How do people grow their Instagram following and benefit from that growth? Whether you’re an individual or a business, it’s easy to become slightly despondent when, despite your best efforts, the numbers fail to rise.

There are many ways to increase your following and usually it’s a case of trying many of these and seeing which ones have a positive effect. These methods don’t involve purchasing followers (something that’s only good for your ego – not your business) and often have more of an effect if they are timed correctly. Here we cover some of the main ways to gain interest from people that really matter…

  1. Perfect your bio.

The all-important first step. Your Instagram bio should reflect who you are, what you do or what you offer. Remember you can only have one link in your bio so this should either link to your website, to a multi-link hub such as Link Tree or you should change your URL regularly to links that are relevant to your latest posts.

2. Make your posts amazing.

Reflect your own style; this sometimes means developing a consistent style (using the same colour pallet, the same filters, a consistent border or developing a grid pattern).  Remember, if you commit to something, you’ll need to stick with it – even if something unexpected comes up. Make your posts relevant and engaging – it’s no good posting endless pictures of your lunch or images of you pouting (unless you’re Gordon Ramsay or a world-famous model).  Mix up your content – some things that we find work well are:

  • Insider looks at your daily life.
  • Supporting things that you feel strongly about (but be careful here – you don’t want to alienate anyone).
  • Inspirational quotes (used sparingly).
  • Support of other people and independent businesses.
  • Sharing (re-gramming) other content that knocks your socks off.
  • Humorous videos and photos if appropriate to your brand.
  • Advice and tips.
  • Updates on up-and-coming news and events.
  • Blasts from the past.
  • Job opportunities (not just with you, perhaps just ones you’ve heard of).
  • Had a success? Share it!
  • Messed something up or learnt something? Share it!

As your following grows, start to introduce more interactive content such as questions and polls.

3. Keep talking.

Now that your content looks amazing and you’re knocking people over with scintillating posts that they simply MUST see, make sure you keep things going and post regularly.  You’ve put all this work into generating interest; don’t let the flame go out by going quiet – you’ll be surprised how quickly people lose interest and move on to the next thing.  Keep posting – a minimum of three times a week (but not every day – don’t be that annoying account). Go for quality and mix your content up. Test some different days and times to see how your posts performs. A good way to start is to imagine the standard day of your typical follower – if they work in a corporate environment, they might leave home at 7.30am so perhaps try posting at 7am whilst they would be finishing their breakfast? Part of the showbiz world? – try sometimes mid-afternoon as breaks in filming are less structured and your post won’t have to fight for screen-time during these less busy posting periods. Targeting a twenties audience? – is it a god idea to post at 10pm on a Saturday when they’ll all be at the pub with their mates? Just keep posting.

4.Be a hashtag wizard.

Hashtags are the equivalent of filing your posts so that people can find them. Without hashtags your posts will just float around aimlessly, never being discovered. Instagram accepts a maximum of 30 hashtags per post although the jury’s out on whether you need to use all 30 every time. Personally, we do. Use a mixture of specific hashtags e.g., #makingamess #massivedoughnut and more general hashtags e.g., #parenting #health. Use hashtags that relate to days of the week (#sundayfunday) and add one that is unique to you (#puzzlecomms).

Stuck for hashtag ideas? There are a number of websites that will suggest a list of hashtags when you enter your keyword which can be helpful in the early stages. In addition to hashtags, it’s also a good idea to tag people, organisations or brands that feature in your post (@puzzle-comms or @noodlenationuk). This will alert that organisation to your post and they may then comment, re-gram or add your post to their Instagram story.

5. Tell a good (Instagram) story.

So, you have your posts sorted, now let’s move on to stories. Stories are the perfect place to add little video clips of your everyday life, screenshots of work you’ve been doing, funnies (if appropriate), shared content and other things that you don’t necessarily want to permanently commit to your Instagram grid. Stories only last for 24 hours, then they disappear. Whilst tags work really well in a story, hashtags are not as effective in Instagram stories as they are in your grid posts. Keep adding a story now and again – they alert people to your account and really help to give you or your brand some personality.

6. Finally, it’s not just about you.

Instagram is a community. This is extremely important to remember. You know the friend that just goes on and on about themself without asking how you are or what you’ve been doing? You really don’t want to be like that. Follow people and organisations that are relevant to your world. Like other people’s posts. Comment on them. Say congratulations. Tag people. Use their hashtags. Recommend people to others in your comments. Introduce people. Be Instagram-generous (or perhaps that should be insta-generous – now that’s a good hashtag!)

So that’s a whistle stop tour of ‘The Basics of Instagram’. It takes a bit of commitment but, if you can find a way to integrate it into your everyday routine, it’s a platform that reaps high rewards. There is much more to consider but, by following these basic points, you’ll end up with a strong basis on which to grow your following. And, if it’s any consolation, it’s less work-intensive than Twitter! We wish you the very best of luck and, if you need to call in the Instagram cavalry, we’re always here to help.