Social media is one of the most popular and powerful online marketing tools for brands and businesses in today’s world. It’s where most of their customers and potential customers can be found and easily reached, so it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are using it to promote to and interact with their audiences. Of course, there are many platforms to use, but the most popular tend to be  Facebook,  Twitter,  Pinterest,  LinkedIn,  YouTube, and  Instagram. Instagram is a very popular one not only for individuals but also businesses since it allows both photos and videos to be posted and shared. As with any social media site, one of the factors of how of a reach you have is the number of followers your profile has. Of course, you want to have a large number, and it can be disappointing to only get a few post likes from a handful of followers after all the work you put into a great post. What can you do to increase your followers on Instagram? It can be tempting to fall for one of the “buy followers” offers, but what you really want are “real” followers – real people who will be customers and share your posts with potential customers. Buying followers can end up hurting the legitimacy of your account and end up having your account flagged for spam. How can you get more of these “real” followers?

1. Dedicated Hashtag

The hashtag (#hashtag) is the main way people find things on Instagram. They search for words or phrases fronted by the # to find all posts that are associated with that dedicated hashtag. So create a dedicated hashtag for your company/brand and promote it on your other social media sites, your website, and in your emails. That way people can find you on Instagram by searching for that hashtag. Put some thought effort into your hashtag. Browse what other businesses in your industry are doing. There is no need for your hashtag to be overly long. Keep it simple but brand consistent.

2. Other Hashtags

If you use hashtags for your various posts, be funny and creative. It will attract attention and be memorable. Boring tags won’t draw in as many people. Do research into your target audience and what hashtags they are using. Try using websites or apps like  Tags For Likes,  Rite Tag, and Instagram itself will tell you how many posts are associated with a certain hashtag, in a simple  search, giving you an idea of its popularity.

3. Watch

Watch for what the trending tags are at any given time and join in the conversations on them. It will make you visible to other people and some may visit your profile to find out more about you. Be sure to leave “interesting” comments, not just something simple like “neat” or “cool”.  Make a comment that someone will find funny or useful or interesting so they will be inclined to click and look at your account.

4. Bio Link

Use your bio link as a means of drawing attention to your newest or your most popular content. Links do not work in captions on the Instagram mobile app. If you’re browsing on the web, links in the captions will work. Use call to actions in your captions, “Link is in bio” for your latest offer. If you’re a business set up a  business account and properly fill in your bio with the ‘Contact’ sections to add legitimacy to your brand.

5. Storytelling

When you write the captions for your content, be creative and descriptive. Storytelling is a great way to draw attention, generate engagement, and get shares. The image is what draws people in. Don’t skimp out on an image or video’s quality only to have an amazing caption or people won’t even bother clicking the image in your feed to see your amazing caption.

6. Interact

Find top influencers in your area and interact with them. Engagmentiskey. I cannot stress this enough. Try to become one of their favorite people or brands. Then they’ll be more likely to follow you, share your posts, and recommend you to their followers.  Social media is about growing and cultivating customer loyalty. That should be the forefront of every single marketing strategy regardless of the platform.

7. Unique

Find your own individual, unique and recognizable style for your visual content so you stand out. You are competing with hundreds of millions of posts. The more you stand out, the more you will be noticed among all the other Instagram users. The more you stand out from the crowd, the more likely you will be to earn followers. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You only have to be something to your target audience. Post with them in mind not you in mind.

8. Call to Action

Use a call to action to tell people what to do with your posts. Find creative ways to get them to share your content. More shares means a wider reach and the potential for more followers.

9. Instagram Stories

If your content is engaging and targeted enough, it can end up in the Stories section of the Instragram Explore page. There, your content can appear as part of the recommend Stories at the top of the Explore tab, where it can reach a wide audience and create a viral effect for you of likes, comments, and followers.

10. Contests

Running a contest on Instragram is a great way to not only promote your business but also gain followers through exposure.

Those are just some of the many ways you can gain “real” followers on Instragram. For more ways, you can go  here,  here,  here,  here and  here.