In this guide, I’m going to show you how to get more followers on Instagram for free.
It’s not all about an ego trip though, just to boost your numbers. This is how to get real, genuine followers who will interact with your content, like your posts, comment on them, and maybe even recommend you to their friends.
This is a business site, so I’m going to show you how to grow your Instagram account so that you can monetise it at some point in the future.
So, let’s get down to business…
How to Get More Followers on Instagram for Free
Forget about “Follow Back” Schemes
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. If you really want to make money from your Instagram followers, you don’t want just any followers.
I’m sure you’re already aware of the “follow me and I’ll follow you back” sort of arrangements that are common on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. While it may be good for your ego to see your follower count go up using methods like this, it’s pretty useless for making money.
What you’ve got to remember is that followers are people. Well, apart from the bots, that is. Therefore, if you want to make money with your Instagram account, you want to attract people who are genuinely into what you’re doing, saying, or selling.
The people involved in these “follow back” schemes are normally following thousands of other people, so they’re highly unlikely to ever see anything that you post. If, by some miracle, they do happen to see your post in their crowded timeline, they’re highly unlikely to be interested in it anyway. They’ll be too busy pursuing their own goals.
You see, most of the “follow back” people are only doing it because, like you, they have some end result that’s going to come from them gaining followers. That end result may be money, or it may be ego. Either way, they’re not really interested in anybody but themselves. They’re certainly not good Samaritans helping out “poor Instagram folk”.
Use the $1.80 Method
If you want to get proper, interested followers on Instagram, I would strongly suggest using what is called the $1.80 method.
The $1.80 Method was devised by social media legend Gary Vaynerchuk. So, I’ll first let Gary explain it to you in his own words in the video below. I’ll then clarify some of the key points.
There you go then. I hope you enjoyed it.
I think that video explained the method pretty well, but I’ll just list the key steps for you again.
- Pick 10 Instagram Hashtags that appropriate to the sort of follower that you want to attract.
- Perform an Instagram search for the first of these hashtags, then write a meaningful comment on 9 of the posts that are listed. Don’t do this as a “business trick”, do it to give genuine value to the people you’re commenting on, even if it’s just words of encouragement or congratulations.
- Repeat this process for all 10 hashtags.
- Repeat this complete process every day.
If you consider leaving a comment on a post as leaving “your 2 cents” then commenting on 9 posts for 10 hashtags (90 comments total per day) will equal $1.80.
I’ve personally used this method to gain followers for a brand new Instagram account, and it works really well.
Not everybody whose posts you comment on will follow you, but they many will take a look at your profile to see who you are. If you post good value content of your own (we’ll cover that in a minute) you stand a better chance of them sticking with you.
Now, this may seem like a rather slow process for building up followers, but that doesn’t actually matter if you take a look at the numbers.
If you have just 100 followers and they all spend $20 with you, that’s $2000.
If you have 1000 followers and they all spend $40 a year with you, that’s $40000 a year, which is equal to a reasonable full-time salary.
So, don’t get bogged down with chasing huge numbers of followers. The emphasis should be on quality not quantity. If you slowly build up a follower base of committed, trusting people, you’ll have a better foundation for a business.
Why can’t I just use both methods?
So, at this point you may be wondering why you can’t use both the “follow back” and the “$1.80” methods to grow your followers. Well, theoretically there’s nothing to stop you doing it, but there are some important reasons why you don’t really want to.
Firstly, if you’re planning on selling anything to your followers, you need to build up a relationship with them. That relationship is a two-way street that requires you to interact with them. This interaction could be commenting on or liking their posts, but it should especially be replying to any comments that they leave on your posts, even if it’s only a “thank you” message.
Now, imagine the problem if you had 1000 “real” followers and 6000 “fake” followers. Your timeline would be filled with so many posts from the fakes followers that you’d hardly ever get a chance to see what your real followers had posted. It would ruin any chance of genuine interaction.
Secondly, all those fake followers would screw up your analytics and make it very hard to figure out which of your posts worked and which didn’t. How can you judge the effectiveness of a post if it’s only seen by thousands of people who don’t care about you anyway?
Finally on this subject, I would say take a look at what happened on Facebook a few years ago. An algorithm was introduced so that any post you made would only be seen by about 4% of your followers. Then, if those 4% responded to it well, another small percentage might be shown it, and so on.
Imagine if Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, introduced a similar algorithm. From that point on, your posts would only be seen by a tiny percentage of your followers who, quite possibly, had no interest in interacting with it at all. Your Instagram “business” would be killed overnight, much like many people’s Facebook “businesses” were.
As you can hopefully see then, the fake follow back schemes just aren’t worth it from any direction. Stick to gaining real followers using genuine social methods.
Post Valuable Content using Popular Hashtags
Another way to organically get followers on Instagram is by posting content that is labelled with hashtags. These posts will then be seen by people who do a search for that particular hashtag. If they like what you’ve posted then they may choose to follow you.
It does appear that the number of hashtag searches being carried out on Instagram is gradually declining though.
Instagram don’t release any data revealing how often a particular term is searched, so it’s hard to say for sure. However, I don’t generally see hashtag traffic accounting for a large percentage of my post impressions.
The difficulty really lies in knowing which hashtags to choose for your posts.
Instagram will tell you the total number of posts that have ever been posted with that hashtag attached, but that’s no guarantee that many people ever search for it.
The other problem is that if you just include the most popular hashtags, your post is likely to very quickly be pushed down the “Recent Posts” list.
For example, if you look at #bodybuilding, you’ll see that it’s been included in about 100 million posts since 2011 when Instagram first introduced hashtags.
This means that every hour nearly 2000 posts are made that contain the hashtag #bodybuilding.
So, within 3 minutes of you posting, another 100 posts have come along and pushed your one way down the search results.
The gamble then, is whether to go for the popular hashtags, or the less popular ones that nobody may search for. It’s difficult to decide.
You could try to figure it out by including 5 different hashtags in each post, and then seeing which post gets the most hashtag impressions. However, you have to consider that other factors are coming into play.
The posts may not look alike. One could stand out more in the list of results than another.
One might also fit in with a particular hashtag better than the others. The subject matter of your post could be wrong for that particular hashtag, but that doesn’t mean that the hashtag is bad.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in a single post and, for the reasons noted above, many people try to use all 30.
The more hashtags you add to a post, the more organic views you can potentially get. However, a post full of hashtags does look a bit spammy, which is why some people put them in the first comment instead.
What to do once You Have More Followers
If you keep following these tips, your Instagram follower count should gradually grow. The next stage is to work out how to monetise those followers. After all, this is a business site, and we are looking at Instagram as a business tool.
I’ve written an article called How to Start Making Money from Instagram Followers, which I think will also be of great use to you.