It can be a little frustrating if you’re new to Instagram and hardly anyone is following you. I remember when I first signed up, I was actually struggling to get my first thirty followers. Even my best photos would only get a few likes, mostly from people I already knew. It wasn’t all that exciting, and I was quickly getting frustrated.
I wanted to use Instagram to let other people know about this blog, so it was important that I get more followers. But even if you’re just using Instagram for fun, it’s still nice to get a few hundred (or perhaps a thousand) followers who like your photos and leave comments. Getting feedback from other people makes Instagram so much more fun.
I realized that if I wanted to become more popular on Instagram, I had to work on it systematically. In this article I’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting more likes and followers on Instagram. I used these strategies to go from zero to more than 5000 followers in just a few months, and you could do the same.
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 yet, keep working on it, and make sure you don’t post any photos that aren’t good.
There are certain kinds of photos that tend to do particularly well on Instagram. Sunsets, pretty beaches and Color Splash photos tend to get the most likes on Instagram. Portraits, landscapes and animals generally do worse. My most popular photo on Instagram is the following sunset.
It surely is a great photo, but I have other less popular photos that I think are even better. I used to get frustrated that my followers like sunset photos more than anything else, but now I’ve learned to accept it. If you want to get more followers on Instagram, it’s probably 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 iPhoneographer would try to build.
It’s really essential that you only post your very best photos, even if it means only posting a few times a week. Nobody wants their Instagram feed to be flooded by subpar photos by people they don’t know. Never post text images or jokes, no matter how cool you think the text is. Also avoid posting random shoutouts. Most people really hate them.
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 to do it. The easiest one is to simply start following a bunch of other 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 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 don’t like ghost followers because scam artists use this strategy to promote their fake profiles. It’s better to like and comment on some photos of the people you start following. That way they will know that you’re real.
I went from zero to more than 5000 followers this way, but it was a tedious process, so I no longer do it. Instagram has also made it hard for you to follow a bunch of people at once. You can only follow or unfollow 49 people at a time. And once you’ve followed 7500 people, you can no longer follow anyone else.
If following many other people seems too silly for you, you can also get more exposure by leaving comments on the photos of other people. This works best if that person is already popular and the photo has been uploaded recently. To make commenting faster, it’s best to use an Instagram web browser such as Statigram or Instagram itself.
I certainly don’t recommend using an excessive number of hashtags. They don’t look good, and putting more tags to the same photo doesn’t mean it will be seen by more people. Instagram has made sure that hashtag spamming is essentially useless. You wan’t to use no more than five hashtags that best describe your photo. Over and over again I see people tagging photos with dozens of irrelevant hashtags, which just makes them look spammy.
Shoutouts are also mostly worthless, since the people who do them almost never have an audience of other good iPhone photographers. Don’t waste your time trying to get shoutouts. If someone says that you have to like all their photos to get a shoutout, it’s best to stay away from that user.
However, it’s a good idea to use hashtags to participate in contests such as our iPhone photo contest. Your fellow participants will often check out what others have already submitted, and if your win, your photos will get more exposure. But more importantly, it’s fun to participate in contests and it’s amazing if you win.
Finally, don’t get too obsessed with the number of followers. Instagram should be a fun way to share great photos, no matter how many likes your photos get. Instead focus on delighting your existing audience. Post regularly and always respond to the comments you get. Your followers will really appreciate it.
If you also want to take great photos with your iPhone, please join over 7,892 subscribers who receive my free iPhone photography email tips that you won’t find anywhere on this blog.