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Attract Instagram Followers Like Magnets

By Bonny Albo

“How on earth do you attract Instagram followers so easily?!”

I was in the Bahamas, speaking with a media guru friend of mine. He runs several successful businesses and is well-known in the general community. So when I mentioned casually that I had figured out a way to monetize Instagram, he stopped and took notice.

Instagram Newbie Right Here

I didn’t think it was a big deal – until I reminded myself that only a few months ago, I didn’t even use Instagram. Over the 20 or so years I’ve made a living online as a freelance writer, I’ve talked about Instagram maybe a half dozen times.

I instigated most conversations. I was the one asking colleagues and friends why they used it, if they saw any traffic or benefits to their brands or websites. Other than a few shoulder shrugs or vague answers, the answer was no.

Yet in the back of my head, I knew there was something up with Instagram. Why else would ALL of the major media players on the planet have accounts with tens of thousands (and sometimes millions) of followers? How were they able to attract Instagram followers like a magnet, seemingly without effort?

The big media outlets wouldn’t waste their time posting photos if there wasn’t a payoff somewhere. Sure, maybe it was just PR, or being in the right place at the right time, getting your brand name out to the masses on a more regular and cheaper basis than traditional advertising.

But still – something didn’t add up.

Cue Crisis Prompting Me To Learn How To Attract Instagram Followers

Did I do anything about it? Nope. That is, not until I was suddenly let go from a nine-year writing contract with The New York Times/ About.com.

I knew little about Instagram, and (possibly) like you, I hadn’t the faintest idea how to make money through it.

But with crisis comes faith, and somewhere deep inside me I knew I had to figure it out. I had the time and interest, but very little cash to get things moving. So, I tackled the “problem” like I do any project or writing gig: I research the butt off it, test ad nauseum, and rinse and repeat until a set timeline has passed. Once it has, I review and decide if it’s worth my time and energy to continue forward, or if I need to say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Who Is This For?

Complete and utter IG newbies might get a bit overwhelmed with this “how to attract Instagram followers” guide. While I cover everything step-by-step, you might want to familiarize yourself with the app before diving head first into these instructions.
Everyone else? Let’s jump right in.

[Note: If you want to make money with Instagram – head on over to my Make Money With Instagram Facebook Group. Or, keep on reading… once we’ve covered the basics, I’ll share with you next steps].

Expectations

I can’t guarantee you’ll attract followers using Instagram. I wish I could. Different niches will have different results, and the amount of time and energy you have to put into these tactics will directly correlate to the amount of folks interested in what you share on social media.

As we go through this, I’ll go into the three different niches I tested with (travel, tea, and love), and share my results with each. All three focused on specific blogs, although the last one (love), I eventually used as a sales funnel for a workshop, then a nonfiction book.

After learning these techniques, I started offering help and support to friends, and then fellow writers and entrepreneurs. Several hundred people have tested these techniques, and I’ve yet to find a niche where they don’t work.

Spoiler alert: travel wins for highest engagement, tea wins for easiest monetization, love/dating wins for the most number of times I’ve had to re-create my account. This information, I found, also correlated with how easy or difficult it is to market to that particular niche. Meaning: Facebook and Amazon don’t like dating-related ads, and they limit what you can sell on their platforms. Tea and travel? Wide open markets, and obviously winners when it comes to selling advertising.

Do I Need Money To Do This?

Nope, other than you’ll have to exchange the lack of funds for more time. Those of you who want to take a “faster” route (albeit with some serious caveats that I’ll go through), will get several suggestions along the way for services you might want to employ.

I’m of the mindset that to learn IG properly, you need to get your hands dirty. Then, once you understand how things work, you can hire someone (or use an app) to help you. As well, you’ll know if those folks “helping” are really doing their job(s) and able to get you where you want to go.

As an example, I shared this document with a jewelry business owner. He paid a ‘professional’ several hundred dollars a month to run his business IG account. A few hours after I gave him this information, he earned more likes in a day than the pro did in a month.

The Most Important First Step

I urge you to take (a) screenshot(s) of your Instagram account(s) right now, before you read any further. Make a note in your calendar to do the same every week on the same day for the next month.

I’m going to bet you’ll be shocked (as I was) how quickly you’ll gain traction, and how much you’ll need to adapt to as your followers grow.

BONUS POINTS: Share your screenshots in the Facebook group in its own thread.


How To Set Up Your Instagram Account

Already have an Instagram account? Awesome. Take a quick look through this anyway, just in case you want to tweak anything. (Remember, you can change your IG handle at any time). Again though, take that first screenshot before you do anything!

You’ll have to download the Instagram app on your phone to create an account, and it’ll take you a few minutes to get up and running.

Choose your username wisely. Although you can change it (I have several times) it’s easier to create a new account. Why? Because you’ll have to update your links on social media, your business cards, website, etc… It’s the same thing as changing the URL to your business website. Only you can forward your URL, but you can’t forward your Instagram username.

http://instagram.com/[username]

So what handle, or username, should you use? Either your brand/business name, or keywords related to your brand/business name.

For those with common or general topics, you’ll want to combine both. I currently have three IG accounts, and each focuses on something completely different: bonnyadventures, teatravelninja and inspiredloveadvice.

See how you can tell exactly what my feed will be about, just from the IG username? That’s what you’re looking for. Nothing fancy, or clever. Straightforward and easy to understand at a glance.

I should note that I’ve cycled through numerous different usernames and handles for the dating/ book account. They either got deleted by IG (more on this shortly), or someone claimed they had the right to use that name. So, I didn’t spend a lot of time re-creating that IG account. I couldn’t be bothered after the fourth time…

Yet still with less than a dozen posts, that IG account is, by far, my most successful now. I rarely post to it. It grew like a weed with highly engaged followers. It dropped a bit since I started using Holr, a company that automatically sends a note to each follower, yet it’s still going strong. Even more exciting for fellow writers: all I post to that IG account are quotes. That’s it. They aren’t even my quotes!

[Note: People hated the auto-generated Holr messages – even though I was offering them a free course. They unfollowed in droves. Yet, I received 2783 sign-ups in two weeks. I consider that a win].

As for IG handles, I use this tactic when deciding whom to follow in turn. Remember it for later – when folks have your keywords in their IG handles, you’re probably a good match to follow, or at the very least, like their stuff.

Business or Personal Account?

I used to strongly recommend a Personal account. Business gives you a lot of data and demographics, while Personal is just that. But if you look at your biggest, household name competitors on IG: what do they have? I’ll bet it’s a Personal account.

(How can you tell? If they have a contact button on their page and/or a phone number, it’s a Business account).

Why wouldn’t the bigwigs use a Business account? Most of them use some sort of program to help with their data and demographics, and it’s more robust than IG’s offerings. Plus – and it’s only a rumor, but my own experiences came to the same conclusion – it’s easier to get followers with a Personal account.

If that isn’t enough, if for some reason you lose access to your IG account, confirming it’s yours is MUCH easier with a Personal account. Ask me how I know.

Now, however, I strongly recommend a Business account. Not only has Pinterest upped their game with the statistics they serve, they require you to have a Business account to run ads and use a clickable store. Okay, so maybe you have no intention of running ads to your book in the near future, but you do want potential readers to click and buy your books, right?

More on this later. For now, choose Business.

Losing Your IG Account

Since we’re on the subject anyway…

Can you lose your IG account? Yes. I’ve had to start several dating/love accounts. I can’t seem to figure out how to get them back, even when I follow IG’s rules. My guess? It’s the topic, plus I’m trying to gain followers too fast as I start.

My other IG accounts? Teatravelninja gives me some agitation once in a while, and I need to verify with my cell number.

BonnyAdventures has given me problems a few times. It’s also the oldest of the accounts, with by far the most number of posts. I’ve been locked out a few times, I suspect because hackers tried to gain access.

So, how do you get your account back? You have to click on a link within IG to ask. In a day (or a week, who knows) you’ll get an email asking you to do something. It’ll depend on your type of account as to what.

Personal? Send a selfie with the number they give you back to the email address they send you a note from. (This is why you want to have a few selfies on your account.)

Business? You’ll need to show proof you own the business/URL in question. Don’t have a URL attached to the account? You’re out of luck.

How long does it take? It depends. The first few times, Instagram refused to reinstate my account. Once I figured out how to set up my account so I could easily gain access again, AND I stopped doing what I talk about next, it took anywhere from a day to a week to get my access reinstated.

Why Did I Lose My Account?

In my case, I was trying to game the system. Each time I used a piece of software to get more followers and likes for a brand new account, I got dinged.

Lesson from this story? Use automated likes and follow programs wisely. DO NOT sign up for one until you have at least 100 followers, 10 posts, and about a month’s worth of data behind you.

Want to be really safe? Stick to 500 followers and a few months. Go slow when you do start and ramp up gently. Don’t move onto the next “stage” until you’ve had at least a week of solid growth.

We’ll go more into these systems shortly, just know for now that you need to go slow.

Once Your IG is Set Up…

You need to populate it with at least 10 posts. You can do them one-by-one, or all at the same time. Doesn’t really matter. The rest of the tactics here won’t work until you do though.

What If I Already Have 10 (Or Many More) Posts?

Follow this anyway. You could easily go back and optimize your 10 most liked posts following these guidelines.

When I started getting serious about IG, I discovered I had an Instagram account already. No idea when or where I started it. I used my real name though, so, I switched it immediately to bonnyadventures. Then, I optimized old posts (like I’m about to show you). What happened?
I saw posts from years prior with only a handful of likes suddenly get hundreds. It works.

What Should I Post?

It depends on your niche. Search Instagram for the keywords you think your users/readers/customers would search for. Scan through the top posts (the ones with the most likes or engagement) and then the most recent (as it seems).

I cannot stress this enough: you want to search what your READERS or followers would use to find you on Instagram. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s likely not “sci fi author” that they’re plugging into IG. It might be “cool sci fi cover,” or, “free sci fi book”. This was a tricky step, for me, especially with the IG account related to dating and relationships. Who searches for dating advice on Instagram? Well, I can tell you. No one. Unless they’re trying to sell you dating-related services.

So instead, I had to go and see what people were actually posting about. I learned that folks post about their breakups often, use memes on IG to feel better, or seek information. Oh, and #relationshipgoals.

While you’re on IG, undertake your own keyword research for your book(s). Take notes of what people post, who posts it (write down their IG user names) and the hashtags they use (the word(s) or combination of words with a # in front of it). Check if any other authors in your niche are on Instagram, too. What gets a lot of traction, and what gets ignored? What hashtags do they use?

Hashtags?!

Some social media systems use hashtags to filter searches. You can tell when there’s a hashtag, because there’s a hash sign # right in front of the word. It’s, literally, “tagging” the word or series of words for search.

Instagram uses hashtags heavily, as does Twitter. Facebook plays with hashtags, while Pinterest depends on the day.

How To Keep Track of Hashtags

I use Google’s Keep app (on my Android phone) to keep track of these sorts of things – a different to-do line for different topics. So there’s one for IG names, one for “tea” hashtags, and so on.

I’ve heard of others that use OneNote.

I started with pen and paper. Then I moved to cue cards. Doesn’t matter, just use whatever system works for you. You’ll refer to it often.

Apps For Reposting

If any of the posts in the Top or Recent lists speak to you, and you think they’ll move your potential followers as well, save it to repost on your feed. The easiest way to do this is to grab an app.

Actually, the only way to do this is with an app. Instagram doesn’t have the functionality to repost.

Free apps will likely put their own branding somewhere in your post (either embedded in the photo or in the write up). Paid apps don’t.

Repost It! – iTunes, free with paid features
Repost Story – iTunes, free with paid features (Stories on IG are videos)
Repost – iOS, Android, free with paid features
Insta Repost – Android, free with paid features (my least favorite of the bunch)

What Do I Write in My Posts?

Whatever you want that’s engaging and intriguing. IG gives you quite a bit of space (2200 characters) to write something attached to each picture, and up to 20 hashtags.

Note: We’ll use a lot of hashtags as you’re starting, and get down to about 5 per post when you get rolling.

“FIVE?!” you say? Yep, five. It’s science – when you get big on IG, less is much, much more. Choose wisely.

Tagging When Reposting

While you don’t have to, it’s really nice to tag the person you’re reposting. To tag someone, write their username in your write up, preceded by a @.

Example: If you were to repost something of mine, you’d type out @inspiredloveadvice for instance, and IG does all the linking for you. If you don’t follow me it won’t autofill, but if you do follow me, you’ll see my username in a drop box that you can click on. Voila!

I should note that lot of folks dislike being tagged. I’m one of them. Snapped a hideous picture of me with my mouth wide open and my eyes half rolled back laughing, but you look awesome? Cool. Please don’t tag me. Seriously. Reposting something of mine that helped you? I bow to you in gratitude and thanks.

As well, many smaller IG account owners will tag bigger account owners in an attempt to get their attention. I’m not sure about you, but when I open my IG and see I’ve got 30 tags from complete strangers on their weight loss tea or graphic photo, I block and delete. I suggest you do the same. At the very least, remove all tags that don’t directly align with your account or book.

What Are Your Competitors Doing on IG?

Back to your competitors. Take note of what your biggest competitors write, and what gets the most engagement.

I find in my niches it’s really, really different from one to another. I get a lot of comments for @bonnyadventures and @inspiredloveadvice but it’s mostly auto-generated crap (Nice! Great pic! Sweet!) whereas @teatravelninja gets fewer comments, but they’re almost all engaged and real (Where is that tea shop? Where could I go to get this? Have you ever tried matcha? etc.).

I’ve also noticed that on my book/ dating account, I get a surprising number of requests for help or support. If you’re a non-fiction writer, or a fiction writer that focuses on topics where folks might be in crisis, check your comments often. While I don’t offer counseling or direct support, I do have an article on my website that helps those in crisis get the help they need. For any comment that I feel requires it, I’ll private message the person with a link to the help file, and then delete the comment. Occasionally, I report the comment if it’s especially concerning.


Post Formatting

My posts usually follow a similar format, regardless of niche.

My first phrase is the eye-catcher (because that’s all they’ll see in their feed unless they click), the middle (a few sentences) offers insight, personal experience or something intriguing/ interesting, and the last sentence or two focuses on questions, engagement or sending them somewhere (like a link, website, or company). Then hashtags, and I’m done.

Note that there is always an engagement bit at the end of every post, just before the hashtags. This is crucial when you’re setting yourself up to make money with Instagram, sell books, or otherwise gain notoriety.

Therefore, create a call to action that’s a bit different on each post, something that invites the reader to join, follow, or otherwise engage with you and your brand.
Is It Okay To Repost Someone Else’s Write Up and Picture?

Yep! Just attribute it (again, their username preceded by a @). I don’t recommend it though. Get original. Use this as your practice time to see what works and what doesn’t.
I’m Really a Neophyte… What Do I Post?

Go to Canva. It’s your new, free best friend.

Sign up and choose “Social Media”. Pick Instagram, and then a free layout. Trick: they’re all free! Only the photos aren’t. So you can grab a layout you like, and usually, as long as you swap out the images, you can use it totally, completely gratuite.

That’s free in French. I’m so fancy…

Need a photo? Of course you do. I use Pexels, but there’s also Unsplash and many others like them. Make sure you’re allowed to use the photo for commercial purposes, and plug it into your Canva template.

Then, search the internet like this +[niche] +quotes.

Example: “+tea +quotes” (sticking everything between the apostrophe’s into the search box.)

Alternatively, use a quote from your book that will entice readers to buy, engage, or comment.

Find one you like, that your followers will also enjoy.

KEEP IN MIND THIS WILL BE SHARED. It’s a given. Quotes are huge on IG and social media in general.

Copy and paste the quote into your Canva template, and attribute the quote. If the quote isn’t from your book, put a URL to your book/ your book sales page at the bottom of the Canva template. If the URL is something long like http://www.getdatinghelp.com/love-yourself-quotes/ go visit Bit.ly and shorten the email to something more memorable, like http://bit.ly/self-love-quotes. Plus, if you sign up (for free) with Bit.ly, you can see all sorts of fun data as to how often people used your link.

Can I Use My Own Pictures?

I suggest you take your own pictures. Use IG’s filters (they’re amazing, and can make almost any picture look great. Plus, they’re free).

If you want to ramp things up, try SnapSeed, a completely free Google app that I absolutely love and put all my photos through before posting them anywhere.

The Art of the Hashtag

I’ve assumed you plugged in a few hashtags in your first 10 posts, but if you haven’t, that’s okay too. The beauty of IG is that you can edit everything you write into the post at any time – and that’s exactly what we’re going to do with this step.

Remember those hashtags I suggested you take a note of towards the start of this article? Get them out.

If you haven’t already, search IG and see what’s popular, what images trend with each one, what’s not very appealing (to you) in the most recent.

You might notice (as I did) that some of the hashtags I thought were perfect, weren’t. As an example, #datingtips seemed like a really great hashtag for my book account. Yet, I figured out pretty quickly that the only people using it and searching for it on IG were dating coaches, and many of them were pretty spammy. I also thought #dating would rock my casbah, until I discovered it’s one of the hashtags that IG bans, or refuses to show searches for.

What? IG Bans Hashtags?!

Yep. They don’t really make a lot of sense, either. #kansas, anyone?

If one of the hashtags on your list falls into one of these categories – remove it from any and all IG posts you’ve already got it up on, and add a few others that are more relevant or acceptable. Make a note to never use it elsewhere, and move on. You’ll see almost an instant increase in likes, even if it was posted eons ago – if you’ve got great hashtags plugged in there now. I learned this trick via my own oops experience, completely unaware that #dating basically turned my IG posts into black holes.

Which Hashtags Should I Use Then?

So, which hashtags should you use? Again, go look at your competitors. Write a load down. Search for ones you think might be relevant, and add anything that pops up in IG as a related search (these are gold mines – use them!).

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have anywhere from 50-100 at this point. Awesome. Now it’s time to filter these into the ones that give you the most bang for your time.

Using Apps for Hashtags

Letstag is my current favorite, but there are a lot to choose from. Search for “Instagram hashtag app” and you’ll see what I mean.

They all really do the same thing, though. You type in your niche, and the app shows you which hashtags are used most often. Some might relate, others might not, and yet others will send you off into an Alice-in-Wonderland search.

Many of them also let you save the hashtags you like so you can use them on IG. Do it. Save (up to 20 – the good apps tell you there’s a limit), and then copy/paste into your IG account. Then, copy/paste into your reminder app, to use some of them next time.

How To Filter Hashtags

There’s an art to this process, and you’ll figure it out for your niche quickly.

In my opinion, any hashtag with fewer than 100,000 searches is a hashtag to pitch unless it’s highly specific to your niche and it has high-quality users/followers. You might also create your own hashtags (say, for contests); feel free to play with it and see what works for you.

Another option is to try a Related Hashtag website (try Hashtagify.me – change the word from Instagram to whatever you want) where a mindmap evolves as you type in a hashtag. These sites filter through the billions of options for you, to show you other people who also use the #travelingwriter hashtag.

Run into a new hashtag, or one that you need to research? Just add it to your list, and play with it later.

Choosing Hashtags

Now that you have a solid list to choose from, pick a handful of hashtags and plug them into different posts. When folks search IG, they’ll see a list of posts that match the specific hashtag you’re using.

More specific hashtags might get you at on the top lists (I’m there quite often these days), but don’t have a lot of searchers.

Huge hashtags like #instagood might have tens of thousands of other posts using it daily; you might never get in the top lists there, but for the length of time you’re in the new list, it might give you a bump in likes.

One more suggestion: use hashtags that your market actually searches for. With my teatravelninja account, this was shockingly easy. #greentea, #matchatea, #ilovetea and so forth are all gold mines – these people follow and love me like no one else. I do get
other tea businesses following, which for this account works perfectly. Many of them offer me free tea.

With other accounts though, this takes a bit of sleuthing. The dating/ love topic, for example. As I discussed earlier, #dating and #datinghelp didn’t work. #love was closer, but way too big of a market. #instalove worked, kinda sorta, but again, way too big. #lovequotes is now a favorite, as is #loa and other spiritually-based relationship topics. Anything related to breakups seemed to bump up followers as well, but not #breakups specifically.
Again, play around. Look at your competitors. Try what they’re trying. See when you get a bump in likes or follows – was it the hashtag? Check, use it again, test away.


When To Tag Another IG Account

Tagging someone in a comment? Yes, do that, but only if you’re replying to them – then they’ll see you’ve replied (they won’t have a clue otherwise).

Entering a contest or wanting your photo featured in some bigwig’s feed? Yes, that’s okay too, but use it sparingly and only when it’s warranted.

As an example, I’ve lost track of how many folks use @lonelyplanettravel in their posts ad nauseum in the hopes of getting reposted, yet 99% of the photos I see with that tag aren’t anywhere near the quality the feed reposts.

Plus, if you look at their account, Lonely Planet wants you to use the hashtag #lonelyplanet, instead of tagging their account.

Don’t see what I mean? Go look at the hashtag link for Lonely Planet. There are the Top Posts first (the ones with the most likes and/or comments), and then there are the Most Recent. Scroll through the Most Recent. Most aren’t bad photos, but they aren’t the same quality as the Top Posts. If you see some with a high number of likes (hover your mouse over each of the images to see the number of likes and comments), click on it. See what they’ve done differently from anyone else. When I went to look at the #lonelyplanet Most Recent feed, I could tell immediately which post had the most traction. I didn’t even need to look at the likes or comments. It was this one by @whymadagascar. Lots of comments, 89 likes within minutes, a gorgeous photo, and look at that – only 769 followers when I went to visit.

Create a Tagging List

I have a list of accounts to tag when I post certain types of photos. I suggest you have one, too.

For instance, while I was in the Bahamas during Hurricane Matthew, I tagged local and international weather and news Instagram accounts for all my photos and videos. The media found me quickly, and most of my photos and videos were used by CNN, The Weather Network, Reuters, and local TV stations. As well, some offered me payment.

How do you know what companies, or accounts, to tag? You’ll likely come across a few during your research as you work through this article. For instance, with all my travel photos, I search for the local tourism branch on IG before I post anything. If they don’t already have a hashtag in use, I tag them. Then, the tourism branch knows I’m in town, and often they’ll ask to repost my pictures. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Following

Ready to get likes and follows? Have 10+ posts up and tagged well? Great, because now it’s time to introduce your friends to your Instagram account.

Connect your Facebook account on Instagram, and then follow everyone that’s on IG. Don’t send out invites – if they wanted to be on IG, they would be. As IG limits the number of folks you can follow in an hour and day (200/hr, 1000 per day – although this is up for debate), you’ll have to go back and run this a few times before you get everyone.

Like I suggested before – go slow. There’s no race to win.

When Not To Follow

Whatever you do, do not go liking and following folks after you add your friends in bulk. You’ll get “sanctioned” for liking or following too many people at once, and possibly banned from liking or following for a few hours or days.

How do you know if you’re near the limit? When you try to follow someone, the follow button will blink. Oops. Your next follow will get you banned.

Stop, close the app, and walk away for an hour or two.

What If I Don’t Wanna Follow Everyone?

Don’t want to follow everyone? Tough.

I mean, you could spend hours cultivating your feed with only folks you truly want to follow… but that’s for personal, closed feeds, not for someone like you that wants to make money on Instagram from your books. Befriend them all and let them know you exist.

(If this is a real issue for you, I suggest opening another Instagram account – you can have many – and use it for your personal liking and following. Keep the business and personal separate).

Shouldn’t I Be Choosy About Who I Follow?

If you’re just starting out? Nope. Follow everyone that might follow you.

If you’ve got a couple thousand followers already? Yes, get choosy. Only follow people directly related to your business, your avid engagers, your best customers and fans, your biggest supporters and/or reposters.

For now? Follow everyone.

Eventually you’ll hit the limit of 7000 (or maybe 7500) people that you follow. I suggest when you get to around 3500 start using a program like Unfollowers. It’ll help you automate who to unfollow (based on who doesn’t follow you), and it ensures you don’t exceed your hourly and daily limits.

Nutshell? Be choosy from a business perspective, but only after you’ve made some friends. If you really want to enjoy IG for your own purposes, open up another, purely personal account, make it private, and fill it with the things you love. This isn’t that account.

The Key To More Followers Early On?

Again, go slow. You’ll get easily tripped up at this stage if you try to do too much, too fast. You want to like and/or follow maybe 50 people an hour, a few times a day at this point. No more, no less.
Why Is There a Limit? What Happens If I Go Over It?

Awesome question. The answer is simple, yet can get you in a lot of hot water if you’re not paying careful attention.

IG limits followers per hour and day to limit spam. They’re aware folks try to game the system, and they’ve got a series of checks and balances in place to (try to) ensure their feeds stay real. Still, spam happens.

As well, the pay-per-use IG “helper” programs aren’t technically okay with IG. A lot get by, and many do very well for the folks they help out. Others…

Well others, like me, learn the hard way.

The Rules of IG Growth

First off, get a picture of yourself up on your IG account. Make sure that it’s one where you can easily see your face, and replicate if need be for the powers that be. Why? If you’ve chosen a Personal Account, this is one of the few concrete ways to get your account back if you lose it.

Next up, make sure you report spam on each of your IG accounts, as you see it. Why? While I only have anecdotal evidence to support this, the two accounts where I had zero issues, I reported spam constantly. Every time I logged in, there was something. The other? Never reported it. I was just happy to have comments and follows, even if they were crappy. Big mistake.

Thirdly, do not try and grow your page and followers too quickly. I know, I’ve said this a few times, but it needs repeating. When I used a service to grow my followers (more on this shortly), each time I increased the number of follows/likes or the range I was at, my account(s) got flagged. Go slow. If you’re starting at zero, only like/follow 200/day, and comment naturally, if at all. Get those 10 posts up. Wait until you’ve got at least 100 followers before you start actively trying to grow your account.

When Can I Start Really Ramping Things Up?

When you get to (about) 200-250 followers, you can start liking and following more folks: up to 400 follows a day, the same for likes. Make sure to break this up – 60-100 an hour, no more. Put a reminder on your phone if need be. “IG Follow 100” and “IG Like 100” — or whatever works for you.

If you start following folks, but suddenly you can’t… or if you follow and the follow button turns off… stop. You’re one follow away from getting banned or cut off. Reset. Give it a few hours, and follow less people less quickly next time.

Once you’re at about 1000 followers, ramp up again. No more than 200 likes/follows per hour, no more than 1000 likes/day, maybe 400-600 follows.

This is your hard limit. No matter how big your numbers are on Instagram, these are the limits across the board.

How Do I Know Who To Like and Follow?

Here’s my little secret: use your hashtags. Remember all that work I asked you to do on your hashtags? Now it’s time to put them to good use.

Grab five of your hashtags, the ones most related to your niche, the ones that folks would use if they really, truly loved your kind of book. Plug the first one into search.

Now, deep breaths… like them all. Not the ones in the Top Posts (they won’t notice you’ve liked them anyway). Scroll to the Most Recent.

If you need to slow things down a bit, go and look at each person’s page, and how many likes they have for the first photo in the hashtag list. You’re aiming for photos with fewer than a couple hundred likes, and people will fewer than 2000 followers. Like their stuff. Like a lot of it, whatever feels right to you. Follow them as well, if they seem like the kind of person you’re targeting your book towards.

When you do this, you get placed further up their IG feed. They’ll see more of you, and more often, when/ if they follow back. If they don’t? No biggie, we’ll deal with that shortly.

Go and do this for 20 of the first hashtag, then 20 for the next, and so on. Keep track! I usually like things first, then follow after, so I don’t go over my numbers.

But What About Follows?

Do the same thing for following people. Pick and choose wisely. Don’t follow spammy folks, people with enormous followings, or photos with thousands of likes in a matter of minutes. You’ll just get caught up in their swell and no one will notice.

Having said that… those folks that get thousands of likes in a matter of minutes? If their hashtags and branding aligns with yours, these folks are a goldmine for you. Write down their IG profile names for future reference, because we’re going to check on them often.

Following With Intent

Take a look at one of the IG accounts you just wrote down, one that has crazy engagement or a ridiculous number of followers.

Now, look at the people who have liked their most recent photo within the first few minutes of posting. Same goes for the commenters.

Those people, those early-adopter, quick-to-comment-genuinely people? They’re your target market. They’re highly engaged, wanting some sort of reaction, and on IG (likely) quite often.

Go follow them. Like their stuff. You’ll be shocked at just how much they’ll engage with you too – and if anything, they’ll continue to be highly engaged, avid consumers of your brand, product and/or service.

Gold mine, right?

Why Does This Work?

If you use the “Following With Intent” tactic and nothing else – your followers will grow. Plus, they’ll be highly engaged folks that like, comment, and follow the link you have in your Instagram account. They’ll message you. They’ll talk to you. They’ll ask for advice. They’ll want to be your friend.

How does it all work, though? Simple. By following, and then liking and commenting on a few posts for the same person – you’re telling Instagram you’re this person’s target market. YOU are who THEY want to see. So, you get higher priority on their feed.

This is how you get the attention of your dream readers, your dream customers, your dream followers. There’s no way the Stephen Kings of the world can reply, comment, or even follow most of their followers.

Be the person who picks up the slack.

How Often?

Follow the rules up above (max 200/hour, max 1000/day) and choose to ONLY follow these highly engaged people in your niche. Like everything. Follow carefully. Comment authentically, and with intent.

Do this and your followers will grow astronomically. Possibly even faster than if you get a regram.

Regram?

A regram occurs when a well-known Instagram influencer reposts something on your feed, and tags you. They basically tell their followers, “Go and like this person. Follow them. They’re amazing”.

These are worth a LOT of money. Yes, most of them are paid placements.

There are ways to get a “free” regram – you can exchange them, you can earn points at some online services, you can befriend someone.

If you’re in a niche where it’s tricky to be heard over the noise (dating, weight loss, most fantasy and sci-fi), I’d strongly recommend looking into regrams.

If you’ve got several hundred thousand followers? You, my dear, can regram and get paid for it.

Holy Moly – That’s a Lot

Yep. I was a bit overwhelmed when I started, too.

You already know what you need to work on – so now it’s time to put it into play. Pick ONE thing to do, right now. Something small works.

Then, schedule times to like, comment and follow. I give myself 10 minutes three times a day. That’s it.

Making Money on Instagram

I realize many of you may have skipped to this section.

Have I made money on IG yet? Yes. At this point, it’s several hundred dollars in actual cash per month, and several thousand in products and services gifted to me for review.

For some of you, that’s peanuts. For others, that might sound like a pipe dream.

Regardless, understand that I rarely post on my book or tea Instagram accounts – and I get anywhere from 3-15 new leads, a day.

For me, a lead is someone that converts and signs up to my email list. Or, someone that emails me on IG and asks for more information. 3-15 new leads a day, doing absolutely nothing, and paying $0? I’d say that’s a win.

Mark and other ad gurus can explain to you how to create a Reader Magnet, or Lead Magnet. Essentially, these are freebie incentives to give to potential readers in exchange for them signing up to your email list. Now you can send folks directly to Amazon, or Nook, or wherever you sell your books. I’ve done it, although the results aren’t great. As well, you’re losing potential readers by sending them straight to Amazon. What if they’re not ready to buy yet?

Instead, offer them an enticing freebie to get on your email list. Then, you can start a sales funnel, let them know about Advance Reader Copies, or whatever else it is you’re focusing on with your writing career.

There’s a trick with Instagram though. You only have one URL to use, and it’s in your IG profile.

Use Your IG URL To Sell Books

There are three ways to use the coveted URL on your IG profile page. Which one you choose is entirely up to you.

1. Send your followers directly to your book or Author page on Amazon;
2. Offer a freebie Reader Magnet at the URL in exchange for signing up for your mailing list; or
3. Use a service like Linktr.ee or create a Landing Page on your author website to send your followers to.

In my experience, #2 nets me the most sales. Try them all and see what works best for you.

Stay Connected and Share Results

Phew! Still with me?

Thanks so much for reading through this mammoth How To Attract Instagram Followers Like a Magnet article – I hope I’ve given you some real, practical advice to get started.

I’d love to hear how you’re doing with these suggestions, or offer input on how to get even more engaged followers. Feel free to post in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

Bonny Albo

Bonny Albo

Bonny Albo is a former social worker and crisis counselor, sought-after speaker, author, consultant, workshop facilitator and dating expert. She travels full time and writes way too often about all things transformative. Her first book, Flip the Single Switch, was the #1 New Release in December 2018 for Dating, Relationships and Spirituality. Learn more about her tea obsession, how she travels full time, and what projects she’s working on at bonnyadventures.com