Over the past few years, Instagram (IG) has quickly become one of the most recognized and widely used social media platforms – and rightly so. Instagram uniquely offers a visual landscape, that can completely transform your brand message and marketing campaigns, igniting engagement and increasing conversion. Still, many small businesses and entrepreneurs primarily focus on Facebook and Twitter for social reach because they are familiar and fairly easy to use.

By now you’ve probably created an Instagram account and started posting photos, GIFs or videos to your profile – which means you at least understand the basics, but there’s so much more to gaining followers and building influence than just being able to post. {I’ll write more about creating brand consistency on Instagram in a future post}.

So, if you’re ready to take your account to the next level and get more followers, then here are a few of my top tips on growing your audience, fast.

  1. Find your niche and stick to it

The most successful IG accounts focus on one or two very targeted niches – only posting content relevant to those particular topics. If you don’t already have a business, brand or blog that defines your niche, start by finding an area that you are passionate about and have knowledge on. For example, if you’re a frugal shopper, post about your couponing and shopping adventures. Or, if you are a frequent traveler, use your profile to chronicle your travels and experiences.

No matter the topic, by identifying your niche and making it the foundation of your posts, you will establish credibility and authenticity – and achieve the ultimate goal of attracting a strong and loyal following.

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  1. Post frequently and consistently

Since your goal is to grow your IG following, then posting high quality photos and video regularly is a must. To establish your brand, you won’t be able to casually post a few times per week either. You will need to devise a schedule to post consistently. I recommend posting 2-3 times per day at a minimum.

Also, make sure that you are posting high resolution, well-lit photos. Check your cell phone camera settings and make sure that they are set to the highest pixel setting. As you evaluate participation, pay attention to the response (likes/follows) that you get on different types of posts – so that you know what is igniting the most engagement. Then, create more posts like those to build a stronger following and keep your followers interested.

Bonus Tip:

Use a cloud service to save on phone storage {Try: Google Photos or iCloud}

  1. Capture your thoughts with captions

Strong captions go a long way in helping you to get your message out to your audience. Use them to your advantage. Your caption dialog should do one of three things: motivate, inspire-to-action, or give your followers an experience.

Bonus Tip:

Not all captions have to be long and detailed, sometimes a clever ‘one-liner’ is enough to do the trick.

  1. Over-posting is overwhelming

I know that I stressed consistency in step 2, but don’t make the mistake of posting too often either. It can easily offend or overwhelm some followers.  It’s important that you get your frequency correct and then keep it consistent.

If you’re just getting started follow this formula (as a guide) for how many times per day that you should post:

1 – 1000 followers = 1-2 posts a day

1,000 – 5,000 = 2-3 posts a day

5,000 – 10,000 = 3-4 posts a day

  1. Hashtags, your new BFF’s

Hashtags can expose your content to other instagrammers that may not come across your account otherwise. It’s important that you use them properly and effectively. IG allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, per post. Try not to use common hashtags – that have nothing to do with your post – just to get followers. Each hashtag should be relevant to the post and the audience that you are trying to reach.

Examples of descriptive hashtags are:

#datenight #mommyblogger #millionairemindset #traveladventures #lookoftheday

  1. Conversation = Engagement

When crafting your caption (from step 3), consider using them to ask questions. As your followers respond to the question, engage them with follow-up dialog. You will create a conversation and develop a connection with them. The more people that you ‘connect’ with, the more you’ll attract increased interaction from other’s viewers.

Bonus Tip:

Engage profiles similar to yours. Leave meaningful comments that will get the attention of others and encourage them to visit your account.

  1. Nix the negativity

Instagram is not where you want to post your rant, aggravation or negativity. Focus on building a positive page that motivates and inspires your followers. If not, over time you’ll lose followers, as they find their daily dose of positivity somewhere else.

Monitor the comments on your posts – setup notifications so that you are alerted whenever someone leaves a comment, and delete any negative comments immediately.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t respond to trollers that spend their time looking for ways to start fights in your comments. Just simply delete their comment and move on.

Start putting these tips to use right away! You’ll begin to see a difference in IG interactions and an increase in your followers, which will help you gain a loyal engaged audience!

If you have a clever tip that has worked for you – that’s not listed here – I invite you to share it in the comments. After all, sharing is caring!