Getting your first 1000 followers on Instagram may sound like a hard task, especially for small business owners. After all, how will you get people interested in your business and what you have to say? Coming up with the right content and strategy can feel like a guessing game, but it doesn’t have to be.
Although every single business out there has a different target audience, there are a few universal tips to help you get your first 1000 followers. Forget the automated bots that leave comments on other people’s content for you (bad news) and take the time to learn Instagram and how to use their algorithm to your benefit. Of course, it also has a little bit to do with psychology and speaking to people in a way that makes them want to hit that follow button.
What we would like to make clear, though, is this article is not about hacks or tricks; it’s not about spammy techniques to get more followers. This is a blog post that will tell you what you can do to get your first 1000 followers on Instagram in an honest way. It makes a difference because, at the end of the day, you want engaged followers, people who are really interested in your brand and that might (hopefully) become customers.
So, let’s cut to the chase and get right into it!
19 Tips to Get Your First 1000 Followers on Instagram
1. Know Your Target Audience
The first and more important tip of all is to know your target audience. You must know your audience so you can create content they love. Remember, you want to attract followers, but ultimately you want to make sure those followers are the people who align with your brand.
If you don’t know who your target audience is, you’ll probably end up posting a lot of random stuff that, in the end, doesn’t really add value to anyone’s lives. When you do this, it’s much harder to get people to follow you.
Think about what your ideal customer actually needs. Once you know this, you can speak directly to them and provide them with the useful content they crave. To do this well, you really have to know them, inside and out.
Here’s how you can do that:
Analyze Your Target Audience – Your target audience is the people who you would consider to be your ideal customers. People who would spend a lot of money with you and champion your brand. Sit down and think about who this is. Are they male or female? What’s their age bracket? What about their average income, education, hobbies, interests, etc.? Write it all down!
Think of Buyer Personas – Try to imagine 2 or 3 people who really fit into that target audience that you just mapped out. These people are called buyer personas. To start, you could think of real customers you already have. Write down their name, age, anything you know about their family, professional background, aspirations, pain points, and hobbies. Then use this to guide your content.
A Quick and Practical Example of How You Can Use Buyer Personas to Create Content
Let’s say you own a sophisticated restaurant, a place where people go when they want to celebrate a special occasion. Now, imagine you have a customer named Sophia. She is a CEO. She likes good stuff. Her birthday is approaching, so she is looking for the perfect place to celebrate. She wants an intimate and sophisticated restaurant, but she doesn’t know of any that she feels confident bringing her friends to. Her problem, therefore, is to find a location to celebrate her birthday. You know that your restaurant is perfect; now you just have to make sure she knows it.
By knowing Sophia’s “problem,” you know what to tap into with your social media marketing. You can create some posts that show how you set a special table for people who go there to celebrate their birthdays, how you give them a special gift or even talk about some of the reasons your restaurant is the perfect place for people to spend their birthdays if they want to make it special, intimate and sophisticated evening.
When you know what Sophia – one member of your target audience – likes, wants, and values, it’s easier to create content, and even products and services, to attract more people to your Instagram page.
Sounds doable, right? Now let’s talk about some super practical stuff…
2. Complete Your Profile
Your bio should be complete. I know it sounds basic and unimportant, but please do not skip this step. First of all, you want to make sure your name actually displays your business name. That way, if there are several accounts with similar Instagram handles, people will know for sure that you’re the account to follow. Also, Instagram only considers the username and name in searches, so you want to make sure your name and username clearly reflect your brand.
The next step is to make sure your bio is strong. Use this space to tell people what your business is about and what you do. If you’re a nail artist, hairdresser, photographer, copywriter, etc. make sure your bio clearly states what you do and who you serve. If you don’t, people won’t know if you’re running a serious business; they might think it’s just something you do on the side. Using emojis can make it easier for people to scan and read, so try adding some relevant emojis to your bio, too.
Another important part of your profile is your profile picture. If you’re the face of your brand, go ahead and use a nice headshot. However, if your brand is more than just you, it’s probably better to use the logo as the profile picture. It’s also smart to use the same photo across all social media platforms so that people will immediately know it’s your profile when they see it.
Yes, these are basic steps but having a complete bio really increases people’s chances of finding your profile and deciding to stay, and that’s definitely what you want.
P.S. If you want to dig deeper into Instagram bio optimization, check out this blog post from Later.
3. Follow People You Already Know
After completing your profile, start following people you already know. This will ensure they know you’re on Instagram and they will probably be eager to hit the “follow back” button so they can learn more about what you’re doing.
If you just started your Instagram account from scratch, it might be a good idea to create some content before you start following people. This way, they will see that you’re serious about your page and might like your content, and the odds that they will follow you will improve greatly.
4. Look for Your Audience on Instagram
After following people you know – and only people you know, don’t go all crazy following everyone just to gain followers – look for your audience on Instagram. How do you do that? Keep in mind what you zeroed in on for your target audience and look for accounts that are posting content that is also directed to that same target audience.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a competitor – in fact, it’s better if it’s not. You can find accounts that serve your audience, in other words, that post content targeting the same people you want to attract.
So let’s say you’re a wedding photographer that works in Houston. Where might you start to look for your ideal audience? Look for local party planners, event venues that commonly host weddings, caterers, etc. The people who follow them are likely planning a wedding, so you can find potential clients liking and commenting on their posts!
Okay, but now that you have found them, what do you do next?
Well, first, follow the businesses, interact with them, like and leave comments on their photos (thoughtful comments, not just the bare minimum).
After that, you can also start interacting with people who follow or interact with that account. You can go to their latest photo and see who liked it, then click on some people there and like their photos, comment – again, something thoughtful – or follow them. We’re not talking about following them just to unfollow them the next day. Just follow the people you genuinely want to follow. No games!
Liking and commenting on other people’s posts will help you to get noticed by potential future clients and also, other businesses in the same niche as yours. These other small businesses could become allies and valuable sources for future referrals, so don’t write them off just because they might not be in your target audience. Those connections can make a huge difference down the road if you nurture them and put some effort into them.
5. Create Good Photos and Videos
Creating quality content is one of the most important things you can do to attract more followers. If you’re constantly posting bad pictures, people might find your profile but won’t feel like they want to follow you. Instagram is a very visual social media channel, so people want to see both beautiful AND useful content.
So, spend time planning and creating good photo and video content. Good images – whether it’s a photo or graphic – will draw more attention. And if the content is interesting, it might get reshared, increasing the likelihood that someone who isn’t already following you will see it.
Keep in mind that videos are preferred by Instagram. The algorithm tends to give more exposure to videos than photos. So, if you can create some quality videos featuring your space, your products, your services, or your team, it might end up being an amazing opportunity to grow your following.
Read more: How to Take Good Photos with Your Smartphone
6. Be Consistent
Unfortunately, slow and steady is not really Instagram’s thing. If you want to be seen and get that algorithm on your side, you have to feed the beast and do it consistently. It’s not just the algorithm, though. If people see that you’re posting often, your name will stick in their mind so much more than if you just post once every few weeks.
Of course, consistency is not the only factor. After all, consistently posting bad content will only cause your engagement rates to tank. You need to be consistently posting awesome posts because the more people engage with your posts, the more chances you have to show up to more people on their feeds and also in the Explore tab.
Does this mean that you need to post every single day? Yes and no. While you don’t need to post on your feed every day, you should post daily in your stories – but only if you have nice content to share. If you’re an architect, you can share some projects you’re working on one day, then some photos of a house you went visiting that is being built/renovated, then some tips on how to decorate your home using a certain style, etc.
Make it interesting and fun for people to follow you. Remember: if you share interesting things, your audience might feel compelled to share your posts with other people, and that’s an important way to grow your following!
7. Do Content Marketing
Content marketing is when you strategically share useful content, content that solves a problem, inspires, or educates. In addition to positioning you as an authority or expert in your niche, content marketing also leads to a lot of reshares.
If your restaurant is sharing tips on creating a romantic dinner at home – using your takeout, of course – one of your followers might save it, send it to their boyfriend or girlfriend, or even share your post in their stories. If you’re a fitness trainer and you share some training tips, someone who follows you might hire you because of that, but they might also send it to someone they know who will find it interesting.
Content marketing helps people see you as a resource and remember you the next time they need the products or services you offer. If they hear someone say that they need something you provide, there’s a good chance they’ll mention you, which is huge when it comes to growing a loyal customer or client base.
8. Post Before & After Posts Featuring Your Service or Product
Before and after photos and videos perform really well for small businesses, especially if it’s a big transformation. So, whenever you have a chance, share these kinds of posts with your followers on Instagram.
It doesn’t matter if it’s visual – like makeup application, hairstyle, or weight loss transformation – or a testimonial that is more text-based. You just want to show people how you changed your customer’s life. When people can put themselves in your customer’s shoes and see the real value you can bring to their lives, they will see you as someone they absolutely need to follow and even do business within the near future!
9. Use Controversy
Don’t worry, you don’t need to actually get involved with anything controversial as a business to gain followers this way. Instead, use controversy in a fun way! For instance, let’s say you own a Mexican restaurant. You might want to share a funny meme that says Mexican food is better than British food. Those who think the same might share the post because it feels like an inside joke to them and it shows that their opinion has been validated. People who don’t agree might also share it along with a little playful rebuttal.
Either way, your post will end up in front of a lot of new people who don’t know your business yet… but might really want to, especially because you have a sense of humor. Who doesn’t love that?
10. Share quotes
Quotes are another good way to stand out and gain some new followers. Of course, it really depends on your business and audience. Sharing inspiring quotes might help to increase engagement and reshares. However, you probably don’t want to do this too often as a business – unless you’re a coach or something like that. Posting too many quotes might get a little bit boring and have the opposite effect.
11. Encourage Your Customers to Post About Your Business
A good way to get more followers is by encouraging your current customers to post about your business. Offer them a reward or just remind them to post on their social media whenever they come in to see you. When they share content about your business and tag you, more people will be exposed to your business on Instagram.
One important (yet very easy) way to encourage your customers to post about your business is by resharing this content to your page. People will see that you regularly do this and so they will want to be a part of that “inner circle” so to speak.
12. Start Conversations
Starting conversations in your posts is a great way to increase engagement and make your post more relevant for Instagram. Whenever a post has good engagement, the chances that it will get shown to more people on the Explore page increase. So, ask a simple open-ended question and it might do wonders for your visibility!
Oh, and when people comment on your post or send you messages, reply to them! This way, you will encourage other people to comment on your posts because they know they are really being heard.
13. Use Hashtags and Geotags
Hashtags and geotags are perfect to increase your reach. These are two more big ways your post can end up being featured on the Explore page. You really want to get on that Explore page because that’s one of the main ways people who don’t already follow you can find you.
However, make sure you only use relevant hashtags and geotags. For example, if you’re a local business, you might want to tag the city where you’re located and use hashtags for your business and local area. There’s no point in using broad hashtags if you can’t provide services to people around the globe. For example, using the hashtag #restaurant is not very relevant because even though people from all over the world will see it, most of them are not going to be your potential customers.
Don’t use too many hashtags, either. If you’re using too many, it’s likely that most of them are irrelevant. Use niched hashtags, even if they have fewer posts than the more popular hashtags. In fact, you don’t want to use hashtags with millions of posts because your post will just get buried right away. The best thing you can do is choose 5-8 hashtags that match your business and your post’s topic.
If you don’t know which hashtags to use, we recommend you to check out the website Display Purposes, which suggests relevant hashtags that you can copy and paste into your posts.
14. Use Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels are a big deal. They are getting a lot of exposure on the Explore tab, so you can definitely take advantage of that to grow your following. These videos are generally made to be inspirational, fun, or educational, so do some brainstorming and give Reels a try!
Yes, it might seem intimidating but I promise that after you play around with it, you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll soon be greatly increasing your chances of getting your business in front of lots of new people who don’t already follow you.
15. Maintain an Organized Feed
You might think that if you have good content, you don’t need an organized feed. However, having a consistent aesthetic makes your profile look more professional. So when people land on your profile, it’s more likely they will follow you just because they see you as professional – not because they consciously think about how organized your feed is. You can create consistency by always using the same color scheme, fonts, and using the same style of pictures and videos.
16. Add Calls to Action
Whenever you see fit, add a call to action (CTA) for people to share the post or send it to a friend. People sometimes don’t do these things simply because no one reminds them to do it. Add a simple CTA to the end of your post and I’ll guarantee that you’ll get more comments, likes, and shares than if you didn’t ask them to do it. Just don’t overdo it.
17. Partner with Other Businesses in the Same Niche
Partnering with other businesses in the same niche – again, not necessarily your competitors – might be an awesome idea to find more of your ideal audience on the app. If you sell flowers, for example, why not partner with a local pottery business? People who buy vases want to put flowers in them, don’t they? This collaboration will help you find more people who don’t know you yet but will likely be interested in your products.
You can create content together or simply post photos or videos of your flowers in the atelier’s vases, and the other business can do the same, making sure to tag each other in the photo and mention the other business in the caption of the post. By doing this, you’re helping each other grow. It’s a beautiful thing!
18. Run a Contest or Giveaway
Another great way to grow your followers on Instagram is to create a giveaway or contest. When you create a giveaway that specifically asks people to follow you and tag other people to enter, it increases your followers pretty quickly. However, you don’t want just any old followers; you want followers who are going to fit into that target audience you defined earlier. So here’s the key when planning your giveaway: the prize needs to be something from your business.
If you give people a prize from your business – whether it’s a product or service – only people who are interested in getting that prize will join. So, theoretically, only people who are interested in your products or services will follow you because they want to win whatever you’re offering.
I’ve seen people give away money, iPhones, or even trips as a prize. While these are technically nice prizes and might entice a lot of people, they don’t attract the kinds of people who you could then pivot into customers down the line. Once the giveaway is over, these people will be gone too. Those who stay likely won’t interact with your posts, which will tank your engagement and the Instagram algorithm will certainly pay attention to that.
19. Share Your Instagram Handle or Link on Other Platforms
A super simple way to make sure you gain more followers is to post a link to your Instagram page on your other platforms. If you already have a decent following on other social media channels, why not see if you can get those people to follow you on Instagram, too?
Don’t forget to tell them the benefit of following you on another platform – after all, if they already follow you on one platform, what would make them go and follow you on another? You have to show them what they’re going to get out of it.
So if you have a YouTube channel, for instance, you can tell them that by following you on Instagram, they will be able to see your updates almost every day versus once a week. Or, you can tell them that you will be posting more behind the scenes photos and videos on your feed and in your Stories. You want to make sure that they’re getting content they can’t get anywhere else and make it worth their while!
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