Turning bad Instagram advice into good

instagram followersWhy do you want to build up a large following on a social network? To have a big, fat number that means nothing or connecting with your customers and potential customers? Unfortunately, much of the advice you’ll find when searching the internet is aimed at big, fat, meaningless numbers.

Recently I ran across this article (well, it looks like this post was deleted – good thing I quoted it!) about building an Instagram following that mainly seemed to be of the ALL THE FOLLOWERS NOW school of thought. Because I am mean, this post was originally titled “Worst Instagram advice ever!” Okay, those are pretty strong words. And after I started writing I realized I’d been a little harsh. But I don’t want other small businesses looking for advice wasting their valuable time pursuing the wrong goals.

The article does contain some good advice mixed in with the questionable, so let’s break down my issues with it point by point:

Following Guidelines

Mention your “following guidelines” in your Instagram bio. Here’s an example: “Follow People Who Follow Me!” It’s important to let users know why they should follow you. If you don’t, they won’t. It’s just that simple!

How about information about your business in your bio rather than random demands for users to follow your followers? That’s so weird! Why would you even do that? A better way to attract followers is to post photos & video that is of interest to the customers you are trying to reach. For example, my other business is a bakery. We mostly post photos of our food. See, I’ll even show you:



Choose a picture from a user’s profile which has been posted by a “shout-out” account. These accounts normally have the words “shout-out” as part of their profile name. Go into the “shout-out” account. Make sure it has less than 200 followers. Then click to view the followers. Follow as many as you can. Watch as these users start to follow you back! Repeat this process for even more followers.

Seriously, what good is this doing your business? The point of building up a social media presence is to reach YOUR customers and people who might be your customers in the future, right? Using this method is as bad as paid Facebook likes or buying questionable email lists. In other words, useless.

Right-side Up

Keep your account right-side up, not upside down. To show you know how to get followers on Instagram like the pros, you want more “followers” than “following”. Give users you follow a certain number of days to follow you back. If they don’t, you flush them.

How about this instead: follow back all of your real followers (block, report the spammy/scammy ones) that have public accounts. Following back is what I do. People that have private accounts usually just want their friends and family viewing them. So I respect that and leave them be. And guess what? It gives me a “right-side-up” follower/following count ratio.

Post and Tag

Post new pictures. Change tags on your pictures regularly. Post at least one new photo a day. Download the “TagsForLikes” or “Instatags” smartphone apps to put tags on your pictures.

This is decent advice. Yes, post photos regularly. Yes, use tags. But relevant tags! You can use Tags For Likes to find tags relevant to your business that are popular. There may even be a set of tags that will always work for you. Tip: use text expansion to save that set of tags, so you don’t have to type it out every time. This option is built into the iPhone and iPad. You android folks also have options.

When to Post

Use Instagram during peak traffic times. Use Statigram to find out your peak traffic times. Click on Statistics on Home Navigation menu. Then click on Optimization on the left sidebar to check out the best times to post.

And we end on more good advice! Because you can’t schedule Instagram posts, it is harder to hit those peak times. It’s better to post when you can than to miss posting because you are too busy during your followers’ peak engagement times.

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Laura Nunemaker

15+ years experience in email marketing, social media, and content development. Former retail bakery owner. Digital nomad. Loves cycling & scuba diving. Vegan.