Instagram is a rising platform and there's no slowing down - trust me!
Don't believe me? Well...
WOAAAAH! That's BANANAS!
No wonder we're constantly chasing followers, asking how to get more followers on instagram and trying to understand what are the best instagram hacks.
Do you find yourself asking "Jeez! How does the instagram algorithm work?!" It's a tough cookie to decode.
But lucky for you, I spent so much time researching how to get instagram followers for business and trying to figure it out myself.
Through A LOTTTT of trial and error, I managed to come up with a formula that gets me organic instagram followers consistently!
It all comes down to 2 things:
Getting a heck lot of engagement
Creating a story through your photos
You can gain more followers on instagram for FREE by implementing those 2 strategies.
In fact, 90% of people will decide whether to follow you or not on instagram based on the first 9 photos they see in your grid. Which is why in this blog post, I show you step by step how to create killer content and take awesome photos that encourage people to hit that follow button.
But truth be told, I found that it takes a bit more effort than posting 'instagram worthy' photos to get more instagram followers instantly.
So here are some of my free instagram followers hack that will constantly reel more and more people in...
1) ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD
The one sound advice I can really give you about instagram is to PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.
You have to be extremely intentional with the photos you're posting.
I usually plan my instagram posts about 2 weeks ahead. Meaning, I never post in real time, you got instastories for that boo!
When you plan your content ahead of time, you'll be able to create a cohesive feed that builds a story for your brand.
In preparing your posts ahead of time you'll be able to be much more strategic with your instagram game and keep in line with your overall social media marketing strategy.
This will also make your instagram feed look much more designed and thought out.
Think of yourself as an art curator or a magazine editor, only displaying the most prized and valuable images.
The good news is that there are many free apps that helps you plan your instagram feed.
I personally like to use PLANN for its click and drag option where I can upload all my photos and move them around to see what it would look like in my overall feed.
But here's a list of some other great planning apps you could and should be utilizing:
2) CREATE A THEME
A purposeful theme makes your feed so much more cohesive and curated. The human eye loves consistency and balance, so make sure to implement those 2 things through out your instagram posts.
Your instagram theme should be in keeping with your brand and visual identity.
Some of these strategies help create a seamless and visually pleasing theme, by:
Sticking to the same editing technique through out your photos
Balancing out between your busy and minimal photos
Trying to stick to the same colour palette
Grouping photos of the same colours or patterns together
Here's a little example for you... This is what my instagram feed used to look like just a few months ago...
And here's what it looks like now...
By comparison, you'll notice how I was able to create a sense of cohesiveness by alternating between my white and teal photos.
White and teal are also very intentional colours because they're in keep with my branding.
So you have to ask yourself, what would you like your theme to look like? Which primary and secondary colours do you want seen in there?
By answering these questions, you'll be able to create and post content that flows nicely through out your feed.
3) OFFER VALUE (like crazy!)
A common mistake I see (one which I was victim of myself) is that we're constantly self promoting on instagram.
I get it, the entire reason you're on instagram is probably because you wanna sell yourself or whatever it is you're offering.
But NEWS FLASH... People DO NOT respond to that.
Think about it this way, if you were following an account and all their posts kept pushing a product or sale, would you still follow them?
Probably not, right?
Instead, think like an instagram user instead of a seller. When you switch your brain to 'think like a consumer' you'll be able to create content that they're likely to respond to.
People are responsive to one of 4 things:
Things they can relate to
Anything that's FREE
Things that offer them value (i.e. something that is useful or provides a short cut)
That's why you have to be offering VALUE 80% of the time, and squeeze in a little self promotion for the remaining 20%.
This is what my strategy looks like:
I try to offer one FREE giveaway or promotional discount once a month... similar to the image below where I offered 2 totally FREE glam tattoo sheets if people tagged their friends.
I offer to help people out with any of their business or henna related woes where I encouraged people to ask me anything in their comments.
And I write out a post about how insecure I used to feel about my body - something that the majority can relate to.
Essentially, make your instagram less about pitching and more about providing. When you're there for people you're luring in more followers than you think.
4) USE THE 4 DEGREES OF SEPARATION
Don't get confused, I'll explain :)
Sometimes we fall in the trap of posting the same content over and over again without even realizing.
I used to do that too, here's a little snippet...
As you can see, my old feed looks very static. While the henna designs are different, the photos and the way it's lined up does not do it justice at all.
If anything it makes it look really boring since I'm posting the same close up shot repeatedly.
Instead, I now use a technique I like to call "the 4 degrees of separation", where I mix up my content through 4 categories:
My henna designs
My work space
A relatable quote
Something personal about me or my business
So here's what it looks like now...
In this manner, you'll be making your feed so much more dynamic and engaging (which instagram LOVES!). The more engagement you get, the better.
A good engagement rate would typically be 15% - 20%. So let's say you have 1,000 followers if 150 - 200 people either liked or commented on your photos, instagram rewards you by pushing your content out to the explore page.
The best way you achieve this is by figuring out what your 4 degrees of separation is.
5) CREATE A STORY (be a story teller)
People are receptive to story telling and lifestyle images. What that means is they love to see how your product or service fits in their life.
You need to create a journey with your photos or reveal the back story behind that specific image.
This is the perfect way to take advantage of captions! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but why just rely on the picture when you can actually use words?
Best thing is, instagram's caption limit is 2,200 words. That's like an entire blog post. Pretty dope right?
Hawaii based photographer Lindsey Roman does a stellar job in this...
She'll literally take the time to write out what happened in the photo she captured, little anecdotes or the couple's relationship journey.
She'll also do this in her own portrait photos which reveals a little about herself and sparks more of a human connection.
She looks pretty bad ass in this too, doesn't she?
Don't just post your photos hoping people will interpret something out of it, tell them what's special about that image and share its behind the scenes to make your feed all the more relatable.
6) SHOW YOURSELF & BE AUTHENTIC
I totally resisted doing this at first because I thought my business was about my brand and my henna, not me!
Boy was I wrong...
By revealing and posting more and more photos of yourself you're adding a more humanistic feel for your brand - that there's a beating heart behind it.
This sounds daunting but believe it or not, my most engaged and most liked photos are ones of myself and by a landslide.
I honestly thought I was being narcissistic at first, but the analytics speaks for itself.
Below is my highly liked and engaged photo...
And you'll notice how my top performing photos are usually photos of me...
I'll also make it a point to be authentic and genuine (not only in my own photos, but any post I add).
People respond to vulnerability and rawness.
Because most probably they've felt that way too in some point of their lives.
It's reassuring to know that someone out there feels the same and VOILAS an even stronger human connection is being built - which is what your brand should be all about.
7) POST DURING OPTIMIZED TIMES
You really need to make it a point to figure out what the best optimized times to post on instagram is.
This has a few variables:
Who's your audience?
When do they usually spend time on social media?
Where are you based/located?
These are all things to consider to truly understand the most optimal time for eyeballs to see your content.
It's also just as important to remain consistent through out your posting times.
For example, I've found that my highest engagement is during the weekdays (Monday through Friday) where the highest rate falls on a Wednesday or Thursday.
That's why I make it a point to post my BEST photos on those given days and less focus during the weekend.
Lucky for you, there are a handful of free apps you can download to keep track of those optimal times. Some of them include:
Plann (which is also an amazing content planning tool, as previously mentioned)
8) ENGAGE & BE SOCIAL!
It's called SOCIAL MEDIA for a reason, because you gotta be SOCIAL.
For some reason we fail to see this!
By constantly engaging with followers (and even non followers) you're driving more people to your content and to getting them to know who you really are.
Do not post and ghost :)
You want to stick around when you post a photo to respond back to anyone who left a comment.
You'll see how in the photo below, I've responded to each and every single comment... (scroll the image to see for yourself :) )
A good tactic is to also see who liked your photo, check their instagram account out and comment on something you like as well.
Not only does that give that person validation, but you're creating a network for yourself and a tribe of hardcore fans that are so much more likely to convert to buyers.
I always respond back to DMs and comments that come my way, but I also make it a point to send DMs and comment myself too!
Just like in real life, try to be a social butterfly in the social media world as well.
9) MONITOR YOUR GROWTH
This easily falls under the cracks for most people, but by deliberately checking your growth once every 1 or 2 weeks, you'll be able to understand:
What posts are working
What kind of content you need to create more of
What people are responding to
When is the best time that photos are performing best
Think of it like a diet in an attempt to lose weight. By keeping track of what you're eating you'll be able to detect what's making you lose weight or what's preventing it.
That's exactly how instagram works as well.
The cool thing? Instagram makes it super easy for you by revealing to you all kinds of analytics.
If you do not have access to this, it's probably because you're a personal account - which is why I highly recommend switching to a business one.
10) DO NOT "CHEAT" THE SYSTEM
A lot of people try to look for short cuts and that one "get quick followers" hack that will make them instafamous over night.
I hate to break it to you, unless you're a raving A-list Hollywood celebrity, there's no such thing.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Like Lily Singh mentions in her "How to be a Bawse" book...
There are no elevators to success, only stairs.
Instagram will know if you're trying to "cheat" the algorithm and can severely punish you by either: shadow banning you (meaning your content will not appear to non followers) or worse, suspending your account entirely.
Instagram is getting smarter and smarter everyday, so if you're using any of these techniques, STOP IMMEDIATELY:
The follow/unfollow method: not only is it annoying and unethical, but you're not building a community this way. You're just appealing mindless people who won't really care about you, your service or your content. In fact, you're actually harming yourself because if you're constantly following and unfollowing in a short period of time, Instagram will disable the follow feature for you (sometimes up to a week) - which could really disrupt your flow.
Buying followers: again this doesn't do you any favours. If you're buying followers, you're throwing money on the floor because they can easily unfollow you within days. That and the fact that a lot of these accounts can be fake, and if Instagram notices that it prevents your account from being seen from actual followers.
Using bots: this is the easiest way to get banned from Instagram all together. Instagram hates bots and has a very low tolerance towards it. You're putting your account at extreme risk if you decide to use a bot that automatically follows, likes or comments on other accounts.
There you have it awesome creature. My 10 top recommended tools that gets me instagram followers every single day...
Planning all your instagram content in advance
Create an visually appealing theme
Offering more value than self promoting
Using the 4 degrees of separation technique
Creating a story
Showing yourself & being authentic
Posting in optimized times
Engaging and being a social media butterfly
Monitoring your growth
Not cheating the system