Getting followers on Instagram isn’t hard. Getting real Instagram followers in your niche that are likely to purchase your products, however, is a slightly different story.
Instagram has quickly become one of the best marketing channels for ecommerce merchants. The visual nature of the platform, combined with some of the highest engagement of any social platform means Instagram is the perfect channel to showcase your brand and products. In fact, in a recent study, it was discovered that Instagram provides brands with 25% more engagement over other social platforms. We’d argue to say it’s even higher.
There are some brands out there that have built massive audiences on Instagram through both organic marketing tactics, as well as through the use of shady tools, apps, and tricks that violate Instagram’s Terms and Conditions. We reached out to them and picked their brains about what works and what doesn’t, along with the secret tools and strategies you need to know about how to build a massive following on Instagram for your brand.
We took all the tips, tricks, apps, tools and strategies to show you exactly how to build your account and get a ton of followers on Instagram so you can make more sales.
In this post you’ll learn:
- How to steal your competitor’s followers
- How to get shout outs on large accounts in your niche
- How to automate your Instagram and gain hundreds of followers per day
- How to make the most out of every post you make
How to Get More Followers on Instagram
Before you jump in head first, you’ll want to take some time to really understand your who your target market is. This includes who exactly your customers are, what they like, what they don’t like, the type of photos they post, the people they follow and the hash tags they use. There is no point in wasting time building an engaged following on Instagram with people that have absolutely no desire or ability to purchase your products.
Preparation Is Everything: Find Your Product/Market Fit
Check out the section called “Learning to Think Like Johnny P.” from the following blog post. Austen Allred (who sold $4,000 in neckties on Instagram in two weeks) really goes into great detail about his thought process to find the correct target market on Instagram.
Here’s a very small excerpt of his thought process:
“OK, so we have a bunch of neckties that are a little bit crazy. They’re not really my style. Who wants to wear a necktie that’s been made out of fabric someone pulled off a couch?
Johnny P. would wear this — that’s who.
OK, so I’m Johnny. What is Johnny’s day like? Who does he hang out with, what websites does he visit?
Johnny is really into creating things; things being “authentic” and “real,” almost anti-corporate. Craftsmanship. Artisan. Those are the words I would choose to describe Johnny. To him things aren’t just to be used; objects have a heart and soul. Everything is art. Indie music, TV shows that most people wouldn’t care to watch, that type of thing.
So assuming that Johnny is on Instagram, he probably has a bunch of friends that are too. After all, Johnny isn’t everyone, it’s just his type we’re looking for. How could I find them? Alright, let’s find Johnny’s account. Who does he follow? Huh, it looks like he only follows friends and family. Or at least, these seem to be friends and family. What words does he use, what kind of photos does he post?
Oh very interesting. He’s got on a suit from goodwill – that fits him really well. Hashtag #dapper. #Dapper – that’s very interesting. That’s very GQ. Not as artisan-y, but let’s check it out.
Wow. These guys are all obsessed with clothes. Weird clothes. This dude made a coat out of hair extensions. WTF. That might be too crazy for Johnny. And 13,000 likes? Let’s check this dude out.
Alright, maybe he is the right type. He and Johnny would hang out and talk about clothes. This is the person we want. He’s using the keyword #dapper. And there are millions of Johnnys using that keyword. Here they are – the people we want to reach.”
Steal Your Competitor’s Followers
Your competitors have already done a lot of the hard work for you, use this to your advantage. One of the best ways to find, attract, and build a huge following is by targeting your closest competitors’ Instagram accounts and “stealing” their audience. These are (mostly) people that have already shown some level of interest in your product or niche, simply by following your competitors.
How Do You Find Your Competitors?
You likely already have a good idea of who many of your closest competitors are, however, you can also use one of many web apps like Webstagram to find popular accounts by searching for relevant keywords and hashtags. Once you find a large account and follow them, Instagram will suggest additional accounts that are similar. Following these accounts will lead you to more accounts, and so on.
Let’s assume you were a new fashion sock brand. You could search Webstagram using the keyword “Socks” to find related accounts:
Once you find relevant accounts with large followings, follow them. When you follow these accounts on Instagram, follow the suggested accounts that Instagram Recommends. You can keep following the rabbit hole, adding a bunch of relevant accounts to get started.
So how do you effectively steal your competitors’ followers?
Stealing your competitor’s followers is as simple as interacting with them through engagement. As you already know, there are several ways to engage with Instagram users:
- Follow a user
- Like a photo
- Comment on a photo
- Direct message
Follow, Like, Comment: Rinse and Repeat
So how do you get the most amount of followers? Our founder, Richard, did an informal test for an Instagram post he wrote on the Shopify blog, How to Get A Massive Following on Instagram:
“I began by simply following 100 of my competitor’s followers. Later, I followed another 100 of my competitor’s followers but I also took the time to like one of their photos. Finally, I followed another 100 of my competitor’s followers and commented on one of each of the 100 user’s photos as well as liked that same photo.
Here were the results:
- Follow: 14% Followed back
- Follow + Like: 22% Followed back
- Follow + Like + Comment: 34% Followed back”
Even though this was a relatively small test, it’s pretty clear (and expected) that the more work you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.
Austen from the previously mentioned blog post helped a friend sell $4,000 in hipster neckties on Instagram in two weeks and used a similar method of liking and following to build a large audience. This is what he had to say:
“After about a day of experimentation and testing, we found the method that works the best. We called it “follow like like like.” The process is simple – go to the most recent section for the hashtag we chose to target and choose the top picture. Follow that account, go to their photos, and like their most recent three.
Here’s the crazy part: When we did this, the follow-back percentage approached 25%. Meaning for every four people we followed, one would follow us back. And, more importantly, we could see a decent amount of traffic going through to the pre-launch landing page we had set up.”
If you want help following and building your audience using a program that doesn’t violate Instagram’s terms and conditions, try the program Crowdfire. Crowdfire allows you to quickly copy your competitor’s followers much more quickly than you can do it manually on your phone. It also has some additional features worth checking out.
All this following, liking and commenting can really wear out your thumbs and there’s only so much time you can dedicate to this in a day. If only there was a way to automate this…
There are apps that can help you cheat at building a following on Instagram. They will automatically like, comment, follow and unfollow people in your niche based on hashtags or other parameters you set up.
These automated methods can net you hundreds of new followers per day, again, automatically. We did several pretty informal tests and talked with a few people that are using these automation programs regularly to see how well they really worked. On average, all of the accounts gained anywhere from 75-250 new followers per day depending on how aggressive the settings were. This means that per month, using automation, you can gain 2,250-7,500 new followers.
Two popular tools right now for Instagram automation are:
- Kicksta: Work with real people to create and develop Instagram campaigns that work for your audience. Grow your following and increase your engagement while leaving all the hard work to Kicksta and their software.
- FollowLiker: Is a destop-only application that you need to buy a license for but is a little more powerful and likely harder for Instagram to detect.
Where to Buy Fake Followers for Instagram
First, let’s be very clear that any Instagram followers you purchase are fake accounts created with some fake images and some lines of code. However, purchasing fake followers can have its place. If done in a tasteful manner when starting a new account, purchasing a few hundred or maybe a few thousand followers can give you just enough social proof to encourage others to follow you when they normally wouldn’t.
- Fiverr: Fiverr is usually the best place to start where the price is fair. For $5 you can purchase various fake follower packages, anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands.
- Insta-Promoter (http://insta-promoter.com/): Purchase followers and photo likes for your Instagram account to be used as social proof.
- Active-Followers (http://active-followers.com/): Purchase followers and photo likes for your Instagram account to be used as social proof.
Sponsored Posts & Product Reviews
If you really want to make an impact, you need to post to other, larger accounts in your niche, exposing your brand to a wider audience.
So, how do you do that?
To get started, you’ll need to make a list of large accounts in your niche. For example, if you sell beauty products, you’ll want to find large accounts from beauty bloggers.
You may already be following these accounts, if not you’ll need to find them. One of the best ways is to use Webstagram and search for some of the closest hashtag keywords you uncovered at the beginning of this post. When you do a search for your keywords, not only will it show you the related keywords, but it also shows you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.
There are a few things to look for in the profiles results:
- Large following: Usually 20k-500k
- An email address in the profile
If there is an email address in the profile, it usually means they’re open to sponsored posts.
You’ll want to email them and ask them for their sponsored post pricing. As an example, we reached out to about 20 accounts with large followings in the men’s fashion space and received 10 replies with pricing.
Below, we have included all the information from the 10 accounts in a spreadsheet:
- Reach: The number of followers they had at the time they replied to the email
- $/Post: Their price quoted for one sponsored post
- CPM: CPM is an adverting term for cost per 1,000 impressions (followers)
- Avg. Likes/Post: The average number of likes their last 10 posted photos received
- Conv. To Likes: Reach (followers) divided by average likes per post
However, if you’re selling a unique and original product, you may also want to consider sending them your product to review and potentially post. The more natural and less advertisement-like the image, the greater the engagement and response, usually.
On Reddit, Bachelr, a men’s fashion and accessory startup admittedly used this tactic to launch their brand. By paying larger men’s fashion accounts they were able to get a flood of followers to their Instagram account and traffic to their website at launch.
Our founder also watched as a new fashion brand with only 10 followers was featured on a much larger Instagram account that had close to 500,000 followers a couple years ago. With every refresh, the advertised brand’s account increased by 50 followers until it tapered off later that evening with 3,500 brand new followers.
At the time, he did a video about it that you can watch below:
How to Make the Most of Every Post
The following strategies all fall in line with Instagram’s terms of service and are really about smart & clever marketing combined with some hard work.
Always Use Hashtags to Get More Followers
Using hashtags and, in particular, the right ones for your niche, is a core acquisition strategy for acquiring new and targeted followers; the kind that are most likely to become customers.
Hashtagging your photos makes it easy for people who are searching for those specific terms to discover your photos.
How do you know which hashtags to use?
Using the right hashtags is a little like doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keyword research. It’s about using the terms that describe your products as closely as possible and that potential customers (Instagram users) are searching for.
Using the right hashtags within your photos means your photos and thus, your brand, is much more likely to reach new users and be discovered.
Here are the current top 20 hashtags on Instagram according to Webstagram:
If you looked at the list above and thought, “But none of those apply to my products or brand,” you’re likely correct.
Using hashtags is one thing, using the right tags is another thing. Popular tags like the ones listed above will likely net you additional engagement and likes, however, they will not lead to increased long-term engagement, new interested followers and, 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 keyword research to make sure you’re using the most relevant hashtags that not only describe your brand but are also being searched for on Instagram.
Let’s assume you were a new sock brand. You could use Webstagram and search for “Socks“. From that search, we were able to pull the following list of additional keyword hashtags along with the number of times they have been used (popularity). If you notice, the number of photos is much lower than the most popular hashtags above, which is a good thing. Using these hashtags means there’s a greater chance of people seeing them.
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.
Instagram generally allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. Additionally, the popular hashtags will change over time, so make sure you revisit your hashtag keywords every few months to make sure you’re using the best possible terms.
Use the Right Filters
Keyword hashtags aren’t the only thing you should pay attention to. The Instagram community responds to certain photo filters more favorably than others. Using these preferred filters can have an impact on your engagement. For a more automated way to get the right look to your photos, try Instagram templates.
TrackMaven published some charts on filter usage and engagement to determine how filters affected engagement. They discovered that the Mayfair filter, no filter at all, and the Inkwell filter drove the most interaction.
Here are the 10 current most popular filters on Instagram according to Populagram:
- Normal (No Filter)
- X-Pro II
We looked at which filters studies say you should use and we looked at which filters are the most popular, but maybe what matters most is how your particular community responds to the filters you use. Use IconoSquare to review the performance of the filters you have been using to get a complete picture of what you should and shouldn’t be using. Here’s a snapshot from one of our accounts:
Post on the Best Days & Times
One of the best ways to increase your engagement is to post your images on optimal days and times for your audience. The best way to help determine when those times are for your particular audience is to use a tool like IconoSquare. Looking at the image optimization section will give you a report that will highlight the best days of the week to post along with the best time to receive the most engagement.
Schedule Your Posts
Scheduling apps can help you plan out your week or month and ensure that you’re posting at the optimal times. Check out the following web apps to help you post to Instagram automatically:
Instagram has proven itself to be one of the best marketing channels for ecommerce brands. The visual nature and the naturally high engagement on the platform make it a prime channel to add to your marketing mix.
In this post, we talked about the most effective tactics and strategies to get a lot more followers on Instagram in a targeted way. Although not all of the advice adheres to Instagram terms, it’s up to you to decide which strategies to use for your brand. Remember though, as with any social network, the most successful long-term strategy overall is to be authentic and social.