything else going mainstream, coming in late can feel impossible. Playing catch-up is not fun or easy, but Instagram is one of those networks where you can get up-to-speed relatively quickly.
Knowing how to get followers on Instagram has never been easier since the network has so many tools and cliques and fun little corners to explore.
You’re sitting there thinking, “Seriously? That’s your advice?” But hear me out. Hashtags are still a major tool for Instagram users. Yes, Instagram has a reputation for vapid and self-indulgent hashtags like #nofilter, #iwokeuplikethis, or #selfielove. But outside of the commonly mocked ones, there are tons that get used by people who are directly in your targeted demographic. In fact, some hashtags even have full communities built around them and almost function like little forums.
Finding the right ones isn’t nearly as hard it once was. Instagram has finally put in an autocomplete feature that offers suggestions whenever you type in #. The useful aspect of this is seeing the number of posts for each hashtag. You can finally see where users are spending their time.
But just throwing any even remotely relevant hashtags into your posts may not necessarily be the best way to get exposure. You have to use hashtags that are truly pertinent to your brand or your specific audience.
Let’s say that you’re looking for followers to promote your new client’s handmade guitar website, you can absolutely use #music. But that’s too generic. It has a wide reach, and it has 181 million public posts as of this writing, but that’s a lot of competition. Too much noise to get noticed. You could use #guitar, but it~22 million posts, which is still a lot of noise. #guitars, on the other hand, has a slightly more manageable 1.9 million.
However, like SEO, the further you drill down, you will find the good stuff that really converts. Just using the autosuggest, the tags #guitarshop, #customguitar, #customguitars, #handmadeguitar, and #handmadeguitars showed up anywhere between 80k to 200k posts. This is where your target users are, so the more you make yourself a presence there, they more people who will follow you. It’s likely you can get some of the top posts in a niche area.
Let me mention again the communities that spring up around hashtags. You want to find where people hang out, like maybe #guitarplayers or #indierockalabama. These are the areas where tons of potential followers congregate and become friends.
And because these aren’t as jam-packed as #music, your posts will stay on top longer for more people to see you, follow you, and start to love you.
The last two things you need to consider when using hashtags to fish for followers is how many to use and where you should include them. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but you shouldn’t always use that many (it seems like spamming). that interaction often plateaus after 10 tags.
Adding that many hashtags to your post can seem spammy, too. You can get around that by putting 5 single dots on 5 single lines so that the post collapses in people’s feeds. Even better than that, you can add a comment to your own photo that’s nothing but hashtags, and IG will still index your photo with them. But it has to be the first comment and because of how the IG algorithms work, and you need to post that comment immediately upon publication. If not, you may lose some juice and miss out on some potential followers.
Oh, and you can add hashtags to Stories, too. So when you’re documenting your day or doing something silly or fun, put some hashtags in the text box. They’re searchable! They might not look great in your story’s composition, so you can shrink the hashtag box down and hide it behind a supersized emoji. Instant expanded audience (or is that Insta expanded audience?) who will see the real you and follow you — because your story proves that you’re too awesome not to follow.
Instagram is a social network. So you really need to be social. It can be really easy to shout into the night, but if you really want to learn how to get followers on Instagram, you have to be someone they want to follow.
- Like other people’s photos and comments. That activity shows up to your followers, and it creates a circular network. You like their post, they click on yours and like it, someone else sees their activity and likes you enough to follow. This is a major way to get followers these days, but it means you have to be active on IG, not just scheduling posts and leaving. You can’t expect a zillion shares and retweets on IG like you can on other platforms. It takes work here. Sorry!
- Comment and talk to people. When you get a comment on a post, reply to it! Start a conversation with people. Jump into a conversation on someone else’s photo. People really do read conversations in comments, and having followers doesn’t mean a lot if they’re not engaged. So engage them.
- Tag people in posts and comments. Again, the circular nature of IG appears when you begin tagging people in either your posts or your comments. Doing so shows that you’re engaged with the community, and as you make friends and start getting to know them, you will either see or post things that you want them to see. Look at this awesome design I did with @elegantthemes’ Divi!, for instance. Whether it’s a brand or an individual, sometimes they will see that kind of thing and share it on their page (which can net a ton of followers and engagement for you).
Embed Your Photos, Don’t Link to Them
People love sliders. You may love sliders. And image galleries. I’d bet $5 that you’ve Googled WordPress Instagram feed plugin or something similar, right? It’s a photo-centric network, so of course you want to show off your pretty, pretty pictures.
Those don’t tend to get you followers, though. They can, but they don’t necessarily link back to the original post in a very intuitive way. You can, however, embed your IG posts directly into your site’s posts and pages. If done correctly and placed within some of your highest-traffic posts in lieu of traditionally hosted images, you can passively grow your Instagram followers easily.
This needs to be done in a full desktop browser, not on mobile. So go to your Instagram page (though it works from anyone’s, technically), pick the photo you want to embed, and expand it. Then click the ellipsis in the lower-right of the modal, hit embed, and it will bring up another modal where you can copy the embed code.
After that, it’s just a quick trip to the WordPress dashboard and the post/page editor. Make sure you’re in the Text tab, not Visual. Paste in the embed code wherever you want to place it. (You can also use the Divi Code Module for this, too. Plus, you can embed a post into a sidebar or footer through any widget that accepts HTML.)
When that’s done, you have given your readers the perfect opportunity to follow and engage with you. They can click the Follow button right there on the post, and they can even like and comment on it — or just read through the conversation that’s already there.
Embedding your posts is an amazing tactic to get followers on Instagram. But it shouldn’t be used for every image on your site. Each embed loads its own external scripts and extra CSS styling, which when used too much, can slow load times. You also won’t get the boost to SEO from images, alt text, and all that lovely stuff.
But when used correctly, you’ll really see a real boost to your Instagram followers.
Now You Know How to Get Followers on Instagram! Yay!
Unfortunately, the days of just tossing a few hashtags in and going about our business are behind us. With stories and a surge in users, getting followers on Instagram ain’t what it used to be. You can’t just shout into the night and expect people to find you, much less follow you. You have to have a strategy. And you basically already have to know how to get followers on Instagram, or you’re not going to get any. Or at least enough to make the platform work for you.
And now you know. You’ve got the strategies that are working for folks, and it’s time to go out there, hashtag your heart out, and make as many new internet friends as you can.
How do you get Instagram followers these days? Let’s share strategies in the comments!
Article featured image by Vas_artists