Instagram has 800 million active monthly users.

Let that number sink in for a minute.

That is almost a BILLION active users on its platform every single month.

What does this mean for you? It means that Instagram is a goldmine right now for marketers! In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to build a large following. The key is to do it in a way that helps you attract followers that have value.

I see too many people using bots and software to follow and unfollow and use fake followers to make it appear like their account is popular. This is the wrong approach.

Fake followers create the illusion that your account is popular until someone looks at your engagement. Those fake accounts are everywhere. You will see an account with 50K followers and they have 5 likes and no comments on their posts. The follow/unfollow game is bad also, because the followers you attract have no interest in your account. They just want you to follow them. It’s a never ending circle jerk that results in no engagement and no sales.

Want to build a solid Instagram account without spamming and one that you can leverage in your business?

Use these nine steps I have outlined and explained below to build your Instagram following..


1. Post at Least Three Times Daily

Instagram is such an active platform that you need to post several times a day in order to connect with a large audience. When you are just starting out you can do a couple posts a day and then once you are at 5,000 followers you can go to 3X a day. This is the magic number that allows you to post at different times and be spread out enough that you don’t annoy your followers.

If you were posting on the hour, every hour people would get sick of seeing your posts, no matter how great they were. You don’t want to suffocate your followers, but you also want to make sure your name stays on their mind. This is Branding 101. Spread them out, one early morning, another mid-day and then another in the evening. Since Instagram isn’t a chronological order, you are going to get more exposure as you grow and your account is more active. This is why it’s important to do it the right way and not use software.

Instagram will shadow ban accounts they think are using software and your engagement can disappear overnight. Do it the right way and it will pay off.



2. Create DM Groups

This is one of the best ways to attract new followers by getting your content exposure. By creating DM groups, every member (14 others and yourself, for 15 in the group) posts in the group DM when he or she has a new post. Then everyone in the group likes the post and then comments.

Instagram’s algorithm rewards posts that receive large amounts of engagement shortly after being posted. This makes them think it’s popular and it’s something that more users would like to see. This is how large accounts are getting all of their posts on the explore page. When you accomplish this, it can make a post go viral within minutes. This is how you can pick up hundreds if not thousands of new followers in a single day.

When you are just starting out you will only be able to convince accounts with a similar following to participate in your DM groups. But that is ok. You will just need to create multiple DM groups. I know of several people who participated in a dozen DM groups when just starting, and they were able to make groups with larger accounts as their own account grew.


3. Respond to Comments

When you respond to comments it helps to show your followers that you are actually interested in what they post and you read them. This will encourage them to continue to comment on your posts in the future as well.

It also helps to increase the engagement of your posts, which the algorithm rewards. I would suggest visiting your post comments a few times a day and like every comment and then reply to each as well. As more people start to participate in commenting, more of their friends are going to see their activity on your account on their “Following” tab under activity. IF someone sees their friend constantly commenting on an account, it’s going to cause them to check your account out and it may lead to a new follower.

Everything when done right will lead to growth. It’s just understanding that you need to take baby steps in the beginning that is the difficult part for many. Everyone wants to get 100K followers and 10K likes per post without putting the effort in, but they fail to realize those popular accounts all started at zero as well.


4. Find the Best Posting Times and Stick with Them

Ok, so let’s assume you stick with the three posts per day schedule that we suggested above. It’s important that you find the best times for your audience and then stick to that schedule. If you are using Instagram to promote your business or even a personal brand, you need to convert to a business profile. The biggest advantage is the access to insights. This will play a major role in helping to identify your ideal posting times.

In the beginning, try every hour of the day and night, and look at your analytics to determine what posts performed the best. Once you identify several solid times, start split testing more, posting several per time. Within a few months you are going to have a clear picture regarding your prime time posting times. Once you have them sorted out, stick to the schedule and post religiously at those times every day.

This consistent behavior is what helps your account grow authority and attract engagement and new followers. When you start to create loyal followers, they will become accustomed to your post times and begin to wait for them. This is how you also increase your engagement during the first few minutes of posting, which helps you hit the explore page.


5. Comment on Relevant Accounts with High Follower Counts

Do not use automated commenting. It is the spammiest strategy and I cringe when I see it. Not only does it make your account look like shit, but it can also lead to comments appearing on content that you don’t want your brand associated with. Imagine if someone posted a picture of hate speech and used the hashtag #business and your bot was programmed to drop a “I love this!” comment on everything using that hashtag.. it would ruin you.

Find relevant accounts that have huge followings of 500K or more and make it a point to comment on their posts. There are plenty of users that read the comments and they will often click over to look at the accounts that comment. If you are doing this on large relevant pages it’s going to expose you to a lot of people and since your account is similar it will cause a lot of them to also follow you.

It takes just a few minutes each time, and if you get in the habit of going it you will be able to do it while multi-tasking.


6. Use 20 to 25 Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are the easiest way to get your content featured on the explore page and seen by millions. It’s important that you use relevant hashtags, and the right ones. Many people will add up to 30, which is the maximum number, but after a lot of testing I have found that numbers between 20 and 25 tend to perform better.

Why is this?

Well, I would assume that Instagram automatically assumes that is an account is constantly using 30 hashtags per post there is a good chance it’s a spam type account, rather than a genuine user. Think about it for a minute. A real user isn’t jamming 30 hashtags in every single post.

Also, don’t always go for the biggest hashtags. There are tools like that can help you identify potential ones based on a seed hashtag. Use 3 to 5 large hashtags with millions of uses, but then look for smaller ones. When your account is smaller, you will have a much better chance going after exposure for smaller hashtags.



7. Follow Three to Four New Accounts Daily

There is nothing wrong with following new accounts on a regular basis. It’s what real users do all the time. That is the point of Instagram. Discover new content and then follow the accounts that create it.

You just don’t want to auto-follow thousands of accounts a day. I would suggest following 3 to 4 new accounts every day. Look for relevant accounts with large followings, because there is a good chance that their followers will look at the followers when they have the itch to seek out new accounts to follow.

It takes a couple seconds, makes your account look genuine and it helps showcase you in front of people that are already following accounts similar to yours. Don’t follow and then unfollow. Pick accounts to follow that you are interested in, and also ones that you are planning on commenting on, as discussed in point #5 above. This way you can just scroll through your feed a few times a day and knock out your commenting duties with little effort. Most people want a low following number in relation to their followers, and if you just follow a few accounts a day your ratio will look fine, especially when you start growing at a rapid pace.


8. Use Power Likes

This is the number one way to get your posts on the explore page. There are engagement groups of 100 – 200 people that will all like your posts as soon as you post them. Most of them can be found on Telegram, and they are all automated. You pay, give them your handle and every time you post you will see likes hit within the first 5 to 15 minutes.

This is the type of instant rapid engagement that the algorithm rewards with explore page exposure. Now, it’s very important to use the right hashtags when you are using power likes, because these are what help you get found. You aren’t going to get the exposure without the hashtags. I see many people buying power likes and firing them at a post with no hashtags, and then they wonder why they didn’t receive a lot of impressions, comments and new followers.

Instagram has endless potential, but only for those that are willing to do everything outlined here. You can’t cut corners and expect to perform well. Every step I am outlining works hand in hand to help get your posts max exposure.


9. Write Creative Captions

When you do everything right, and hit the explore page you are going to get a lot of people looking at your post. They will either leave and look at something else or they will like it, comment and follow you. In order to get the most engagement per person that sees your posts you need to use creative captions.

A post with no caption will never perform well. You need to tell the person exactly what you want them to do. Why do you think so many of the large accounts say things like “tag 3 friends” and “comment below” in the caption? Because it works. People need to be told what to do, so use a creative caption to spark engagement.

Asking questions is a great way to trigger comments. Things like “Do you like this? Yes or No?” will cause people to automatically participate. It will snowball as more people comment, as everyone else will want to chime in. The accounts that do it right create discussion between people in the comments and it’s the type of engagement the algorithm loves.


Final Thoughts

Instagram is the most lucrative social media network right now, and while there will be new platforms in the future, this one isn’t going away any time soon. With Facebook backing it, they have the financial capacity to introduce new features at any time to keep the user base engaged.

Just look at what they are doing to Snapchat. They are essentially copying every popular feature and making it available on their platform. There are so many opportunities to build a strong following, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can experience the rewards.

Using the tips above you can build a strong following quickly, full of people that are into what you are offering, not ghost and bot followers that provide $0 value.

If you have any questions about Instagram marketing specifically, drop them in the comments below and I will do my best to get back to you as quickly as possible. If you have any tips to add or if you want to elaborate on anything mentioned above, drop them below as well.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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