How to Quickly Get Popular on Instagram

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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.

getting popular on Instagram

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.

getting more  likes on Instagram

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.

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 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.

  • http://myfriendexplosion.com/ Williamsjoe

    Really its most awesome and useful idea.Really great work on instagram .I have setup new account. I will follow your steps to make my page popular.

  • http://elmgoestohogwarts.com mightylauren

    Your tips are awesome. I want to add one thing LIKING. Simply LIKING the right persons photo’s can lead them to you. I am a Disney World iPhonographer. So I love to browse the #disneyworld tag and I like pics. I try to pick ones who not many people have liked (the person appreciates it more) and if the pic is really good I will go to their profile and like a few more. A lot of the time, when they log back in and see the same person liked more than one of their pictures they follow up by checking out my profile. They don’t all follow me, but they do like and comment.

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks Lauren, this is another great strategy. However, I feel that people appreciate comments even more, so it’s probably a good idea to both like and comment on their photos.

      You’re right that people with fewer likes or followers will appreciate your likes or comments way more than those who are already popular.

  • Joanna

    I have a bunch of ghost followers. What should I do with them? Should I block them? But maybe not.
    Also, I have two accounts, because I’m scared that my private will get hacked. (There’s a lot of hackers these days).
    I post selfies. Is that okay?
    Thanks! Let me know (((:

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      HI Joanna,

      Regrading ghosts, just ignore them altogether. They really do no harm to you, so you can just leave them there. Even if you block them all now, you’ll get more in the future.

      I don’t think your account will get hacked. Just keep your password safe and unique, only use reputable third party services, and you’ll be fine.

      About selfies, it depends what you want to achieve on Instagram. They will help you get the attention of opposite sex and your friends will like them, but they’re not good for building a quality audience that you could share your photography with.

  • ariana

    Thank you this helped a lot I followed u on insatgram follow me back please @arianabass500 by the way love your work

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thank you Ariana!

  • Daniele Barbagallo

    Hi Emil,
    I’d like to thank you for your advice on getting followers and building a trusted account. It’s interesting how quickly social media is changing the game for individuals, not to mention businesses and companies. I’ve had success posting up part of my inventory on the app. Unfortunately this cap at 49 followers per hour really damaged my experience on the network. It’s understandable that instagram aims to block spam and fake accounts. However wouldn’t it be better if a verification system would be implemented, that after being verified you’d be able to follow as many people as you’d like?

    Either way, good work and hope you keep posting on instagram.

    Kind Regards,
    Daniele Barbagallo
    Swiss CEO of coinsnnotes

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Daniele,

      For a niche company like yours I would recommend leaving thoughtful comments on the photos of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Many of them will gladly respond and follow you.

      How can you find such people?

      Through relevant hashtags such as #coins, #oldcoins, etc.

      Leave as many thoughtful comments as possible on photos that already have interesting coins in them as such people are more likely to be interested in your Instagram account and ultimately becoming your customers. There’s no need of attracting followers who don’t care about coins!

      To speed up the process, use a web service such as Statigram for commenting. As far as I know, there are no limits to how many good comments you can leave!

  • http://Ask.fm/MatiasEscobedo Matias

    Hey Emil thanks for your help It really helped I followed you on Instagram can you please follow me back at @matiases99?

  • http://instagress.com/ Marina

    Love the post! I think that if you want to get on Instagram popular page you should remember about two things:

    1. Your photos must be beautiful and interesting. Try to use popular photo editing apps like Snapseed, VSCOcam, Afterlight, Mextures. It’s very easy to find them in App Store.

    2. Be more active! If you want to get a lot of new likes, comments and followers, you should be doing the same for others. Of course, it’s not so fast, but you can manage your activity using this service – instagress.com

  • Lisa

    Hey Emil,
    So I wanted to ask what kind of photos a normal teenage girl can post in instagram and still get many likes and followers

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Lisa,

      It depends on what your goals are. If you want to build an audience for your photography, simply share your best and most interesting photos that have aesthetic and artistic value.

      If you want to make new friends and broadcast your personality, I might not be the right person to ask. My best guess is that you should share fun snippets of your everyday life, like the things you do with friends, the places you go to, etc.

  • ATENA

    It was very nice to knowing your Instagram,
    and thanks a lot for advice and awesome tips.
    You made me more interesting about ” Instagram”
    Hopefully, my Instagram could be popular,
    Gonna creat great one.
    I have been following you!!
    Could you following me too?

    My Instagram ID
    Athena_Garden

    Best regards
    ATena

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks Atena!

  • Abmer

    Thanks for your tips. I will try your idea.
    I heard about one apps which called ” Instagrab”
    It can download the photo and videos.
    I hope my instagram can be popular too,

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks Abmer!

      I normally just take the photos from statigr.am for organizing the contest.

  • Kevin

    Im a 14 year old guy and I have no idea what to post on instagram afraid that someone might think wrongly of me so its kinda weird. Any suggestions??

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Kevin,

      It really depends on what you want to share with the world. I use my Instagram to share my best photography and to organize a weekly photo contest, but for you that will likely be different.

      Whatever you choose to post, keep in mind that the anyone in the world could potentially see it.

  • jackwhylesphotography

    Hi Emil,
    I have found your tips very helpful and I have gained followers and likes!
    I have followed you!
    Can you please follow me back @jackwhylesphotography

    Kind regard,
    Jack

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Jack,

      I’m happy my article has helped you. About your Instagram, why don’t you stop posting text notes and offering people to trade likes and follows? Instagram is not an exchange marketplace.

      You should just focus on posting great photos, that will be far more rewarding.

  • http://ascendanthealing.wordpress.com Tara

    Hi Emil,

    This is a useful article with insightful information echoing much of what I know to be true and some things I didn’t yet know.

    Being a woman in the world with many interests, among them making my art, traveling, photography, and portraits of my daughter – it has been both a pleasure and a difficulty for me to find the balance to have IG be as honed as the most successful accounts are.

    I’ve come to treat my account as a visual and literary journal, like a snapshot blog with a thought on what’s happening in the moment for me that could be relevant to others. The people I follow who I like the best do something similar, but I find that they are more focused in their content – or they simply don’t write at all and keep their photography limited to one style.

    I truly enjoy when I post a photo and receive likes and comments – and interact with others – that’s the whole point. What are your thoughts about editing my existing account (deleting photos) that in retrospect are clearly not in alignment with where my focus is now? Is that in any way damaging?

    Also – I’ve realized I’ve overdone it with hashtags… thanks for that – I never want to be spammy.

    Gratefully,
    Tara
    @wildplaces

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Tara,

      It can certainly be a good idea to use your Instagram as a “snapshots of your life” collection. Some of the most interesting accounts out there use this approach.

      The downside is that unless you’re someone famous, only people who know you will be motivated to learn about your life in so much detail. If your goal is to build a large audience, focusing on great photography will probably work better.

      I wouldn’t delete old photos as long as the last 20 or so are more or less consistent. Very few people will scroll down more than that, and it’s good to keep them so that your account becomes a chronicle of your life through photography. It will be really interesting to look back at them in a few years.

  • jackwhylespro

    Hey Emil,
    Thank you for you comments back!
    Instagram has deleted my account (de-activated my account) do I have started a fresh.
    I have taken your advice back onboard and it has helped me gain many followers on my instagram account! I will keep on continuing to do this, your a great help!
    Kind regards,
    Jack

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks Jack!

      I’m really happy my advice has helped you. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  • Sheldaros

    This is the basic concept of Instagram (though I’m one month new in the application)
    I deleted my Facebook to get rid of the negative shout outs I can see in each and every morning and started instagram. But then I realised the more I study instagram- the more I realise the greediness of the people to have solo many followers. I tried to do it yesterday but (- doesn’t make sense)

    Reading this takes me back to reason why I joined instagram. To share photos. To be inspired and to inspire
    (Regardless of how many followers I have)

    Thanks a bunch!

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hey Sheldaros,

      You’re making a great point here. Everyone reading this article should take a second to stop and think why they actually want to get more followers. In my case it was getting feedback for my photography, promoting this blog, and starting a weekly photo contest.

      But if your goal is to get ego boost or street cred, you probably shouldn’t be getting obsessed with the number of followers you have.

      Always remember that the relationship you have with your audience is far more important than the number of people following you!

  • http://www.panelclothing.co.uk Courtney Moseley

    You have to have great photos that are interesting and different. Take shots from different angles and make them unique. Try to start a trend that is cool but not abused like fashion. There are so many people that post about fashion which makes it very competitive and hard to stand out. If you take pictures of cool or funny things that you see on your day to day activities but add a twist (ie taking the shot from a cool angle, adding something to it, lighting etc) then people will be interested in what you are posting. I hope this helps and follow my instagram which is royalcm and my clothing instagram which is panelclothing

    have a good day guys, I hope this helped.

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Good tips Courtney, thanks!

  • Pingback: How to become famous on instagram : Social Media Help

  • Simran

    I love your account! And I really hope these tips help me! I just wanted to know where you get the inspiration for your photos? :) And i would love if you could follow me @simranberikx

  • PEDRO

    I HAVE FOLLOW THOSE TIPS AND THEY ARE VERY GOOD THANKS FOR THIS INFO. NOW REGARDING THE PEOPLE I FOLLOW. I JUST CAN’T FOLLOW MORE PEOPLE I WONDER WHY?? I REMEMBER I WAS FOLLOWING ABOUT 5000 BUT THEN I START UNFOLLOW A LOT OF THEM AND NOW I JUST FOLLOW ABOUT 1200 BUT WHEN TRYING TO FOLLOW MORE PEOPLE I JUST CAN’T IT DOES NOT LET ME DO IT. WHY SHOULD I DO?

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      I guess starting a new account would be the only real option. In general, Instagram doesn’t really like people who follow everyone just to get their attention.

    • Perfie Chrstinnaa

      Instagram doesn’t allow u to follow alot of ppl (or unfollow). Try the next day

  • msphotographer1

    @msphotographer1 check my photographs and have fun:)

  • Olivia

    Hi! I already use all the tips you said above, but I have about 1500 followers. I have almost 800 ghost followers! I got the app insta ghost and it won’t let me comment from the app , so If I can’t do that how do I tell my followers they’re inactive! What do I do?!

  • Cartelea

    a bit sad tbh. its only likes

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      To all the people saying it’s sad – why did you even read this article? Didn’t you just Google how to get popular on Instagram, and now you’re saying it’s said?

    • Cartelea

      Can you spell?

    • Adonis Farouze Rashad

      Its so sad for Cartelea, why did you even read this article? Didn’t you just Google how to get popular on Instagram, and now you’re saying it’s sad?

  • Zahra

    Wow this is a really good blog and great tips. I have heard them before but you have definitely helped me really understand it. I specifically like your perspective. Thanks for the great read, will definitely go check you out on Instagram now :)

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thank you Zahra!

  • Eastsidegraphics

    I’m a sports editor and I don’t know how this would help me cuz I just got anacvount with 1.8k folowers and it gets like 10 likes everytine I post a sports photo which I s what my page is working torwards! But I can’t gets many active followers

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      The trick is to reach out to people who are already interested in what you post, do you’d reach out to people you find in hashtags like #football, etc.

  • Photographer

    Follow me @saleh_ahmed96

  • Bradley W

    Thanks for the tips! I actually went around on various hashtags, chose pictures I genuinely liked, and posted nice comments and now I have 205 followers instead of 180! I’m not interested in getting a lot of followers, but I want people to see my work and for it to be appreciated. But you’re totally right about shoutouts and selfies. They’re annoying as hell.

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Bradley,

      That’s the right way to do it! I also think it’s silly to get 1000s of followers for ego boost, but it’s good to have some people you can share your work with and get feedback from.

  • Bradley W

    P.S. I checked out your App Report for the best iPhone picture-editing apps and I was happy to see Snapseed on there. It’s an incredible app and I use it for all my photographs.

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Yep, it’s one of the best apps out there :)

  • junior

    Follow me jcalderon__03

  • King

    Follow me on Instagram @ kingruss18

  • Mike C

    Emil,
    Thanks a lot for this article, I deleted my Facebook account 4 years ago and barely late last year, after much hesitation, I opened my IG account, and as you said, I’m not really worried about the followers, I rather share my pics with close friends and get feedback on them while getting inspiration from other photographers, and since all i use is my iPhone your blog and idownloadblog has helped me a lot, I’m far from a pro, however I have a better understanding of photography now. thanks again and keep up the good work! – @mikeon2

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thank you Mike! Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help in any way I can.

  • Devin

    Use to get 60-130 likes, now I’m struggling to get over 10. Being a musician this is discouraging and makes it hard for people to take me seriously. My content hasn’t changed… So wtf happened?

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Do you want to show me your account? Pay attention to when you post your content and whether it’s visually appealing.

  • Devang Singhal

    i wish u had a blog for android users :)

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Most of the things I talk about also apply to Android phones. Photography is quite universal even when the cameras are different.

  • Sara

    Follow @maikee4066 @lizbeth__mendoza @atheer_drawing for art and photography ;) if you dare

  • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

    Thanks Mitali!

  • The Coastal Crew

    @coastal_aficionado

  • Lily

    Its doesnt work witj me cos i’m private please help!

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Go to your profile, tap Edit Your Profile, and turn off Photos Are Private.

  • nenome

    Yes! Finally some good advice! I hate when people only say “yeah you can buy followers” or just follow/like random people. I want people who actually like my photos to follow me. So great advice and can’t wait to get some more awesome photos on intagram to build my portfolio. I use iPhone 5 too so I think I’m going to start following you. Your photos seem very interesting and good, I want to learn more! :)

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thank you! I think many people go way too far with this whole follower thing and they forget to focus on what really matters, which is building relationships with users. That’s why it’s called a social network!

  • Kai Yang Tay

    @kai_hiranyawongkul follow me and i will like all ur pics, i am an active insta user:):)

  • John

    Hi! Thanks for a fantastic article, I do have one question though, you said that you no longer go through the tedious process of following and commenting to get followers, what then is your current strategy? Thanks!

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      I don’t do anything except a few links on this blog and in my email newsletter. These strategies are great for getting the first few hundred followers, but you have to know when enough is enough.

  • http://www.fastfacelikes.com FastFaceLikes

    Thanks. Great article!

  • toni

    How does a spotty teen with 5 selfies showing off his mundane tattoos, attract more than 2,000 followers? Five photos? All selfies?

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      You can always buy fake followers. The question is why would you do that.

  • bianca

    it’s really hard to get amazing photos!

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      That’s what the rest of my site is about :)

  • afeqawonderland_

    I okay with my followers and likers. But… I just felt lonely a bit cuz my instagram seem quiet. No encourge comment or whatever. Maybe cuz i didnt use hastag? Or..i dunno. And I felt a bit jealous at certain people who has a same kind of feeds like mine and they got good comments from others.

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      I know what you mean, it can be frustrating especially when you’re starting out, which is why I wrote this article :)

  • http://massageforwife.blogspot.com/ Nida batool

    I think, leaving comments on most followed people photos is the best way to get exposure. In this way, you could gain the person as follower who is really interested in following you.

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      That definitely works as well :)

  • Olivia

    Good article, thanks

  • Renee Red

    I feel like my post are good but i dont get as many likes as i used to.. Can you check out my page? Id love the feedback :)

  • faridfadhilaah

    Follow me faridfadhilaah and ask for followback. Thanks! :)

  • mahego

    I remember i use to get 80 or 100 likes per photo and now i dont get likes exept from people i know i want to know why

  • Lone_wolf17

    Follow Me on Instagram please:
    @lone_wolf17
    i followback and like your pics:)

  • Poo

    This didnt help

  • Tina Mellor

    Heres my problem. I think my account is worth following, but its not an ‘art’ or ‘photography’ account. Its more about my life. Although I’ve taken some cool pictures that are artsy or beautiful i can hardly do it because of the fact that i dont have a nice camera. So what do i do? Do i try to get peoples interest in an account that isnt artsy, but more about my life and what I’m doing? My user is smilinggetsmeby if you want to check it out and give me advice :)

  • RoyalRed

    What if your account Is strictly nothing but art?

  • vanessytienz

    My followers just 175 and my target is 300 its hard to get iti waa so jealous to people who have many followers :’( :-( follow me plis @vanessylam_lt

  • Achim

    I agree that photo competitions are a great opportunity to get noticed. I am one of the founders of Photovote – an App that always has several Instagram competitions running. Also voting takes place by our users, so there’s a good chance to be noticed.

  • Crissy

    I love what it said. Yall should follow me! #Ifollowback @Crissy3737 If yall happen to blow my wall up, ill blow yours up! I also unfollow my unfollowers each night. Maybe this helps?

  • Hi

    Can I get a shout out lls

  • georgia21

    hi i’m new can any one help me # every one talkes about instergram and i was fealing sad because i dont have it but now i do

    • will

      #love #smile #nofilter #beauty #nature so technically mostly everything thats original and songs good. the opposite of #itlooksgood

  • RS

    Hello, seeing as the last post was months ago I highly doubt anyone would see this. Nevertheless, just wanted to leave my Instagram username here so you can check out my work, will try out these steps, its always been a dream of mine to put my work out there and hope for it to turn into something… This is my account: @rs_art xx

  • Nina

    Does anybody know what the apps are? My email isn’t working and I really don’t wanna have to make another one

  • Justdemsayings

    Alright then, could please shoutout for me then..
    @justdemsayings

  • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

    Most of my photos get about 500 likes and 10 to 20 comments, which is the kind of like to comment ratio that you can expect as well. They’re lazy :)

  • Tb

    @tbleizeffer

  • cocoa

    bc people want to be popular and “brag” about it…

  • raissa

    Im realy self conscious and all of my friends at school have instragram and they all wonder why i dont have it. And here is where it gets complicated, i dont want to make instagram so my friends can mock me on how little followers i have, should i or should i not make instagram?any help