Businesses using Instagram, like businesses using any other social network, seem to have a perennial burning question: “How can I get more followers?”

Let me tell you how to get more Instagram followers—the fast way and the smart way.

The Fast Way to Get More Instagram Followers

The Google Keyword Tool tells us that when users search for Instagram-related topics, they’re either seek a Kardashian/Jenner account or look to get more Instagram followers.

Instagram Search Results on Google Keyword Tool

Fast Way to Get More Instagram Followers

If you’re about to run to Google for the same reason, you’ll soon learn that everyone wants to help you get Instagram followers—and get ’em fast.

Peruse the blogosphere or YouTube, and you’ll uncover common tips like:

  • Use hashtags like #f4f (follow for follow) or #followme in comments of popular users
  • Follow, then moments later, unfollow popular users
  • Like at least 1,000 photos with a popular hashtag

An Even Faster Way 

Does that sound like too much work?

Try an app to automate the process of building your Instagram follower base. If you search for Instagram apps on your mobile phone, your results will yield a whole bunch of get-followers-quick solutions.

followers apps android to get more Instagram followers quickly

The Fastest Way

If that’s too much scrolling and tapping, you can choose from pay-to-play options.

Simply fork over your marketing dollars for a particular number of Instagram followers, and POOF!

You have an instant following.

What’s the Catch With These Fast Methods?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these methods if you simply need to tell your boss that you have 10,000 followers.

But if that boss will soon ask for ROI on your Instagram efforts, you’ll be up a creek.

Let me explain.

In all the articles, videos, apps, and paid programs I’ve described, you’ll never see a mention of gaining TARGETED followers. They never address:

  • WHO you’ll get as followers using these methods
  • WHERE these followers come from
  • WHY these followers will be interested in you
  • WHAT value these followers will bring to your business

In other words, these schemes, especially the pay-to-play ones, focus purely on quantity, not the quality of the followers on your business account.

If you gained 10,000 Instagram followers in a week using a “quantity” method, how many of them do you think will be interested in your sushi restaurant in Chicago? Gluten-free baking mixes? Composting bins?

Hardly. Any.

There is a slim chance that these newly acquired followers will like you enough to like, comment, regram, or tell their friends about your Instagram account. And if anyone, like your boss, takes a moment to peruse your account, she’ll soon wonder, “Why is it that this account with 20K followers only gets 5 likes per post?”

With that, your Instagram cred will implode.

[Tweet “Wouldn’t it be better to get more Instagram followers who give two hoots about you?”]

The Smart Way to Get More Instagram Followers

Let’s dig in on how to get GREAT followers for your Instagram account.

Following these five methods will undoubtedly take you more time than a method of getting “quantity” followers. But those methods hold the promise of giving your business more qualified followers in it for the long haul.

These users will be much more likely to give you the return you seek in your Instagram marketing efforts.

1. Monitor a hashtag in your niche to find those who fit your buyer persona

When done daily, hashtag monitoring will give you the inside scoop on market trends and competitive information. And it will also introduce you to people who are likely to want to learn more about you by following you on Instagram.

So if you’re that sushi place in Chicago, you may wish to monitor the following hashtags:

Instagram Hashtag Results for Chicago Food Tipics

When you find a post of interest, tap on the user bio to see whether his description merits a “follow” tap on your part. If indeed he and your business care about the same things, he most likely will follow you back.

If that post gives you the itch to leave a comment, do it.

Just be sure to make the comment about the post—not about you. (If the user wants to know about you, your bio is just a tap away for him.) Your kind words alone about something you have in common might be enough for a user to follow you.

Repeat this method, whenever applicable.

2. Monitor a hashtag in your niche to gain user-generated content—and followers

This is taking your hashtag monitoring a step further.

Unless you’re in startup mode, you’ll be surprised how many Instagram users are already posting photos of your business, products, or services. And users will be happy to let you share their photos with your followers if you ask nicely.

Users often get flattered that a business finds its post worthy of a regram.

For them to see your regram, they’ll most likely follow you, so that they can see your borrowed photo in their feed. They might also give you a shoutout to their followers about your love of their original post.

See how it happens with color tastemakers Pantone.


3. Co-sponsor an Instagram contest

Partner with another Instagram user in your niche for a contest in which the entrant must follow the both of you.

See how athletic apparel store RiseNY hosted a contest with the Website SneakerWatch?

context follows instagram

This contest required that entrants follow both brands. At the time of this contest, RiseNY had over 7,300 Instagram followers; SneakerWatch had more than 337,000. This simple-to-implement contest can potentially gain either brand a healthy number of new followers in its mutual niche (athletic wear).

multiple Instagram account

4. Post to Instagram regularly

While there is value in charming other Instagram users through commenting on their posts or offering a contest prize, it’s also important to show the value of your account—and business—by consistently sharing great photos and short videos, which can be created easily using a video making tool.

Be sure to use targeted hashtags (a la #chicagofoodscene) to be found by others who will be interested in what you offer.

You can schedule, queue, and direct publish to your Instagram business profiles from your mobile device or desktop using Agorapulse.

example of how to get more instagram followers and post content

5. Promote your Instagram presence wherever you can

Inform your circles and customers about your business Instagram account.

Start by telling folks on your Website. Add a widget that gives visitors a flavor of what your account looks like and gets them to your account with a tap or click.

Let your email subscribers know about your Instagram account and encourage them to follow you there.

For example, both Constant Contact and Mailchimp have Instagram integrations, so you can boldly display your Instagram presence.

Got a brick and mortar business? Then you have literal real estate to encourage customers to follow your Instagram account. This restaurant used outdoor signage to announce its Instagram contest.

Photo credit: | example of how to get more Instagram followers

Photo credit:

If you have a tangible product, consider adding a bit about your business’ Instagram account.

Domino’s uses its packaging to get its customers interested in posting Instagram photos of its pizza using its username @dominos. Users will most likely begin to follow Domino’s with the hope that their pizza will be featured to the pizza king’s 852,000+ followers.

wording on a dominos box to get more instagram followers

Photo credit: The Family of Lisa Kalner Williams

And don’t forget that you can monitor the success of all your posting right from your Instagram dashboard!

Final Thoughts About Getting More Instagram Followers

In the end, it’s up to you what you’d like to do with your Instagram followers.

If you’re that Chicago sushi restaurant, and you want to point to your follower count and say “Because of these followers, we’re the biggest Chicago sushi restaurant on Instagram,” go for it.

Business owners in it for the long haul, however, will point to their Instagram count and say, “Because of these followers, we’re the biggest Chicago sushi restaurant in Chicago.”

You in it for the long haul?

* * *

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Editor’s note: The original post ran in 2015. It has since been updated.