How to Get 9000 REAL Instagram Followers (Fast & Free)
June 16, 2021
Today I am going to teach you how to get 9,000 followers on Instagram in the next 30 days. That would get your profile roughly 300 followers a day which means you will hit 100,000 followers in less than a year. If you prefer watching a video instead of reading content, watch this as it will help, but I still recommend reading the article as it breaks down the steps.
Get More Instagram Followers in 15 Steps
- Step 1: Determine the overall purpose of your Instagram account
- Step 2: Come up with a content strategy
- Step 3: Design your profile for maximum engagement
- Step 4: Post photos that grab attention
- Step 5: Add long image captions to your post
- Step 6: Add strategic hashtags
- Step 7: Create a posting schedule
- Step 8: Locate and follow your target users
- Step 9: Follow 50 users per hour
- Step 10: Become an active member of the community
- Step 11: Partner and cross-promote with relevant users
- Step 12: Run challenges and contests
- Step 13: Run Instagram ads
- Step 14: Link your Instagram to your offline customer
- Step 15: Keep tabs on what’s working so you can continue to optimize your performance
Introducing InstagramWhile I feel like this platform needs no introduction, some of you may be new to it. So, I’d like to give you a few quick facts. Instagram is a photo-sharing mobile app. It was launched in 2010 as a typical freebie app. There were a lot of other photo apps, but Instagram hit the sweet spot and started to grow exponentially. They grew so quickly and organically that Facebook took interest and bought them for $1 billion in April of 2012. As of April of 2017, Instagram has more than 700 million monthly active users!
The evolution of InstagramInstagram used to be a basic app. You took a picture, you put a filter on it (to make yourself look better), and then you shared it with your small Instagram following. That was it. No bells. No whistles. Nothing fancy. That’s no longer the case. Today, Instagram is packed with tons of features, from automation features to fantastic filters. Once Snapchat started attracting millions of followers, and apps like Periscope leveraged live video, Instagram rushed to offer these features as well. For example, you can edit photos using more advanced photo editing features instead of relying on Instagram’s built-in filters. You can also post Stories. Stories appear at the top of your friends’ feeds and appear there for only 24 hours. If you want to keep your Stories discrete, you can send them only to select friends or curated groups. You can edit your pictures with text, drawing, and other special effects, much like Snapchat. Instagram’s Live Video feature is also catching on. It’s not like most live video platforms because the video disappears as soon as you stop streaming. You can watch live videos only while they’re being filmed. My goal in this article is to show you how to get followers, not teach you how to use every feature. Still, it’s important to be aware of these features, because you’re going to be using them as you grow your audience by the thousands per week. Let’s jump in.
Fake vs. real followers and how to spot the fakesIt’s the nature of the game. Some people will try to prop up their accounts by misrepresenting their reach – and by extension – their influence. They purchase followers and likes from black market sites so they can appeal to brands for affiliate marketing purposes. Others simply do it for superficial reasons. These fake followers are typically bots that add no value to the platform. Worse yet, they take away from the user experience that we all love. And do you know what? Spambots can’t really “like” your brand. They can’t give real insight that can impact your business. And they can’t spend real money. Here are a few strategies that you can use to audit individual profiles to spot the fakes:
Step 1: Determine the overall purpose of your Instagram accountThis is fundamental. If you’re on Instagram purely for the social aspect, you can jump over to the next step. But if you’re interested in tying your efforts to a business or marketing goal, you need to determine what the overall purpose of your account is. Considering that more than 50% of Instagram users follow their favorite brands, you may want to tap into that and set some marketing goals. The point of this goal mapping exercise is to:
- Make yourself accountable to a specific outcome. This way, you can measure your results, track your progress, and determine your ROI.
- Improve the effectiveness of all the steps that you take moving forward. Your content strategy and everything else you do will be dependent on the goals that you’re working towards.
- Increase your brand storytelling efforts
- Improve audience engagement
- Generate a consistent affiliate marketing income
- Increase your product sales
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Convert more people to your email list
- Connect with influencers in your niche
- Show off your company culture so you can attract superstar team members
- Build buzz and momentum for an upcoming product launch
Step 2: Come up with a content strategyNow that you know what you’re working towards, it’s time to think about content. I can tell you with all certainty that this is a critical part of the Instagram success equation. Let’s briefly define content – it is anything you express through text, visuals, and whatever medium that Instagram allows. If you create random content, you will attract random people who couldn’t care less about you. These people will be spectators and passers-by. They won’t take any action. They won’t move any growth needles for your business. On the flip side, if you create content that is strategic and targeted, you will attract exactly the right kind of followers. They’ll care about your business, engage with your calls to action, and be of great value. The task now is to map your content strategy into the business goals that you came up with in step one. This will ensure that you create the most impactful kind of content. But first, let’s talk about something – often ignored – that’s critical to the success of your content strategy. Context. Most people either don’t understand what context means for social media or they ignore it altogether. In the end, their content ends up missing the mark. Let me explain. Content vs. Context: Essentially, these two should not exist without each other. There are easy ways to understand content versus context and how they relate:
- Content is what you create. Context is the meaning attached to what you create.
- Content marketing is delivering quality information to your audience. Context marketing is delivering the right information to the right person at the right moment.
- What …
- Who …
- When …
- Why …
- Where …
- Candid photos of employees hard at work
- Shots of team members outside of work, perhaps at a company retreat or team-building getaway
- Photos of your team supporting a social cause together
- Behind-the-scenes of workstations or tour of where products are made
- Pets at work (these aren’t people, but they evoke the same emotional response)
- Employee-curated content. Allow your employees to take over your Instagram account on different days and post from their perspective. HubSpot is a perfect example with their hashtag, #hubspotemployeetakeover.
- Give a sneak peak of a new product or behind-the-scenes of a product launch
- Show how your product is manufactured
- Shots of people wearing your branded clothing
- If you’re a service-based business, show off what’s in your work toolbox e.g. photographers can feature their favorite camera or tripod
- Share quotes that reiterate your brand message (Don’t forget to add popular hashtags like #instaquote!)
- Quotes from influencers or thought leaders in your niche market
- Shocking statistics or facts that aren’t common knowledge
- A quote from a customer raving about your business
- Newsworthy information about your business
- Quotes that highlight snippets of your brand story
- Recipes and other How-to posts that are relevant to your industry
- Greater SEO capital – Looking at the world’s top 20 largest brands, 25% of their search results are links to user-generated content.
- Drives sales – Moz found that when making final purchase decisions, 67% of prospects always turn to reviews and other user-generated content.
- Positively impacts engagement – No doubt, involving users in your content creation process will lead to greater interaction with your brand.
- Be clear and specific about what you want people to create. While you want to give users as much creative license as possible, you also don’t want your content to be off-brand or off-message.
- What’s your angle? Earlier, I referenced setting goals for the overall function of your Instagram account. Goal mapping can also be looked at from the lens of specific campaigns. If you’re going to start a UGC campaign, decide what the outcome will be for your brand.
- Credit your content creators. This is a great way to build goodwill and positive relationships with your audience. It’s also the right thing to do when you’re using somebody else’s work.
- Incentivize users to create better quality content. You can tie your campaign to a contest where the best content creators win something related to your brand.
- Landscape photographers may post a picture of a scenic place and ask users to “tag a friend you want to visit this place with”
- A florist may post an image with different flower arrangements and ask users “which do you prefer: roses or orchids?”
- A food blogger may use a caption detailing a recipe and ask users to “tag a friend you’d like to prepare this with”
- A gym owner may post an image of a two-person workout and ask “tag a friend who you would like to do this workout with”
- A wedding photographer may post an image and ask users to “tag someone who’s getting married soon”
- Fashion bloggers or brands may post an outfit and ask their followers to “tag a friend who can pull this off” or “which pieces would you rock?”
Step 3: Design your profile for maximum engagementThe first thing you’ll need to do is to create an Instagram profile that people will be interested in. This matters. Your picture, your name, profile name, and your description are your digital billboard on Instagram. People will look at it, browse your photos, and check out your website. Everything starts here. If you’re just getting started with Instagram, the process will be simple and straightforward during the signup process. If you already have an Instagram account, you can change your profile name and username. First, tap on the profile icon at the bottom right corner. Then, tap “Edit Profile” at the top of the page. Now, change each of the following to something that accurately reflects who you are and the value you provide. 1. Name. I recommend using your real name. 2. A profile photo. Use a photo that is warm, approachable, and trustworthy. 3. Username. Your username needs to be unique. If your name is already taken, add some words or phrases that make it distinct. 4. A URL. Point this to your website if you have one. This URL is the only clickable link that you’ll be able to provide on Instagram. 5. A bio. A brief description about yourself. Make this description as warm and engaging as possible. An emoji or two won’t hurt. How to increase the visibility of your Instagram profile? Making your profile swoon-worthy is just one part of the equation. You now have to drive as many eyes to your account as possible so you can increase your follower count and level of engagement. Here’s what you can do to make it easy for users to find and follow you:
- Promote your account via your email list. Place a link to your Instagram profile in the footer or closing of every newsletter. You can even include a link in your email signature of your personal and business emails.
- Place social media badges on your website. Do not overwhelm your users with a choice of 9 different social media platforms. Keep it to 3 or 4, including Instagram of course.
- Place your account handle on business cards, stickers, brand memorabilia, thank you notes when customers purchase a product and any other physical thing connected to your business.
- Ask your followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and your other social networks that you’ve already built a following on to connect with you on Instagram. While cross-posting is not always a great idea, it’s possible to sync your Facebook account with your Instagram. This way your posts will appear on both platforms, and you can tap into your Facebook reach.
Step 4: Post photos that grab attentionStunning visuals are the lifeblood of Instagram. That’s where it all started, and no matter how the platform evolves, it will always be a central part of it. In this step, you need to build a collection of attention-grabbing posts. Here’s how. Step #1: Create a visual theme for your account Our brains are built for visual stories. In fact, we process images 60,000 times faster than text. If you want to tell visual stories that stick in the minds of your followers, you need to develop an overarching theme for your account. Here’s why it’s beneficial:
- You come across as having put more thought and effort into your account (Even if you didn’t). The result is that your perceived value increases and people are more likely to follow you.
- Your brand will be more memorable. When you have consistent visuals, your brand image is continuously being reinforced every time you publish a post. On the other hand, if you publish content with no unifying marker, there’s no way you’ll stand out among the 4.2 billion posts that are published daily.
- If it means anything, the statistics are in your favor. It’s been tested and proven that great design converts better.
- Consistency breeds trust. When you show up with a degree of sameness, your followers come to depend on you.
- A particular pose that you do in all your photos
- An action that you do all the time
- A type of prop that always shows up in your background
- A symbol (could be your logo or even a specific emoticon)
- A particular environment that recurs in your photos. Perhaps you want to subtly feature cityscapes or maybe grassland. (You don’t have to be a landscape photographer to use these elements)
- If you’ve crafted a particular narrative for your business, you can tell that story using motifs. Virgin, Nike, and Apple do this very well on all their online platforms, including Instagram.
Step 5: Add long image captions to your postThis is one of the most overlooked tactics in sharing photos. You should add several paragraphs of valuable written content to your post. You’re allowed to write 2,200 characters. That’s a lot! For reference, 2,200 characters in this article will take you from the beginning all the way down to the paragraph that ends with “curated groups.” (CTRL + F to find it, and see how long 2,200 characters can stretch!) Instagram will show only three lines of your image caption in user’s feeds. But that’s okay. If you can grab attention with those first three lines, you’ve won. Instagram has a nasty thing about not allowing line breaks. The easiest way I’ve found to overcome this issue is by writing my post in my Notes app, copying it, and pasting it into Instagram. To make things quicker, I open Notes on my Macbook which syncs with Notes my phone. I type the caption completely and spell-check it. I open the note on my phone and copy it. Then I open Instagram and paste it into the caption. Boom. Instant juicy content, and line breaks where I want them. A long and interesting image caption is the number one way that I’ve found to get people to comment on and like my posts. Other tips for writing great captions:
- Don’t bury the lede. Yes, you have 2,200 characters which you want to use up, but your most important content should be written first. Two reasons: most people hate to read, and Instagram will only show 3-4 lines of text in users’ feeds.
- Always include a call-to-action. Ask a question, tell users what to do next after they read your post, encourage people to share, or anything else that will motivate them to engage.
Step 6: Add strategic hashtagsYou can Instagram all day long, but if you’re not using hashtags, you won’t grow your audience. It’s that simple. Hashtags give you visibility. Instagram users hop around on hashtags like a bored person channel surfs. They click from hashtag to hashtag to hashtag, occasionally stopping in to check out an interesting user. But which hashtags should you use? If you use bland hashtags like #happy and #selfie, you’ll get some people to notice your post, but it won’t be the right kind of people. Your goal is to get targeted followers, remember? I’ll show you how to do it but first … How do hashtags work – You may be tempted to use the same hashtag strategy as you do on Twitter or Facebook. It differs on Instagram. Think of hashtags as a catalog system. When you post a piece of content, you use a relevant hashtag that describes your content. For example, if you’re a full-time traveler and you post a picture of you writing from your laptop on a beach in Thailand, you may use the hashtags #Digitalnomad, #Barefootwriter, #Thailand, and #Beachbum when you publish it on Instagram. Anyone who’s interested in the nomadic lifestyle or in visiting Thailand can find your content by searching for these hashtags. So in essence, they serve as navigation and also improve the overall user experience of Instagram. A hashtag can be:
- Lifestyle specific
- Brand specific
- Product specific
- Challenge- or contest-specific
- You’re appealing to a more targeted audience
- More emotional appeal and as you know, emotion is the fast lane to the brain.
- You’ll have more engagement
Step 7: Create a posting scheduleIf you don’t post on Instagram, no one is going to bother following you. Here is what I recommend:
- Post 1-2 photos or videos per day.
- Add 5-30 Instagram stories per day.
- Post 1 live video per day at the same time each day.
- Post a photo to your feed that announces the time you’ll be broadcasting live.
- Post a story every day that announces your upcoming live broadcast.
Step 8: Locate and follow your target usersBelieve it or not, everything we’ve discussed up to this point has been a simple introduction. You may be thinking what?! What about the massive amounts of followers? If you follow the steps above, you will be attracting users at a rate of 20+ per day, and probably more. First, you’ll get followers slowly, and then the speed picks up over time. During your first few days following this guide, you may only get 5 new followers a day. Within a week, however, the velocity will pick up. Now, however, it’s time to put things into hyper gear. In this step, I’ll show you how to find your tribe and prepare for an avalanche of followers. First, locate your top competitors. Who is the Instagram user who already has a big following in your niche? Find them, and start to follow their followers. Here’s how. Tap the find icon from the Instagram feed screen. You’ll see a display of popular videos and posts. Tap the “search” bar at the top. Tap “tags” and begin searching for a term that is relevant to your industry. I noticed that “#socialmediamarketing” has nearly 2,900,000 posts, so I tap it first. Here’s what I see. There are nine photos at the top. These are considered “top posts,” because they were posted by users with a lot of followers, or they have a lot of likes and comments. One or more of these photos was posted by a power user — someone with a lot of followers. I’m going to tap one of the photos in the top. Immediately, I notice that this photo has 7,691 likes. That’s a lot of likes. I also notice that the photo was posted by @successes. I may have never heard of @successes, but they are obviously posting photos within my niche. And those photos are obviously popular. So, I tap their name in the upper left corner. Here’s what I see. I notice that they have 497k followers. This is a large following. I want to follow their followers. Here’s the rationale. If these 497k people chose to follow @successes, then they might choose to follow me, too. I’m in the same niche, same industry, and am providing just as much value (if not more!). I tap “497k” to see the list of followers. I can follow every one of these users by tapping “follow.” You should follow this process multiple times to find more influencers in your space. Also, you should find the influencers who have the most engaged audience. Repeat the above process every day as you seek to build new followers. Every time, the experience will be different. Experiment with it until you find the pattern that delivers the highest number of followers. Here’s that process in bullet point format:
- Tap the search icon.
- Tap the search bar at the top of the screen.
- Tap or swipe to tags.
- Type a tag that is relevant to your industry.
- There are probably dozens if not hundreds of tags you could use.
- This is where you should branch out and experiment with different tags.
- I also recommend exploring the “related” tags that Instagram displays at the top of the screen. You can find valuable tags and users that people are engaging in using this list.
- Tap a top post within that hashtag.
- Make sure that the account who posted has a lot of followers (rule of thumb: They should have more followers than people they are following).
- Tap the number of followers they have.
- Begin following these followers.
Step 9: Follow 50 users per hourHow many users can you follow and at what rate? Nobody except a few select Instagram developers knows the exact numbers. Obviously, Instagram wants to keep users from abusing the system by spamming people with useless information. Therefore, they have some restrictions in place that keep you from following too many people. The limit seems to be 7,500. It’s going to take you a long time to reach 7,500. So what should you do? Follow at least 50 users per hour. If you try to follow too many people within a certain amount of time, you’ll no longer be able to follow people. Instagram won’t ban your account. They will simply prevent the “follow” button from working. What should you do then? Wait an hour, and try again. Most likely, you’ll be able to follow more people. Do you think that following 50 users might take too much time? It doesn’t. Here’s how it works. You can do this in just a few minutes each hour. Repeat this process as often as possible. As you follow users, many will begin to follow you back. If you are actively posting, engaging, and providing value, then you will quickly begin to attract a following. If you don’t have the time, or just simply don’t want to do this manually, you could use a service like SocialUpgrade to do it for you.
Step 10: Become an active member of the communityInstagram isn’t just a broadcast platform. It’s a community of people who are helping each other, providing value, learning, and growing. Personally, I’ve found a lot of inspiration on Instagram. I’ve met new people. I’ve learned new things. It’s been a great place for personal development and networking. Here are the things that you should do in order to become an active member of the Instagram community, and to grow and cultivate your audience at the same time:
- If someone follows you, follow them back. Obviously, you want to avoid following spam accounts.
- If someone comments on your photo, reply with a comment directed toward them. Mention them, using @, in the comment.
- Like the photos that have hashtags that you’re interested in.
- Comment on the photos that contain hashtags you’re interested in.
- Like other people’s comments on photos that you’re interested in.
- Send direct messages to people who you’re interested in, or who provide a lot of value.
- In your photo, tag users who you know personally, or with whom you’ve formed a relationship on Instagram.
- Ask questions or invite feedback in your posts.
Step 11: Partner and cross-promote with relevant usersWant to grow your Instagram in record time? Partnering with other influential users on the platform is the surest way to get there. This way, you get to tap into their following and funnel it into yours. Cross-promoted content is effective for a few key reasons:
- We trust the recommendations of our peers
- We rely on consensus and the opinions of others to influence our actions (including purchase decisions and who to follow online)
- Research a hashtag and check out posts with lots of engagement (likes, shares, comments). If you don’t have much to leverage, it may be best to start off with a low-hanging target with moderate engagement.
- Look for users with a history of cross-promotion. The best method is to look at accounts that have content where someone else is attributed as the content creator.
- Make sure that you both are clear on what’s being exchanged
- Establish a timeline
- Honor your deal
Step 12: Run challenges and contestsIf you’ve ever thought long and hard about growing your Instagram account quickly. This tactic has been on your radar. Give out a freebie, and people will come knocking down your door, right? Anyone who has run a successful contest or challenge will tell you that this is not the case. In fact, it requires a fair amount of preparation and strategy. When done right, it can be an extremely effective way of getting traffic and new followers to your Instagram account. Here are the details that you need to work out: So… what type of contest will you run? The type of contest will determine how people can take part in your giveaway. Each of these methods of entry has their benefits and downsides. (i) Follow to win – Participants have to follow your account to enter the contest. Be prepared for a percentage of people to unfollow you after the contest is over. (ii) Like to win – Participants have to like one of your photos to enter. (iii) Comment to win – Participants have to comment on a piece of content to win. (iv) Enter your email to win – Participants have to submit their info to enter. If your goal is to get more followers, you may want to skip this method or combine it with another method that gives you that outcome. (v) Participate in the challenge to win – This is where you call on people to do something specific like posting a photo and using a hashtag that you’ve created for your challenge. You can also set your challenge across several days, asking participants to do something different on each day and posting their results. This is the most participative type of contest, and it has the highest level of engagement. (vi) A combination of methods – Participants have to perform several qualifying actions to enter the context. Any of the methods above can work together. It’s up to you and the goal that you have for your contest. Be mindful that you don’t want the barrier to entry to be so high that people get turned off by the process. What are the rules? Every contest needs a set of guidelines. It ensures that there are no disputes after the contest has run its course. Your rules should include:
- The contest duration (what date and time does it begin and end)
- The prize and how the winner will be chosen
- The method of entry
- A statement acknowledging that the contest isn’t sponsored by or affiliated with Instagram
- Create a viral-worthy hashtag and encourage participants to use it
- Promote the contest on all your social media channels
- Link to the contest on the homepage of your blog
- Announce the contest to your email list
- Write blog posts about it and pay to boost them on Facebook, so they reach more people
- Allow people extra entries for referring new participants
- Submit your contest to a contest listing.
Step 13: Run Instagram adsSometimes the most effective way is simply to pay to play. That’s where paid promotions come in. As you know, Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. This is significant because running ads on Instagram is the same as running Facebook ads. They’re controlled through the same ad manager. If you’ve run Facebook ads in the past, you’re likely familiar with this method. In any event, I’ll walk you through the process from start to finish. The step-by-step play for running Instagram ads: Step #1 – Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page. If you’ve already done this once, you don’t have to do it every single time you run an ad. But if you haven’t already linked the two accounts, go to “Settings” on your Facebook page and click on “Instagram Ads.” After you click on “Add an account,” you’ll be prompted to fill in your Instagram username and password. You’ll then be asked to select which Facebook ad account you’d like to use for your Instagram campaign. If you have more than one ad account set up, select the appropriate one. Step #2 – Go to the Power Editor or Adverts Manager to create your Instagram campaign Now that your accounts are connected, you can run your Instagram ads from your Facebook account. You can either click “Create Campaign” in the Ad Manager or go to the Power Editor to create your ad. Step #3 – Select the objective for your campaign. You have three different categories to choose from:
- Awareness – Increase your brand awareness, local awareness, and reach.
- Consideration – For driving traffic, increasing engagement, getting more app installs, increasing video views, and lead generation.
- Conversion – For conversions, product sales, and store visits.
Step 14: Link your Instagram to your offline customerHave you ever thought about how you can leverage offline interactions to grow your online presence? Very few people do. The thing is, social media platforms and websites are not the only places that people come into contact with your business. Particularly if you run an e-commerce site, you have plenty of opportunities to connect with users offline. Here’s how you can make the most out of these interactions: First, add your Instagram handle to physical product packaging. The package that your product is shipped in is a unique part of the customer experience. It’s a direct point of contact and presents the most opportunity because many people neglect it. Next, consider placing a hashtag on the actual product. Several popular brands have used this technique where they print hashtags on their products. During the 2012 Olympics, Adidas and Nike featured their own campaign hashtags on their footwear. Finally, be sure to Incentivize customers to follow you and promote your brand. Sometimes, your customers need an extra push to take action. Here are some ideas: 1. Run a monthly contest asking customers to take a selfie with your product and post it on Instagram. Make sure they tag your Instagram page and add your specific hashtag. Every month, you can announce a different winner. Their followers will be inclined to check out your page and follow you. 2. As soon as you make a sale, ask customers to post a video talking about why they decided to invest in your product. Again, ensure that they tag you and use your product-specific hashtag. You can give them cash back or a coupon for a subsequent purchase. This can both increase sales and improve your following.
Step 15: Keep tabs on what’s working so you can continue to optimize your performanceThese steps are not the end-all, be-all of Instagram marketing. Instead, they are powerful strategies that you can bet on to increase your following. But guess what? The platform is continuously evolving. New features are always being introduced. Old tactics become obsolete. It is up to you to track which methods are working for you. I’d say the best measure of success on Instagram is how engaged and loyal of a following that you have. Having hundreds of thousands of followers who don’t take the time to interact with your content is pointless. Keep monitoring the results that you get after implementing each step so you can keep optimizing them. Some Key Performance Indicators to look out for:
- Click through rate – How many people are clicking on your links. You can shorten your website links using a URL shortener like Bitly. It also allows you to track how these links perform.
- Traffic – How many unique visitors are you getting from Instagram to your website?
- Follower growth – How many followers have you gained? Which tactics had the biggest part to play? Have you lost any followers?
- Interactions per post – What’s the total social capital of each post. This includes the usual stuff like comments and shares.
- Growth of branded or product-specific hashtags – If you’ve created any hashtags, how has your popularity and reach increased?