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Are you ready to start using Instagram marketing to grow your business? Awesome!

The social network has over 700 million users which means if you can’t find your target audience on Instagram you’re probably doing something wrong.

When it comes to jumpstarting your Instagram business account there are several ways you can grow your audience. Some are good and some ways are very bad. Today let’s discuss some of the best and worst methods for growing your Instagram account.

1. Instagram automation can get your account suspended.

When you first sign up for an Instagram account, getting instagram followers is likely your primary goal.

There is no doubt that it can feel frustrating and even embarrassing to see 0, 10 or even just 100 followers on your business account. Because of that some marketers and business owners turn to Instagram automation services to turbocharge their growth efforts.

An Instagram automation service uses a bot to do several things:

  • Like posts that use specific hashtags you want to target
  • Follow accounts that use hashtags you want to target
  • Comment on posts that use at least one hashtag that you want to target

All of this can sound pretty good.

Doesn’t this mean you’ll reach the people in your target audience faster than if you manually had to go through a hashtag feed and like, comment and follow each person yourself?

Yes, it does mean that.

Unfortunately Instagram automation goes against Instagram’s terms of service which means you’re constantly at risk of having your account suspended.

This isn’t a huge problem when you’re first starting your account but it can be a major issue if you are able to build up thousands of Likes from people interested in the topic you’re posting about.

There are other downsides to using Instagram automation which the expert team at Hootsuite kindly documented for reference.

2. Manually following the Instagram growth algorithm works.

If you can’t use Instagram automation, how are you supposed to grow your number of followers?

Try one of the two formulas that many growth hackers have found success with:

Formula 1: Follow-Like-Like-Like

When following this formula you do exactly what it sounds like. You search a hashtag that is relevant to your company. For example, if you sell running shoes you might look up the #instarun hashtag to find users posting running pictures.

You would then click on an image that uses the hashtag and follow the person who shared it. You would then go on to like three of their recent posts. This tells the user that not only do you have something in common with him or her but that you find their content appealing.

This formula has resulted in a 25% follow back rate for many brands!

Formula 2: Follow-Like-Comment

When you’re ready to really kick your Instagram growth strategy up a notch you can use the Follow-Like-Comment method. It works almost exactly the same way that the first formula works except you replace two of the likes with a comment.

Sometimes Instagram automation services will include commenting in their offerings. Since they’re automating the process, the comment has to be something generic like “cool, nice pic.” Most people can tell this is spam and they won’t engage with the account. Even worse they may mark your account as spam which can result in an Instagram suspension.

With this formula I wouldn’t recommend taking the easy way out and using an automation service. Instead you’ll need to come up with a clever, engaging and personalized comment for each photo. This takes time but the results can be amazing — some brands see a 34% follow back rate from using this method!

3. Speed up your growth with shoutouts.

If you don’t have the time to invest in following the formulas shared in the tip above, you do have a nice alternative: Instagram shoutouts.

There are three ways to go about getting shoutouts and only one of them is a good idea:

  • Comment on other people’s posts with “S4S” which stands for Shoutout 4 Shoutout. It means if that person is willing to shout you out to their followers you agree to do the same. This is spam and it’s not recommended.
  • Purchase shoutouts from one of the many sites that sells them for $10-100 per shout (just google “instagram shoutouts” and many sites will come up). This sounds easy but it is not a great idea because many of the accounts that use these sites to earn money have fake followers (aka ones that they purchased).

    You’ll know an account has fake followers if their follower count is high but the number of likes and comments on each post is suspiciously low. Spending even $10 on this type of shoutout is a waste of money.
  • Research influencers in your industry and then email or DM them to ask if they offer shoutouts. Be sure to tell them who you are, what your brand does and why you think their followers would find your account interesting.

Researching influencers is the best one to follow for obtaining an Instagram shoutout. The most important thing to do when reaching out to an influencer is to let them know why your account is beneficial to their followers. Perhaps it’s because you post similar inspirational/motivational content, or because you post helpful tips or useful product ideas.

Good influencers will only shout out accounts that are a good fit for their audience. And they will expect to be paid well.

Unlike those spammy accounts that offer shoutouts for $10, influencers have worked hard to curate a high quality audience of real followers. Usually it takes them years to build up their communities, and to earn the trust of their followers. They won’t risk jeopardizing this relationship to make a quick $10 or even a quick $100.

You should expect to send the influencer a free product of yours for them to try so they can provide their audience with an authentic review when they shout you out.

You should also expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $5,000 or more for this type of shoutout. You may even have to work with a digital talent management company on a contact to get the job done.

Getting Started

Now that you know the best and worst ways to grow your Instagram following it’s time to get started! I recommend that you begin with one of the Instagram growth formulas and expand from there.

If you have any questions please leave a comment down below and I’ll do my best to answer!