When it comes to gaining traction on Instagram, increasing your follower count can be difficult. Many people take the easy route of buying followers, but having fake followers really feels like a cop-out; plus, it defeats the purpose of having followers anyway! Here’s a list of 20 free, easy ways to get more Insta followers without cutting corners.
By Monique Courtney
1. Be a follower
The more accounts you follow, the more accounts will inevitably follow you. Follow popular accounts as well as users you share similarities with, users you like, and accounts that are relevant to yours. Utilise the “suggested users” feature that Instagram has; if Instagram thinks you could benefit from following someone, who are you to disagree?
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2. Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to ensure exposure. They allow your posts to show up in other feeds as well as sometimes on Instagram’s explore page. Be thoughtful, though! Small, generic hashtags like #love, #happy, and #instagood are effective, but too many in one post can seem spammy. Use hashtags that are relevant to what you’re trying to promote; if you’re at a loss, you could even try hashtags that will get others to engage with you, like #followforfollow or #likeforlike.
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3. Location, location, location
Using the location feature when you post will make your photo appear on the location page. In turn, this will give the post more exposure to potential new followers. Be as specific as possible! For example, instead of tagging the town or suburb that you’re in, tag a landmark—a café, a park, etc. This way, your post will still appear in the broader locations, but will also show up on the location page of the exact spot you tagged.
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4. Post at the right time of day
It’s one thing to post good content, but you need to make sure you’re posting at the right times in order to maximise engagement and visibility. Research shows that the best times to post a photo are 2am and 5pm. Photos posted on Wednesdays tend to receive a little more engagement than photos posted on any other day. Sundays see the least amount of content posted, so posting on a Sunday will give your post more exposure to potential Insta followers. Use Later to schedule your posts if you’re unable to post things yourself at certain times.
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5. Consistency is key
Nobody wants to follow an account who posts once every few weeks, or posts nothing for a while and then spams everyone’s feeds with 10 posts in a day. Being consistent with your posting is appealing to Insta followers; ideally, this means 1-3 times a day, depending on your follower count and the purpose of your account.
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6. Curate your feed
First impressions are super important, especially on social media. One glance at your profile may be able to tell someone all they need to know about you. If your feed looks like you closed your eyes and posted whatever photos your finger blindly landed on, users aren’t going to want to follow you. Give your profile some personality; make sure your photos look good next to each other, stick to a specific colour scheme, and make sure your aesthetic reflects you as a person. There are some great apps–Planoly, UNUM—to help you design your feed and see what posts will look like on your page before you post them.
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7. Story location
Add your location to your Instagram story! This feature is a bit different than the location feature on normal posts; when you add your location to your story, your personal story then gets added to the location story. Anyone who’s nearby can view the location story (and who posted it!) on their explore page, while users around the world can view the story on the location page.
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8. Story hashtags
Similar to the story locations, hashtags have their own stories, too! When someone searches a hashtag, not only will posts show up, but a story for that tag will also appear.
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9. Utilise other platforms
Promote your Instagram on other social media platforms! Attach a link to your profile or simply write your username in your bio on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, etc. to get more Insta followers. If a social media platform doesn’t allow you to have a bio (for example, Snapchat), post your Insta username on your story from time to time and encourage your friends and followers to check out your profile.
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Comment on posts from other users, especially those who you want to follow you. Not only will they see your comment and potentially check out your page, their followers may also be intrigued. Hot tip: instead of opting for a generic comment like “Great post!”, try something more thoughtful. Point out something specific you really liked about the post, or even ask a question.
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11. Promote yourself, not just your Instagram
Your Insta posts aren’t the only things that need exposure! Promoting yourself as a person outside of social media will encourage people to look you up online. This will likely lead to them your Instagram profile, resulting in more Insta followers. Gain exposure by speaking on podcasts, blogging, or writing for publications.
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12. Run a competition
Basically, running an Instagram competition or giveaway is offering something to users in exchange for likes and follows. The prize could be anything: a follow from you, a repost of one of their photos on your page, money, a tangible gift—the possibilities are endless. Users will follow you in hopes of winning whatever it is you’re giving away.
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13. Be conscious while editing
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to be aware of how your feed looks to other users. But it’s just as important to be mindful of how each particular post is edited. Research has shown that Mayfair is the most effective Instagram filter to use if you’re promoting something. Images that have blue tones in them perform 24% better than images with red, yellow, or orange hues; photos that are bright or light perform 24% better than darker photos. Users respond to how your photo is edited as well as what the photo is actually of, and this may affect your follower account.
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Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your followers by utilising your captions! Ask questions in your captions and encourage your followers to respond to them in the comments. This will increase visibility and engagement, likely allowing you to get more Insta followers.
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15. Tag people
Tagging people or brands in your photos is useful for two reasons: first, it will force the brand or account that you tag to notice you. Secondly, your post will appear on that brand or person’s account, giving your account more exposure to their followers.
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16. Be my guest
Get a guest poster! This is especially useful for getting more Insta followers if your guest poster is an influencer or has lots of followers themselves. Find another user who will take over your Instagram story for a day, filming themselves as they go throughout their day. Announce it to your followers in the week leading up to the takeover and ask the other user to announce the takeover to their followers, too. Your followers will engage with your story more, and their followers will watch your story and follow you.
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17. Know your niche
What are you passionate about? What are you interested in? What products, themes, and values do you want to promote through your Instagram? Figuring out the answer to these questions will help you find your Instagram niche. Once you know your niche, it will be easier to tailor content, hashtags, and collabs with other users in order to maximise your reach and get new Insta followers.
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18. It’s who you know
Just like in any other field, in-person networking is an important part of social media. Meet up with other influencers and users in person. Building real-life relationships is a great way to encourage Instagram collaborations and gain exposure to potential new Insta followers.
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19. Story highlights
Instagram recently introduced story highlights as an awesome new feature. If you post a story that’s of interest to your Insta followers, or could bring in new followers, you can now save it as a highlight. This way, it’ll last more than 24 hours, and will be available for anyone and everyone to watch. Have different highlights for different things. For example, if you’re a fashion account, you could have a highlight for your favourite trends of the season, one for fashion news, one for your own favourite wardrobe pieces, one for past story takeovers, etc. Users can watch your stories over and over again, as many times as they like. Think of it as a trailer for your profile!
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20. Be prepared
If you really want to succeed in getting more Insta followers, you need to be prepared to put in the time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t super easy. It requires preparation and planning. If you put in the work building a large following, you’ll reap the rewards!