Instagram can be a highly targetable, visual marketing channel for your brand and an opportunity to build a loyal audience that grows with your business.
In fact, over 500 million Instagram users browse the app every day, making it home to some of the most engaged audiences around.
But like any social network, there are right ways to use your Instagram profile, wrong ways, and clever ways.
How to Grow and Monetize Your Instagram Account
A free workshop with field-tested Instagram marketing tips. Learn how to grow your Instagram audience and monetize it with an online store.
How to get more followers on Instagram
There are 15 tactics that will help you gain more followers on Instagram:
Use the right hashtags
Use high quality filters
Post at the right times
Steal your competitors' followers
Pay for sponsored posts and product reviews
Use geotags to boost local discovery
Organize your Stories into Highlights
Ask for more followers
Hop on trends
Run a giveaway
Share user-generated content
Use Instagram Live
Monitor follower growth closely over time
Use the Instagram tools at your disposal
Let’s dive deeper into how to implement each tactic to get more Instagram followers.
Shopify Academy Course: Instagram Marketing
Gretta van Riel shares her proven framework for growing successful product-based businesses on Instagram. Find out what images work best and how to work with the right Instagram influencers for your brand.
1. Use the right hashtags
Your goal on Instagram is to engage your current audience on a regular basis while also growing your number of real followers. Posting new, interesting, and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement, but to begin growing you’ll find hashtagging your photos extremely important. Hashtagging makes it easy for people searching for specific terms to find your photos.
So which hashtags should you use? Just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram choose certain hashtags over others. If you use popular Instagram hashtags within your photos, you’re much more likely to reach new users and be discovered.
At the time of writing, these were the top 20 hashtags on Instagram:
If you looked at this list and said, “But none of those apply to my products or brand,” you’re likely correct.
Using hashtags is one thing, using the right tags is completely different.
Popular tags like the ones listed above will likely net you additional engagement and likes. However, they won’t lead to increased long-term engagement, new interested followers, or, most importantly, sales.
If you want to tag your photos properly, you’ll need to find and use the most relevant hashtags. This means doing the appropriate research to make sure you’re using hashtags that not only describe your brand but are also being searched for on Instagram.
To find relevant hashtags, you’ll want to use a free online tool like IconoSquare or Webstagram to start.
Below, I used Webstagram to find relevant, related, and popular hashtags for my men’s accessory business by searching for key hashtags closely related to my brand.
As an example, searching the hashtag #MensFashion, I was able to pull the following list of additional keyword hashtags along with the number of times they have been used (i.e., their popularity).
You can also find more related hashtags and their popularity if you search for any of your target keywords directly in the Instagram app.
You’ll want to go through this exercise trying different keywords that describe your brand and products, building out your hashtag keyword list as you go.
Keep in mind that Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. Additionally, the popular words will change over time, so make sure you revisit your hashtag keywords every few months so you're using the best possible terms.
You can also steal hashtag ideas from competitors or similar accounts that have the kind of following you aspire to, but ultimately you want to create your own groups of hashtags that relate to your specific account.
Pro tip #1: Here’s a trick I use for my ecommerce businesses. For every product and product category in my stores, I’ve researched the most popular related Instagram hashtags. I came up with 15–20 popular hashtags for each category of products I sell, as well as a base of 5-10 popular tags that describe my brand and product offering. Finally, I also created a list of popular local specific hashtags that relate to my brand.
Brand keyword hashtags
#mybrandname #mensfashion #mensaccessories #mensgoods #fashion #mensstyle #instafashion #menswear
Product category keyword hashtags
#bugatchisocks #happysocks #corgisocks #socks #sockswag #socksoftheday #sockgame #sockswagg #socksofinstagram #happysockday #sockwars #funsocks #happysockday
Location-specific keyword hashtags
#Toronto #TorontoFashion #TorontoFashionBloggers
All of these groups of keyword hashtags are stored in a page on Evernote. This makes it easy and efficient when I’m on the go to post a new Instagram image optimized for the most relevant keywords.
I can easily open my Evernote and copy my standard brand-, product-, and location-specific hashtags to post with each photo. Some Instagram scheduling tools also let you save caption templates for storing your hashtag groups.
Sauce Instagram Post
Doing the work of researching, organizing, and saving the most applicable and popular hashtags upfront will save you a ton of time down the road, increase your engagement, and help garner new followers.
Pro tip #2: If you’ve been posting to Instagram for a while and feel you’ve missed out on all these opportunities to build your audience using keyword hashtags, fret not. You can still go back and post a comment with your new hashtag keyword lists and watch the likes and followers roll in.
Using hashtags in Instagram stories
Hashtagging on Instagram posts is a given, but you should also be using hashtags in your Stories for the chance to be seen by users who follow that specific hashtag.
You can use hashtag stickers (which can be found in the Instagram Stickers menu when creating a Story) or just hashtag directly in your captions for a chance to be featured in a hashtag story.
Now that users can follow hashtags, your Stories on Instagram have a chance to be seen by both people who are following that hashtag and anyone who’s just checking it out.