With more than 500 million daily active users, Instagram has established itself as one of the “big three” social media platforms. This is both good and bad for brand and influencers: the good news is that your audience is probably on Instagram, but the bad news is that, since the platform is so crowded, it’s hard to stand out. Is it still possible to gain free Instagram followers?
The answer is yes, although it’s not as easy as it was a few years back. Here are a few things you should be aware of if you’re trying to gain free Instagram followers.
How to get free Instagram followers
Use hashtags, captions, and geotags on all your posts.
Everyone knows that hashtags are the key to success on Instagram. But creating a #HashtagStrategy is not as easy as it seems.
First of all, research shows that, if you’re trying to grow your following, you should be using at least 11 relevant hashtags and up to the maximum number of 30.
How to choose Instagram hashtags
The first thing you should be focusing on is choosing hashtags relevant to your niche. You don’t want to attract just any users, you want to attract your target audience. That way you ensure they will interact with your post (because your content is relevant to them).
The higher the engagement rate of your post, the higher you will rank for your hashtags. The higher you rank for your hashtags (your goal should be getting to the top of the Explore page), the more traffic you will direct to your account.
Now you should have an idea of what hashtags to use. But even if you choose the ones relevant to your niche, you still can’t just use hashtags randomly. You need to follow the 10-10-10 rule!
What is the 10-10-10 rule? You might have noticed that some hashtags are extremely popular, while others are barely used. Ideally, you’ll want to choose 10 very popular hashtags, 10 that have a medium sized following, and 10 very niche hashtags.
Why? Because if you only use very popular hashtags, your posts will quickly end up buried by millions of others. On the other hand, if you only use very niched hashtags, you won’t get the traffic you need and your account won’t grow as fast. Balance is key!
Tip 1: If there are lots of hashtags for your niche, group them following the 10-10-10 rule and use them alternatively to maximize exposure.
Tip 2: Start your own hashtag. Having a brand hashtag (with 0 followers or posts) won’t be of much help early on, but as your account grows it will be nice to have your community gathered in one place. These type of hashtags help you establish your brand and get your name on as many different feeds as possible.
Now that you finally have your hashtags and you’re ready to post, don’t rush into pasting them in your caption. Having a bulk of hashtags in your description doesn’t look nice. Instead, you can paste them in a comment. This will not only keep your caption looking clean, but it will also help with engagement.
Although it doesn’t carry as much weight as a comment from another user, placing your hashtags as a comment is an easy way to increase the number of comments on your post. The more comments you get on your posts, the higher your post engagement rate will be. The higher your post engagement rate gets, the more chances you’ll have to rank high on the Explore page.
How to nail your Instagram caption
So now that you know you’re not supposed to put hashtags in your post caption, what are you supposed to do with it? Having an Instagramable caption is just as important as posting an Instagramable picture. You can use a quote, you can share your own thoughts, or you can set your imagination free and make up your own story. No matter what, be original! (and use emojis!).
Tip 1: You can also add a call-to-action to your caption, something like “have a friend who needs this dress? Tag them in the comments!”. This will urge users to leave a comment and the more comments you get, the higher your engagement rate will be.
Tip 2: Place essential information at the beginning of your caption. Because captions get cut off on Instagram, it’s important to grab users’ attention fast and make them tap on show more.
Don’t forget to add geotags to your posts
Geotags are quite similar to hashtags. Each location has its own feed, so when you’re geotagging your post, people who are searching for posts in a specific region will also find yours. If you’re trying to grow your account using geotags is a must because it increases content visibility.
The Instagram free follower hack
A like for a like and a follow for a follow
Instagram is not a platform where you can just keep on taking; you also need to give back. As I have previously mentioned, engagement is really important if you want your account to grow. Neil Patel found that for every 100 likes, he received roughly 6 followers. So take time out every day to interact with other accounts (like their posts, leave them comments, send them DMs) within your niche and make yourself known in your community.
Tip 1: Before you ask people to check out your account, make sure you have at least 12 posts (enough to cover the entire screen). There’s no point asking them to engage if they don’t have anything to engage with.
Tip 2: Comment, like, and follow people who are engaging with your competitors’ posts. You already know they are interested in your niche.
Tip 3: You can also regram your followers’ posts (if you have their permission, of course), particularly the ones where they’ve mentioned you/your product. Sharing user-generated content encourages people to share photos of your content in hopes of you exposing their own channel to your audience, especially if their channel is smaller.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!” you’re saying? You don’t have to, that’s why we’ve created Influuu!
Nothing boosts your organic growth of followers on Instagram like a #giveaway
I’m sure you’ve participated in at least one Instagram giveaway. People like free stuff, that’s just the way it is. So if you want to skip some steps and grow your following fast, giveaways are the way to go.
The most popular type of Instagram giveaway is the one that requires users to follow, comment, and tag a friend. You basically you get three benefits: more free Instagram followers, a higher engagement rate, and better brand exposure.
Don’t worry so much about the prize though. You don’t have to send the winner to a tropical island. If you’re a restaurant, for example, you could offer them a free dinner for two.
Join a pod, join an Instagram engagement pod
Instagram engagement pods are groups of people on Instagram, typically with similarly-sized pages and followings, who help each out by liking, commenting, and generally engaging with each other’s content. They are especially popular among smaller artists and businesses.
These pods are also a great way to connect with experienced members in your community and find useful advice. You can find some of these groups here.
How to optimize your content to get more followers on Instagram
I’ve saved the best for last! All the things I’ve mentioned above are important, but they will only prove to be valuable if you follow these “rules”.
1. Post 1 to 2 times a day. But don’t post two posts one after another; you will spam your audience. If you want to grow your Instagram account, you need to be consistent! Which is why you need to plan your content ahead.
2. Use Instagram analytics. This is a must. Without it, you’re just running around blind. You need to know when most of your following is active and what type of content they enjoy most so you can give them what they want when they want it.