It can be frustrating if you’re new to Instagram and hardly anyone is following you. I remember when I first signed up, I was really struggling to get my first 30 followers. Even my best photos were getting only a few likes, and I wasn’t getting any feedback for my photos. That’s when I decided it was time to get popular on Instagram using the techniques discussed below.
My @iPhonePS Instagram account
Using the techniques described in this article, I was able to get 49 thousand real Instagram followers, and today all my photos get hundreds of likes and dozens of comments. While it takes a lot of work to get thousands of followers and your own goals might be different, I can tell you that Instagram gets a lot more fun when more people are following you.
Step 1: Build a Portfolio
Before you start doing anything else, you want your Instagram profile to look great. Nobody is going to follow an empty profile. If you want other people to follow you, the first thing you should do is upload about 15 – 20 really good photos. If you don’t have that many, keep working on it, and make sure you don’t post any photos that aren’t good.
If your goal is to showcase your photography, it’s absolutely essential that the photos you post are of great quality. It’s far better to post nothing than it is to post a bad photo. If you’re only starting out, it’s generally a good idea to improve your photography before attempting to build an audience on Instagram since people only like to follow photographers with interesting photos.
If you take photos with your iPhone, sign up for my iPhone photography email tips where I share exclusive iPhone photography video tutorials that you won’t find anywhere on this blog. Taking some time to improve your photography will more than pay off when you try to get popular on Instagram.
Also, keep in mind that certain types of photos do particularly well on Instagram. From my experience beach photos, interesting reflection photos and sunset photos tend to get the most likes on Instagram. Portrait photos generally get fewer likes. To give you an example, this reflection photo got more likes than almost any other photo I have posted on Instagram.
While I think this is a great photo, I have other less popular photos that I think are better. However, if you want to get popular on Instagram, it’s important that you post the kind of photos your followers want to see, which is why I often share beach photos. If you want to get more followers on Instagram, it’s always a good idea to post the kind of photos that get more likes.
If you use Instagram to share what you eat for dinner and how you hang out with friends, don’t expect people who don’t know you to start following you. If you’re a teen pop star or a really attractive girl, this strategy might work for you, but I don’t think it’s the kind of audience any serious iPhone photographer would want to build.
Once again, it’s absolutely essential that you only post your best photos, even if it means only posting a few times per week. Nobody wants their Instagram feed to be flooded with subpar photos from people they don’t know. Never post text images or jokes, no matter how cool you think the text is. Also avoid posting random screenshots. Most people really don’t like them.
Now, before you go to the next step, please make sure that your Instagram account is public by finding your profile, tapping the “Edit Your Profile” button, and making sure that “Posts are Private” slider is turned off. If your Instagram photos are not public, you’ll have a much harder time attracting new followers.
And finally, take a moment to write a profile description that would motivate people to follow you. You don’t need to overcomplicate this step, just describe yourself in a meaningful way. Something like “iPhone landscape photographer and surfer from California” is all you really need to attract the right kind of followers.
Step 2: Get Noticed
Once you’ve uploaded some really good photos and made your profile look interesting, it’s time to attract everyone’s attention. There are several ways you can do it, and I’m going to discuss all of them in the following section of this article.
First, you should start off with reaching out to your existing friends and followers from other social networks. Since those people already know you, they’re far more likely to become a follower, and often all you need to do is let them know that you’re now using Instagram. You can simply send a message or share a post inviting your friends to follow you.
If you have a large following on another social network such as Twitter and Facebook, you can cross-post your Instagram photos to these social networks. That way you’ll be building your Instagram following while sharing interesting photos with people who want to see them anyway!
Next, you should utilize relevant hashtags when posting photos on Instagram. That way your photos will show up in the hashtag feeds, which is a good way to get your photos in front of more people. The keyword here is relevant since there’s really no need to spam your posts with dozens of irrelevant hashtags (that will only make you look like a spammer).
Besides hashtags, one of the easiest ways to get in front of other people is to simply start following a lot of people. Just find someone with photos that are similar to yours, and start following the followers of that person. They will get a notification saying that you are now following them, and many of them will check out your profile.
If you just follow somebody and don’t like or comment on any of their photos, you’re a ghost follower. Instagram users generally don’t like ghost followers because scam artists use this strategy to promote their fake profiles. You’ll get better results if you also comment on the photos of the people you start following. That way they’ll know you’re a real person.
If following many other people is too impractical, you can also get a lot of exposure by leaving meaningful comments on the photos of other people. When you leave a thoughtful and positive comment, there’s a good chance that the author of that photo will become curious to check out your profile. And if your profile is good, you’ll get a new follower.
However, commenting on the iPhone is slow and tedious, and you’ll get much faster if you use an Instagram web service such as IconoSquare that allows you to quickly and systematically leave comments from your computer.
Your commenting should be targeted, meaning that you should only leave comments to people who have a high chance of becoming your followers. How do you find such people? It’s easy – all you need to do is search for people who do the same kind of photography as you do using relevant hashtags.
So if you’re a landscape photographer, you could search for hashtags such as #landscape, #mountains and #outdoors as the people posting photos with these hashtags are far more likely to enjoy your profile and thus become your followers. You can quickly browse through photos that were submitted to a particular hashtag using the search function of IconoSquare.
Finally, your comments are far more likely to get noticed by people who don’t have hundreds of likes or thousands of followers (since they get less comments) and when the photo you’re commenting on has been posted recently.
Step 3: Engage With Your Followers
While everyone gets obsessed with the number of followers, keeping your followers happy and engaged is equally important if you want to build a relationship with them and get the most out of your Instagram experience.
First, you should post regularly so that people don’t forget who you are. That’s why I share photos daily on my @iPhonePS account where I have built a large and responsive community of people who are looking forward to seeing more photos from me.
But at the same time, you don’t want to be posting too often. There’s nothing worse than sharing multiple photos at once since they will take up a lot of space in the feed of your followers. If somebody doesn’t like one of your photos, the chances are that they’ll still keep following you, but when you post three photos in a row, you’re far more likely to lose a follower.
For this reason I don’t recommend posting more than once in every six hours. Remember that quality always beats quantity, and it’s far better to share only great photos even if that means posting less often.
And finally, be nice to your followers and respond to their comments and questions. Simple things like saying “Thanks” will really make you stand out, and it’s a great way to keep your followers happy and engaged. There’s nothing more rewarding than building lasting relationships with your Instagram followers!
You can see how I apply these tips and techniques at my @iPhonePS Instagram account.
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