A little over two years ago, Instagram used to be a budding social network and an untapped marketing channel that had fewer than just 5 million users. Since then Instagram has exploded, been acquired by Facebook, launched an Android app, and grown its user base dramatically to over 100 million active users. This rise of popularity has meant that its significance as a commercial marketing platform has also increased with it.
For Instagram to be successful as any type of communication platform you need followers. And while you might be the next Anne Leibovitz artistically, skill alone might not be enough to gain a following. Skill is important however there’s something else that I like to call ‘Social Prowess’ that will definitely aid in the process. So take a peek over my shoulder and let me guide you through my Instagram follower cheat sheet.
1. Use Instagram Geotagging
Geotagging is another opportunity to attract new followers. It is a powerful feature to take advantage of. Tagging your image with its location adds that photo to an archive of photos that were captured in that particular place, be it a historical landmark or local hangout. It may be a place you are visiting temporarily, but taking snapshots of venues you frequent regularly is certain to grab the attention of other users who will most naturally want to follow fellow locals.
J’Espere Que Tu Vas Bien, a French Canadian experimental film, worked with the Instagramers Montreal Collective to create a Crowdsourced Movie-Poster Campaign, with 87 posters to promote the film. They portrayed locations used in the film shot by iphoneographers who walked the city.
Don’t be shy about following others or generously “liking” or commenting on photos that genuinely catch your eye. It might just grab the attention of like-minded Instagrammers who will reciprocate your goodwill.
2. Jumpstart with Existing Audiences
If you already have a database of active followers on other platforms, then announcing your presence on Instagram is the perfect way to start as this initial push encourages your existing audience to follow your Instagram account.
If you have a group of followers through any of the following use them to spread the word about your new account.
- Email subscriber lists
- Your website
- Street Signage
- Other social media sites
It’s understandable that the brands with the most followers on Instagram are the same ones who are exceptionally active on other social channels. Take inspiration from Starbucks, MTV, Burberry or Nike. These companies are currently the top 4 brands on Instagram with high engagement rates and more than 300,000 followers.
3. Quality Content Over Quantity
Instagram isn’t about creating a play-by-play documentary of your life. So don’t over post and keep your uploads to 3 or 4 a day.When you post a flood of shaky photos from a sporting event snapped at a distance, you will end up weakening the quality of your photo stream, and to be honest it’s a little spammy. The main risk is that your followers will stop seeing the value in your feed and unfollow your Instagram account.
Many of Instagrams most popular images share a handful of qualities: Unique angles, vivid colors, effective use of contrast, and subtle humor.
Finally it helps to have a general content plan so your Instagram feed is consistent. This will ensure you don’t lose sight of your channel as a priority and your followers will have a better idea of what your channel has to offer.
4. Engage, Actively!
Let users know you exist by interacting with them. One of the best ways to get more followers on Instagram is to engage with other users. It is, after all, a social network.
The most popular and effective way to interact is to hashtag your photos. Hashtags tie together posts with common attributes or subjects. After you’ve joined Instagram, search for hashtags that are relevant to your brand and start engaging with users. Just like Twitter and other social sites that use hashtags Instagram users have their favorites. By strategically tagging your photos, you will more likely to be more likely discovered and followed by other users.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at the top 10 hashtags on Instagram below:
There are several large brands that are taking Instagram very seriously as part of their overall marketing strategy. For example Giorgio Armani is in on the act with their “Frames of Life” campaign. The brand asks followers to upload a picture of them wearing sunglasses with the hashtag #framesoflife.
The fundamentals to attracting more followers on Instagram is just the same as most other social networks. It is essential to strike a balance between producing great content and engaging your audience. Add real value for your followers and you will be repaid in a flood of likes.