In this post, we will show you how to most effectively use Instagram to increase engagement and grow a massive following over time—one that’s full of real fans, not inactive fake accounts.
How to Get More Followers on Instagram in 2018
There are 10 tactics that will help you reliably get more followers on Instagram:
Let’s dive deeper into how to implement each tactic.
1. Use the right Instagram hashtags
Your goal on Instagram is to engage your current audience while also growing your following. Posting new, interesting and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement, but to begin growing you’ll find hashtagging your photos to be extremely important. Hashtagging your photos makes it easy for people to find your photos that are searching for those specific terms.
So which hashtags should you use?
Just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram use certain hashtags over others. If you use the right hashtags within your photos, you’re much more likely to reach new users and be discovered.
Here are the current top 20 hashtags on Instagram according to Websta
- #love (1,271,692,015)
- #instagood (742,795,562)
- #photooftheday (507,358,504)
- #fashion (487,010,088)
- #beautiful (463,668,566)
- #happy (427,528,663)
- #cute (418,686,470)
- #like4like (417,887,839)
- #tbt (413,049,020)
- #followme (392,011,012)
- #picoftheday (380,504,677)
- #follow (371,102,705)
- #me (348,193,980)
- #art (343,874,151)
- #selfie (337,204,715)
- #summer (324,498,110)
- #instadaily (323,307,593)
- #repost (309,603,537)
- #friends (307,567,075)
- #nature (303,040,276)
If you looked at the list above and said, “But none of those apply to my products or brand”, you’re likely correct.
Using hashtags is one thing, using the right tags is a completely different thing.
Popular tags like the ones listed above will likely net you additional engagement and likes, however they will not lead to increased long-term engagement, new interested followers, and most importantly, sales.
If you want to tag your photos properly, you’ll need to find and use the most relevant hashtags. This means doing the appropriate research to make sure you’re using hashtags that not only describe your brand, but are also being searched for on Instagram.
To find relevant hashtags, you’ll want to use a free online tool like IconoSquare
Below, I used Websta to find relevant, related and popular hashtags for my men’s accessory brand by searching for key hashtags that are closely related to my brand.
As an example, searching the hashtag #MensFashion, I was able to pull the following list of additional keyword hashtags along with the number of times they have been used (popularity).
You can also find more related hashtags and their popularity if you search for any of your target keywords directly in the Instagram app.
You’ll want to go through this exercise trying different keywords that describe your brand and products, building out your hashtag keyword list as you go.
Keep in mind that Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. Additionally, the popular words will change over time, so make sure you revisit your hashtag keywords every few months to make sure you’re using the best possible terms.
You can also steal hashtag ideas from competitors or similar accounts that have the kind of following you aspire to have, but you ultimately want to create your own groups of hashtags to use that relate to your specific account.
Protip #1: Here’s a trick that I use for my ecommerce businesses. For every product and product category for my stores, I have done the research to see which are the most popular Instagram hashtags around those product categories. I came up with 15-20 popular hashtags for each category of products I sell, as well as a base of 5-10 popular tags that describe my brand and product offering overall. Finally, I also created a list of popular local specific hashtags that relate to my brand.
(Brand Keyword Hashtags)
#mybrandname #mensfashion #mensaccessories #mensgoods #fashion #mensstyle #instafashion #menswear
(Product Category Keyword Hashtags)
#bugatchisocks #happysocks #corgisocks #socks #sockswag #socksoftheday #sockgame #sockswagg #socksofinstagram #happysockday #sockwars #funsocks #happysockday
(Location Specific Keyword Hashtags)
#Toronto #TorontoFashion #TorontoFashionBloggers
All of these groups of keyword hashtags are stored in a page on Evernote. This makes it easy and efficient when I’m on the go to post a new Instagram image, optimized for the most relevant keywords.
I can easily open my Evernote and copy my standard brand, product and location specific hashtags to post with each photo. Some Instagram scheduling tools also let you save caption templates that you can use to store your hashtag groups.
Doing the work upfront of researching, organizing and saving the most applicable and popular hashtags will save you a ton of time down the road, increase your engagement and help garner new followers.
Protip #2: If you’ve been posting to Instagram for a while and feel like you’ve missed out on all these opportunities to build your audience by using keyword hashtags, fret not. You can still go back and post a comment with your new hashtag keyword lists and watch the likes and followers roll in.
Using hashtags in Instagram Stories
Hashtagging on Instagram posts are a given, but you should also be using hashtags in your Stories for the chance to be seen by users who follow that specific hashtag.
You can use Hashtag Stickers (which can be found in the Stickers menu when creating a Story) or just hashtag directly in your captions for a chance to be featured in a Hashtag Story.
Now that users can follow hashtags, your Stories have a chance to be seen by both people who are following that hashtag and anyone who’s just checking it out.
2. Use the right filters on Instagram
Keyword hashtags aren’t the only thing you should pay attention to. The Instagram community responds to certain photo filters more favorably than others. Using these preferred filters can have an impact on your engagement.
Here are the 10 current most popular filters on Instagram according to Iconosquare
- Normal (No Filter)
- X-Pro II
did a recent study on Instagram accounts to see how filters affected engagement and found that Mayfair, Hefe, and Ludwig drove the most interaction.
But more important than the general Instagram community’s favorite filters, are your particular audience’s favorite filters. Consider this custom graph which correlates filter usage to engagement from my own Instagram account:
You can use IconoSquare
to review the performance of your own account to understand what is and is not currently working for you.
3. Post on Instagram at the right times
Beyond adding the appropriate hashtags and using the best filters, you should also be considering the timing of your posts.
A targeted approach is to analyze what has and has not worked for you in the past. By visiting IconoSquare’s
optimization section, you can get a detailed analysis of your posting history vs. engagement. This report will also highlight the best times of the day and days of the week to post.
The dark circles indicate when you usually post media. The light gray circles shows when your community has been interacting. The biggest light gray circles represent the best times for you to post.
You can also get a lot of great insight from Instagram Analytics for Business accounts for free, under the Followers section.
You may want to consider using a social media scheduling tool to schedule and automatically publish your posts for when your audience is the most engaged.
4. Steal your competitor’s followers on Instagram
One of the best ways to find and attract a new following is by seeking out your closest competitors’ Instagram accounts and engaging with their audience. These people have already shown some level of interest in the products you carry simply by following your competitors’ account.
So how do you effectively steal your competitors’ followers?
You can steal your closest competitors’ followers by engaging with them. There are several ways to engage with Instagram users, and the more work you put in, the more followers and repeat engagement you’ll get out of it.
The three types of engagement on Instagram are:
- Follow a user
- Like a photo
- Comment on a photo
I ran an informal test with my business account to see how my competitors’ followers responded to my marketing advances. I targeted the followers of a close, local competitor. Since I know many of his followers would be local, I added my city to my profile to create a greater sense of familiarity between my brand and the people I am targeting.
I began by simply following 100 of my competitors’ followers. Later, I followed another 100 but I also took the time to like one of their photos. Finally, I followed a third group of 100 and liked as well as commented on one photo from each account..
Here were the results:
- Follow: 14% followback
- Follow + Like: 22% followback
- Follow + Like + Comment: 34% followback
Although the are many variables and the test was far from scientific, the results were clear. The more you put in and engage with people, the more you’ll get out of it.
Note: While it’s against Instagram’s terms of service, some entrepreneurs use automation to follow the same process above. House of Hannie discusses this tactic and the pros and cons of it on the episode of Shopify Masters below.