Let's start with some history. All the way back on 1st February 2014 I decided to do 'A Song a Day' on Instagram. My goal was to record one song cover for every single day of the year. I began this experiment with around 150 followers and now (1 year later) I have grown to over 4,750 followers.
I didn't use any cheap tricks or dishonest methods to grow this far, instead I used a combination of the following. I want to share them with anyone else out there that might want similar results.
Let's get started.
This seems obvious, but there is no possible way for people to find your posts without using hashtags. You should be as descriptive as possible and let people know what your photo or video contains.
I would also avoid being misleading and don't use any hashtags that have no relevance to what you have posted. People will see right through you and never follow.
Like other peoples work
Likes are completely free - Use them. Do a search on Instagram for hashtags that you use and see what other people are creating. If you make DIY videos, for example, search '#DIY' and see what other people are making. If you enjoy the photo/video then 'like' it.
When people see that you have 'liked' their creation, they are inclined to look at your page and see what you are posting.
To follow on from the previous point, this is when you get involved in other peoples posts. Jump into the comments section and say 'Nice work on that DIY project'. Being a normal and interested person will engage your fellow insta-user. (Yeah that's a term).
However, when you are commenting, please listen to the next point...
Don't promote yourself in comments
"Hey, nice DIY project, check out mine" is not a nice thing to say. It also completely undermines your compliment.
If someone said that to you, your assumption would be that they only reason they commented was to get you to look at their stuff. Just comment genuinely if you love what they have done, otherwise, don't self-promote.
Follow like-minded people
If you adore cats and find a user who has a similar obsession, follow them. Everyone tends to take a little cheeky nosy at who follows them, and in this case they might even follow you back.
Even if they don't, your stream will be filled with things that you are interested in which is a great bonus.
If there is one thing that people on the internet appreciate it's effort. Posting a picture of you sitting at your desk took zero effort on your part - which in return will get zero likes (unless it's a damn nice desk).
Instead, get up and make something. Very few people talk on camera or sing, give that a shot and people will appreciate the lengths that you have gone to. Even better, be funny (but that's very much your responsibility to figure out).
Invite and carry out requests
I'm taking specifically about song requests here, but it's also valid for a lot of other things. The point is to allow people to give you ideas for posts - be sure to both follow through and credit them.
They'll hopefully be happy that you went through the effort, and others will know that they too can get involved. Engaged followers are amazing followers.
Be consistent and regular
People need to know what they are getting when they press 'follow'. If you explicitly tell them 'I will be post one video per week' or 'I only post picture of my cute dog' they will press that button faster.
Knowing that you won't spam their feed with non-relevant posts will encourage them to be a part of your insta-world (last time I do that, I promise).
Think short term - not long term
Don't forget that Instagram posts are basically instantaneous. If someone hasn't 'liked' it within the first 24hrs, the chances are they never will.
This is because:
- If they are already following you: As time passes your post will fall further and further down their stream. You can't expect them to scroll forever to find it below the posts of everyone else they are following.
- If they haven't followed you yet: There exposure is purely based on hashtags. If you have used a popular hashtag like '#cover' (for musical covers of songs) there are around 100 people per hour using that - you will drop down that list in a matter of minutes.
Just keep in mind that these posts don't live forever like videos on YouTube - make it, post it and move on.
Be a person
There is something extremely genuine about knowing that a person (or small group of people) are behind a social account. In this case, show people that you are a human.
That's all I have for you. I truly believe that these are the best ways to organically and honestly grow your Instagram following.
There is no need for cheap tricks. After all, who wants to pay for 1,000 uninterested followers when you can get 1,000 people who actually care about what you are making.
I'd love to hear if you have success with these methods or if you have any tips to add - let me know in the comments below!