Remember that moment when you hit your first 10K followers on Instagram? No? Me neither.
If you did, then congrats 🚀 – it’s a complicated thing to do and you deserve all the credit. It’s about hard work, dedication and consistency in being an active Instagram social media strategist. I’d say that 90% of social media accounts don’t succeed because strategists miss essential steps and tactics.
Publishing the same post on Instagram as you did for Facebook doesn’t work (spoiler alert – it never did!) and you have to change the old habits of doing that. Stop it. Please.
Now let me change your mindset here.

 

How To Get More Followers on Instagram

Instagram is about authenticity, brand, feelings. None of these equals no followers. Let’s examine the most important facts about Instagram.
  • 90% of the top 100 brands are on Instagram so if you’re not there, time to ask why
  • More then 25M business profiles advertise on Instagram
  • 500M Daily Active Users  in the world
  • 59% of US users are under 30 y.o.
It’s mind-blowing.
What product or service are you selling? Once a brand hits 10,000 active real followers (not just bots and fake accounts bought online) – it generates at least 15 – 25 leads a month from Instagram only. According to Growepic these are the top industries on Instagram:
  • Beauty and Fitness 43%
  • Food and Drink 42%
  • Shopping 34%
  • Home and Garden 25%
  • Arts and Entertainment 23%
  • Sports 23%
  • News and Media 22%
If your business is in one of these categories and you’re not there. Be there. Yesterday.
Ok, you want to become a star brand on the most popular social channel.
One of the biggest challenges is to get your first 10000 followers on Instagram because it’s just the beginning and it will significantly open new opportunities of promotion, such as Swipe Up, see below how Victoria Secret’s are generating leads for their new product.
Now that I’ve got your attention, we’ll go through what are the most efficient and powerful tactics to be closer to your main goal. Browse the list below.
  • Work with influencers
  • Consistency
  • Instagram’s image size
  • Interactions matter most
  • Develop a color scheme
  • Engagement groups
  • Hashtag strategy
  • Cross promotion
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Add Geotag
  • Stay relevant
  • Inspiration

Work with influencers

Influencers are your entry ticket to communities and potential customers. It’s the easiest and the most time efficient way to build a brand on Instagram fast.
Let’s talk business. Start by searching the relevant hashtags in your space, then find which are the most popular accounts, add them in a spreadsheet and then filter the ones that have up to 10k or 50k followers. You’re looking for micro-influencers, people that you can actually reach out for help and have a chance to collaborate with.
We’ve seen great success in using influencers to promote our content. In the past, we’ve developed a close relationship with Rand Fishkin (Moz founder) and when releasing a free beginner’s guide to PPC he volunteered to amplify it to his audience of 450,000+ Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn followers. We received tens of thousands of visits, downloads, and follows. It’s a long-term, relational way of doing it, but it has proven very useful to us.
GilGildner / Discosloth
I’ve asked Gil to share his template on how to reach out to influencers like Rand. Also, he messaged only people he has interacted with in the past and already had an established relationship so it’s not really a cold e-mail.
Subject: feedback on our guide
Hi [name],
[Something personal about our last interaction]. Hope it’s going well on your end.
Your [name of resource] was an incredibly valuable resource when I first got into marketing.
In early 2017 my wife and I quit our jobs to start Discosloth. Largely because of how valuable [person’s content, blog, etc] was for us, we’ve spent over a year building the Beginner’s Guide to PPC.
We’ve found the PPC world to be really bad at transparency. We want this guide to be totally free for everyone…most that we’ve found are either paid or just aren’t very good.
I know you’re incredibly busy, but if you ever have the chance to offer some critique on our guide before we launch to the public, that would be beyond valuable. Feedback would really help us avoid pitfalls!
[your link to the resource]
Thanks,
[Name]
Many of these influencers may do things for free, like tag your page in a photo, comment or speak about it in Instagram Stories. Some may charge. Either way, find these pages and ask – you never know what’s gonna happen.
Remember, you need to build relationships with potential partners like Rand Fishkin – this may have a crucial effect on your business.

Consistency

One of the main and central reasons why brands don’t succeed on social media is lack of any consistency. Sometimes brands post once a month, sometimes every day or even five times a day. That’s not something you’re looking for.
If you are able to post on a consistent schedule, you are giving your followers something to look forward to and subconsciously become a part of their schedule. This leads me to the next point,  interact with your followers. Introduce a topic of discussion that is relevant to your industry. When algorithms like Facebook and Instagram see that you are posting consistently and people are engaging in conversations and comments on your posts, it will help promote your page to people who share interests because they establish that you have an account that people want to see based on the number of interactions you have. Following this technique will surely help boost your traction and will help you in getting your first 10k followers!
Joni Myllari | Falcon Marketing
You should be aiming for consistency.
It’s about posting regularly – you’ll receive great results with just one post each day as long as it’s every day.
To keep your followers interested and growing, you need to be consistent. If you do not have the time to implement a social media strategy and create all the needed content, definitely hire a social media manager. If you can not afford help yet – start planning your content ahead of time, think monthly, not daily. This allows you to focus on engagement day to day, rather than stressing out over what to post.
Lexi Reihanian @ Lexi-R

Instagram’s image size

Content is the ultimate thing that matters if people hate it or it doesn’t fit the requirements of the platform you’ll never get your 10k followers on Instagram. You have to work heavily for each and every piece of content.
When chatting with other social media managers, they confirmed that there’s no perfect social media image, but it comes down to ticking the checkboxes. One of them is the ideal size of the image. A few months ago we released this perfect guide on the ideal size, resolutions and other important requirements on social media platforms you can easily follow or see below.


Instagram profile picture: 320 x 320 px
Instagram portait image: 1080 x 1350 px
Instagram square image: 1080 x 1080 px
Instagram landscape image: 1200 x 628
Instagram stories dimensions: 1080px by 1920px
Instagram IGTV video upload requirements: 30 FPS, minimum resolution of 720 pixels, 9:16 aspect ratio

Interact with your followers and other accounts

Start paying attention to the community you’re building. A lot of brands make the mistake of ignoring their comments or questions and leave their followers with no information or reason to interact again in the future. Don’t just say “thanks” when someone leaves you a comment. Be human! It’s an essential hack and makes a colossal difference when reaching your first 10000 followers.
A few months ago I’ve published a guide on how to better interact with your followers and best questions to ask on Instagram. Below, you can also see a list of example questions you can ask the audience and encourage people to leave a comment on your page.
Want them all? Get them by filling out the form below:

 

That’s only half the story, though. Pay attention to the audience. Communicate with others, follow the accounts you like in the niche you are, then follow the accounts they like. Afterwards, interact with their profiles by leaving a like and genuine comment with a hint, tip and what you loved in the picture or caption. Don’t leave generic comments in there. Everybody hates them and we all know it’s fake. Most of the time people think this is an automated message.
This technique is highly valuable and will allow you to build a relevant network around you.

 

Hashtag strategy

The Instagram algorithm requires you to constantly swap hashtags and not abuse them. Ideally, you want to add a few hashtags that are relevant to the post or focus around the page. If you posted a photo with an outdoor activity you don’t want general hashtags like #bike, #summer, #fun.
Instead look for smaller hashtags, typically somewhere between 15K-500K posts to really achieve success when creating a social media plan. You might use hashtags such as #findyourselfoutside, #modernoutdoors, #adventureislife. Spend time doing hashtag research and make a few sets of 30 hashtags ready to use on every post.

Develop a color scheme

As Instagram is a platform build on visual content, it’s highly important that you keep a structure and logic in all the posts you’re publishing.
First, decide the type of posts you want to show. Is it food photography, personal images, images from your business or of products, etc. Then incorporate your brand colors into these posts. For example, if you own a jewelry business maybe your page develops earth tones with pops of gold. The best way to achieve an overall cohesive color scheme is to use Lightroom Presets (free on mobile) or develop a consistent photo editing style for yourself. A theme and color scheme will help your page flow and draw a larger audience. This may take time, in the beginning, to figure out but look at other accounts that inspire you and use an app to plan your page.
Anna McNaught | The Liked Photo
See below examples of amazing grids from Irina Rusu @coffentropy, Maria Marie @cestmaria, Le Postcard @lepostcard, Marc Jacobs Beauty @marcbeauty, Lelograms @lelograms, and Murad Osmann @muradosmann
A few months ago, we’ve published an analysis of how 3 social media photographers are ruling social media. I highly recommend checking that out if you’re a photographer interested in developing a brand on social.

Engagement groups

Ok, now you know how important it is to post consistently for at least once a day, add niche relevant hashtags to pop up in algorithms and engage with users with video content. But there’s one more important trick you need to know.
In addition, networking with big accounts within your niche will help your account grow exponentially. When you connect with a big account, ask them if they are in an engagement group and if they’d be willing to add you to the engagement group. These groups consist of niche relevant accounts that have a large following. Everyone’s goal should be to land their post on the Instagram Explore Page, and by receiving likes and comments from these big Instagram accounts will increase your chances of having your post appear on the Explore Page.
Shervin Mohseni | The Source of All 

Cross promotion

Start marketing your Instagram page across multiple other platforms. If you’re re-publishing the post on Facebook, make sure to leave the link to the profile and add a call-to-action for people to follow you there. You can use a website, blog, newsletters, Facebook Groups and anything connected to your brand to feed the success directly to the page.
Find creative media outlets to cross-promote your pages. Use high subscriber pages like Reddit to post content while having your social media accounts easily discovered in your profile. Some of our friends have had HUGE follower increases after niche based news stories were written about them. Most niches should have these types of resources if the content is interesting. Use the success of one page to fuel another. We constantly cross promote @cheekyadventure from @cheekyventures pages. We are now seeing on average 2k new followers per week. Each success breeds more success.
Cheeky Ventures

Contests and giveaways

Another highly effective technique in the early days of your account is organizing giveaways. There are a lot of ways to run an effective Instagram contest. It’s not hard to do it, but it’s hard to make it actually work out great. Before making a contest think who’s your target audience in order to make sure that the contest will be organized specifically for them. Makes sense? There are a lot of ways to make a contest, these are just a few examples
  • Like to win, it’s easy and pretty self-explanatory. You’re just asking people to like your post, that’s it.
  • Tag a friend, in this giveaway you’re looking to improve your engagement of the page. Followers are asked to tag another account for a chance to win.
  • Post a picture with #hashtag, users are asked to upload a picture by specific criteria (outdoor, activity, product etc.) and add the hashtag
In the beginning, one of the strategies we used to quickly make our way up to 10k followers was through contests and giveaways. In order to enter to win, social media users had to follow our page, like our posts, and tag a certain number of friends. This created great awareness and helped spread the word about our brand. Users continued to interact with our brand until we awarded the prize. Even after that point, we noticed that the users we had obtained continued to follow us because we were creating great content that captured their attention and was relevant to them. Part of the game is gaining new followers, but the other part is keeping them engaged.
Brandon Chopp | iHeartRaves Anaheim CA 

Add Geotag

Whenever you’re posting something, it’d be ideal to add the most relevant geotag on your post. It’s a great way to get you in front of algorithms, discover new followers and whenever someone looks at a post related to that place they’ll see you. Posts with location geotag earn up 79% more engagement than those without.

Stay relevant

What’s happening in the world, community, city, industry, job? Tell your followers about that. Help them out to make sure they’re up to date with everything and they have at least the same amount of information as you do.
Post about what’s trending – be relevant. This shows that you or your business is paying attention to the rest of the world and will increase your engagements through providing something that people will want to engage with. We are seeing this a lot in my city (Philly) right now with the new Gritty mascot!
Shellie Wass @ Slice Communications

Inspiration

Look for content that really inspires you and learn from other people & brands to define your style. I’ll share below a list of some of my favorite brands I love learning from on Instagram
The truth is that like any other part of social media, it’s a long game. Nothing happens overnight and success stories conveniently leave the time and effort it took out. But reaching 10K followers is possible and it doesn’t take 10 generations. It just takes determination, tactics, focused strategy and patience.  

 

If you’re interested in reading more, check out these awesome resources

 

headshot vlad calus planableVlad Caluș is Chief Marketing Officer at Planable and a Marketing Hustler. Dropped out of college, moved to another country with 2 of his friends and built Planable at 19 y. o. Have any questions? Ping anytime at @vladcalus on Twitter or vlad@planable.io