So a lot my Instagram followers have been asking me this lately. “How did you grow on Instagram?”
And I never gave them an exact answer. I either just brushed around the topic or just said “post more” or something like that to escape the hassle of explaining things.
But I think it’s about time I actually write about it.
Firstly, I’d like to state my current standings on my Instagram page
I have 21k followers and they keep increasing at a rate of 100+ per day. So basically, I’ll be getting around 1000 followers in less than 10 days. And as far as stories goes, I get about 1000-1100 views (without using any hashtags.)
I post…or at least, try to post (both story and feed) for every 4 hours. Oh yeah, the most important thing is I only post anime memes, so I can manage to post as many times as I want, but that may not be the case for your niche, especially if you actually have to create your own original content.
I use around 10-15 hashtags in my posts and I almost never tag other accounts.
I recently started doing shout-outs with other accounts who had a similar amount of followers like me, and it did go great! It definitely helps. I’ve decided to do this regularly. (I’ve explained how to do an S4S down in the ‘tips for growing on Instagram’ section below.)
And of course, buying followers is a big no-no. While you can pay people to shout out/promote your account, you should never pay an app that says it’ll give you a set amount of followers. I mean, literally everyone knows that buying that kind of followers will only damage their reach at this point, but I’m putting it out there just in case.
I think that’s about it.
Knowing The Algorithm
Before I start throwing my tips here and there hoping you’d understand, I think it’s better to start by understanding the Instagram algorithm.
On what basis the posts are shown in your feed?
Instagram shows the most relevant post for you in your feed. That is, let us say you are following 500 people. You don’t get to see all the posts by all the 500 people, right? That is because your Instagram feed is evolving everyday based on the content you’ve actively engaged with in the past.
If you have liked and commented on a bunch of photos from, say, 20 accounts that you follow, then those 20 accounts will be given priority over the rest.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t see a single post from the other accounts. You’ll just have to keep scrolling down to find their content.
Instagram Prioritizes Engagement
Instagram wants to show the best content to its users. And how do you find the best content? Check the amount of post saves. (It used to be likes, shares and comments but ever since the algorithm update it is the number of saves that determine best post.)
You may have noticed the fluctuations in the likes of your posts. One goes viral whereas the other is…dead.
How? You have the same amount of followers, but why does one post have more reach than the other?
That is because, when your post is shown to your follower and they like it or comment on it, Instagram thinks that the post is good enough to prioritize and show it at the top of your followers feed. This also decides the position of your posts in the hashtags you’ve used.
But on the other hand, if they just scroll through your post, Instagram concludes that your post is shit and it should not be wasting its precious user’s time by showing it to them.
Number of Hashtags
You can have up to 30 hashtags, but if you go over that limit, you’ll be going hashtag heavy and Instagram will consider you a spammer and won’t prioritize your account anymore. So be mindful about the number of hashtags you use. The ideal count is anywhere between 9-15. But I found using 20-25 hashtags worked best for me.
That covers all the important stuff you need to know about Instagram algorithms. So let’s jump into the tips to grow on Instagram!
(You can read more about Instagram algorithms here if you’re interested.)
Tips For Growing On Instagram
By tips, I’m talking about what worked for me. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it must work for you too, but hey, it’s worth giving a shot anyways.
Starting at zero
These are the difficult times. You just started a new page and it is just you and your posts. The world looks so empty and lonely. You took up this magnanimous task to grow big on Instagram, but you don’t know where to start.
At these times you’ll have to make an effort to go befriend people who share the same interest as you and follow each other.
It’s like you’re a salesman knocking at the doors of people to let them know about your product hoping they’ll buy it. Except there’s no money involved here so most people would be happy to reciprocate with a follow back. This is what we call the follow-4-follow method.
This is the best way to grow your anime page (or any other niche for that matter) on Instagram.
Here’s how you do a follo-4-follow
Find a post on the explorer that is similar to yours. Check the people who’ve liked that post. Like 5-7 of their posts and then follow them.
Do this for a 100 people and you’ll see over 40-50 of them will follow you back within a couple of days.
It is a lot of work, honestly. I can remember spending hours and hours engaging in other people’s content until they finally acknowledged my presence and followed me back and did the same like-spam thing to me.
That’s how you start. By supporting each other and pushing each other forward.
You can’t post something and think a ton of people will follow a random page with almost no followers just like that. Take the initiative to get yourself known.
Besides, when you’re a small Instagram page, your posts won’t be shown on the explorer or hashtags most of the time.
The amount of followers you have and the engagement on your posts is your worth on the Instagram world. So, until you get to a decent position, you’ll have to reach out to people and let them know you’re there.
And the best way to do it is by liking and commenting on their posts, and of course, you can chat with them and literally gain a friend who follows you.
So, grit your teeth and go like spam~
Remember, don’t ever go into somebody else’s post and comment, “I’ve started a new awesome page and I hope you can follow it! *insert heart emoji here*“, to make yourself visible to all of their followers. Especially if you are not creating your own content (or being super creative with the message). Maybe if they’re nice they’ll follow you, but most of the time, it’ll only look like you’re advertising and trying to use them. It’ll only cause a negative effect. Not to mention your comment might get deleted instantly. So if you’re a meme account like me or some account that doesn’t put that much effort, then don’t bother self promotion like this.
Instead, write a witty comment (without any “follow me” or “check my account”) on popular pages with a lot of followers. If your comment is amazing and gets a lot of likes there’s a chance that people will check you out. This works much more efficiently than the former as the most liked comment will be shown first in the comment section.
It is a given that if you want to grow on Instagram you have to be discovered by people, you must use hashtags. As mentioned above, this is not gonna give you much views/likes when you’re a small account, but it’s a good practice to start early. Use 9-15 relevant hashtags in your post. Just make sure your hashtag is niche specific.
Check this post if you want to copy and paste some readily compiled collection anime hashtags.
Post during peak hours
Post when most of your followers are active on Instagram. You can use your business account or creator account to find what is the busiest day/hour, where your followers are from, etc. Use those data and post at the most convenient time for your followers to engage with your post.
If you can’t figure that out, you can do what I do. Post for every 4 hours or so.
By doing that, I randomly post during the peak hour every now and then.
It is better if you can post multiple times a day, but if that is not possible for your niche you must try to post as often as possible. If you don’t, people won’t be engaging with your content anymore, and you will go down in the priority list like I mentioned while explaining the Instagram algorithm.
What does this have to do with growing on Instagram?
It is true that stories don’t affect how well your posts do or how much followers you gain, but still, post a lot of stories. The more often you post, the more your stories will be pushed towards the front and you’ll be getting more views. Some ghost followers (people who followed you, but never engaged with your content) might even re-find you with your stories and become an active follower.
Here’s a quick tip on how often you must post Instagram stories to get the most views:
I recently tried posting stories every hour (usually I go with every 4 hrs) and my story views increased from 800 to 1300! I haven’t tried posting more, but you can get the point here. The more often you post, the more views you get.
Videos do better
Here’s an awesome trick to grow on Instagram. Post videos. The more you make your followers spend their time on your post, the better. So go for video posts or the multiple slide posts.
All we want is to grab their attention and make them engage with your post.
But if it is a sucky, uninteresting video it will still be flushed down the toilet. So make sure it is worth their time.
Here’s a little strategy. Make a multiple slide post (typically, 5-10 slides) and place a video at slide 3. As they say, if you can get your audience past slide 3, then your post is a success. So, catch their attention with a video where it matters a lot.
Edit: Recently I’ve found that my single slide posts show up much more on the explorer and on hashtags than multi slide ones. So if your account has begun showing up on Explorer or hashtags you should consider alternating between multi slide and single slide posts.
Master the captions
Captions are the place where you can encourage the people who saw your post to comment or follow you (if they’ve discovered you through hashtags or the explorer.)
So the more attractive and captivating your captions are, the more people come back to your posts.
Yeah, I admit. I’m guilty. This is something I don’t do anymore. I know I must, but I’m just too lazy to think something nice and great every time I post something. Besides, at this point I don’t think I have to do it at all. My posts get enough engagement without any effort.
But when you become a big account that naturally catches new eyeballs from the explorer/hashtag, you should ask people to follow you right on the very first line. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Anywhere below that is not very great as most people don’t read the caption fully.
Make contests and giveaways that require the participant to post something and tag you. Or give them a challenge where you can somehow make them tag/share your page with the others.
Create awesome posts that will make your followers to share it with their friends and followers. When it comes to these sorta things, your imagination is your limit.
Use a Follow me Slide
This one is my recent discovery. A “follow me” slide works wonders. It drastically increased the rate of my follower growth.
Once your page has grown to a decent size, it will get a lot of views from people who are not following you. In these cases, you might want to cue them to follow your page.
The more visually striking your “follow me” slide is, the better.
As you can see, I have used a visually attractive image. I have also tagged myself at the bottom right corner and have asked them to tap there to follow me.
I use this “follow me” slide only if I have 3 or more slides in a post.
Shout-out for Shout-out
If you can find someone who agrees to do a shout-out for shout-out, you can get some extra reach and gain quite a few followers. While not many people are going to do a S4S with you when you are a baby account, there’ll definitely be a lot of opportunity when you get your page to a decent size.
But before I start explaining it, does shout-outs really work?
I tested out how many followers can I gain in a month by doing shout-outs with other big accounts. For this purpose, I created a new anime themed page dedicated for anime quotes — @pen.anime. I did follow for follow and got it to over 200 followers and posted about 30 posts before starting shout-outs.
Since I already had a page with a decent amount of followers (@silvercrowv1), I was able to use that to do a trade off with other big accounts. I will shout them out on my big account and in return they’ll shout out my new baby account on theirs. I regularly did Mega s4s (refer below) with a lot of accounts whose followers varied between 20k – 50k. Typically one or two mega a week (of course, there were also times where I did more than twice a week). And within a month I was able to get over 1000 followers on my new account.
Note that I was able to do Mega for free with other big accounts as I also had another big account. If not, these guys usually charge a certain fee for promoting your content. So, if you’re looking to grow without investing anything, you should look for other accounts that roughly have the same number of followers as you. It’ll be a slower growth, but it’s free nonetheless.
Most times, even people with twice the amount of followers as you will also accept to do shout-out for free. You’ll just have to take the initiative and ask a lot of people to find them.
Types of Shout-outs
Anyways, as far as S4S are concerned, there are two types of them.
- Story S4S
- Mega S4S (or P4P)
Story S4S – As the name suggests, here both the members who agreed to do a S4S ask their followers to follow the other person on their Instagram story. If you’re going for a story S4S, what I recommend is, create your own interactive “follow @your_user_name” banner specifically designed for Instagram stories. By interactive, I mean, ask a question or add a poll like this:
This way the people who voted “Yes” in the poll will feel obligated to check your account (Yeah, I know, sometimes, even I’m scared of my ingeniousness.)
Mega S4S – A mega is basically cross promotion where both the parties take content from each other’s page and post it on their own page, with a last slide and captions asking their followers to follow the other person. Here’s how a Mega looks like.
Don’t over do it! I had built another anime page (it was a trap themed page) with 10k followers purely gained through aggressive S4S, and I did it in a matter of few months. But I one day I went super aggressive and did over 20 S4S within an hour (which was a super bad move), and then I got a message from Instagram saying my account was banned for artificial promotion. So here’s a learning lesson guys, Instagram has limits to the number of likes, follows, messages, shares you can do per day. If you exceed that limit your account will be taken down mercilessly.
If you want to grow on Instagram, then interaction is key! And if you want people to interact with your post, you have to interact with theirs first. This is just a bit of a karma play here. You like and comment on their post and they will like and comment on yours. You follow them, they follow you back. Who knows, a new friendship might even grow out of it!
If you don’t like to put the hours in doing follow-4-follow like I mentioned above and want a quick growth on Instagram, then your best bet is to do a paid promotion with an influencer.
Influencers are accounts/pages with a lot of followers.
Note: Make sure that the account you ask for promo is in the same niche as you, because if their followers are not interested in your content they won’t follow you.
How much followers can you expect?
Totally depends on your content / the audience of the page promoting you.
The only downside to paid promotions is that you never know how many followers you will gain. Sometimes it is 500, sometimes it is 50. It heavily depends on the promotion material you will be using.
Note: Don’t do a promotion with the same account you did before, unless it’s been at least 6 months since the last promo. Because most of their followers would have seen your profile and decided whether or not to follow you during the first promo. So it’s wise to wait till they get a new audience before you do another promo with them.
But where can you find these Instagram influencers? You can either directly ask big accounts on private messages, or you can use Fiverr to find them. With Fiverr your payments are secure and it is cheating free. If they didn’t promote you like they promised, you can cancel the order and get the money back. Fiverr will handle all the hassle.
Or, of course, you can ask our all knowing Google-sensei for something like “Anime Instagram promotions” and find them.
Buy an Anime Page on Instagram:
If you haven’t started your page yet, or have almost no content, then this is something you must consider. It will save you a ton of time and effort. While the cost of the page depends on the seller/account owner, it will still be a considerable amount of money for big accounts. If you’re planning to do some business with it, or have the financial ability to afford it, then this might be an option for you.
The Snow Ball Effect
It will take some time, typically a year, to get to a decent point. And from this point onward, the ball will start rolling on its own. It will grow bigger and bigger without you doing much work.
All you have to do is to get the snowball to a big enough size and roll it down the mountain. It’ll start growing bigger and bigger by taking in all the snow that it rolls over, and eventually become a huge ball of snow!
This is the place where I am right now. I gain 100+ followers a day just like that. And I believe that it is only going to get boosted from here on out. From 100+ to 500+ and maybe even to 1000+ a day~
So that’s it mate! This is my “secret trick” to grow on Instagram!! Now, this isn’t the only way to grow your page. This is my way to grow. You might find better techniques out there, but all the things that I wrote here are what that helped me grow my page to where I am right now.