Neil Patel

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Build Your Tribe: How to Get More Instagram Followers


Instagram has been around for a while now – at least in ‘internet time.’

And, the platform continues to grow.

In fact, it was recently announced that there are 1 billion people with an Instagram account, with 500 million of them using the platform every day.

If you’re a social media marketer, this is good news.

With so many people using the platform, there’s a good chance that your target audience can be reached on their Instagram account.

And, if you can create a prolific Instagram account that boasts a lot of Instagram followers, you’ll be able to reach your target audience consistently and effectively.

Of course, this then posits the tricky problem of how to get more Instagram followers in the first place.

Don’t worry. In this post, we’re going to take a look at how you can do just that.

We’ll explore several social media marketing strategies that you can use, in conjunction with one another, that will have your Instagram follower count growing significantly every day.

By the end of this post, you’ll have the information that you need to go out and create a popular Instagram following of your own.

Let’s begin!

Understand what content connects with your audience

The first step to follow if you’re struggling with how to get more Instagram followers is to have an idea as to who you want your Instagram followers could be.

Think hard about who you want to reach and what their mindset is. Knowing that will allow for you to give your profile a ‘voice’ and will help you to fine tune your content efforts and grab some more likes per post.

Once you know who you want to reach and what they’re thinking, you can then brainstorm how to create remarkable content to attract and delight those Instagram followers.

If your Instagram account isn’t home to interesting and engaging content, not a single Instagram follower will want to follow your particular feed and no tricks or strategies will be able to help you fix it.

So, what counts as remarkable content?

What you need to realize is that Instagram is a very image/video heavy platform.  In fact, you could argue that delivering those content types is all that Instagram can do.

So, knowing the above, you first need to accept the expectation that you’ll be posting high-quality images and videos on your Instagram profile.

If you your Instagram posts are consistently remarkable then more people will engage with your content. And, if more people are engaging with your content, more people will find you and want to become an Instagram follower of your profile.

In this post, we’re going to place a special focus on images, as that’s what the average Instagram post traditionally focuses on.

If you take a look at the chart below, you’ll see that images achieve 23% more engagement on Instagram than they do on Facebook – adding data to my earlier suggestion that people go to Instagram to interact with images.


You can drive yourself crazy with all of the social media marketing data that’s out there about what makes an Instagram image worthy of more likes and more shares.

For example, you could focus on research that tells you that brighter images generate 24% more likes than ‘dark images.’


You could also pay attention to the stats showing that images with high levels of texture generate 79% more likes than those that are considered ‘smooth.’


While stats like that may help you, further down the road, it’s worth sticking to principles, to begin with, rather than trying to tinker with the ‘details’ of your images.

So, what principles should you keep in mind?

The first is that images that look personal and as though they’ve been taken in a somewhat ‘amateur’ fashion, tend to outperform those that look overly professional or high end.

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into creating an audience on an Instagram account.

Remember, Instagram is a social media platform. People aren’t looking to be sold on the platform.

They’re looking to engage with content that is highly personable – content that almost looks as if it was posted by a good friend of theirs.

It’s hard to create that kind of feel, with a professional, stock photo look.

Note: There is a slight exception to this and that often comes about when you’re posting pictures of an actual product. We’ll look at some examples later, but having somewhat professional looking product images is important for Instagram marketing, because it makes it easier for people to assess what they’re looking at.

If you’re running an Instagram marketing account for a company, then your goal is to provide some insight into the company culture.

If you’re doing it all for your personal brand, your goal is to provide some insight into who you are and what you stand for.

In a sense, you want to give an insight into what’s going on behind the scenes.

The best way to understand this concept is by taking a look at what successful Instagram profiles are already doing.

Below is an Image from the Instagram profile of Gary Vaynerchuk.

Notice how the image doesn’t look particularly professional.

Apart from the quote in the background, it just looks as though it was taken without him knowing. Yet, it still manages to achieve a high level of social media engagement.


Below is another example of an image that worked well. Again, it provides a behind-the-scenes look that isn’t particularly professional.

Yet, it does well, because it gives people an insight into Gary Vaynerchuck, the person.  If people can relate to him in these Instagram posts then they’ll want to engage with his content.


Nearly everything he does is related to the world of entrepreneurship and is working hard, so it’s aimed at reaching those Instagram followers who are just getting into the game of business or those looking to achieve more.

By maintaining a level of consistency with these themes, his audience engagement is higher, because Instagram followers are consistently receiving content that is in line with their personality.

Building a social media relationship with the audience becomes easier, too, as the audience begins to feel as though the owner of the profile is like them, because every Instagram post confirms their own beliefs and personality.

Here are some images from clothing brand Asos.

Their Instagram posts generally come in two types – product images and images designed to connect with their audience.

Here are some images from their Instagram account that are designed to ‘connect’ with their audience.


For reference, here is the caption –


And, here’s another post that showcases a product image.


If you’re still scratching your head about how to get more Instagram followers and you also want to drive sales at the same time, it helps to pay attention to Instagram accounts like this, and to take a similar approach.

You’ll want to maintain a good ratio, obviously. Don’t post too much about products, or else people won’t be able to connect with you and develop a relationship.

If you want an education, in terms of what works well on the platform, find people who are crushing it (even though they’re not a celebrity) and you’ll soon see the patterns.

Note: The importance of posting consistently

As well as posting great content that matches the mindset of your target market, you also need to make sure that you are posting content consistently.

Consistent posting is important, because it gives people a reason to become an Instagram follower of yours. If they see that you’re constantly posting new content, then it makes sense for them to follow you.

After all, the whole point of becoming an Instagram follower of someone is so that you can receive their latest updates.

Consistent posting also indirectly allows you to reduce the odds of your profile spamming your Instagram followers.

You don’t want to post a whole bunch of photos, all at once, as this could just annoy the people who are following you.

By spacing out your content, you’ll ensure that you’re not unknowingly getting on your Instagram followers’ nerves and will maximize your Instagram marketing efforts by doing so.

Interact with your audience

Remember, Instagram is a social media platform.  That means that you need to be social on the platform, if you want your Instagram follower count to go up and to get more likes per post in the long run.

If people know you’re ready and willing to talk to them, based on what they’ve seen you do with others, engagement will increase.

That’s because that Instagram follower will have a greater feeling of certainty that their comments will be read by you and will get a response.

You don’t have to do anything complicated.

Just respond to each Instagram follower when they mention something.

Maybe click through to their profile and like some of their content.

The more effort that you put in, the better your results will be.  

For example, one marketer managed to achieve a 34% follow-back rate by following someone, liking their content and commenting on something.

However, when the social media marketer only followed an Instagram account, there was just a 14% follow back rate.

If you want to find Instagram accounts that might be worth following, take a look at the Instagram followers your competitors have.

Get your audience to do some of the work for you

Once your Instagram account starts to generate a sizeable following, you can use some smart Instagram marketing strategies to make it so that you’re not the one doing all of the heavy lifting.

One tactic that you can implement is to post ‘user generated content’ on your profile.

Buffer managed to boost their follower count by 60%, with the help of user generated content.


One way that you can get people to post user generated content is by running a contest. You could ask people to post a picture.  The person with the best picture gets a free prize.

All they have to do is to post the picture on their own account and use a designated hashtag, so that you can easily find it.

Another way that you can get your Instagram followers to help you out is by asking them to tag someone in the comments section.

There are a couple of ways that you can do this.

You could, for example, use the Instagram marketing strategy implemented by Birchbox.

In one of their Instagram posts, they asked people to follow the account, share ‘#Birchbox,’ and tag two friends in the comments – all in the name of a giveaway.


Alternatively, you could post a quote and then ask people to tag friends who are relevant to what has been posted.

This method has been used to great effect by FoundrMag.

As with the other Instagram marketing strategies we have covered in this post, you’ll want to use these Instagram account tactics sparingly.

That’s because your audience will eventually get fed up with you trying to amass Instagram followers without providing value.

It’ll make them feel undervalued.

On top of that, though, such content is good at building a following, it often doesn’t help in building a relationship with your audience, whereby you’re creating dedicated brand advocates that will spread the good word about your company.

Pay for exposure

The next option you have is to pay for exposure.

There are two paths that you can travel here.

The first involves reaching out to people who are in a similar, or perhaps just a relevant niche and asking them if they’d like to run a sponsored post.

This method is often known as the ‘shoutout method.’

What you can expect to pay for a shoutout will depend on the Instagram account that you’re trying to do business with.

Some have suggested that they won’t pay more than $50 for a shoutout on an Instagram account with 200,000 followers.

The issue is, however, that some accounts will have better levels of engagement than others.

So, if you speak to someone who charges more, odds are it’s because they can bring you better levels of engagement.

A lot of Instagram accounts will tell you what kind of image they want to use. There will often be some rules, too, in relation to how the caption needs to be structured.

I have found that organic images do well, when running a campaign like this.


Using the above image, I generated $332,640 from $75,000 spend.

The second path that you can go down is to run ads.

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you’ll need to create these ads using the Facebook Ad Manager.

There isn’t a specific option to advertise your Instagram account for the purpose of adding more followers, so you might want to choose either the ‘Send people to your website’ option or the ‘Brand awareness option.’


Provided that you’re very precise, when it comes to picking your target audience, you should do well when using this Instagram marketing method.

You also need to make sure that you deselect all of the other Placement options, so that your ads are shown only on Instagram.


If you want to create a winning ad that will work well on Instagram, think about modeling something that garnered a lot of attention on your Instagram profile.


Instagram has worked well, when it comes to generating sales and driving growth, for many marketers.

If you want the platform to pay dividends for you, then it is essential that you understand how to grow your follower count.

Hopefully, after reading this post, you now have a keen sense as to how that can be done.

Whether you pay for exposure or you focus on consistently delivering great content in every Instagram post, there are multiple avenues that you can go down.

However, should you combine each of the Instagram marketing strategies covered in this post into one mega plan, you’ll be able to achieve remarkable results in no time.

Do you have any tips that you can share when it comes to marketing on Instagram and growing a following there? Please share below.

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