5 Steps to Quickly Build Your Following on Instagram

Instagram Ready to jump into Instagram?

Maybe you’re just about to create your account… or maybe you’ve got one but you haven’t posted much yet…

A few weeks ago I decided to go on a little quest to connect with more people via social media, including Instagram.  I’ve tested a bunch of things – some which worked really well (shared below), and some which were a complete waste of time (didn’t share below).  ;)

Here are just the essentials to get you started FAST and RIGHT so you can get results (followers, traffic, sales) quickly… plus the apps and tactics I’ve found super helpful.

Step 0: Download the App

You’re smart.  I probably don’t need to note this.  But just in case…

Please go to the app store on your mobile phone and search “Instagram” so you can download the app.  That’s sort of required.

Step 1: Set Up Your Profile

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 1.21.19 PM

1. Make your user ID easy to spell/find and use your real name so when people search, they find you.

2. Upload a profile photo of YOU.  Please don’t use your logo, your dog, or scenery… People want to see and connect with you, a real, living, breathing person.

3. Your bio is the ONE place on Instagram you get to put a clickable link.  So use it!

Do NOT send this link to your main home page or blog… send it to an opt-in page, of course.

Tip: You can change the link in your bio as often as you’d like.  So if you post an image about a specific promotion or opt-in freebie, go change your bio link, then you can add in your post caption “Click link in bio for access”

Use a bit.ly link or similar so you can track and see traffic coming from Instagram (otherwise all the traffic will show up as direct).

4. Once you’ve got your profile setup and a few photos shared, be sure to add a link from your website/blog to your Instagram profile and encourage your friends on other social networks to follow you on Instagram, too.

Step 2: Create Your Strategic Plan

As with any social network, it will not work to hop on Instagram and post 37 photos of your product or service with “hey buy this now!” as the caption…

So let’s get strategic here… take a few minutes to define..

The Who: Who do you want to reach?  

Stop and think, who exactly is your audience?  Sex, age, interests, goals, dreams, fears, income, location, family… Who else are they following and what key phrases (hashtags) are they using?

The How: How often will you post on Instagram?  What will you share?  

What’s your content plan?  In step 4 below I share 30+ ideas of what you can post on Instagram.

For now, think about how many times a day you’ll commit to sharing an image (I suggest two or maybe three to get started) and what the general theme or feel of your Instagram feed will be.

The Goal: What’s your overall goal?

Do you want to drive traffic to your blog?  Get opt-ins?  Have conversations with potential clients?

If you don’t define and track your goals, you can’t possibly achieve them.  Take time to consider exactly what you want to get out of your time on Instagram.

Step 3: Remember the “Social” Part

Don’t just pop onto Instagram to share your own photos, and then pop back off… stick around and be social!

It only takes a few minutes to scroll through the feed and like items.  Leave a few comments.

Be SOCIAL and interact!

Remember… if everyone is talking (okay “snapping”, as in snapping photos, get it? haha) and no one is listening or responding… the fastest, easiest way to stand out and be noticed is to be the one who is listening and responding!

Step 4: Keep it Consistent

Create a daily checklist for yourself, then stick to it!

I put mine into a Google spreadsheet and included the following as a daily minimum:

  • Post a minimum of twice daily (only one can be my own content/link, the other is an inspirational quote, random photo from my day, or a repost of someone else).
  • Scroll through the feed twice daily, liking and commenting on at least 5 other users photos.
  • Search a relevant #hashtag and follow 10-25 new people.
  • Respond to anyone who tagged me, messaged me, or reposted one of my photos.
  • Note how many people I’m following, how many are following me back, and what level of interaction (likes, comments) my recent shares have received.

And on the topic of content and consistency… Here are 30+ ideas for content you can share on Instagram:

  1. Photos of you with fun or quirky captions – Use the apps below to create photos of yourself with fun #hashtags or quotes.
  2. Favorite quotes – Share your favorite image quotes (Pinterest is a great place to find these) or create your own.
  3. Your workspace – Snap a pic of your workspace to share and let people see where/how you work.
  4. Product/services – Showcase your product or services in a photo (google “flat layout instagram” for some fun ideas, or use the layout app linked below to combine photos).
  5. Client testimonial or success story – Got a great testimonial or comment from a client? Add it to a photo or screenshot to share.
  6. Case study – What results are your clients getting and how can you show that with a photo? Can you combine photos for a visual before/after case study? Get creative!
  7. Blog post – Grab the featured image from your post and share it – be sure to give people a way to get to the post.
  8. Repost cool content – With Repost app (link below) or similar you can easily share other people’s content.
  9. Behind the scenes – Show an “in progress” style pic to give a behind the scenes look at your process. This can be particularly fun if you’ve got an “oops” moment you can capture.
  10. Sneak peeks – What do you have in the works that you could tease a bit?
  11. Daily life – Beyond business, share something from your personal life… out and about… coffee date… book you’re reading…
  12. Personal thoughts – A sunset or landscape with your own personal quote/thought is interesting, unique content.
  13. Events or moments – Got photos of you on stage speaking, networking with a group, or other “moments” you could share?
  14. Future dreams – What’s your goal or dream either personal or business? Can you capture it in an image to share?
  15. Bucket list – Got a bucket list? Share photos of things from your list and why they’re significant to you.
  16. Mini-Infographic – Create a mini-infographic (Canva, link below, is great for this) and share a “top five tips” or “one strategy” type mini-infographic. Be sure to add your URL and logo!
  17. Tip Series – Create a series of images where you give your best tips for your audience, number them so your followers know to watch for more in the series.  (Again, Canva’s good for this one, too.)
  18. Recommendations & favorites – Share your favorite website, tool, blog, guru, restaurant, etc. in a photo.
  19. Opt-In freebie – Post an image of your opt-in freebie and let your followers know where to go to get free access.
  20. Inspired by – Who or what inspires you? Share a photo and caption with why it inspires you.
  21. Family – Allow people to see the real you, with family photos. If you prefer not to share current photos of your family or kids, how about a photo from your childhood?
  22. Encourage connections – Screenshot or snap a pic of your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc and encourage your followers on Instagram to connect with you on other social networks.
  23. Question of the day – create a text image with a question of the day for your followers to answer. Tag a few friends to jumpstart the comments.
  24. Resource – Think of something you’ve found helpful recently and share a resource with your followers.
  25. Personal life – What’s happening in your personal life that you could share?  Photo of your garden, time with friends/family, cooking, the gym, out and about…
  26. Personal success – Share a photo of an award or a screenshot of something you’ve achieved with a caption about being grateful and why it matters to you.
  27. Warning – What not to do… could be a photo with caption or you could create a text image.
  28. Dining – Don’t throw anything at me… no Instagram photo idea list would be complete without mentioning that you can share photos of your meals…
  29. Themes/memes – You’ll see #motivationmonday #throwbackthursday and more.  Note what your audience seems to be using and paying attention to and then participate.
  30. Shoutouts – Give a shoutout to a brand, guru, blog, website, app, tool, fellow Instagrammer – someone or something you’ve found useful.
  31. Giveaway or contest – Run a contest or giveaway (share this image for an entry to win X). Please check legal guidelines for doing this in your country/state/industry before you do it.
  32. Promo code – How about a promo code just for your Instagram followers? Add it as an overlay to an image showing what they can use it to purchase.

Tip: Keep your captions and hashtags simple and on point with your brand.  Take time to think them through before you post.

In addition to keeping your CONTENT consistent, you need to keep your CONNECTION BUILDING consistent.  More on that here… Instagram Cheatsheet – 10 Steps to 30,000+ Followers (PDF)

Step 5: Model What Works and Add Your Twist

Follow accounts who are doing Instagram right, and watch what they do.

Pay particular attention to…

What catches your attention about their photos?

What do they put in their captions?  What’s their CTA?

  • Inbox me for details
  • Connect with me to chat
  • Click link in bio

Are they using hashtags?  If so, how are they using them?

Notice what works then adapt it and add your own twist.

Resources & Tools

In addition to the Instagram app and website, here are my four favorite apps for creating content to share on Instagram (search for any of these in your app store).

Canva – Easily add text to your photos and create cool layouts.  Great for us non-designers.

Canva App

Repost – My favorite app for sharing images from other Instagram users.  Adds their credit and makes it simple to repost content.

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Layout – This official Instagram app allows you to combine, flip, and mirror images.

Layout app

A Beautiful Mess – The creative layouts and fonts in this paid app allow you to express your personal brand and style.

A Beautiful Mess

Your Next Step…

Get access now to this free Instagram Cheatsheet – 10 Steps to 30,000+ Followers (PDF) and put it into action.  You need followers to share your content with if you want the above steps to work for ya!  ;)


[Click for Instant Access]

Let’s Connect on Instagram

Leave a comment below with your Instagram user ID and let’s all connect!  :)

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  1. I love your “keep it consistent” list! Yep! I’m swipin’ it <3 I used one of the steps in the Cheatsheet you shared yesterday and already saw a 3% increase in followers in 24 hours. o.O CRAZY!

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us so we can expand our own! Lots of luvs!!

  2. Great article, Michelle. I love using Instagram, but have used it more as a personal fun app til now. You’ve given me a lot of great ideas for me to use it to support my biz – and the goose I needed to get serious about strategy and consistency. I’m at @dawnmena on IG – see you there!

  3. I have been your subscriber for quite sometime and this is the first time I am commenting here. Firstly thank you for sharing your tips and tricks. Your newsletters keep me motivated. Keep up the good work. ??
    @chinks_lounge on Instagram.

  4. Hello Michelle,
    Just amazing and interesting information you shared here. I don”t know about this type of Instagram following method. Thanx for shared best information here. I think you should update and latest post sharing.

  5. Hello Michelle,

    thanks for the content idea list and making it clear that a content strategy or brainstorming is something very important to make sure you don’t have to think for minutes what you are posting next on Instagram. With a solid topic breakdown you can easily plan your content ahead and focus more on creating better content. I can recommend including videos in the list in general as they have fantastic engagement and can drive a lot of likes and follows. And I can not empathizes enough the importance of hashtags, go check out other popular profiles in your niche and write down what they are using and test what hashtags have best results for you.

  6. There are many helpful services like zen-promo.com .You have to use it to find your first thousands of followers in a short time. It will build the constant and lasting following for you. And you will become assured Instagram user.

  7. Hi,

    To get Instagram followers we must post content that the Instagrammers do, they post pics and videos of cars and pools and money and they get millions of followers.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Ali Imran recently posted… {New Year 2017} Complete InformationMy Profile

  8. Great post Michelle have followed you on IG and good to rediscover your wonderful blog

  9. I really need to step up my game on Instagram. I don’t follow anyone but do have 20 followers somehow. I am not active as I should be. I have considered posting images with link details with in the picture itself but it doesn’t really work as well as it does on Twitter. I am going to use your advice though.

  10. This is really helpful cause I am just starting on Instagram.

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