Ah the glorious 1k, looks so pretty…but you don’t get the k on instagram at 1000, sorry guys! Getting your first 1000 followers on instagram can feel like an uphill battle, but don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Here’s what you can do to help you on your way.
The more you post the more you grow
The more you post on instagram, the more eyes will be seeing those posts, and all of those eyeballs are potential new followers. Obviously this is within reason. If you’re posting 20 pictures a day you’re probably going a tad overboard so ease up a little if that’s you.
IMHO the ultimate amount of posts is three a day. They should be nicely spaced out to try and hit people in different timezones. Don’t just post the same image or incredibly similar images three times a day as that can be as much a turn off as not posting enough/too much. The images can be from the same “set” of images, for example if you’re niche is yoga, maybe you took pictures of your yoga sequence, choose three quite different poses from the sequence rather than just posting similar looking ones.
Competitions and Themed Events
Whenever you see a competition or themed event jump on it. These will usually have some kind of hashtag you can use to enter and that’s going to get your snaps in front of more people. Some of my biggest following increases come from entering competitions or themed events.
Make sure you’re following plenty of people from the same niche as you because a lot of those people will either be hosting their own events or entering them meaning you’ll be able to see if anything exciting is going on that you could be entering.
Make Some Friends
Find people with similar sized accounts with the same kind of theme as you and start making friends with them. You could end up doing collaborations together which will help introduce you to their following and vice versa.
In general it’s just nice to make friends with like minded people and to be able to support each other on your social media journeys.
Make Time For It
Like I mentioned earlier, you ideally want to post two to three times a day, but finding time to make two-three brilliant posts everyday can be tough. It’s by far better to not post anything than to post a sub par picture, so you might need to start making a bit of time for it in your day.
If it means you need to get up a little earlier in the morning to get your shots, do it. If you can set aside a little slice of time everyday to get your shots then you’ll find it much easier and spend less time trying to scrabble together something last minute.
Hashtags can be a little tricky in the beginning, but it can really help if you do it right. You’ll probably want to do some research into the best kind of hashtags to be using on your posts based on your theme. The best way to find great hashtags is to see what hashtags other people in your niche are using.
Some articles suggest using really popular hashtags but in my experience these hashtags tend to be so oversaturated that not many people end up seeing your posts because they’re buried under other people using that hashtag in five seconds.
Avoid any spammy hashtags like follow4follow or like4like. If you use those you’ll just end up with a load of ghost followers that aren’t really interested in your content. Sure your numbers might go up, but what you should be really looking for is engaged followers, not ghosts.
I generally try and use a mix of popular hashtags, not so popular hashtags, and specific hashtags for each post.
If you have something that is from a company, tag them. If you’re post is inspired by someone else, or includes someone else, tag them. You can end up getting some great shares just by tagging other people. Don’t go overboard with tagging though, in the makeup world you’ll see posts when people have tagged every makeup brand under the sun and it looks spammy. It’s hard to believe that someone that does their makeup is using that many different brands of products to create on look. Use it wisely and it could pay off with some reposts.
Post Great Content
This is something that sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people post sub par content and then wonder why they’re not getting a following.
Great content is going to be different for every niche, but whatever niche you’re in think about everything from the focal point of your picture to whatever’s in the background. If you’re a yoga instagrammer then you could be doing the most amazing backbend in the world, but if you’re doing it in your kitchen in front of a load of dirty dishes it’s not going to have as much impact as a shot with a more aesthetically pleasing background.
Start thinking about things as if you were a real photographer. Does the background detract from the picture? Is the lighting good? Do the colours in the shot complement each other? Think about all the details in your photos.
Shout Outs Aren’t All That
When I first started out on instagram I put a lot of focus on getting shout outs from brands. The truth is not that many people read the captions or notice that it’s a shoutout when they’re scrolling through their feed. I’ve found that you don’t always get that much of an increase in followers from a shoutout.
Obviously in some cases you will see great returns, for example a big brand or a social media superstar reposting you will probably net you a decent amount of new followers.
Basically, while shout outs are great, don’t focus all your energy on them. It’s far better to be producing amazing content then trying to produce things that you think another account might repost.
Engage With The Community
Don’t make instagram a one way relationship where you’re only posting your content and not looking at other people’s accounts and engaging with them. You should check out the people posting in hashtags that you use a lot, check out the explore page and start liking and commenting on the great pictures people are putting out, and following the people you like. Don’t go crazy though, don’t just start liking and commenting on everything you see, use it like a real user, like the pictures you genuinely like, comment on things you want to, don’t do it just to get followers.
Engage with people commenting on your pictures as well, try and respond to as many comments as you can because people are more likely to follow someone when that person shows that they appreciate them taking the time to comment.
Don’t Follow For Follows
If you’ve read anywhere about the follow/unfollow method of following people then unfollowing whoever doesn’t follow you back technique, don’t do it. You could be putting that effort into creating great content instead which is a far better use of your time.
Be Realistic and Patient
This probably isn’t going to happen overnight for most of you, you need to be patient and keep at it, keep posting, keep engaging with people. Once you build up a nice strong base of posts you’ll start to see your follower count creep up. I’ve had a lot of people contact me on instagram asking for shoutouts when they only have a few posts and have only been on instagram for a month because they are trying to get more followers. I tell them the same thing, keep posting great content, keep working at it, a month is not long enough to expect to be hitting any kind of high numbers.
Be realistic. There aren’t many accounts out there that have reached the million mark and some never will. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Stay on theme
I know it can be tempting to post that awesome selfie you just took, or that picture of you standing in front of the eiffel tower because you’re on holiday and surely everyone will want to see that kind of thing…well…not really, if that’s not your theme then they probably don’t want to see it. If I’m following someone for yoga then I want to see great yoga pictures, not holiday snaps.
If you break theme you might notice a decrease in your follower count. I know this sounds harsh, but people don’t really care about you. You might see instagrammers with huge followings posting off theme content, but that’s because their audience is at a scale where people are interested in their daily lives, but if you scroll back to before they got super popular you’ll probably notice that these off theme posts weren’t a feature on their account. You should really only break them when your following starts asking you to.
Use Your Captions Well
Even though 90% of people won’t read it, it should still be there for that 10% that do. Try and be engaging, try asking questions so people will be more likely to comment, or say something interesting about the picture. Try and avoid just describing the picture, it’s really weird when you see a picture of someones dog and the caption says “Picture of my Dog”, be more creative, tell your followers your dogs name, tell them about something weird your dog does, or how amazing your dog is.
I mentioned collaborations in the making friends section, but collaborations can really help you grow. The difference between shout outs and collaborations is that viewers can usually tell that it’s a collaboration because of the picture featuring more than one person. They’re much more likely to net you some new followers than a shoutout.
You can either just keep your eye out for collaboration opportunities in your niche, or you can reach out to people yourself to see if they’d be interested in collaborating with you.
If you’re going to reach out to people then it’s best to stick to people that have around the same amount of followers as you. If you have 100 followers and you’re trying to collab with someone with 10,000 followers they’re probably not going to want to do it as you’re getting a tonne of exposure from them, and they’re getting much less from you, it’s not balanced.
Link your social media everywhere
Anywhere there’s an opportunity to link your instagram do it. It’s going to make it easier for people to find it. Youtube let’s you have a link to your instagram (and all your social media profiles) in your channel banner, and lots of people leave a link to it in the description box of their videos as well. If you’ve got a blog make sure you’re showing a link to your instagram and maybe even a feed showing some of your most recent posts.
You want to let people know that you’re on instagram wherever else you have a presence online.
Don’t be spammy
Even though you want to make it easy for people to find you, you don’t want to be spammy with it. I followed someone on twitter that would tweet a link to her instagram asking if people were following her there every few hours. I never followed her instagram and unfollowed her on twitter because I was sick of having that appear in my feed so much.
There’s nothing wrong with self promotion, but be reasonable or it’ll have the opposite affect.
Give people incentive to check out your instagram
If you’re posting all of your instagram pictures to other social media accounts then there’s no real reason for them to follow you over there. Instead of posting all your pictures everywhere, post the occasional one from your instagram to other social media accounts mentioning that there are more over on instagram. You could also post behind the scenes style shots to your other social media accounts and let people know that the other pictures are over on your instagram.
Use your other social media accounts to entice your followers to come and follow you on instagram.
Set some goals
These goals shouldn’t be follower count related, you can’t control your follower count, what you can control is what you’re doing. Set a goal to post once a day for 7 days straight, or a goal to respond to every comment you get, or that you’ll post something for the Weekend Project every week for a month, or you’ll enter a competition once a month, or you’ll start dedicating an amount of time to taking pictures for your instagram - even if you don’t manage to get a shot you want to use (trust me it happens, at least you are putting the effort). There’s all kind of little goals that you could start working on, but it’s much more rewarding and attainable if you keep it focused on things within your control.
When you achieve those goals make sure you give yourself a little treat for being so amazing.
Don’t quit & have fun
Don’t quit because you feel like you’re not getting followers quickly enough. Appreciate the followers you do have, they’re like the first generation of your community. If you focus on what you DO have, instead of what you DON’T have it’s going to be much more enjoyable experience. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to reach for what you don’t have, it’s just that making what you don’t have your main focus is going to suck all the fun out of it, and that’s what it should be, fun.
So that’s it guys, I hope that some of these tips are helpful, if you have any other tips and tricks I’d love to hear them in the comments, and good luck to all of you, if you’re not there yet, you will get there if you keep at it! x