Menu

Reading time: 6 minutes

How do you get real Instagram followers for your business? Here you’ll find those few strategies that actually work.

by Jerry “Doctor Spin” Silver // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Senior Digital Strategist // Spin Factory

Instagram is tons of fun.

Also, Instagram is a social network where many companies and organizations are trying to build their own following.

But how do you become successful as a brand on Instagram?

  • Are there any magic hashtags that you can use?
  • Or a way to game the Instagram user recommendation engine?
  • Should you sharpen your comedy skills — or just take some photography classes?

Well, there are spin strategies that will help you. But they might just not be what you think they are.

Here goes:

Instagram Strategies (Out of Reach for Most)

(Out of Reach) Strategy: “I’m a Celebrity”

One obvious way to get hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers would be to become a celebrity. Being famous will trigger your fans to find and follow you on social media.

If you’re a celebrity, you could post a picture of yourself brushing your teeth; you’d still get thousands and thousands of likes for it. That’s the power of internet fame.

As I’m writing this, the most liked image on Instagram (2,700,000 likes and counting) is a recent pic by a celebrity — Kendall Jenner:

Kendall Jenner on Instagram.

Kendall Jenner’s feed is better than yours.

The Kendall Jenner image has many things going for it:

It’s a message of love with a touch of creativity, it’s cute and instantaneous, and most of all — it’s a picture many of her fans and followers can replicate. (It gives people a reason to take selfies, which usually works well with certain publics on Instagram.)

And the Kardashian/Jenner family are no strangers to hitting it big on Instagram:

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's wedding on Instagram.

Kim and Kanye knows how to get likes.

Caitlyn Jenner's vanity Fair cover on Instagram.

Caitlyn Jenner also knows how to do it.

(Out of Reach) Strategy: Elite Inspiration

Another way to go about it is to go for various kinds of elite inspiration:

Example 1: Beauty & Style
The German Instagram influencer deborah_tmz is a typical example. She has grown a following of 753,000 fans from just 340 selfies (that’s one selfie a day for less than a year) — much like this one:

Deborah_tmz are serious about selfies.

Deborah_tmz are serious about selfies.

Example 2: Stunning Photography
If you’re a talented photographer, you could grow a serious audience. Swedish nature photographer @wisslaren (Christoffer Collin) grew his following to 1,000,000 fans by posting 5,000+ amazing pictures like this one:

Wisslaren on Instagram.

Requirements: Some serious talent and budgets for travel.

Example 3: Entertainment & Comedy
Some people are just born to be entertainers, and some have a knack for the particular type of comedy that works on Instagram. Like The Fat Jewish with his 5,000,000+ followers — with updates like this one:

The Fat Jew on Instagram.

Smile.

“But, Wait…”

“But, I’m not a celebrity!”
“But, I’m not model material!”
“But, I’m not a talented photographer!”
“But, our business has nothing to do with comedy!”

Well, I’m sure you’ll be okay. Chances are that your brand wouldn’t want the following of a celebrity, a model, a world-class photographer — or a New York internet sensation.

If anything, you want a following that’s relevant to your business!

You should consider some other type of Instagram strategy…

Instagram Strategies (Within Reach for Most)

(Within Reach) Strategy: Being Consistent

Those who manage to attract massive audiences via “Elite Inspiration” all have one thing in common:

They’re surprisingly consistent in their postings. They don’t go out on tangents, and they rarely experiment with their content. They’ve learned what their followers appreciate, so they stick to that.

  • Consistent publishing schedule: They post on a consistent schedule that works well for the type of audience they’re building.
  • Consistent emotional message: Their images have a consistent quality in evoking an emotional response, like laughter or surprise.
  • Consistent formatting: They are consistent in their use of filters/editing, whitespace, and general composition/cropping.
  • Consistent motive choices: They pick a type of motive(s), angle(s) and/or location(s) — and then they stick with these choices.
  • Consistent copy tonality: They are consistent with the way they write about their uploaded photos, from copy to tagging.

Example 4: louiselj
Swedish Instagram talent Louise Ljungberg serves as an excellent example of being consistent and getting a niche following. From posting 599 pictures, she has grown a following 182,000 fans — with consistent photos like these:

Consistent Instagram board.

Consistency — across the board.

(Within Reach) Strategy: Smart Hashtags

Instagram, as we all know, allow for the use of hashtags. However, most people (and brands) use them wrong.

You’re allowed to use 30 hashtags for a single picture — and you should try to use them all. However, it’s futile to use the hashtag #sunset, because there are already so many people using that tag.

For every hashtag, Instagram’s algorithm picks out nine pictures to feature (click on a tag and you’ll see them). The featured pictures are chosen based on two main variables — age (how recent the photo is) and engagement (number of likes). So what does it take to get your photo featured? Look at those pictures already featured, and you’ll quickly get a sense of how many likes you need to get your picture among the top nine.

If you get 30 likes on average, then you should only target 30 relevant hashtags where 30 likes will get you featured. As you get more and more likes, you’ll have to find new and more popular hashtags to use. it’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s quite a lot of work.

Example 5: Top Posts (for Hashtags)
By targeting specific hashtags and anticipating the number of likes you’re likely to receive, you can make sure to have your picture end up in “Top Posts” for up to 30 tags!

Instagram's Top Posts

With about 100 likes you should be able to get your picture featured on this tag.

(Within Reach) Strategy: Mechanical Growth

You should never buy followers or get followers in various “follow4follow” programs. People will spot it and think that you’re a loser — and that’s not good public relations! Plus, fake followers won’t buy your products or services.

However, it does really work to follow other accounts, like their pictures, and leave thoughtful comments. If you have a couple of hours each day to do this, it actually works. But I should let you know that there are various software services that allow you to automate this. If you use these programs in a responsible manner, you’ll only be following the accounts that you have selected (and that you would have followed anyway), but the software takes care of this for you. While you sleep, so to speak.

This is obviously a gray hat tactic — and Instagram hates it. They often shut these services down, one by one.

For good reason. Automated “lovely picture” comments are terrible. Still, these software programs can be used for good, too. If you decide to use them, use them with great caution — or risk getting suspended by Instagram!

Example 6: Instagram Chrome Extension
Here’s an example of a Chrome Extension that you can use to automatically follow, unfollow, like, and comment pictures. I won’t link to it, basically because I can’t guarantee the developer’s legitimacy (malware is always an issue with these types of services).

Instagram Chrome Extension

Look in the lower right corner…

In short: Go for relevancy, commit to hashtags within your reach, and stay the course. I’m doctorspin.me on Instagram — don’t forget to share your Instagram-account in the comment section. Good luck!

How to get real Instagram followers for business.

Oh, almost forgot. You can also cross-promote your account via other platforms.

More by Doctor Spin:

Never miss a Doctor Spin article again?

Join 4,100+ of the best people on the planet — my SpinCTRL subscribers
(+ download 23 Tactics for Content Promotion as a signup bonus).


SUBSCRIBE

###

Want Jerry to speak at your event? Learn more here.

Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


Doctor Spin’s comment policy:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Reader reactions:

(If you want your profile picture next to your comment, create your own Gravatar here.)

Åsa

Thx for your advice Jerry! Good – as always! I’ll try to be even more consistent!
@perrovalparna

Reply
Doctor Spin

Cool. I need to listen t my own advice, my personal Instagram account is all over the place. On the other hand, I’m not trying to build a massive audience of people who are interested in baby pictures, either, ha.

Thanks for commenting, I’ll make sure to follow you. Cheers.

lokkomotion

Thanks for good advice! For my own personal Instagram I’m like you Jerry, “all over the place”. Photo of my friends, my dog, family, from work, nature, party – a mix of everything I care about and like to share – @lokkomotion –

Reply
Doctor Spin

Haha, yeah I hear you. I’ve actually considered going for consistency, but I could never commit to one niche. I go for inspiration in the moment before any long-term strategy.

Thanks for dropping by and I’m looking forward to following your “all over the place” updates! :)

VisitSweden

Interesting! I’m definitely struggling with the consistant formatting… I work a lot with Afterlight (which I can totally recommend) but every Instagram video, photo collage and Repost “destroys” the overall look of my gallery… :-/ @VisitSwedenDe

Reply
Doctor Spin

I use Afterlight, too. Wifey and I share an Adobe account and she’s in possession of Photoshop and all the Premiere video editing stuff, but I managed to snag Afterlight! :)

But yeah, no matter if you’re a brand or a person — consistency is a challenging game to play.

Li Gessbo

Thank you, you are right of course, just a bit difficult to follow the advice. Regarding Instagram, I think for my personal account it’s hard to decide what target group I have . . . That’s easier at work, with a project with a specific goal – but still not very easy :-) @gessbo

Reply
Doctor Spin

I’m not following my own recommendation either, ha! My personal Instagram account is all over the place. And mostly baby pictures at that, not exactly the perfect strategy for grabbing that Instagram fame! :)

James Pabling

Wow! word of the day consistency. I think I’m going to do it whatever it takes. Thanks for the tips….

Reply
Jerry Silfwer

Best of luck to you, James.

Traci L Turner

Thank you for this post! I have an artist account that I started to tighten up earlier this year. I removed a lot of my “personal” posts and pictures of me so that my page focuses more on my artwork, however sometimes I don’t have much (if anything) to post when I’m in-between projects so there can be gaps in-between my posts. What are your thoughts or advice on how to beef up followers and interactions for artists on Instagram? Do you think the same “consistency strategy” applies?

My handle is @tracilturner if you’d like to check it out!

Reply
Doctor Spin

Hi Traci — and thanks for stopping by.

I do think the consistency strategy applies and I’ve also found that the correlation between how often you post and how fast you grow is usually very weak, meaning that posting often doesn’t really help you grow as much as one would think.

So not posting that often might just be fine, as long as your posts are great and consistent and creating a powerful visual experience when looking at your whole board.

However, there seems to be a strong correlation between being interactive and growth, especially when building up to critical mass. Interaction means commenting on other people’s work on Instagram, but also strategically following industry influencers you respect and unfollowing inactive users.

A popular tool for this is the software Crowdfire (both app and desktop versions). It lets you be smart about how to find people to follow and unfollow on Instagram: https://www.crowdfireapp.com/

Traci L Turner

Just now seeing this! (The reply went to my spam folder, lol) Thank you so much, you’ve been very helpful and informative.

Doctor Spin

Awesome Traci, happy to help.

Hanaw Rashid

Kul läsning! Här får du namnet på både mitt privata insta-konto (@hanawrashid:disqus ) och mitt mat-instagram-konto @letthegirleat :) MVH en som är i samma bransch :)

Reply