Instagram Marketing: Getting Followers


Don’t miss: Understanding Instagram Marketing Part 2: Ideas

Welcome to the Understanding series which connects readers with leading experts on any given subject. This week we’re learning about Instagram marketing from Camella Mendez, a content strategist with Internet Exposure, James T. Noble (@jamestnoble), a consultant who makes small businesses bigger, Jason A. Howie (LinkedIn), a web and social media manager, Kim Lachance Shandrow (LinkedIn) a tech journalist who specializes in social media marketing and Philippe Gonzalez who runs

Here’s my question for the group today followed by their answers:

What Is The Best Way to Get More Instagram Followers?

Philippe Gonzalez had this to say: “Brands can build an initial following on Instagram by leveraging the followers from previously established social profiles (principally Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)—that’s the easiest way, but consider Johnnie Walker’s creative solution. They gave influencers the chance to manage the brand new @johnniewalker corporate account. I was elected to manage the account during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza, getting to cover the race from the McLaren Box. The account went from 1,500 to 13,000 followers in one week. Working with influencers is the latest trend on Instagram brand marketing strategies.” Click here to see more pictures from the event.

Lisa Buyers thought of two ideas nobody else did: The obvious one is to interact with like-minded people and the second, even more intriguing idea, is to use Instagram as a focus group to establish interest in an item before it goes on sale. The author of the book ReFrame did this in order to get some pre-sale research.

Kim Lachance Shandrow gives you the cold, hard truth along with some practical advice: “Unfortunately there’s no magic recipe for instantly building a following on Instagram. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.

I would start by posting inviting, interesting, and innovative photos once or twice a day, but not more than that. Also, follow and interact often with the Instagram feeds of influencers within your industry. Move every day in the right Instagram circles, and be sure to like and comment on industry influencer feeds on a daily basis. Instagram is very reciprocal. You get out what you put in.

One way to attract followers from the outset is to incentivize them with exclusive offers, contests, coupons, and discounts.

One practice to avoid is posting photos all day long. Strike a balance with a couple of photos per day. Bombarding your followers with several repetitive or similar pictures per hour really turns them off. Keep your subject matter fresh and useful to your audience and be careful not to over-post.”

James T. Noble concurs with Kim, saying there is no magic button to press to get more followers but notes the value of using hashtags: “There’s no hard and fast way, but frequently updating your profile with content that is valuable to users is the best way. Using popular (and relevant) hashtags is a great way of taking advantage of what’s trending and enables you to reach a wider audience at the optimum time for maximum impact. It all helps to increase your visibility and enhance your profile.”

“Little things like pushing your Instagram posts to Twitter or Facebook, or more traditional methods of building a following, such as including a link to your Instagram feed on your website or holding an Instagram only contest to build a certain number of followers are all recommended to gain traction. However, most essential is giving your audience a compelling reason to connect with you there. Keep in mind, Instagram is still a growing network (and at its present state is no match for more mainstream channels such as Facebook or Twitter), but it’s literally growing in leaps and bounds, so it’s in your best interest to start building your content there now—especially if you’re in the B2C market,” says Camella Mendez.

“A great way is to connect with influential Instagramers who represent what the brand believes in. One aspect of my company, The Mobile Media Lab, connects brands with influencers. Another way is to utilize hashtags that relate to the brand and interact with them. It can be very time consuming but will help get things started,” says Brian DiFeo.

Encouraging existing customers (or even employees) through a well-timed coordination of email, web, and social media promotions can increase your follower base quickly with your longtime fan base. Then build out from there, as followers like and comment on your Instagram photos those will translate as links on Facebook, and you can go even further by asking for submissions for featured photos from followers and fans. Contests and coupons can prove successful for an initial bump but if a brand doesn’t engage those followers, they’ll fade away over time. Successfully utilizing the new Instagram web profiles and badges makes gaining followers from your web and email campaigns much easier than it had been previously,” says Jason A. Howie.

Jason Miller says, “Instagram recently introduced “Web Profiles” allowing users to feature a gallery of seven user photos. If you are just getting started, find relevant photos that you already have, upload them and add Instagram filters, and share. Currently users can’t upload photos from the Web, only via mobile devices. Users can however manage their profiles from the Web to use as a landing page. Another great tactic for building an initial following is to add a “Follow Me on Instagram” button to your company website and other social media accounts and then link it all to your Instagram. By sharing your content across multiple social platforms, you leverage followers you already have.”

Up next: Understanding Instagram Marketing Part 4: Standing Out