Tips & Tools to Grow Your Instagram Following

Zellie Friedman
By Zellie Friedman

As social platforms move to engagement based algorithms, having a large following has become less valuable than a highly engaged page. In fact, a brand with 2 million followers can get less likes per post than a brand with 2,000 followers all based on where they fall in the engagement algorithm. Good content and a high engagement rate is crucial to a brand’s success on social media, but It’s important to keep in mind the benefits of having a large following as well.

A large following can be used to build brand awareness and credibility. However, on Instagram, having a large following of over 10,000 followers as a brand is incredibly important since this opens up linking opportunity in their story. A brand’s ability to link in the story is important on Instagram since without it, you only have one stable linking opportunity (in your bio). With our clients, the ability to link in the story has increased Instagram traffic to the website by over 400% and opens new avenues to track Instagram Influencer campaigns.

Here are our favorite tips and tools to help you grow your Instagram to over 10,000 followers in under 6 months:

Invest In A Growth Engagement Tool

There are many options for Instagram growth tools on the market today. These tools grow your audience by targeting and engagement with potential followers based on targeting criteria you provide. This criteria can be anything from followers of a certain account (like a competitor or a complimentary brand), location, hashtags, and more.

The tool then follows users or like content (5-10 posts) of people who fall into this targeting criteria – they also automatically unfollow after 3-7 days to maintain brand credibility by having a higher number of followers than those you’re following.

While technically you aren’t “buying” the follow with these tools, rather paying for engagement, Instagram is still cracking down on these paid methods to grow followings. Some favorite growth and engagement tools have been shut down in the last 6 months, and it seems Instagram is continuing this trend shutting down as many of these tools as possible.

A few options that are still available online are Boostgram ($100/mo per account) and Rocket Social ($15-60/mo per account). Boostgram is our recommended option as this tool also allows you to pre-schedule Instagram content unlike many Instagram scheduling tools that require you to live post via a push notification.

As Instagram cracks down on these tools, the good news is you can still mimic this growth strategy in an “Instagram-approved” way. Our recommendation would be manually completing these engagement tactics or putting Virtual Assistance to use (which can be found through sites like Upwork).

Related: 4 Social Media Posts to Boost Engagement

To conduct this strategy manually, start by making a list of your brand’s top competitors or complementary brands (i.e. other relative brands that your customers are likely to shop at). From here you’ll want to follow or like photos from 10-50 accounts a day – you should notice the engagement pouring back into your account! Remember to do weekly “unfollow” sweeps if the number of people your brand is following gets too high.

Ask Your Audience To Tag Their Friends

Sometimes a simple as is all it takes to get your audience involved. When using engagement based posts (like quotes, gifs, or memes) tell your audience to tag their friend that they relate to. Tagging friends in memes has became a staple action in the social media world, but it’s also excellent for brands to grow their awareness!

This is a huge reason why posting a variety of engagement and promotional content is important. While a customer may be more likely to click on a promotional post, they will be less likely to actually “like” the post. By posting engagement based quotes and memes and asking your audience to tag a friend that would relate to it, you’re introducing your brand to not only a new set of eyes, but someone who is likely to enjoy your brand since their friends do.

Related: The Art of the Reshare: How to Stretch the Value of Your Existing Content

Another great way to increase tags on your Instagram posts is to run a social contest where the entry is tagging 2-3 friends. This simple ask brings in more entries than asking your audience to post a photo, but also increases your page’s engagement rate and reach. This common contest strategy can help increase your post reach by more than 45% and significantly increase your comment rate which counts as engagement.

This means, that running a contest like this not only gets you more brand awareness to that particular post, it can help your future content rank higher in the News Feed. Similarly to just asking your audience to tag their friends, a contest like this is a great way to reach new potential customers because your followers are likely to tag friends that they think would also be interested in the prize or the brand. You might even get these tagged friends to enter themselves and tag 2 more friends! It’s a foolproof method to generate engagement and find new followers.

Promote Your Instagram On Higher Trafficked Platforms

New to Instagram? Chances are you have a larger audience elsewhere then. Whether it’s your email list, Facebook following, Twitter following… these higher trafficked platforms are a great way to build your Instagram following. We suggest developing a branded post with an incentive to visit your Instagram (cough, cough…perhaps running a contest like suggested above!) that you can then share to these other platforms. Utilizing your higher following social platforms is a great place to start as you know  these customers are social users who already show an interest in following your brand.

Related: How To Merge Social Media Accounts

When it comes to making your audience aware of your new Instagram page, adding social buttons to your emails or website can be a great start. Consumers are now accustomed to being able to find a brand’s social channels by visiting the header or footer of a site. For brand credibility purposes, you may want to wait until you build up at least 12 pieces of content on Instagram, optimize your bio, and start a following before you link from your website or newsletter, however moving forward this is an excellent way to continue growing your following.

Be Active + Spread The Love

The best way to build your following….have a lot of engagement. The best way to grow your engagement? Engage with your audience. Liking, commenting, and following your customers or fans can be a great way to spread your brand awareness, increase your engagement rates, and build a loyal following.

When a potential follower or customer lands on your Instagram page and sees your page posting customer photos and commenting back to their audience, it shows that your page is active. At the end of the day, people like to follow other people. Your brand needs to have a personality that shows through your community management.

Community management is a crucial part of a successful social media strategy that is often skipped by brands. If social is used to build brand credibility, then community management is the groundwork of that credibility. Customers will be unlikely to follow your page (or continue following your page longterm) if they feel like they are only being sold to and are not provided with a resource. While quick, positive, and friendly community management might not directly grow your audience, it is how you’ll be able to cultivate a true long-term community on your social pages. Don’t expect your following to steadily grow if you ignore the “being social” part of social media.

Related: Engagement vs. Traffic-Driving Content on Social Media

Overall, a large following on Instagram can be due to a number of factors – good content, a well-known brand name, high following incentives, and more. While there are ways to grow your audience at quick rate, your brand will need to remain consistently active and maintain a high level of quality content to keep your following high. There is significant value to brands having at least 10,000 followers on Instagram. With good content and a little strategic thinking, your brand can easily reach this goal in less than 6 months.

Zellie is a Social Media Manager at Power Digital who is passionate about growing brands’ audiences and engagement on social organically. Zellie loves the challenge of working with clients from a variety of industries; from consumer pet products to B2B security companies.