The Best Ways to Get Followers on Instagram to Help Your Small Business Grow!

June 17, 2019

Want to learn how to get more followers on Instagram? Here are my tips and tricks for growing your account to help your business flourish on Instagram!


How to get more followers on instagram:

  1. Share similar accounts in collaboration with each other:

    1. Share Groups

    2. One-on-One Shares

  2. Get featured by big accounts

  3. Consistently post good content. Especially videos!

  4. Use hashtags to your advantage

    1. How to find hashtags

  5. Share on stories every day!

  6. Connect with your followers

  7. Develop a unique look that stands out!

    1. My Favorite apps for Instagram

    2. How to get a create a unique look on Instagram

  8. Post at the right time

    1. Understanding your analytics

  9. Participate in giveaways


Instagram is the modern day business card and portfolio all in one. In a matter of seconds, someone can determine if they relate to your business or not. If they do, you get a follow and a potential new customer or reader.

With all of the opportunity through Instagram, it’s no wonder that followers seem to matter. Just remember: some of the most successful authors, designers, and chefs don’t have Instagram, and they’re totally fine without it .

In my opinion, Instagram can be a very good tool, or a very bad tool. Many people get wrapped up in growing their accounts, spending time, money, and risking their mental health to become Instagram famous.

I recently read a quote that said, “being Instagram famous is like being rich in monopoly.” This made me laugh out loud! It’s SO true!

Before attempting to grow an Instagram account, ask yourself why you want to get more instagram followers? Be sure to check in with yourself and make sure your reasons are not an attempt to feel accepted, valued, or loved. Instagram will not provide those things, and it will put you on a slippery slope.

With that said, Instagram can also be an amazing tool!!! I have absolutely loved using Instagram to grow my business and connect with other like minded people!

Because of my audience on Instagram, I have been able to experience a lot of amazing things. But even more importantly, I have met some really amazing people and made friends I never would have made without the platform.

Some of my closest friends have come because we connected through Instagram (and blogging in general), and I am beyond grateful for that. Instagram has also given me the opportunity to share my ideas and creativity with an audience I wouldn’t otherwise have. I hope that over the years I have provided encouragement and inspiration to those that choose to follow me.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “enough already Chloe, let’s get to the good stuff! How do we get followers on instagram!!!?” Well, I’m here to share all of my tips and tricks.

1. Share similar accounts in a collaborative effort.

Over the past year I have worked with many friends in a collaborative way to share each other with our respective followers. This has been incredibly effective in growing my account.

I have done this multiple ways – either in “share groups” or on a one-by-one basis. If you were on instagram a few years ago, you might remember “follow Fridays”, these share groups are the new wave of follow Fridays. If done right, they are wonderful! If don’t wrong…well, it’s not great.

What is a share group?

A share group consists of multiple accounts in a similar niche that have grouped together to share each other with their followers to help spread the love to other accounts. Each week, everyone within the group shares a member of the group with their followers in attempt to help each other grow. For example, if the group consists of 5 accounts, the share group will last for a total of 4 weeks.

The first week, Account #1 will share Account #2, and Account #2 will share Account #3, and so on. The following week, Account #1 will share Account #3, and Account #2 will share Account #4, and so on. This is repeated for 4 weeks until everyone in the group has shared each account.

I have found this way of sharing to be LESS EFFECTIVE because it’s a little less genuine than sharing on a one-by-one basis. A lot of the time these groups are put together by a single account, and many members of the group are new to meeting each other. However, this is still a great way to share so long as everyone is in the same niche and has a similar style.

When participating in share groups, it’s really important to be genuine and only join if you really love each account within the group. The last thing you want to do is suggest an account to your followers that you don’t actually love!

This is being dishonest with your followers and is the same as sharing a product you don’t use or love for the affiliate income. In order to grow a really dedicated following on Instagram, you’ve gotta keep it real and honest. People can smell dishonesty from a mile away!

What is a one-by-one share?

A one-by-one share is when you reach out to a single account in order to collaborate with each other. You can agree to mention each other in a story, share their account in your story, or share one (or multiple) photos from their account on your profile. In return, they reciprocate the share on their profile.

I have found one-by-one shares to be very honest and effective. I am sure there are many accounts that you LOVE that are within your niche. They are the accounts you’d tell your friends or mom about. If you can honestly say, “oh my goodness you’ve GOT to follow this person!” they are a great candidate for a one-by-one share.

Even if an account has a lot less followers than you, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reach out to see if they’d be interested in collaborating with you.

I have worked with friends that have a lot less followers than I do, and have always gained a lot of new followers from the collaboration.

I think the key to this is remaining genuine! Remember that everything you post should benefit your audience first and foremost. By sharing someone you adore or find inspiring, you are giving your followers someone new to love, and in exchange, you are gaining new followers that you can connect with and share your content with!

2. Get featured by big accounts

Last year, getting featured by big accounts like Country Living, Domino, Style Me Pretty, etc… was a great way to get new followers. However, I’m seeing less and less conversion this year, so this is a little less effective, but can still help you get more followers on Instagram.

In order to get featured by one of these accounts, you can tag them within your post or use their account specific hashtag. For example, any time I feel that one of my photos would be a good fit for the Country Home Instagram account, I tag them in my photo and use the hashtag #mycountryhome.

To figure out what hashtags to use, you can visit the account and read their bio. Often times they have their account specific hashtag within the bio, or you can do a little research to figure out what it is.

For example, Better Homes & Gardens has #BHGHome #BHGFlowers #BHGStylemaker, and Domino is #MyDomino. Using these is a great way to get the attention of that account, and cross your fingers for a feature!

3. Consistency

Oh…consistency. This is something I struggle with in so many areas of my life! Eating healthy, working out, and so much more. We all know the key to success in anything is good, consistent work. Instagram is no different.

Posting once a day, is a good goal, but to really foster a dedicated following, you need to be using Instagram consistently. This includes posting to stories, commenting on other’s photos, and replying to comments on your own posts.

In addition to consistent interaction and engagement, it’s important to be consistent with your voice and work. You don’t have to have the most beautiful photos, or the funniest memes, you just need to consistently post similar content.

This will be different for everyone, and that’s the beauty of IG! You can carve your own little space to share what YOU love and what makes your business special.

Think of Williams-Sonoma, you know exactly what to expect from them right? As you build your brand or audience, they need to know exactly what kind of content you’re going to serve to them.

It’s sort of a double negative because you need to be both recognizable and predictable but also interesting and innovative. This is achieved by staying very true to your “why”. Any time you begin to deviate from the core “why” of your business, you are becoming unpredictable to your audience.

For food bloggers, this is pretty easy, but for many others, it can be hard to figure out what to post. I think it’s important to remember that your followers are not only following you, so if you post a picture of your dog every day, they won’t be thinking “oh there she goes again with the dog.” – rather, they will just begin to expect dog photos from you.

For me, it was easiest to pick a set of 4 topics, and consistently cover those topics with my account. That way I didn’t feel bored by only posting photos of my goats, but my followers know they can expect: animals, interiors, farm life, and the occasional recipe.

4. Use hashtags to your advantage:

Hashtags are a really great way to discover other accounts with similar interests to you. I suggest not only using hashtags in your posts, but also visiting hashtags and exploring other photos using it.

When I was first growing my account, I did this for about 30 minutes every evening. I’d visit #farmhouseliving or #countryliving and “like” photos that caught my eye, and connected with accounts that were like mine. This helped me foster a community within my niche and introduced me to new accounts.

Liking photos with hashtags that are applicable to your niche is like giving a little wave to that person. Chances are, they’ll head over to your profile to see if they can relate to your account. If they do, they’ll probably give you a follow.

It’s super important not to be spammy with this method, but when done with thought and the intention of getting to know new accounts, you can grow your following through this method.

5. Share on Stories Daily

When Instagram introduced IG stories, I think we all breathed a nice breath of air! IG stories allows us to go back to the roots of IG by posting current, in-the-moment videos or photos.

Where Instagram is the portfolio, stories give a look into our personality and really lets us connect with people!

I believe the interaction I receive on my stories genuinely helps my engagement rate on photos. These numbers don’t matter so much to me except to tell me that the content I’m posting is applicable to my audience, and to show brands that I might collaborate with that I have a great relationship with my audience.

I suggest using IG stories daily, and as uncomfortable as it might feel, show your face and let your personality shine! This is the #1 way to really foster a deep connection and relationship with your audience.

6. Connect with your followers.

In case you haven’t been counting, I’ve said the word connect or connection about 73 times so far in this post.

This is because it is SO important to connect with those that choose to follow you! These people are giving you a little piece of their day. They’re coming to you to be entertained, to learn something, or simply to connect with someone that shares similar beliefs.

I started this post with the suggestion that before starting anything on Instagram, you should determine WHY you want to grow. I keep bringing this up, because it is so important to grow a connection with your audience.

Connecting is really simple so long as you stay true to your why. Share a story that your audience can relate to, a joke that really makes them laugh, or a piece of advice or news that they find interesting or actionable.

Let them know that you’re all in it together, you’re no better or worse than them, and you struggle just the same.

Instagram is a wonderful way to create a community full of people with common interests and pain points. Now it’s your job to solve the pain points or needs, even if that’s something as simple as bringing a little joy to an animals lovers day with a picture of your dog!

7. Develop a unique look

Creating a unique look helps your photos become recognizable to your followers as they scroll through your feed. You don’t have to have the most beautiful photos of all time, but using a similar editing style and color scheme will become an extension of your brand.

I can instantly recognize a Martha Stewart flat-lay, a Food52 food photo, and a Heather Bullard styled room. This is because of their consistent styling and photography.

If you’re not a stylist or photographer, don’t sweat it. Use apps like Foodie, A Color Story, or Lightroom mobile to develop a unique look.

I have created lightroom mobile presets (coming for you soon!), which I use on almost all of my photos. I use a big camera a lot of the time, but I also use my iphone to shoot photos for Instagram.

If taking a photo using my iphone, I use the app “Foodie” with the Yum2 or Yum5 filter, or simply apply one of my presets over the photo in Lightroom Mobile.

By using the same preset, filter, or editing style for all of your photos – you will start to develop a unique and cohesive look. Then use apps like Mosaico or A Color Story to plan your posts so that they flow well together.

Interested in learning how to photograph in manual mode? Get my Photography Basics e-book!

8. Post at the right time

Just as important as posting daily is posting at primetime! If you have an instagram business account, you can use the analytics tool to discover when your audience is most active.

For me, this is right around 7 pm PST. If I miss this timeframe, I skip posting for the day because I know my photo will not be seen by as many people as it could be if posted at primetime.

Everyone’s primetime is different, and it may take some trial and error before you figure yours out. Use an app like “when to post” to see when the best time to post is!

9. Loop Giveaways

Loop giveaways are good if you are trying to grow fast for business reasons. Meaning: you need to grow your new tee-shirt account to 10K so that you can link posts in stories, or want to have a large brand presence for your coffee mug business.

Giveaways are a bit controversial, so I am hesitant to mention them, but they are a way to grow your account quickly.

Participating in a loop giveaway will result in instant followers, and fast. A loop giveaway is a type of giveaway where a group of accounts pays a certain amount of money to be in. For people to enter to win the prize (usually a HUGE prize) they must follow everyone participating in the giveaway (usually 30+ accounts).

There is even something called a “secret loop giveaway” where YOU don’t have to do anything but pay to be a part of it. Other accounts then share details about the giveaway, and people are asked to follow your account to enter. This can grow accounts by tens of thousands without anyone ever realizing you are participating in them.

Why is it controversial?

1. Most of these followers didn’t choose to follow you. They’re following you only for the prize. This results in an audience that isn’t very engaged or connected with your business or account. After the giveaway, you can expect a high percentage to unfollow. This method borderlines buying followers, and artificially inflates your real social footprint.

When I first started my account, I participated in a loop giveaway and I got 1000 followers, I couldn’t believe it! Then I wanted more and more! Do you see the slippery slope here? Remember, quick fixes aren’t the best way to accomplish your goal.

If you’re hoping to reach a certain follower number for a business related reason, sure, go for it, but this really isn’t the best way to grow your account. In my experience, sharing a friend in collaboration is a much better way to grow!

What not to do to get more followers on Instagram:

1. Buy Followers

This is just dumb. Don’t do it. Most of these followers are bot accounts and are almost certainly uninterested in your blog posts or product. Plus, instagram is smart, they pick up on bot accounts regularly and shut them down, which will result in you losing all of the expensive ‘followers’ you had.

2. Follow / Unfollow

This is also dumb. I think there are services that provide follow/unfollow for you, but it can also be accomplished without the help of a company.

What is the follow/unfollow method?

Have you ever had an account with 56K followers randomly follow you, only to unfollow you 3 days later? Annoying right? This is the follow/unfollow method, and it’s shady practice.

This is a lot of work for very little return and results in an unengaged audience. Your time is much better spent searching hashtags and getting to know people with a similar interest to you!

If you’re not interested in following someone, but you think they’d like your account, like or leave a comment on one of their photos as a little “wave”, just don’t be spammy with it! Be thoughtful and intentional!

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  1. Thank you very much for the helpful information. I am new to instagram and it helped greatly to learn about the different techniques. I do not just want people to just follow our account for the sake of following, but want to have people follow because the like the product and/or content!

    @urban_tree_salvage

  2. Thank you for taking the time to share this information. It was very helpful. I look forward to more.
    Dena
    @bigtablegathering

  3. Very nice. Thanks for sharing your suggestions on what’s worked. I’m always trying to learn if I’m missing anything on the Gram. I love that platform! So many wonderful people and communities to connect with and share thoughts, experiences, so on. I adore your account – both for the photography and for the adorable animals you share life with now.
    Thien