Getting followers on Instagram is getting more and more complicated.
I don't mean to scare you with this statement, far from it, but the techniques that used to work to get followers, with Instagram's latest algorithm change (January 2018), no longer do.
In its desire to boost "human" usage and make connections real between users using the platform, Instagram has made profound changes that are affecting thousands of accounts.
Along with Facebook, Instagram is the star social network of the moment and has also become a very powerful personal branding and business tool for many people. So we are talking about very important changes.
These changes not only affect profiles; they also affect the posts they make (considerably affecting the organic reach of their posts).
But don't worry: you're in good hands. Instagram is one of the social networks I've worked on the most in recent months, and that has allowed me to gain knowledge with which I've grown my Instagram account at a rate of around 1000 new followers every month as you can see here.
Not that we are talking about "celebrity" status, but we are talking about real follower figures that for any online entrepreneur like myself, will be very good results.
The knowledge that has allowed me to achieve this is what I am going to share with you in this article so that you can put into practice the same, and in a simple way, with your account to get more followers.
Although it is impossible to cover everything that can be done in a single post like this one, I assure you that by following just the techniques that I explain in this post you will already achieve important results with your account.
How to get real followers on Instagram for free
Undoubtedly, this is one of the questions that Instagram users ask the most: how to get followers on Instagram for free. It seems reasonable to me.
But few are those who understand that social networks stopped being free some time ago.
Let me explain.
Social networks themselves are free and Instagram is no exception. What happens is that, if we want to take full advantage of them (reach more people, have more interaction, or, for example, sell products or services with them), we will have to allocate a small budget for marketing actions that will increase the number of followers, likes, and comments.
Can't you increase your followers on Instagram without paying?
Of course, you can. Although I can tell you that, since Instagram made changes in its algorithm, it is becoming more and more complicated.
Here are some of the key points to increase the reach of your publications and, as a result, reach more potential followers:
1. What content generates more engagement on Instagram?
In this part, with your permission, I'm going to be a bit biased and go towards what I like the most on Instagram and that I think also fits better the reader profile of this blog: show brands (personal and corporate) a more human and private side of you.
Being able to do this will help you connect much more, both to your brand and to a company. And that also helps to make good content marketing strategies as they are already done on YouTube or many blogs, for example.
You already know that Instagram is a 100% visual social network. Therefore, the content that works best here is the content that is close and attractive, both visually and for the message it conveys.
In my case, what I like the most are images with motivational and inspirational text.
Yes, it's not "super original", I know, but I've been doing it for a long time, it works for me, it's the kind of positive message I like to send and it's also very much in line with what my and what I want it to continue to be.
In that sense, many photos are from my sphere and my day-to-day life: photos of me, of the places I visit, books and other things that have been sent to me and that have made me happy, professional situations such as the backstage of a video recording session, etc.
I find it a perfect way to connect with my audience and to reconcile my human side with my brand side because it's like a gateway to my "real life" where I involve the people who follow me also in my day to day life, something that, on the other hand, I know people like.
You don't have to do the same, maybe it doesn't even fit in your case, but the philosophy of how to connect that is behind this is extrapolated to any case and I hope it serves as inspiration for your activity on Instagram.
2. Using Hashtags on Instagram
Instagram allows you to place up to 30 hashtags in your posts to tag the content you are publishing.
By using hashtags you are not only indicating to other users what is the theme of the photos and videos you upload (that's something obvious), but you will also manage to reach other profiles that do not know you.
How? Since recent changes in Instagram, the application allows you to follow publications that are tagged under a hashtag.
This will mean that in your newsfeed (the section of the application where you will see the posts made by the accounts you follow) you will also see some posts that contain the hashtags you are following.
This, on the one hand, is one of the best ways to make yourself known to other users who are not yet following you and, on the other hand, to discover other accounts that publish content that interests you.
How many hashtags should I use in my posts?
The truth is that experts do not agree on the number of hashtags that should be used in a publication.
But from my own experience, I can te, ll you that the optimal number of hashtags is between 5 and 11.
Using more than 15 could be considered a spam technique because Instagram's new algorithm will interpret that we are over-optimizing the publication and will reduce the reach of the publications we make.
Never use the 30 hashtags that Instagram allows you to use or your reach will plummet.
Finally, I recommend you make varied use of the hashtags you use in your photos.
Typical and once-popular hashtags like "tags4likes", "picoftheday" or "follow4follow" are now history and Instagram overlooks them.
The best practice you can do is to use a combination of less-used hashtags with some more popular ones and, above all, vary them in your posts so you don't always use the same ones.
3. Upload photos and videos to Instagram with Instagram Stories
As you know, video is a format that, when used well, is capable of generating a lot of engagement. Just like Facebook, Facebook Live allows you to generate a lot of engagement, on Instagram you can also use video to connect more with your followers.
In 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, which first allowed users to upload photos, add filters, effects, and layers, and form an Instagram "story" in slideshow format. In the same year, it extended this functionality to upload videos as well.
The most peculiar thing about Instagram Stories is that a user's stories expire after 24 hours. That is, they disappear forever. But precisely that can be something that encourages engagement with your community.
You must be very clear that Instagram Stories seeks fun, so you have so many effects and possibilities to add a fun touch to the photos and videos you want to upload with this tool.
This can help you a lot with applications like the ones you can see in the video above.
4. The best time to post on Instagram
Another change that Instagram's algorithm has made is to show the publications without chronological order.
In the past, the first photos that appeared in your newsfeed were the last ones posted by the people you follow. But that will no longer be the case.
As a general rule, from now on the publications that will appear first are those of the accounts with which you have more engagement.
Let me explain to you what engagement is (surely this explanation is not necessary for you, but I prefer to go straight to the point).
Engagement is the relationship you have with other Instagram accounts and is determined by the likes and comments you leave on their posts.
So Instagram wants to show you first those posts from accounts you interact with more frequently and then posts from accounts you may not interact with as much.
That said, you may think that the time of publication should not be so important, but the truth is that it is.
For this reason, the idea is that you try to post at the times when most of your followers are connected.
How do you know this?
If you have a business Instagram account, you will have access to some statistics related to your followers and your publications, so you can see when the vast majority of profiles that follow you are connected.
You will also have other information, such as the countries your followers are from, their cities, their gender, and even their ages, among others.
If you don't have a business Instagram account, don't worry. Some apps allow you to analyze your followers and determine the best posting times.
Tools like Prime for iOS or Followers+ can be very useful. You also have an alternative for Android, such as Whentogram.
How do I know who unfollows me on Instagram?
A very common question is how to know who unfollows me on Instagram.
There are many applications, such as Iconosquare, for example, that show you who doesn't follow you on Instagram. The problem is that it only gives you the information of the relationship you have with each user, that is, if you follow him/her and vice versa.
In addition, many times, you have to go browsing from user to user, which is impractical.
What we are interested in is an application that gives us global statistics, i.e. a list of people who have unfollowed you lately.
There are several applications with which you can see it, here is a list. By consulting these statistics periodically you can make a very convenient and quick follow-up of who has stopped following you.
Does it work to buy followers on Instagram?
At this point, I want to be very blunt with my answer, as I intend to convince you to never buy followers on Instagram.
Perhaps in your eagerness to grow faster on Instagram, you have ever been tempted to buy followers.
It is well known that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of pages where you can buy followers on Instagram. And the truth is that it can even be tempting to get thousands of followers with a simple click, based on a reasonable payment.
But you have to be clear that by buying followers on Instagram you would be squandering your account, for several reasons:
1. Reduction of the organic reach of your publications on Instagram.
Instagram has reduced the organic reach of your posts to 10% of your total followers. That means that only 1 in 10 of your followers will see your posts by default.
In other words, they have done the same thing that Facebook did back in the day (remember that Facebook has bought Instagram).
To overcome that percentage, Instagram will evaluate if you are generating engagement. The better your engagement, the more they will open the tap. That's the way to increase that initial percentage.
And this is the reason why many users are complaining: they have seen how they used to get many more likes with their posts.
How does buying followers affect my reach?
Bought followers are usually fake accounts that don't have any kind of activity:
- They don't give likes to your photos or videos.
- They don't see the stories you upload.
- They don't leave you comments.
If Instagram shows your posts to the fake accounts that follow you, what do you think might happen?
What will happen is that they won't interact with you, which Instagram will interpret as your followers not being interested in your posts. And if they are not interested in your posts, it reduces the organic reach of the next posts you make.
Want some advice?
If you've bought followers, or if you're being followed by a lot of inactive accounts, I recommend getting them to unfollow you.
"Really? Victor, I want to get more followers on Instagram; not unfollow me."
That's the best thing you can do. A purge of fake or inactive followers and you'll see how your posts will get more likes, more comments, and, as a consequence, you'll reach more people and get new followers.
2. Your Instagram account can be banned
Since the changes in Instagram's algorithm, we are starting to see the effects of the Shadow Ban.
The Shadow Ban is a penalty from Instagram, which labels your account as spam and drastically reduces the reach of your posts.
The worst thing: you have no way of knowing if your account has been banned because you are not notified; moreover, you continue your activity as normal thinking that everything is correct... but it is not.
And one of the biggest causes for Instagram to ban your account guess what it can be... exactly! Buying followers.
3. If you buy followers you will lose money
Another of the effects and consequences of our friend algorithm is the elimination of fake accounts.
As I have explained, when you buy followers you are not buying real followers. You are buying in bulk hundreds of fake accounts that have been created with a single goal: to swell the number of followers of Instagram accounts that buy followers.
Instagram is trying to fight by all means against these practices, so one of the biggest adjustments it has made to its platform is the elimination of a large part of the accounts that are fake profiles or bots.
There are many users who, overnight, have lost hundreds of followers and until now did not understand why.
This has been the biggest witch hunt that Instagram has carried out in recent times (although not the first).
And for this reason, if you buy followers, sooner or later you will lose your money because Instagram will detect and delete such fraudulent accounts and you will be left with the same followers as before, but with a few euros less in your pocket.
Applications and Apps to have more followers on Instagram
You only have to go through the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android to find dozens of apps to get more followers on Instagram.
But don't be surprised if that app that promises you so many followers disappears after a few weeks.
The reasons are clear: they go against the real use of the application that aims to boost Instagram and, in addition, they are applications with hundreds of bugs, which make users rate them with the worst scores. Reasons enough for them not to be available in stores for a long time.
Apps to gain followers on Instagram that I do NOT recommend you
And once again, if you want to get followers on Instagram and your goal is to do things right, you should not consider using these apps.
I'm not just talking about using apps to get followers.
I also don't recommend you the apps to get likes quickly... it's superb nonsense. Those apps to get likes on Instagram work like a bag of likes.
- Or you buy several likes (with hard cash) that you can then distribute among your publications.
- Or you make an exchange of likes in publications that are suggested by the applications themselves, to get other users to whom your publications are suggested to end up liking your photos or videos.
Do you want to enslave yourself by liking posts of people you don't know at all so that they end up like you?
Or worse: do you want to like posts that don't interest you in the least?
Think of it as an exchange of "favors". You will like posts of people you will never see again and they will do the same with you.
Result: zero engagement.
And the thing is that Instagram realizes all these fraudulent practices and ends up labeling your account as a spammer.
Apps to get more followers on Instagram that I DO recommend.
Instead, look for apps to improve your Instagram usage.
Consider the following:
- Try to upload better content.
- Take more professional-looking photos and videos.
- Interact naturally with your followers and other accounts you'd like to be followed.
- Follow only those profiles that, for whatever reason, interest you because of the type of content they generate.
I know, maybe it's not the fast track you're hoping for to grow on Instagram and it sounds very tempting to use apps to get followers and likes at the drop of a hat. But I assure you that with that you will be squandering your Instagram account in a few days.
And here are some recommendations of some specific tools. I'm not going to describe everything that each one does because we will not finish today, but focus on what is, for me, the highlight of each of them:
- Hashtags: among other things, it allows you to locate the most popular hashtags related to a certain topic. For example, for "entrepreneurship" I would suggest the most popular related hashtags such as "#entrepreneurs", "#success", "#business", etc. Highly recommended to increase the reach of your posts.
- Cleaner for Instagram: allows you to delete inactive accounts, both those you follow and those that follow you. It is especially interesting the possibility to delete inactive followers because of how I explained to you that the algorithm works now. Having better quality followers will help to improve that 10% of initial reach that your publications have by default.
- Word Swag: with this application (paid in this case) you can add very attractive texts to your photos in a matter of seconds. Take a look at it because the results are really "pro".
- Social Blade: Social Blade is one of these tools with infinite uses, and not only for Instagram. I'm going to highlight the possibility of "spying" on your competition because you can follow not only the evolution of your account but of any Instagram profile. You can do things like, for example, see how much they have posted in the last 30 days, how many followers they have gained, and try to conclude that.
- Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a "classic" tool that now also supports Instagram and here I want to highlight one thing: the possibility of scheduling and scheduling your Instagram followers.
- highlight one thing: the possibility of scheduling the publication of your posts. This is something that you can't do with the native Instagram app and it will be tremendously useful to organize yourself better and the scheduling issue that we have already discussed.
Other tricks and hacks to get more followers on Instagram
At this point, you might be asking yourself "So, what can I do to get followers on Instagram?"
I'm going to give you two strategies that are currently being used by the top Instagramers:
1. sweepstakes to increase followers on Instagram 2.
Sweepstakes are one of the best strategies to get real followers on Instagram.
But before you get into raffling off an iPhone X, let me explain what is the most suitable approach to do a sweepstake on Instagram.
If you want to attract followers who will not stop following you when the sweepstakes end, you should consider raffling something related to the activity of your account.
Not doing so is one of the biggest mistakes we can make. There are sweepstakes hunters whose only presence on Instagram is to get as many prizes as possible.
And even if you don't attract those types of users, who wouldn't like to get an iPhone X?
The trick to get followers on Instagram, in this case, is to run a sweepstake with the sole purpose of getting them to discover your account and, incidentally, have an initial incentive to follow you.
If the content you share is of interest to them, you will have a much greater chance that they will not stop following you after the sweepstakes.
Don't make the mistake of raffling something of great value either. It is not necessary, although it is logically true that the higher the perceived value of the gift we raffle, the greater the probability of success with the sweepstakes and the greater the audience we will attract.
Remember that a simple book, for example, could be more than enough to attract users interested in your account.
The way to do it is very simple:
- Decide what you are going to raffle.
- Make a creative to show
- what the sweepstakes giveaway is.
- Publish it and inform your followers that to participate in the sweepstakes they have to like your account, follow you (your followers already follow you but people who don't know you don't follow you yet and to participate they must follow you because that's how your account gets more followers) and mention three friends.
- Announce until what date they can participate in the sweepstakes, what are the conditions of participation, and how/when you will announce the winner.
- Consider promoting the post with Instagram Ads to reach more people.
When the date arrives, publish who has won the prize.
You can do this process manually, having to check one by one the participants and see if they have complied with the rules of the sweepstakes (if they follow you, if they have mentioned three friends and if they have liked the publication), which, as you can imagine, can be a very tedious task if the number of participants is very high.
Or you can use a tool like easy promos to do the sweepstakes and save a lot of time.
2. Increase your followers with advertising on Instagram Ads
With strategy, taking advantage of Instagram's native online advertising, unlike buying followers, it does make all the sense in the world to invest to get more followers on Instagram.
Investing in advertising is a very different thing from buying followers, as you will be making use of one of the most powerful tools that Instagram puts at your disposal. Moreover, a tool that Instagram will be happy for you to use.
Facebook, as you may already know, a few years ago bought Instagram and integrated its Facebook Ads advertising platform with Instagram. This means that, with the same ad manager that you use to manage Facebook ads, you can also manage Instagram advertising.
Although in Instagram Ads there is not yet an option available to get followers directly through advertising, you can make strategies that will increase your followers.
Here are some ideas:
- You can place advertising to promote one of your best posts and thus reach a lot of people who don't know you at all. If your publication catches their attention, they will surely follow you.
- Send traffic to your Instagram profile. There are only three possible ways to put links on Instagram: the link in your bio, through Instagram Stories if you have a verified account or if you have more than 10,000 followers, or with advertising. So, if you put advertising to advertise your profile, you can get new followers in a fast and effective way.
- Appear with advertising on Instagram Stories. For that you will need a video with a maximum duration of 15 seconds and a lot of creativity/originality, to make people who don't know you at all and who see your promoted story decide to follow you.
3. Get followers with ads on Instagram Stories
One last very original strategy to get followers on Instagram fast is very simple if you create an ad on Instagram Stories.
It is completely licit to want to get followers on Instagram in the fastest and cheapest way possible.
But my recommendation is that you don't get obsessed with followers, because that can lead you to try strategies and practices that, rather than helping you, are going to hurt you enormously.
This is more a question of quality than quantity.
It is useless to have thousands of followers who do not interact with you and that, in addition, can damage your relationship with other users with whom you have genuinely connected.
Do things right and Instagram will reward you for it.
In this post, which is already for more than 4000 words, I have tried to give you a maximum of keys that, if you follow them, I guarantee that they will give you results.
But, as you well know, Instagram is a world, and in a simple post, even one as long as this one, I can only scratch the surface.
So, if you want to grow to the fullest and get the most out of Instagram, I recommend this guide where I can already go into much more detail on everything and take you by the hand through every step.
And always remember this: Instagram wants us to make real use of their platform and use it for the purpose it was created for: connecting with users with similar interests and bringing the conversation to their platform.