First things first, everyone’s style is different but buying followers will do you no favours.
Sure you’ll have a lot of followers and look very cool, but they won’t be engaged, they probably won’t interact and won’t click through to your website in your bio (plus it’s really obvious when people have bought followers. 20 Instagram updates and 150,000 followers? Fishy, fishy).
For this, I started out with 160 followers and grew them to over 1000 in a month, gaining 30 – 50 followers a day, without paying a cent.
Here’s the second thing to note: this is pretty much a full-time dedication, so if you can’t stand being on your phone at your waking hour, throughout the day and at night, then this isn’t for you.
These pointers reference iPhones, as that’s what I use, so not all of these might work for you. Not only are they tips to get followers but to keep them too. But let’s get cracking, here’s what I did:
Edit your profile so it sits nice and pretty
Are you admiring all those profiles that look oh so neat and tidy? You can be too! While Instagram annoyingly doesn’t let you format your biography properly, you can do it outside the app and then simply copy and paste the formatting in. For example, I edit my bio in my Notes app and then copy (emojis and all), into my biography. Voila! Fancy bio.
Pick a theme and stick to it
You may not have the best camera but that doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver on the Instagram-worthy front.
The theme I chose for our Instagram account was dominant colours and so I try and go for photos that have one, two or three block colours that stand out. This is particularly easy for scenery shots, but not so much for portraits, so I try and section out shots of myself or Mam in between a group of scenery shots.
Use editing apps or at least Instagram’s inbuilt editor
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom app is your best friend! Again, be consistent. Due to my theme, I try and make sure the dominant colours stand out as much as possible, using the editor to brighten, and then add structure. I found that people engaged more with brighter photos, especially if they were blue. Apparently, people love blue photos…
Create a folder with your best images
I’ve an album on my phone with all of my best images that fit my theme and what I believe are Instagram-worthy. This means I don’t have to go through all my photos when I’m trying to figure out what to post. Saves time!
Stick to a schedule
I chose to update twice a day – in the morning when I wake up and then at night before I go to sleep. Obviously, it’s completely up to you how many you post but my aim is to target the morning scrollers and those like me who tend to be attached to their phones at night. I also stick to two posts simply because I don’t want to spread my content thin.
Use captions effectively
If I can, I post stories alongside my images. At the moment, my photos are mostly a variety from Vietnam and Ireland, and anecdotes I find, engage more comments from people. It makes you stand out more too and people will stick with being your follower.
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Believe it or not, these floating houses are on the outskirts of #Hanoi and this is where some of the poorest Vietnamese people live. They have no running water and their electricity is powered by battery. They live rent-free on a #banana plantation and the government are happy to have them there because they maintain it. Really puts your life into perspective I think.
Have hashtags handy
Some people complain about hashtags, but all you need to do is use them effectively. I use about 30 hashtags on each photo that range from being region specific to general. I also choose hashtags that bigger companies look at as they could potentially feature my account to thousands of followers (examples include #huffposttaste #f52gram #bhgfood)
In my Notes app on my phone, I keep all the hashtags so they are easy to have to hand. When I post I use just a few in the description to keep it tidy and clean looking, and then post the bulk in the comments (see example below).
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We Irish tend to complain a lot about the weather but when the sun comes out and the clouds part ways, it's definitely one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Wine Strand where this was taken, is perfectly tucked away from tourists and has excellent seaweed to forage!
Have your Instagram connected to your Facebook
Not only is this handy for posting onto your Facebook blog page directly without switching apps but also, Instagram notifies you of any Facebook friends who use it. Many followed me when I connected the account! Here’s how you can do it.
Follow people in bulk
While I want to keep my follower and following ratio low (as in I would rather have a high follower account than following, for more credibility), I did need to follow people.
To begin, I followed the people I knew, and whose content I already I liked. The majority of people who knew me, tended to follow back. Also, in my realm of work, travel bloggers also have a tendency to follow back in general. Following people in bulk initially (sometimes 50 at a time) helped up my follower count quite quickly. If you’re unsure of who to follow in your blogosphere, I find that it’s handy to check out your fellow bloggers’ accounts and see who they’re following.
Use the Followers App to see who has unfollowed you
I use the iPhone version of this app. Some people use it to play the follow/unfollow game (which is fine if you want to go down that route), but I use it to track who’s playing it. For those who are unfamiliar with the follow/unfollow route that people sometimes use: it’s when you follow people and when they follow you back, you unfollow them. It’s often used to build an audience up quickly but I’m personally not a fan of it.
Instead, if anyone unfollowed me, I unfollowed them – unless I was I was really into their account. I honestly really don’t care if you unfollow me, the majority of the time I’ll still follow you regardless if I like your content. This is a similar approach I have for Twitter. I follow people who I’m genuinely interested in and rarely unfollow unless it gets to a stage where we don’t interact at all and I become uninterested which I think is fair. I do, however, get annoyed with serial unfollowers who keep following and unfollowing you in a short space of time to get your attention. No, thank you!
Side note: As a curiosity experiment, I documented which Irish businesses and bloggers kept following and unfollowing me, and when I asked a few of them about it via direct message, they got very offended. Actual quote: “Is there a reason you would not support my Instagram?” they demanded, “And why would you not?” Needless to say, I was put off ever following them.
Comment like there’s no tomorrow!
This is where you can get exhausted. Commenting and trying to get noticed by a particular account so that they may decide to follow you can be a real chore. It takes a lot of time but I find that it’s more enjoyable if you choose a topic you’re genuinely interested in.
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In 2010 we met this young girl in SaPa with her baby brother on her back. Sadly we didn't get to meet her this time around but found that there's an aura of sadness around her. The ethnic minority groups are so reliant on tourism in SaPa but they get little or no help from the government.
For me, I choose to search mostly on the #Ireland #Vietnam hashtags (or region-specific ones) and comment on as many photos as I can in bulk. But I don’t just do any generic comment, I personalise it a bit and relate back to the photo I’m talking about. People can pay for generic Instagram comments too and you can spot them a mile off. Key examples: “great shot!” “<3” “love your account”.
To add to exhaustion: bulk likes. Easy to do in your own timeline while you scroll but what I mean here is going into someone’s profile that you’re interested in and then liking many of their photos, along with commenting. Again, I prefer to engage with people I’m actually interested in.
Interact with the people you love
Keep up the rapport with people whose account you already enjoy. Why? Well quite simply, because you can build up friendships and keep them as followers. I’ve discovered so many fantastic IGers, and I love what they’re creating.
With all these methods in place, I noticed a steady increase in followers during the day and overnight, usually as I posted new photos. The followers are a mixture of follow backs, people I interact with and people who use apps to mass follow. I’m hoping to get to 5000 followers by the end of the year!
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