Instagram Hacks: How To Get More Followers

by Randy Wang

So I recently setup an Instagram account. I had zero experience with Instagram, but was intrigued by the hype surrounding the social network that everyone around the world seemed to be using (though less so here in China). After one week of posting five photos and occasionally liking/following other people, I had 11 followers and averaged 5.6 "likes" per post.

Pretty dismal. 

But everywhere you look on Instagram you see plenty of ordinary folks with thousands of followers. I thought to myself: what hacks do these people use to get more followers on Instagram? So I searched for "how to get more Instagram followers" and below are five promising/easy tips that I came across: 

  1. Include the most popular hashtags in your posts
  2. Find someone with lots of followers and start following their followers
  3. Follow people with similar interests and hope they follow you back
  4. Like as many random photos as you can a day
  5. Follow people with the hashtag #follow4follow

I decided to experiment with each method to determine which, if any, were the most effective ways to gain more followers on Instagram. Keep in mind this experiment is about quantity (vanity) not quality. 

Day 1: Include the most popular hashtags in your posts

Day 2: Find someone with lots of followers and start following their followers

  • Posted one photo of coffee on Instagram (10am China time / 10pm EST / 7pm PST) 
  • Went to Justin Bieber's followers list and followed 100 new people (out of his 14 million). Turns out Instagram has a limit on how many people you can follow within a certain period of time. In my case, I was temporarily blocked after 50 follows (including requests), but I tried again after 10 minutes and was able to follow 50 more.   
  • RESULT: +3 followers

Day 3: Follow people with similar interests and hope they follow you back

  • Posted one photo of an egg tart on Instagram (10am China time / 10pm EST / 7pm PST) 
  • Searched for posts with #cheatday hashtag and followed 100 new people 
  • RESULTS: +4 followers

Day 4: Like as many random photos as you can a day

  • Posted one photo of oysters on Instagram (10am China time / 10pm EST / 7pm PST) 
  • Searched for posts with the #shanghai hashtag and randomly liked 100 photos 
  • RESULTS: +3 followers

Day 5: Follow people with the hashtag #follow4follow 

  • Posted one photo of my Jawbone Up24 on Instagram (10am China time / 10pm EST / 7pm PST) 
  • Searched for posts with #follow4follow hashtag and followed 100 new people 
  • RESULTS: +36 followers

Conclusion

My Instagram profile before and after the experiment. 

My Instagram profile before and after the experiment. 

After a period of five days and only a few minutes spent on Instagram per day, I was able to go from just 11 followers to a more respectable 57 followers. Following people with the #follow4follow hashtag was clearly the most effective method, while simply including popular hashtags was the least effective. Based on this small experiment, it seems anyone can build a follower base by following as many people as possible -- over and over again. However, by targeting specific hashtags such as #follow4follow, you can acquire followers faster. Just be aware that such follow-for-follow methods of acquiring followers will likely yield lower quality followers that won't add much additional value to your Instagram experience beyond the +1 you gain on your follower count. One final point to add is to periodically unfollow people who don't follow you in return to keep your "following" list at a more manageable level.  

P.S. If you are really in a hurry to build a followers base, it turns out there are software/services available to automate following, liking and even commenting. I haven't experimented with these, but this could be something for the more adventurous folks to look into. 

Lastly, I'm sure there are other methods for generating more followers (particularly quality followers) so if you have any tips/suggestions please leave a comment below!