NICK WONS – WONS.CA | 5 tips for more Instagram followers
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October 23, 2015

5 tips for more Instagram followers

People are always asking me my secrets to online marketing, building a following, and how to get the most out of their social media accounts, well, here are my 5 tips for more Instagram followers.

Instagram, for some it’s a place to post pictures of their pets, meals, and endless amounts of selfies, however for others it’s a place to build their brand and showcase their products and art to the world. In today’s day in age social media is a great way to get out into the world and reach millions of people, if you do it right, if you don’t then your post is just one of millions upon millions and in effect is just another futile attempt at gaining traction in the digital world.
I’ve been on Instagram for a few years now and although I don’t have 250k+ followers like some of my friends do I’ve learned some things along the way that I’ve done which have seen my number of followers double (from just under 1000 to almost 2200) in less than a year, and it didn’t cost me a single thing.

#1 “Quality over quantity. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.”



People don’t really care to see 10 photos a day of your entire day, and you don’t need to post every single image you take, or *shudder* a million selfies. I would rather post up 1 or 2 really good pictures in a day than post 5 or 10 images that are mediocre, and if I don’t have something really good to post I will sometimes hold off until I have something worthwhile (or go out and shoot something worth posting). When I’m looking to follow new people I look at their feed, if I don’t see anything that makes me go “WOW” in the first set of images when I load the profile then I generally skip past it. You want to get that “WOW!” factor from people when they open your profile, even just “COOL!” is passable but if you take a quick look at your profile and there’s no image that makes you want to dig deeper in the feed then you’ve lost already. Also, selfies, keep them to a minimum. Unless you’re a model/actor/actress and your face is your brand then I shouldn’t be able to create a flip book of what you looked like every day for the past 365 days, if that’s your thing then so be it, but those aren’t accounts that I follow.

Also, my Note 3 takes some great images, however nothing compared to my Nikon DSLR, so with that said I usually take the shot with my Nikon, edit on PC, export (2000px long edge), share to Dropbox and then upload to Instagram from my phone. Once I get a WiFi enabled DSLR that will make the process easier and I can edit directly on my phone using Photoshop Express.

#2 “Keep it flowing. If you’re not live, you’re dead.”


Now that can take on a few forms, however what I mean here is don’t let your content become stale. You don’t need to post every single day, however consistently posting high quality images on a schedule keeps your followers interested, keeps you current, and becomes something that your followers look forward to seeing in their feed is something that will increase your follower base. I’ve actually had people thank me for the images I post because every day they check in and see what I’ve posted for their bit of daily inspiration, that’s huge. If you’re going to post every day, keep it up. Sure we all miss a step sometimes because life just gets crazy and you don’t have the time, so that’s why I like to plan my posts a day or two in advance if I can so I know what I’m going to roll out and when.

Also when you start to consistently post you start to notice patterns (and build analytics) of when your followers are most active and it’s best to post. I’m an analytic data junkie so I signed up with Iconosquare which collects all the metrics you could ever want about your Instagram account and I review my stats every day or two and see where my content posts are strongest and go with the flow of my followers.


#3 “To hashtag or to hashtag? There is no question.”


Unless you’ve got a 5 figure plus follower base you’re going to need them, and even when you do have a huge follower base I feel that it’s something you should be doing because it’s still how you’re going to get your images out to the world and attract new followers. Currently Instagram has a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and a limit of 20 profiles that can be tagged in an image. Use them. Use them ALL! Some people I’ve spoken about this with say it seems like a desperate attempt to get attention, others including myself feel that really it’s the only way you’re going to engage people beyond your current double and triple digit circles quickly. It’s important to keep the hashtags relevant to the image, you wouldn’t hashtag an image with #cat if the image has no relation to cats at all. THAT seems desperate, and sloppy, and isn’t how you hashtag properly. Also #makinguphashtagsthatnobodyelseuses is a waste of time, unless you’ve created one you’re using consistently as a part of you online brand you’re building then it’s just a wasted space.

There are resources where you can see popular hashtags that would be good to use, Iconosquare has a page that compares the ones you use and the most popular ones, and now Instagram will suggest them to you when you enter a # and start typing which is great. I won’t add hashtags that have less than 100k other images, but also remember something like #fashion has 214,766,448 images attached to it, so although it will be seen, it’s one of hundreds of thousands of images going under that hashtag every day. Also, use a notepad application (I use Evernote) to organize your groups of hashtags and you can simply copy and paste them when you need them instead of typing them all out one by one, and you can use some dashes and copy and paste some blank space (annoying that IG doesn’t support this yet) and tuck the hashtags down the caption so it isn’t all cluttered.

Tagging people/accounts/brands in pictures is also something you should do. There are accounts on Instagram that solely aggregate and feature content from other IG users, these can be awesome because they have tens if not hundreds of thousands of followers that will see your image, but you’re never going to get featured if you don’t get their attention. These profiles can be geographically themed such as @StreetsOfToronto, @ThankYouToronto, or general ones like @instagood, @Way2ill, and @HeaterCentral. With these accounts they require you to use their hashtag ( ie #StreetsOfToronto, #ThankYouToronto) to be featured, sometimes also including their name in the caption as well, so be sure you remember what they look for so you can qualify. I’ve even taken the step of tagging the account in the actual image because not only does it give them another notification about my image but it also then appears under the ‘tagged images’ tab of their profile.

This is the result of proper tagging..

@nwons: Your happiness is at the intersection of your passions and learning from great people.

A photo posted by Streets of Toronto (@streetsoftoronto) on

Cool shot @nwons, thanks for sharing. #shepardfairey #obeygiant #detroit A photo posted by Shepard Fairey (@obeygiant) on

Here’s a great angle of last weeks #sbnbto photo shot by @nwons #nuitblanche

A photo posted by Love Toronto ? (@lovetoronto) on

I rest my case.


#4 “Appreciate appreciation. You attract more bees with honey.”


Once you’re got an audience, show them appreciation by replying to their comments, giving them some likes, and leaving some comments on their images. I know it seems like common sense however I don’t see it happen very often with many people. When I get a new follower I take the time to go to their profile, like a bunch of pictures, and leave a thank you for the follow comment as well. At the end of the day everybody likes to feel appreciated, and if you’re being appreciated you should be thankful for the support. A few likes can go a long way!


#5 “These are not the droids you are looking for. Say NO to bots.”


Don’t. Flat out just don’t. Whether it’s a comment/liking bot, or a follow/unfollow bot, keep away from it. Sure it gets you some visibility, but at what cost? Not only are you running the risk of being flagged and having your entire account shut down but it’s fake. Fake followers, fake appreciation, fake compliments. You should pride yourself on building your network organically, not by deception and automation. Where some people have said using a lot of hashtags seems like  it’s desperate, using bots wreaks of it, and you’re not fooling anybody when you have 150 followers and you’re following 3500 people, you hurt your credibility and there’s nothing worse than coming off as fake.

So just to recap:

  1. “Quality over quantity. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.”
  2. “Keep it flowing. If you’re not live, you’re dead.”
  3. “To hashtag or to hashtag? There is no question.”
  4. “Appreciate appreciation. You attract more bees with honey.”
  5. “These are not the droids you are looking for. Say NO to bots.”

…that’s my advice for how to increase your Instagram follower numbers, feel free to share your tricks and tips I might have missed in the comments below!

Good luck and happy Instagramming!


Featured image by jam_project

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