If Instagram is the new digital currency, getting more followers is gold.

As silly as that sounds, there’s no denying the influence Instagram has on culture. People feel a certain sense of reliance on the app for not only social validation, but a sense of happiness. Often used as a platform for individual expression and acceptance, it’s important to know exactly how people have been reacting to content on there, as well as how yours can improve. Which, if your Instagram has been struggling, then we can help improve.

Although we won’t make the promise of getting you more followers tomorrow, we’ve done enough research to learn how you can gradually build your base over time. Even though it will take a little bit of work day-in and day out, it’s also worth knowing you’ll have an organic, authentic base of people who genuinely like what you’re about. Sounds like you’re ready to hop in? Well, luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best ways to get started. Check them out below:

1. Equip Yourself With The Right Tools

If you’re going to gain more Instagram followers, the first primary step that needs to be taken is equipping yourself with the right tools. From social media management software to utilizing algorithms that enable you to buy Instagram followers, there’s a ton of different options out there for you to consider. These will not only help with getting you more followers but also make the process of attracting more people to your page much more seamless. However, before we dive too deep into the theoretical, let’s backtrack and look at the different needs your team might have.

One of the first considerations you should make is how you’re currently managing and analyzing the data from your account. As Instagram is all about the numbers, it’s not enough to simply look at individual likes, follows, comments or shares, but rather get a bird’s eye view on the bigger picture. For this reason, we recommend checking out a management service that will ultimately help with compiling analytics, such as Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite. All three are solid choices for giving a clear image of what’s happening, with Buffer and Sprout Social as the easier, more straightforward options.

Another consideration you should have with Instagram is the type of visual editors you’re working with. As many of you are probably pretty familiar with Photoshop or Canva, there are a ton of other editors out there that can be helpful in making your Instagram content pop.

Some of our favorite examples include Figma, which has similar functionality to Photoshop, only as a collaborative design tool you can use in real-time, as well as VSCO which provides not only filters, but a community of visually-inspired individuals who all are dedicated to photography. Poke around a little bit into what type of design software you feel comfortable with, as well as which ones will help serve your needs.

Outside of daily tools for execution, there are some other notes you should consider too. For example, exploring more into Facebook For Advertising to learn how to target advertisements at different consumers on Instagram, as well as scheduling software to keep up with your content calendar.

Depending on how big you want to get with your account, there are endless things that could be necessary, from invoicing systems for professional photographers to service like BuzzSumo to find the right influencers for your campaign. All-in-all, the goal should be to get started with your base and then work from there, giving you a set of tools to steadily improve both the quality of your content as well as who is seeing it.

2. Start Engaging More Casually

One secret to Instagram a lot of people overlook is that unless you go viral, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. The more likely method you’re going to be successful on Instagram with attracting more followers is by simply engaging with people and businesses more.

Not only will those who own those pages start engaging back with you, but the lurkers and those who watch what’s going on. It might sound simple, but it’s one of the most straightforward strategies you can implement.

Make it a habit to create a schedule for searching, including setting certain metrics for yourself. While you want this process to feel as organic as possible, it’s also not a bad idea to make a barometer for small numbers, for example, agreeing to follow three new accounts or comment on at least five posts. Ideally, you don’t want these to be spammy or ingenuine, as that’ll hurt more than it’ll help in the long-run. Instead, it’s important to just have fun as the voice of your brand.

As your brand is going to guide the tone and voice you’ll use on social, start to experiment with what that sounds like, perhaps even writing down the general ethos or attitude you want to hold accountable towards. Authenticity is key, where a lot of what you’re going to say doesn’t necessarily have to be cheeky or clever or even funny, but rather coming from the respected voice of your brand. Even if that takes a little bit of rehashing back and forth to get right, you’ll ultimately get a much better result long-term by just being who you are.

Engaging casually can take some time and effort, but it’s all about just staying the course. Make it habit to run through every day and comment, like, and share as much as what resonates with you, as that’s a key component to making your social media thrive. As we all like it when people engage with us, it’s no secret that others enjoy it when we do it with them as well, which is why this is such an important aspect to throw into your routine.

3. Study The Accounts Of Influencers You Admire

As you most likely have influencers that you’re following, a smart strategy is to start studying what exactly they’re doing that makes them thrive. Is it the amount of content they’re producing? The timing of it? How powerful is the message?

Ultimately, there’s a culmination of factors that will always make a social media page successful, however, knowing how to truly learn from these strategies will ultimately save you quite a bit in the long run.

One of the first things you should do when coming up with influencers to study is looking at who you admire and write down why. As silly as that sounds, getting it in writing the general thesis of what you view in other people will ultimately help you decide what you like about yourself, so being mindful of those qualities will give you a boost when it comes to the day-in and day-out observation. Another aspect of studying the influencers you like is how they engage with their audience.

As any successful influencer will tell you, genuinely engaging with your fans beyond a ‘hey thanks!’ in the comment section will go a long way, as well as show a genuine side to you that your customers may not have known about you.

As influencer culture is all the rage on Instagram, knowing how to tap into that without begging too much and bringing on worthwhile contributions to your partners will always be clutch. While you might not have the following of those you look up to, it’s important to remember to provide value in your commentary and interactions, giving them a sense of the content they can work with. Although it’ll take some time to truly develop your reputation amongst influencers, it will also help you bolster your social presence tenfold, which is well worth the effort overall.

4. Implement Hashtags

One simple but overlooked strategy for getting more likes is implementing more hashtags. While we’re all roughly familiar with how hashtags work, they were initially designed to be hubs for central points of conversation. Although a lot of people go ‘hashtag crazy’ where they include as many as they can in a post, that’s a little too vague to work. Instead, it’s important to come up with a genuine hashtag strategy based on what conversations you want to enter.

Although it might sound like overkill, going through a studying the specific clump of hashtags you want to use more is vital to being a part of the conversation. Start looking at what your competitors are contributing to, as well as influencers you admire.

Ultimately, you want to make your hashtags a concise group posted at the end of a post, with all of them within a range of acceptability to your community. Remember, hashtags are something people want when they need them, but don’t exactly like them when they spam a post...which is why you should use them how you would want them to show up on your feed.

5. Test New Methods

To think that trying things in the same way but expecting different results is often considered crazy. While we’re not here to judge what you have or haven’t been doing, it’s important to start considering how you can implement new methods or procedures to your social media efforts. As an ever changing beast, Instagram sometimes responds to new trends differently, which is why keeping things fresh is vital.

According to ViralRace, a simple way to test new methods is by seeing how you perform with current trends. For example, if a new viral trend comes about, then testing how your delivery did versus someone of similar stature. While it might not mirror perfectly, it’s also going to give you a cursor of where you stand versus the competition, as well as how you can improve. Granted, this all sounds nice in practice, however, it needs a certain standard for keeping consistent.

With testing, a big part is coming with a frame for you want to conduct this research. This includes having parameters around what you’re trying to discover, as well as what your anticipated results will be. For example, if I wanted to use new hashtags that deal with more political issues, then seeing how tone and voice play a role in my content before just diving blindly in. As your industry will have certain niche qualities to them that will ultimately come up in how you communicate with one another, the types of methods you’ll use to discover those as a relatively new company will be vital to your success, especially in deciding where you should test and deploy next.

6. Partner Up With New People

Similar to how we were talking earlier about studying the influencers you admire, the other half of that is looking at what influencers you can partner with. Realistically, these will be pretty local or regional starting out, attracting those within your community that has a similar ethos or mission to you. To branch out from there requires a little bit of proving ROI whereas your account and the influencer account both saw a mutual benefit out of the transaction. Make no mistake, influencers are into this to see a profit too, which is why walking into the partnerships you’re trying to establish you should have a realistic idea of who’s going to benefit from what, as well as why.

With influencer culture, the biggest consideration you should start with is why an influencer is famous, as well as what value they’re looking for from partners.

For example, if I own a clothing store, then knowing what type of celebrities who will gain value from my clothes because of the aesthetic they present versus how much of a following they have will be the balance I obtain; whereas if they have too many followers, then they’re most likely never going to need my brand (regardless of how it looks) while if I produce something amazing and gets shipped to people that are hyping me up as an irrelevant figure, it can potentially be more of a risk more than reward.

Going after influencers to understand and engage with your product or service can be an entire job in itself, so don’t stress too much if it seems like this is taking more time than its worth. Instead, try to find those who you want to partner with organically, providing a source of traffic (no matter how big or small) that loves your brand for what is, not for what it could provide. Ultimately, the right fit will happen, it just takes practice and patience towards partnering with the right people and staying consistent with your outreach.

7. Linkback To Your Page From Other Sources

While you might be doing this anyways, linking back to your page from other sources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter will be a straightforward way of gaining more traffic towards your page.

Even if this is a practice you’re already doing, try to see how you might be able to push links from your Instagram to other content sources even further; for example, having a piece that’s heavily sourced or getting your content featured in blogs and magazines. Although an easy practice, it’s one that a lot of people neglect in practice, which is why you make note of integrating it a little more in your direct and earned media efforts.

8. Create More Engaging Content

As we’ve all seen the content that requires engagement like surveys, trivia, and questions, those can be great strategies for trying to up your follower game.

While you don’t want to be too spammy with these tools, they’re also important to use in determining how strong your engagement is, as well as what type of people are genuinely enjoying the content on your page. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to come up with a testing procedure for engagement content.

With engagement content, it’s a good call to start small, generally with one or two posts per week. The lowest level of engagement you can do is a survey with two options, which considering people see the results in real-time as they answer, makes for a more fun activity on the spot. Other options like trivia are good as well, but can also require a built-in fanbase. Finally, asking questions (surveys) are good, but will see the least amount of participation if your brand isn’t strong yet, where the biggest reason people respond is not only an enticing question but seeing results of the question reposted on the page ASAP.

9. Have Custom Branded AR Effects Made

While you might have to contract an expert, having a custom made AR effect will help your Instagram following grow tenfold. As one of the biggest rages right now on Instagram, custom AR effects are a part of practically everyone’s Instagram story right now. From What Harry Potter Character Are You? to dancing figurines like Shrek and Spiderman, everyone’s using an AR effect in their story, which is why it’s a good idea for your brand to do the same.

When thinking about what AR effect you’re after a good consideration is what type of effect would make the most sense for your brand. Obviously, people aren’t necessarily going to just pose with your logo, which is why making it interesting for an animation is the first step you should consider; for example, if you have a car dealership with a car in the logo, then having it ‘take off’ and drive across the page might make some people excited.

Granted, as AR effects are a relatively new trend, don’t beat yourself up if it’s a little bit of a struggle to come up with the right idea, but rather should be something that organically fits within your brand for the long haul

10. Keep Your Management Consistent

Finally, as a big part of social media management is trial and error, knowing how to keep a level head, test results, and reiterate what you can do to improve your process is the name of the game. Gaining more followers doesn’t come with an easy hack, which is why you should focus on coming up with a management plan that’s sustainable and consistent. A big place that starts is compiling a calendar.

When putting together a content calendar, the first step should always be writing out every piece of content you’re going to produce, as well as the due dates around it. From there, it’s a wise idea to start implementing anticipated versus actual metrics; for example, if you have a post coming up and anticipate 400 likes and 50 comments, then writing that out (as well as the reason why) and comparing it to the actual results will help quite a bit in understanding who (and why) different people are engaging with your brand.

Additionally, always have your content calendar planned out for weeks at a time, preparing for any errors as you grow (such as models or photographers canceling, as well as delays in production). Ideally, you should be planning at least one to two months ahead of time, providing enough of a window that you can make up for anything that might be behind.

Final Thoughts

Earning more Instagram followers is a patient, uphill battle. While it’s going to take a fair amount of work, the reward is that your base will exponentially grow over time with less and less effort, eventually having people look at you in the same light as an influencer.

Even if you’re getting frustrated at first, take the time to give yourself a real sample of seeing results; for example, looking at things in 30, 60, or 90-day increments. No one has ever had their Instagram blow up with followers without going viral, and unless you can predict the future on the next trend, it will most likely be a futile task.

Gaining more followers on Instagram should be a fun task. It involves getting to know your fanbase, potential fans, and even other people you want to work with, which you should embrace as an opportunity to learn more. Even if it takes you a little bit of time to get in the process, once you’ve dived in, it’ll start to feel like second nature. And by then, you’ll be racking up new followers at a rate you couldn’t even imagine.