Gain Your First (or Next) 1,000 Instagram Followers (1/2)

gain Instagram followers

1. Engage with users through follows, likes, and comments.

Instagram is a community, and one great way to get involved in that community is to find people who post pictures that interest you. Then follow their accounts and interact with their content. It’s the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account. It may also get your foot in the door in the platform’s community.

That does two things for you. First, when they get the notification that you’ve followed them, they might check out your account and decide whether or not to follow you. (This is why it’s important to have some great content on there before you start reaching out to others.)

Secondly, it means you’ll be seeing their recent posts in your feed, so you can Like and interact with them if you choose to.

As you build a following, celebrate your followers and show you appreciate them by responding to their comments. And even following them and engaging with their own posts.

2. Cross-promote with users who have the same audiences to you.

Once you build a solid relationship with some of the folks behind these accounts that have a similar audience to your own, you might ask to do some co-promotion on each others’ accounts.

The more natural and less spammy you can make the content of these cross-promotions— especially the captions — the better. It also helps to be picky about them, and don’t do them very often.

For instance, influencer @Belleoftheball45, who has more than 70K followers, posted a sponsored image of herself on the beach with Coppertone sunscreen. @CoppertoneUSA then re-posted the image. By cross-promoting, both Abigail and Coppertone can reach new audiences and grow their followings.

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When someone searches for the hashtag #Coppertoneusa, or takes a look at Coppertone USA’s Instagram, they’ll find Abigail’s account and might choose to follow her. At the same time, any followers of Abigail might click on the post and send Coppertone a follow, as well, particularly since Abigail is promoting Coppertone products. It’s a win-win for both accounts.

3. Run Instagram contests to encourage engagement.

One more way to expand your reach while increasing engagement on your photos is to run a contest. Then ask people to follow your account and Like or comment on the photo in order to enter this contest.

I mean, come on … who doesn’t love to win free stuff?

You should add a UGC (User-Generated Content) element to the contest, too. It’s where people post a photo of their own and use a specific hashtag along with following your account.

Here’s an example of a post from @PlayaBowlsNortheastern, where followers were asked to follow each of Playa Bowls’ three business accounts, and tag a friend to follow each account, as well. In exchange, follower’s have the chance to win a free bowl:

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4. Use Instagram Stories and its interactive features.

Instagram has always given you the opportunity to post beautiful, curated photos to represent your brand. However, with the introduction of ephemeral Instagram Stories, brands can also share on-the-fly, behind-the-scenes looks for 24 hours that may not be as polished as a published photo, but give your brand more personality on the platform.

One look at Snapchat’s explosion in popularity demonstrates that social media users are clearly responding positively to ephemeral photo and video sharing. Instagram Stories allow brands engage with users in different ways to cultivate brand loyalty and appeal.

Although Snapchat pioneered this feature, Instagram Stories now has over 400 million daily users, which is double the amount of Snap’s user base.

Along with sharing video clips and static images through Instagram Stories, users can also use interactive features like polls to gain more engagement and learn more about their Instagram audiences. Once a user is verified or has over 10,000 followers, they can even include a link to a webpage within a story.

How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, unless they are marked as a “Featured Story”. Featured stories will show up at the top of your profile between the photo feed and your bio. We can’t embed Instagram Stories just yet, but you can view HubSpot’s Instagram page to see what we’ve featured.

Here are a few other brands we recommend following to see what they’re sharing:

Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur in Aruba who uses Instagram Stories to document the behind-the-scenes action of building a yoga studio. While her Instagram portfolio features beautiful, professional photos and videos of her in yoga poses, her Stories feature her dog sitting in on staff meetings.

She uses Stories to show the other side of her brand to her 2 million followers in an authentic and unpolished way. And to keep her followers apprised of what she does every day (besides yoga, of course).

Dana Shultz (@miniamlistbaker) publishes easy vegan and gluten-free recipes on her blog. Her Stories feature neat how-to videos of her making breakfast and testing out new recipes in her kitchen. The behind-the-scenes aspect of her Stories provide a lot of human context for her blog’s brand, and everybody loves a good how-to video.

Casper (@casper) publishes quirky Instagram content to advertise their mattresses — without overtly doing so. The main theme of their content? Staying in is better than going out (because you can stay in and lay on a comfy Casper mattress, naturally).

They’ve even created a gallery for followers to use as backdrops for their Snapchat and Instagram stories to make it look like they’re out at a party, when they’re really laying in bed. One of their latest Instagram Stories featured someone watching “The Sopranos” in bed. And the caption is:”Who needs plans when you have five more seasons?” This video supports Casper’s campaign to stay in bed with a very real look at what millions of people do when they’re hanging out at home.

Here are our tips for using Instagram Stories for your brand:

  • Whether it’s funny, sad, or unique, be authentic. Your photo gallery is where content can be perfect and polished. Instagram Stories are for the raw, unscripted, and un-retouched. Use Stories to share the other side of your brand that followers might not be able to glean elsewhere. Do you have a dog-friendly office? Is your team trying out the Mannequin Challenge? Start filming to showcase the more human side of your brand.
  • Go behind-the-scenes. These are by far our favorite type of content for ephemeral video sharing. Show followers what goes into the planning of an event or the launching of a product, and make it fun. Your followers want to feel included and in-the-know. And you could use Stories to cultivate a brand loyalty program that only rewards people who check out your content.
  • Embrace interactivity. As mentioned above, Instagram allows you to add interactive stickers to your stories. For example, you can ask your audience to vote in a poll, rate something on a sliding scale, or send you burning questions. These features might help you learn about your audience while also engaging with them.
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