(Without Following and Commenting)

What’s the surest way to get Instagram followers?
There are many ways to answer that question, but so far, one tactic has proven particularly popular and effective:
Following other users, liking their images and leaving comments.

This is the single most effective way to make sure users in your target audience notice you. It’s time and energy-intensive—you can imagine that following people and engaging with them 1 by 1 is tough—but the fact is that it works.
There are just two problems.

First, Instagram is almost 10 years old. The platform’s novelty has worn off, and we’re no longer excited to follow back whoever follows us.

Second, there are only so many people you can reach this way. Instagram puts a hard cap on how many users you can follow, and apps like Crowdfire, which like and comment automatically, can get you banned permanently.

So what can you do? How do you go beyond “follow for follow” tactics, engage new users, and convert them into followers?
In this post, we’ll answer these questions with 7 creative, effective ways to get more Instagram followers as a business or individual.

Cross-Promote With Other Social Channels

56% of all online adults have reported using more than one social network. This means you can use Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to reach followers that aren’t engaging with you on Instagram yet.

There are apps like IFTTT and Zapier that allow you to do so automatically every time you add a new piece of content to your Instagram feed. If you do, your cross-posted content links back to your Instagram account, getting you organic traffic and more followers.

Another way to cross-promote is by linking to your Instagram from other social network accounts. You can do this using text or, in the case of Facebook, by making a separate tab that links to your Instagram account. Here’s an example from the NBA’s Facebook account:

NBA’s Facebook account

NBA’s Facebook account

Both methods will help you funnel users towards your Instagram content, helping you convert them into followers.

Another free way to get more followers using existing assets is by…

<2>2. Creating Branded Memes, In-Jokes, and Themes</h2?
Instagram users enjoy continuity. If you want more of them to follow you, present your content as an ongoing visual story rather than an assortment of fun but disparate pieces. This is a simple tip that can drastically improve your social results, but also one that takes patience to execute well.

One excellent example comes from Game of Thrones marketing team, which has turned cute munchkin versions of their characters into an ongoing theme:

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Another example is Murad Osmann’s “Follow Me” campaign, which turned into a meme for users and a full-time career for the photographer:

Murad Osmann

Murad Osmann

You may not be able to create the same level of consistency for your brand, but the takeaway is this:

Instagram is a visual storytelling platform; not just a standalone image app. The more consistency you can create across your entire channel, the more followers you can expect to have. This is why maintaining themes across multi-image posts, as well as over time, is so important.

Next up, let’s talk about a way to “buy followers” that actually works, i.e. delivers real, targeted users instead of robots and spammers.

3. Paying for Mentions

Paying for Mentions

Paying for Mentions

Buying Instagram likes and follows isn’t just ineffective (other than as a vanity move); it’s a punishable offense that’s against the platform’s rules. At the same time, as a marketer, you may want to pay money to accelerate your social marketing Fortunately for you, there’s a way to do just that: buying mentions. This won’t get you followers outright, but it will drive folks to your page—and if your content is good, this will generate oodles of new fans. In the past, this strategy was rather expensive. Today, there are many tools dedicated to finding all kinds of influencers, many of whom will help you for a reasonable price (or for free). Some popular ones are:

  • BuzzSumo: A tool that helps you find influencers for a given niche or keyword. Returns Twitter accounts.
  • Inkybee: Fairly similar to BuzzSumo, but geared towards finding influential blogs and publications.
  • Littlebird: A multi-platform search tool that helps you find influencers and skilled professionals.

Companies like these make influencer marketing a viable small-business strategy for getting Instagram followers. The cool part about this is that getting influencers to promote you gets you targeted, high-quality traffic; something buying follows outright can’t accomplish.

4. Branded Hashtags

Most brands either misuse Instagram hashtags or don’t use them at all. This is unfortunate – because if you can take a branded hashtag and make it “sticky”, i.e. give it real viral potential, it’ll send followers a-running your way.

For an excellent example, check out Lululemon’s Sweat Life campaign, wherein they encourage users to submit their fitness photos:

Branded Hashtags

Branded Hashtags

This hashtag has been in use for several years now. Over that time, Lululemon’s customers have helped popularize it, driving an endless stream of organic traffic and user-generated content towards the brand. There’s no reason you can’t replicate the same strategy in your own business.
(Especially now that location stories and hashtag stories are a thing).
And speaking of user-generated content: it’s a great way to get more followers. Here’s why (and how).

5. Acquiring User-Generated Content

User generated content (UGC) improves engagement by 28%. Ads based on UGC have 400% higher click-through rates.
Put simply, these figures mean that consumers love user-generated content – which means that making more of it is a smart way to get new followers.

Here’s an example of GoPro collaborating with a customer to craft effective, emotion-driven content:

User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content

Obviously, this is a little fancy. Doing something like this is out of most brands’ budgets. Fortunately, you don’t have to make things complicated (at all). UGC can be as simple as re-posting a progress photo, or an image of a satisfied customer.

The next way to get more followers without following and posting is by…

6. Having Fun With Instagram’s Users

Every Thursday, hundreds of thousands of users publish and watch content-themed (and hashtagged) “Throwback Thursday”.

Other days of the week have their own thing going on, with #sundayfunday, #transformationtuesday, etc.



And then, of course, you’ve got all kinds of holiday and current-event themes that people enjoy exploring as content creators and consumers.

Why is this important?

Because posting images and videos that align with the theme of the hour is a very powerful way to drive organic, enthusiastic traffic onto your page – and turn it into new followers.

Which brings us to the last (but not least) of tactics on our list, which is…

7. Follow-Gating

Have you got high-quality content that’s deployed outside of Instagram?

Great. Ask people to follow your page in order to download it. This is called follow-gating, and it’s a highly effective way to get new followers. Tools like ArtistUnion and Hive make it easy to use this tactic—even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.


You now know not one, not two but seven ways to grow your Instagram follower list without follow-for-follow tactics.
Let’s just go over the list one more time before we wrap up:


  1. Cross-promote using other platforms
  2. Create branded memes and in-jokes
  3. Pay for mentions
  4. Use branded hashtags
  5. Acquire user-generated content
  6. Have fun with the Instagram community
  7. Follow-gate


And that’s it! You now have 7 fresh, creative ways to market your channel effectively.

What did you think about the blog post? Do you have any remaining questions? If so, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below. We love getting your feedback!

This awesome post was wriitne by Ivan Kreimer

Ivan Kreimer

Ivan Kreimer

Who is a content marketer at Foundr, a leading media company that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their online businesses. His advice has been featured in Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, KISSmetrics, among others.

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