12 Ways to Increase your Following on Instagram

Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff



There are lots of ways you can tweak your marketing strategy to capture more impressions on Instagram. Following up our post from November of this year titled ‘Should You Abandon Instagram in 2022’, we thought it would be a good idea to share twelve different ways you can boost your follower count on Instagram.Let’s dive in!


1.) Use the Right Hashtags


The goal of Instagram is to increase engagement while increasing followers. Posting new photos, along with images that showcase your products in an attention grabbing way is awesome! However, if you don’t remember to add hashtags (e.g. #shopify) to your posts, then the chances of having users see your posts decreases. 


Trends in what hashtags are popular change constantly, but there are plenty of enduring hashtags you can consider using to help get your posts seen. Check out a list of popular hashtags here.


You may be thinking: ‘these hashtags don’t match my photos.’’ That’s fine - using popular hashtags and the right hashtags, may be similar but are actually different things.


Using popular hashtags may bring you more followers and likes, but they won’t play a major role in keeping these new followers engaged for the long-term. With that considered, you’ll want to find the best hashtags to use with your photos. Look for hashtags that match up with your posts and are also searched frequently on the platform.


Another point to consider is making a list of the best hashtags for you to use. Once you have such a list, you can pick and choose which ones to add to your posts. Just keep in mind that Instagram only allows for 30 hashtags per post. Hashtags also can change day by day, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the hashtags used by the most popular Instagram users so you know what ones are popular at any given time. With these tips, you should be able to build a great list of brand-relevant hashtags for your products and brand!


It’s also worth knowing that Instagram engages in the process of ‘shadow-banning’: your account becomes ‘undiscoverable’ while you retain the normal functionality of the platform. You want to avoid this if you’re looking to grow your following. As such, avoid putting hashtags in your comments of your posts, and leave them just for your captions! You can learn more about shadow-bans in our other recent Instagram blog post here.


Use Hashtags in your Stories


Hashtags aren’t only for posts, they’re also very helpful for Stories. Using hashtags in your Story increases your chances of being discovered by users who are fans of that hashtag.

You can add hashtag stickers to your stories, too! You can tap the pen icon at the top of the screen after taking a photo or video for your store, and then you should see a ‘#’ sticker you can interact with.







2.) Use Filters


Hashtags aren’t the only way to get new followers. It may seem strange, but some users prefer and respond to particular filters more often. By utilizing these filters, you can see your engagement spike! Below I have a list of Iconosquare’s Top 10 Most Popular Instagram Filters:


  1. No filter
  2. Clarendon
  3. Juno
  4. Lark
  5. Ludwig
  6. GinghamMore
  7. Valencia
  8. X-Pro II
  9. Lo-fi
  10. Amaro

What’s really interesting is that many users don’t use filters at all. The hashtag #nofilter is one of the most popular hashtags of all time! This highlights the importance of the quality of the content you’re posting, as well as the filter you are (or not) using.


Although there are popular filters, the preferred filters for your business will differ depending on the demographic of your audience and the content that you post. There has been a lot of research done to determine the best filters for what niche or type of account. For example, Bustle has an awesome article here where they break down what filters are the best to get likes for particular niche demographics. Take a look!

Additionally, a consistently posting account will get you more followers (I’ll touch more on this later), so try to be consistent not just in content, but in the filters you use. Try to find a filter that matches your account and brand. Or post without filters! Once you decide, try to stick with that decision! Your future followers will appreciate it.


3.) Update at the Right Time


Hashtags and filters are important, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re posting at the right time of day to get a lot of impressions. Using a social media tracking tool like IconoSquare can help you analyze what time your content is getting the most reactions.


The example image I have below shows the day of the week on the Y axis and the time of day on the X Axis. The black circles represent a post, while the gray circles indicate the engagement on that post at that particular time. The black circles are bigger when more engagement has happened, so you can use something like this to suggest when it may be best for you to post your content for the day.










You can also use Instagram Insights to find similar information, which is available within your Instagram Business Account.


4.) Get Competitor Followers


Another tactic to use while reaching new followers is to appeal to the followers of your competitors. These followers are likely already interested in your product or service, so it makes sense to take advantage of this pool of people. But how do we get them to follow us?


I’ll outline three ways for you to engage with these potential followers below:


  • Follow a user
  • Like a user’s photo
  • Comment on a user’s photo


Below we have some results from a case study from Follows.com, where our subject, ‘Richard’, followed 100 of this competitor’s followers, then follow and liked another 100, and then followed, liked, and commented on content from another 100: 


  • Follow Only: 14% Follow Back
  • Follows & Likes: 22% Follow Back
  • Follows & Likes & Comments: 34% follow backs


The results are clear - The more you engage with potential followers, the more likely they are to follow.


5.) Leverage Influencers


If you really want to stand out and make an impact on your follower count, consider marketing with influencers!


This method usually isn’t free unlike our previously mentioned tips, but when properly utilized, it can be incredibly effective.


To start, do some research into what influencer accounts are the most popular. A good method of finding influencers is to search for them using hashtags. You can also utilize the ‘Search’ function of the Instagram App, where some posts will be tagged as ‘popular’ based on the volume of likes they received. Additionally, you can search for the hashtag #PR to examine influencer marketing posts that other brands are taking advantage of. Try looking for matching influencers with hashtags you plan on using - it will help your account theming remain consistent, like what we talked about before!


You don’t always need to do influencer marketing, but using it well can have a strong impact. This is why there is so much influencer marketing happening across all of social media - it works.


6.) Use your Location


Instagram posts and stories can be tagged with locations - letting users know where the particular content was posted from. Not only does this information show up for your followers in your posts, but you can use stickers to make sure it appears in your stories.


Locally based businesses use information like this to market to users in their cities or communities to drive local traffic to engage and follow their brands.














7.) Organize your Story into Highlights


When a potential new follower visits your profile, you don’t have much time to actually convince them to follow you. So, having a fleshed out profile is incredibly important.


One of the features you should be utilizing is ‘Story Highlights.’ This lets you keep a collection of previously posted and deleted stories available for viewing.









When you have an event that went great, or have content you want potential followers to see, you can use this feature to save that story and show it off beyond the normal 24 hour story deletion window.


Here’s a few tips to help you take advantage of Highlights:

  • Introduce your Account
  • Post content that matches your brand and content
  • Introducing products with photos and videos
  • Promote products by linking them (swipe up) (requires a business account with at least 10,000 followers to use)

8.) Make a Request


This may sound cliche, but it’s a method that has proven to work across all social media platforms for many years. Ask your viewers to follow! It’s the same as a YouTuber asking someone to subscribe at the end of their videos; if you’ve ever done this, then you’re proof that this method works!


You can ask visitors by using hashtags to drop a follow. You can even use mutual follow hashtags (providing a follow to someone to get a follow) as a way to boost your numbers and expose more users to your brand. 


9.) Ride the Trend


It’s incredibly important to remember to tie your content in trending topics and hashtags. For example, using hashtags for anniversaries or events is a great way to have your content seen. For example, on International Coffee Day, think about posts about #NationalCoffeeDay #CoffeeDay so your content gets seen! 


It’s just as important to know what sort of events or holidays your followers are interested in! It’s never wrong to follow a trend, but tailoring things could help even more.


10.) Share UGC - User Generated Content


User-generated content (UGC), refers to content such as videos, photos, and reviews created by real social media users. UGC is increasingly becoming more critical for brand reach day by day and many accounts are not using UGC for marketing. UGC provides a real voice for users of products, so it’s really easy for potential followers to get sucked into watching content about your brand.


The appeal of UGC is that users who genuinely post the content are happy to be shared by their favourite brands and we know that it actually leads to conversions and store sales. According to many articles and case studies done by Olapic, consumers are up to 56% more likely to purchase a product after seeing an image shared by a previous customer.


Let's take a look at Fashion Nova. Fashion Nova's UGC expresses the brand's values, while actually inspiring followers to post UGC, and has the effect of encouraging customers to buy what real users are wearing.


To encourage people to create UGC, consider asking your customers to share your product or service using the following methods:


  • Create branded hashtags to make posting easier
  • Add compelling copy to your Instagram profile
  • Hold a contest
  • Contact influencers
  • Attach content requesting UGC to the product

The goal of UGC is to present a real voice about your product or service. If a customer posts a not-so-good photo, don't be afraid to use it.


11.) Use Instagram Live


Live video is a key part of the puzzle when building a successful marketing campaign on any social media platform. Instagram allows you to engage with your audience using Instagram Live - so take advantage of it!


When you start using Instagram Live, your followers will be notified, and they’ll be able to access the content at the top of your timeline. After the live is over, you can upload it as a story and keep it there for 24 hours. Here’s a cool guide from Oberlo on how to get started using Instagram Live.


Instagram Live allows for two-way communication, so you can engage with viewers as they watch and comment. It’s important to make sure you follow up with these comments as they pour in.


Here are some ways to attract followers and potential followers to check out your Live:


  • Get influencers to show up
  • Hold a question corner and Q&A
  • Introduce new products
  • Host a talk show
  • Get a behind-the-scenes look at services, shops, and more
  • Live stream an event in progress
  • Teach you how to use the product or service


12.) Be Consistent in your Posts


Many of your followers will follow you not based on what you had posted in the past, but because of what you may post in the future. It’s important to give your followers hints and a solid idea of what your future posts may look like.


It’s surprisingly easy to make your account consistent. Posting content at the same pace, or posting the same type of themed content is an example of this. You can be incredibly simple with this consistency, too, by using the same background in multiple posts, or using similar filters.


Your most recent 9 posts will be your most important, along with their descriptions. These are the first things people see while visiting your page! Because of this, it’s important to try to tie your consistency into 9 consecutive posts at a time.


Frequently Asked Questions


How often should you post?

We recommend posting at least once every 2-3 days. There is no problem with posting daily if you’re introducing new products, however even poor quality posts will cause followers to leave, so try posting new content within a reasonable time frame.


I can't increase my followers. What should I do?

This could be because your posts are inconsistent, your images aren't engaging, or you aren't reaching your target audience. Start by researching accounts that are similar to yours with the followers you want.


Is it better to use an automatic tool that increases Instagram followers?

No need to use automated tools. There are many ways to increase your followers without paying any money.


Can I buy followers?

It may violate Instagram's terms of service, so we recommend avoiding this tactic.