- 1. Get over your numbers obsession
- 2. Find the right people to target
- 3. Mine the already-posted comments
- 4. Check out their posts and leave an uber-thoughtful comment
- 5. Follow them
- 6. Join engagement pods
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How do you grow your Instagram following fast? It can feel like a mystery. Instagram often feels like a one-way street full of spammers, fake accounts and people with exponentially more followers than you.
Believe me, I know it all too well. Especially since Instagram has been tweaking its algorithm, it can feel like the big accounts just get bigger and it’s harder and harder for small accounts to grow.
But there’s one thing I know for sure: artificial followers and purchased likes do absolutely nothing for your brand—in fact, they drive your engagement stats down because only a small fraction of your followers are truly engaging with what you post.
What you want to build is a real, engaged, highly-targeted follower base, whether that’s 50,000 or 5,000 or even just 500 people (but don’t worry, you’ll be blowing past 500 followers before you know it!
You want followers who engage with what you’re posting, like your posts, leave comments and most importantly, click through to your website. I’m going to show you how to get these followers in a completely non-spammy way. The best part? You can do it in as little as 10-20 minutes a day.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Get over your numbers obsession
This is the first rule. If you’re concerned with having your ‘Followers’ number be higher than your ‘Following’ number, this system is never going to work for you. You have to follow people to be followed! It’s just part of the deal.
Will your following eventually outgrow the number of people you follow? Sure—if you consistently post great content. But in the beginning, it’s going to be a balance, and sometimes one number will outweigh the other.
2. Find the right people to target
This strategy is built on engaging with people who are not only in your target market, but who are highly likely to follow you back and become an engaged member of your tribe.
How do you find them? By tracking them down on the accounts they already love.
My favorite way to do this is by taking a look at the Search tab in Instagram. You can get there by tapping the magnifying glass at the bottom of the app’s screen.
When you do that, Instagram will automatically show you some of the top posts in your niche—and that already have dozens of people commenting on them. Bingo.
You can also find these types of posts by searching via your most commonly used hashtags and looking at the ‘Top Posts.’
You’re looking for highly engaging posts, in your niche, that already have at least 20 comments on them. Here’s a great example in my niche, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Once you’ve found a few of these posts, move on to step 3.
3. Mine the already-posted comments
Let’s continue using the example post above. You can see below that the comments begin with posts from @onlyreem_, @ridiculouslifestyle, and @vickygarciafitness and so on.
I’m going to start going down this list of comments, looking for my perfect targets. Remember, all of these are people who have gone to the trouble of leaving a comment on a post, meaning they’re probably pretty engaged on Instagram.
And, they engaged on a post in your niche, meaning your topic is probably highly interesting to them. Then, there’s one more criteria you want to look for.
Here’s where follower counts do matter—at least a little. I like to seek out users who are following more people than follow them. This automatically tells me they’re not going to be hesitant to follow me back simply because they’re playing some dumb numbers game.
Got it? So, you’re seeking out users who have already commented on an account similar to yours, and who have a higher ‘Following’ number than ‘Followers.’
4. Check out their posts and leave an uber-thoughtful comment
THIS IS HOW I FEEL ABOUT CRAPPY, MINDLESS INSTAGRAM COMMENTS.
They suck. They’re basically a slap in the face that says “I was too lazy to come up with anything interesting to say about your post. That’s how little I care.”
Don’t leave mindless comments.
You don’t have to comment on the person’s most recent post. You might not have anything insightful to say about it. Spend a few seconds tapping through their 3 or 4 most recent ones to find one that sparks your attention, one that you can actually leave a genuine, thoughtful comment about.
5. Follow them
Instagram is not a one-way street where you go around collecting followers but never follow anyone in return. Sometimes YOU have to be the first one to follow.
And guess what? If you’ve completed all of the other steps above, finding people in your niche who enjoy engaging with others, there’s probably a great chance the person is going to follow you back and you’re going to enjoy seeing each other’s posts in your feed.
So follow them. You’ll be surprised how many will follow you right back, no questions asked.
Now go back to step 2, rinse and repeat.
6. Join engagement pods
So far we’ve established that while followers matter, engagement matters more. Not only are engaged followers more likely to support you or buy from you in the future, they also help you get seen by even more people.
Instagram hasn’t made public exactly how its algorithm decides which posts to feature in the ‘Top Posts’ and ‘Discover’ sections, but it’s pretty clear that the algorithm favors posts that get a high amount of engagement quickly.
To do this, join what are known as engagement or comment pods. These genius little groups are made up of similar accounts who have agreed to comment on one anothers’ posts, helping each other gain more visibility.
The best way I’ve found to discover engagement pods to join is by searching ‘engagement pod,’ ‘comment pod’ and other related terms on Facebook. This will return a list of groups you can request to join. Once you’re approved, you’ll be able to browse the group for more information and find pods that are a good fit for your brand.
The thing I’ve found with Instagram is the more you engage, the more others will engage with you. By consistently spending a short window of time each day on the process outlined above, you’ll easily be able to gain between 20 and 50 followers a day-and once the ball is rolling, your results will happen even quicker.
The great thing about this system is that there’s no ceiling. If you have an hour to kill on the bus, waiting for a plane, or bored on a conference call, you can spend it growing your following on Instagram.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out why you need to switch to an Instagram for Business account.