6 Tips for Getting Followers & Likes on Instagram

Learn how to use Instagram like a pro with these 6 tips that will increase user engagement and get you more Instagram followers & likes.

Tips for getting more Instagram followers and likes

To start off, I will assume that you have already read my previous Instagram article on why your business needs Instagram and are now ready and willing to learn more about using it. In this case, the focus is not why… but how.

In this article, I’ll provide you with some tips that will get you using Instagram like a pro!

Most people find Instagram confusing because it works on a visual platform.  Remember the old adage “a picture is worth a 1000 words”? This is especially true with Instagram because a picture (or video) will be what makes people stop dead in their tracks and engage.  This is a called disruptive marketing—when your marketing makes them stop what they are doing to look!

Here are six ways that you can build your business using Instagram:

Tip 1: Shiny Object Syndrome – Using Visual User Engagement to Tell Your Story

Instagram works on a very basic principle that people would rather see, than read.  Images have about three seconds to catch a viewer’s attention and disrupt their progress onto the next image.  Shiny object syndrome, or making viewers want to react to your glittery image, is the ultimate goal of Instagram.  Your job is to provide as many shiny, pretty images to interrupt the users as they scroll and break into their “I want to buy” micro-moment with the story of your business.

Does that sound hard?

It’s not… because followers WANT to engage in your story. Think of it as a movie captured in stills of individualized frames. At any point in your movie, someone might join your story and enjoy the single picture, but your job is to engage the viewer with a series of frames that tell a story.

TAKEAWAY: On Instagram, you control the story of your business, frame by frame. Engagement happens when someone “gets” your story and stops to find out more.

Tip 2: Wrong Time, Wrong Day

In a world obsessed with time, why is it that we never consider that there is a right time and a right day to post on all social media? Instagram definitely has a RIGHT TIME/RIGHT DAY standard. The two most notable things to be aware of are what times/days are your demographics on Instagram and where is your traffic located.

DID YOU KNOW? Stats show that 80% of the US population is in the Central and Eastern time zone. Use this knowledge to your advantage!

As pointed out by CoSchedule about posting times, there is a significant dead zone for Instagram between 3-4 pm with a boost in video content around 9 pm.

What does this mean?

It means that you should start scheduling posts on Monday and Thursday at:

  • 8-9 am (on the way to work or school)
  • 5 pm (on the commute home!)
  • 9 pm (downtime before bed)

Instragram scheduling posts time

Did you notice in the last sentence I said you should START with these times?

When you have a few weeks of posting under your belt, start adding in off-times right before or after these times. Start trying different content at varied times—perhaps a video instead of an image!

Next, find your sweet spot time/day and content for posting by checking to see what people are responding to the most!

Finding your sweet spot(s) does not mean you only post at that time/day. You should post every day with engaging content that moves your story along.

TAKEAWAY: Everyone basically has the same schedule in your business area. Get up > Eat > Go to Work/School > Go Home. Rinse and repeat until the weekend. Tap into this pattern to really build up your Instagram following by understanding the right time and date to post.

Tip 3: Hashtag and Tag Like You Mean It

Instagram is one of the last social media frontiers that is still highly searchable and connectable. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram does not limit character count.  We have all the room to say everything we want to say.  But we often get a landslide of hashtags or tags that mean absolutely nothing to the user and interrupt what you want them to do – BUY!

Balancing these two goals is vital to success.  Learn to use tags/hashtags to enhance your descriptions or in limited supply at the end.   While it is vital to get into the Instagram search engine, it is just as important to use the right hashtags for the day (because you want to look savvy) mixed with brand, product, popular search terms, and story conscious tags.

Instagram has its own hashtag language for certain days of the week. Playing with tags like #tbt (throwback Thursday), #instadaily, #photooftheday will help you talk to your audience.

With a little humor aimed at the person getting off of work after a long day, Absolute Vodka did a phenomenal job of using humor to engage customers with an interesting cocktail recipe, great visual, and the correct brand/product hashtags to tell their story. The only thing missing is a strong call-to-action or link to the recipe to increase click through.

Instagram hashtagging example

Notice, in this example, that the hashtags are #drinks, #absolutvodka, #cocktails, etc. However, I would have #martini too!  WHY?  People are likely to search for martini as well!

TAKEAWAY: Using hashtags should add to your brand and product story to engage both search engines and follower without creating hashtag vomit all over the post!

Tip 4: Involve Your Followers

Let’s face it. If sharing useful information with your followers is not a part of your Instagram marketing plan, then it needs to be! You should always include sharing helpful information with your customers as one of the pivotal points of your brand.

Why?!

You are trying to show them that your product or service in some way addresses a pressure point for them and, so doing, encourage them to buy from you. One excellent example of how to share a solution to a problem for your customers is this Instagram post from Nike:

Instagram example of involving your followers

With the right tags for their brand/product, Nike is showing the women of America that they can fix their problems with sports bras. This shows that they know their market share and understand their audience with an added awareness of body consciousness. By showing a woman that is full figured, Nike Women upped their game by showing knowledge of the social issues around the industry (see comment section in the screenshot above). With a call to action for the link in their profile to find the right sports bra, this post is getting lots of love from the audience.

TAKEAWAY: Share your knowledge with potential clients to build trust, transparency, and transactions.

Tip 5: Mark the Moments and Events of Life

Some businesses follow the rule of “never be political or controversial on Instagram”. On most social media, this is a good rule to follow—however, for Millennials of Instagram—social currency is vital to building strong engagement. With this in mind, it is easy to be socially conscious without bringing the wrath of Instagram down on you. For example, this post from National Geographic shows the reality of people who are homeless as well as the refugee issues (and many things in between) with one powerful image and a tag to the photographer.

Instagram example of sharing moments & events of life

Perhaps images like these are not a part of your ability to produce on your own, but they are a part of your company’s story. This Instagram post shows the perfect way to share the message and gain social currency while tagging the owner of the image.

It is possible for a company to engage in a political or community movement, like voter registration without stepping outside of their brand story.  In the National Geographic example, the brand story is not ingrained in the post meaning that there is not a product or service pitch.

Below, in the Ben & Jerry’s Instagram post, the brand story says that the company support voter registration.

Instagram example of sharing life moments & events

Obviously, Ben & Jerry’s wants to promote a voter registration event in Vermont at a festival. Hash tagging both the event title and the location, they go further to include the tag for the participating organization with a simple image of a button with a Ben & Jerry’s cone topped with the Congressional building that reads “Democracy is in Your Hands”.  Nothing fancy— just someone holding a button up against a pretty landscape, but it says everything about their product and their stance on voting.

TAKEAWAY: There is a right way to earn social currency with political or controversial posts. Letting the image speak with a few words or hashtags gives people room to engage without rage.

Tip 6: Give It All Up on Instagram

Businesses often overlook the human factor on Instagram, but the truth is everyone loves to see, hear, and feel connected. If you know that your business is tied to an area that has pride in a team or way of life, then include that as a piece of your marketing strategy. In most of the country, college football is huge right now! If you are location based and you can include Instagram posts from the team that the majority of your audience loves – DO IT!

Because I am a Solid Orange Clemson fan, I would be remiss not to share this perfect Instagram post that even competition teams would love:

Instagram example of the human factor

In this post, we see a microcosm of a college football team with the proper hashtags. In the bigger picture, we see a military family reunited with their service member. This is the moment when one post steps outside of their market to warm all college football fans and families.

Use things like contests, guest posts, and questions as customers love when people are involved in your channel.

TAKEAWAY: If you want local traffic, supporting the interests of your local audience helps plug your business directly into a fan base.

One Monumental Mistake – The Motion of the Ocean

As human beings, it is a part of our survival DNA to stop and watch when something moves.

The biggest mistake most people make on Instagram is not using video!

It is a complete win to use video to tell your story for two reasons: people have to watch it to see if they want to see it (process that a moment!) and your competition is not using video.

Need an extra reason? Usually, people don’t just watch one video. They end up watching video after video until they find one to share.

One of my FAVORITE Instagram channels is BuzzFeedTasty because they use video combined with the directions for making a recipe that fits just right with the season. Most fans would happily settle for football, beer, and brat nachos right!

What is better? Over 1.3 million views in 3 weeks!

Instagram example of the motion of the ocean

TAKEAWAY: Tell your story with video whenever you can, because people like to watch even more than they like to look!

And That’s a Wrap on Instagram

There is no great mystery or magic potion to Instagram! The real goal is to find your time, find your tribe, and engage with post and videos.

If you have a great post or want to share your thoughts, tag me on Instagram @magicmarketingusa!

HINT – inviting people to share is a great way to engage your readers! See what I did there?

About the author


  • Diana Bourgeois is a social media guru with over 10 years of experience. She is owner of Social Media Second, a thriving international social media firm that works to help small business startups. Diana never gets tired of teaching and learning about new ways to help small business owners market their business. Much of her off-time is spent staring at her phone and shaking her head at yet another painful post.

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