When businesses want to learn how to get followers on Instagram, there’s a lot of shady and unethical services offering to do it for you. At Sprout Social, we’ll be the first to tell you it’s always better to organically build your social media audience.

By now most businesses understand the benefits of social media and using a platform like Instagram to gain better insights into analytics. However, there are some companies that still haven’t adopted the social network and have trouble building a solid follower base.

Tracking your analytics isn’t as difficult as it seems. With Sprout, it’s simple to use our powerful and easy-to-integrate tools to track and build your following. Try us for free for 30 days!

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Data from eMarketer discovered less than 33% of companies with 100 or more employees used Instagram for marketing purposes in 2015. But many experts believe that number is only going to grow.

How to Get Followers on Instagram Organically

Learning how to get followers on Instagram doesn’t have to be a tedious activity. Instead you can take some simple practices to build your follower count organically. If you go the route of purchasing users, you severely miss out on the chance of having actual buyers and customers following you.

Nowadays customers come to your business’s social media networks to ask questions, gain product insights or learn more about who you are. In fact, a study from TrackMaven discovered only half of Fortune 500 companies use Instagram.

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Even though this number might seem low, there’s a ton of competition on Instagram. That’s why it’s important to legitimately get more Instagram followers.

Understanding Fake & Legitimate Instagram Followers

There’s a huge difference between an Instagram account having fake and legitimate followers. It might seem tempting to simply purchase Instagram followers, but the backlash outweighs the perks of organic follower growth.

Fake Instagram followers tend to:

  • Deceive new followers: If users come to an inactive Instagram feed with tens of thousands of followers, things feel deceiving. Don’t trick people into following you. Build trust and long-lasting relationships for better engagement.
  • Have no ROI: It might seem easier to buy followers, but your acquired bot or unmanned new followers won’t be purchasing anything. People follow brands on Instagram for a reason–they like what you’re posting or your company in general. These are actual spenders and bring monetary value to your business.
  • Create little-to-no buzz: If you have 10,000 fake followers, how many are going to comment, like and share your content? More than likely, these bot or fake accounts will be cleaned up by Instagram, deleted and make your posts seem like engagement graveyards.

Real people have the ability to share, like, comment and engage with your Instagram posts. Additionally, these users enjoy when there’s someone on the other side responding. These interactions have more value than a set of inactive followers.

Let’s go ahead a look a few audience-building steps so your business can learn how to get followers on Instagram.

1. Get Other Accounts to Post Your Content

When you’re learning how to get followers on Instagram, it’s important to know the value of your audience. The larger your follower count grows (organically), the more buyers and interested customers you will have.

The best way to get customers to follow you is to get in front of them and be present. It’s critical to be present on your own Instagram as well as others. Try sponsoring user-generated content to get your brand in customers’ feeds. You can also hold Instagram contests to get your brand out to a larger audience.

Another way is to get your handle in front of a much larger audience. Try to get major Instagram accounts in your industry to share your content to their audience. Just make sure you’re providing something of value. The last thing you want to do is seem too salesy.

Paper Buddy came here to chew gum and play table tennis, and he’s all outta gum. 📷 @themobilecompany

A photo posted by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on

Instead, try marketing with another brand to help build your audience on Instagram. There’s always the possibility your Twitter has more followers than another brand, which you could leverage or trade off mentions or shared content.

2. Optimize Your Instagram Account

When you’re trying to gain Instagram followers, one of the most important steps is to have your account fully optimized. Simply put, your Instagram account needs to be completed to gain traction.

pottery barn instagram bio

If you’re lacking a bio, image captions, a proper username or even a profile image, how will people know an account belongs to your brand? It might seem silly, but many companies don’t completely fill out their bios or account information.

This makes it more difficult to gain any traction with new followers. Make sure your bio is completely filled out–including a link to a marketing or product site and relevant keywords and hashtags related to your business.

Keep your username as search-friendly as possible. If your business name is longer, shorten it to something your audience would recognize. Don’t add numbers or special characters to your username. Additionally, fill out your full business name under the “name” section in options.

If you need a little more help on optimizing your Instagram feed, check out our articles that dive deeper:

3. Showcase Your Instagram

How are people going to find an account unless you promote your Instagram? Make sure your Instagram account is listed with your website and other social networks. Creating visibility and awareness is one of the best ways to get discovered.

If you truly want to get more Instagram followers, let people know where to find you. You could add social media buttons to your website and blog to help promote social shares across all your networks as well as where to find you on Instagram.

Another great idea is for cross promotion across your social media accounts. Visit Dublin does a great job of spreading awareness about its Instagram. You can easily leverage your other social networks to direct users to your Instagram.

However, make sure that you’re not just asking for a follow. Instead you should try to promote unique content on your Instagram so users have a reason to follow you there. Luckily with Instagram video, you have a great opportunity to build followers through creative content.

Life is a beach.

A video posted by Play-Doh (@playdoh) on

4. Post Content Followers Want

While this is easier said than done, it’s smart to learn what content your followers want. Some content tends to do better than others, which is why testing is so important. Whether it’s filters, captions, content types or post times, the smallest thing can make all the difference.

Keep your ear to the ground with new Instagram trends so you know your posting popular content. If you want to track your Instagram analytics, try using a third-party platform like Sprout Social. Here you can easily manage your Instagram and report on all your efforts.

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Get the Conversation Started

One of the best ways to get users aware of your Instagram is through conversation. According to the Sprout Social 2016 Q2 Index, nearly 35% of customers chose social media for customer care. That percentage outranks live chat, email, 1-800 numbers and in-store assistance.

Sprout Index Charts Q2 2016

The ease of conversation on social media is becoming more relevant and noticeable each year. In 2012, Instagram explained there were 81 comments per second on the platform. With Instagram growing from 80 million users in 2012 to more than 500 million in 2016, it’s safe to say the number of comments increased. This means you should take advantage of the conversations and start engaging with users.

#Question – What's your prediction for tonight's #euro2016 semi-final game between Wales and Portugal?

A photo posted by SPORF (@sporf.official) on

Try asking questions or post user-generated content to get people talking. The more conversation grows around your feed, the more likely you’ll gain followers. Appreciate your followers and don’t be afraid to reply.

5. Find Hashtags That Convert

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One of the most tried-and-true ways to get followers on Instagram is through hashtags. For years hashtags have allowed us to extend our social reach. As a marketer, you want to build your community by gaining followers and hashtags provide just that.

For starters, it’s smart to find hashtags that are not too populated. Social Media Examiner points this out by explaining how the hashtag #love has more than 184 million photos connected to word. Trying to highlight your Instagram content in sea of millions of pictures and videos is not an easy thing to do.

Instead, you have to find hashtags that people in your target audience are more likely to check. If a relevant connection is made, these users will be more likely to follow your account. The Chicago-based Revolution Brewery does a great job at localizing hashtags to an event where they are participating.

Revolution uses hashtags like #drinklocal and #logansquare to directly target its audience. Additionally the brewery tags #lsaf for the event its sponsoring. All of this helps gain Instagram followers by posting relevant hashtags. If Revolution used #beer or #micobrew, it would be fighting for users’ attention in an overcrowded space.

With Sprout Social’s Instagram analytics tools, you have direct access to hashtag performance and usage data to see what’s working best. Don’t go blindly into the hashtag universe, know what you’re tagging so you can build your following.

Sprout Hashtag Performance Report

Make Your Instagram Followers Happy

These tips are here to help you make your Instagram followers happy. The last thing you want to do is seem needy, sales-driven or robotic. Try managing your Instagram with good intentions and provide content to your followers as if they were your friends on your personal feed.

Instagram is only growing so taking advantage of these tips to get followers will help you increase your reach. Build great audiences and get more eyes on your content because social media can be a very powerful marketing driver.