5 New Ways to Get Instagram Followers in 2017

How do I get Instagram followers? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another. And with good reason, too! Getting more Instagram followers should be a top priority for any business that uses Instagram for marketing, but it’s not as easy as it once was.

To help you get more Instagram followers in 2017, we’re sharing 5 new and creative ideas that will help you get Instagram followers for free:

1. Be Strategic With Your Instagram Comments

It might seem obvious, but a surefire way of growing your Instagram following is by commenting on other users’ posts—but not in the way that you’re used to.

Many of us are familiar with the “follow, like, comment” system for getting new followers. You follow an account, like one of their posts, and leave a comment. But while this might get you a followback, it’s tedious and time-consuming. If you really want to grow your Instagram following, you need to be a little more strategic with your commenting.

The idea is to be the last person to comment on the post. That way, anyone else who comes to that post in the future will see your comment. And if your comment was interesting enough, they might just click over to your account to have a look!

By “interesting enough” we mean that you should avoid leaving generic comments, like “cool pic” or “nice.” Instead, you should make an effort to leave a genuine comment that other users will find funny, interesting, or useful. You can even throw in a few emojis to show off your personality.

 

 

2. Use Instagram Stories to Get Instagram Followers

Instagram Stories has been a huge hit since you could first create your own Story back in August of last year. They’re fun, versatile, and a great way to foster meaningful connections with your audience! But as Zimmerman mentions, they also give you the chance to be recommended on Instagram.

Take a moment and head to the Explore page on Instagram. Notice the row of Instagram Stories at the top of the page? The reason those Stories appear is because Instagram selected them based on the accounts you follow and the posts you like. Instagram may also show you Stories that accounts you follow have liked, or were liked by a large number of people.

 

If you want to get on the Instagram Explore page, you need to create ultra-engaging, super-targeted content. “The better your Stories are, and the more they speak to a specific audience, the higher the chance that Instagram will add your account to the recommended Stories at the top of the Explore tab,” Zimmerman says.

3. Get Instagram Followers by Sharing Engaging Videos

Did you know that 52% of marketing professionals rank video as the type of content with the best ROI? Or that video content accounts for 65% of all ad impressions on Instagram? Video can be a powerful tool for brands looking to build trust with their followers and reach new audiences.

As we mentioned in our post about the best time to post on Instagram, the new Instagram algorithm gives priority to posts with higher engagement, which means the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see your post. In other words, if you’re able to generate a lot of engagement on your Instagram posts shortly after posting, this signals to Instagram that your post is quality, engaging content and your post will move to the top of your followers feeds and be shown to more users.

Since videos generally receive a good amount of engagement, it makes sense to use the format in your marketing mix. There’s also the fact that Instagram, with the recent release of Instagram Stories, Video Channels on Explore, and Live Video, appears to be investing heavily in video content.

4. How to Get More Instagram Followers: Run an Instagram Contest

Running an Instagram contest is a fun and easy way to promote your business on Instagram, and it’s also one of the easiest way to gain exposure, which will help you get Instagram followers.

If you’re looking for a super effective Instagram contest idea, try partnering with another business or influencer. It’s a great way to promote your Instagram contest to both of your audiences, and also share each other’s followers. Start by looking for a cool business to partner with, and then organize a 3-5 day giveaway where Instagram users are rewarded with prizes for following both accounts, and tagging their friends in the comments.

5. Create an Instagram Hashtag Strategy to Get More Instagram Followers

Having a solid Instagram hashtag strategy is an essential component for any Instagram marketing campaign, but it should also be a top priority for businesses that want to get followers on Instagram.

Instagram hashtags are one of the most useful tools in a social media marketer’s tool belt. Using the right hashtag (or combination of hashtags) can help you expose your brand to large and targeted audiences. In fact, your chances of attracting new followers, getting more likes, and increasing engagement are vastly increased by the use of hashtags.

 

 

Instagram direct messages now support web links and different photo orientations

Instagram’s Direct feature just got more generally useful as a messaging option, with support added for external web links, and the ability to send photos and video in their original portrait or landscape aspect ratios without cropping. The first is really far more important than the second, mainly because it means users have less reason to go seeking other messaging options outside of Instagram.

The links feature also includes inline previews for websites you paste the URL for, and the new photo and video treatment is much more in keeping with how people actually capture and view media on mobile these days. The updates are rolling out now to iOS users, and will arrive on Android soon. Links are supported on both platforms as of version 10.22.

Instagram Direct is a popular feature among the social network’s user base – there are 375 million monthly active users on Direct alone as of last count, a fresh number shared publicly in April. It’s a far cry from Facebook Messenger’s 1.2 billion monthly actives, but that’s still one of the biggest messaging apps in the world, and a product worth iterating on in order to help it capture even more market share.

Instagram’s Newest Feature Has a Hidden Trick

Instagram’s Newest Feature Has a Hidden Trick

 

Instagram recently added the ability to upload multiple images in a single post. It didn’t take long for some clever photographers to figure out you can use this “carousel” feature to upload amazing panoramic images to the app, like the one below. (It’s far more impressive inside the Instagram app, rather than here on the web.)

the web.)

How can you do this yourself? There are two ways.

First, you can try an app that automates the process, like Swipeable. However, after a quick test, I found that Swipeable kept trying to add a bunch of advertisement-like images onto my uploads, so it wasn’t a keeper. But if you want a simple solution and don’t mind doing a bit of deleting every time you use it, this app may be fine for you.

The other method is a little more complicated.

First, you’ll have to actually go ahead and take a panoramic image (most cameras and smartphones have panoramic modes to help you get the job done, but more experienced photographers do it manually with a tripod.)

Then, open that photo in your image editing software of choice. I use Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile, but pretty much any editing software should be able to get the job done.

Next, open up your program’s crop tool, and set your crop ratio for 3×1. (Assuming you want three different segments for your Instagram upload. If you only want two, set it for 2×1, or 4×1 for four, and so on).

After you’ve cropped your original photo into a 3×1 image, you’ll want to open the crop tool once more. This time, set the crop ratio for 1×1, and pick the leftmost section of your image. Select it, copy it, and open it as a new image. Save it with a filename like “pano1.jpg.” Then go back and repeat the process for the middle and rightmost section of your panoramic, naming them pano2.jpg and pano3.jpg.

When you’ve made all three of your 1×1 images, send them to your smartphone by emailing them to yourself or perhaps by using AirDrop, if you’re using Apple devices.

Now it’s time to open up Instagram. Hit the upload button (bottom-middle), then look for the icon that looks like three stacks of paper on top of one another. Click that, then select the three square images you just made from your original panoramic, making sure the leftmost side is first, then the middle, then the rightmost side. Hit “next,” then upload your final result the same way you’d upload any other Instagram post.

And there you go, seamless and swipe-able panoramic on Instagram. Have fun trying this for yourself!

Can Instagram Help Adolescents Strengthen Friendships?

Use of the social media platform Instagram may strengthen adolescent friendships, according to a study presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, California. The study also uncovered a link between Instagram use and depression.

In June 2016, Instagram had more than 500 million monthly users, and the platform says at least 300 million of those users visit the app every day. This makes the app one of the most popular social networking platforms.

Instagram’s Mixed Effects on Depression, Friendships

For the study, researchers gave Flemish teens paper-and-pencil surveys about their social media use, friendships, and mental health. They repeated the surveys six months later.

Students who reported greater use of Instagram in the first survey were more likely to report feeling loved and appreciated by their friends six months later. Although these feelings correlated with lower feelings of depression, adolescents who reported frequent use of Instagram during the first survey had higher levels of depression when they completed the second survey.

Depression is common among adolescents, so the study’s authors say understanding how Instagram affects adolescent mental health can provide mental health providers with vital insights about social media use. For now, it appears the social media app has mixed effects on teen mental health and relationships.

Image-driven sites such as Instagram may encourage adolescents to compare themselves to others. Research from 2015 suggests these comparisons may harm mental health. In that study, researchers found college-age women who were more emotionally connected to Facebook were more likely to compare themselves to others. These comparisons were linked to body image issues.

Social Media and Mental Health

Mental health experts continue to debate the merits of social media, particularly for adolescents. Previous research has reached mixed conclusions. A study published earlier this year found a link between heavy use of social media and feelings of social isolation. Research from 2015 linked extensive use of social media to unaddressed adolescent mental health concerns. Other research suggests social media could help curb depression when used to combat isolation or access support.

References:

  1. Byford, S. (2016, June 21). Instagram now has half a billion monthly users. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/21/11985576/instagram-500-million-monthly-users
  2. Using Instagram can increase adolescents’ closeness to friends. (2017, April 5). Retrieved from

Instagram Dominates Influencer Marketing (Report)

99.3% of influencers said Instagram was a great place to connect with community and brands

 

Influencer marketing is one of the few areas of digital marketing with the power to sidestep the increase of ad blocking. But there’s a lot more to influencer marketing than that. An annual report from Hashoff, a micro-influencer marketing platform, examines the recent changes in the field.

The 300 influencers who responded to the survey are heavily engaged on social media. 56 percent spend at least four hours per day on social media, and more than 20 percent spend in excess of seven hours per day on social sites.

Only 12 percent of influencers surveyed indicated that influencer marketing is their only form of employment. Most others reported having a full- or part-time job in addition to their influencer work, and more than one-quarter of the respondents were students. This indicates that influencer work is contract-based and short-term.

However, the part-time nature of the work is not an indication of the quality of content. More than one-quarter of the survey respondents spend up to three hours on a piece of content from idea to production, and about 10.5 percent spend up to five hours per piece. More than one-half of the survey respondents percent spend 10 to 60 minutes per piece of content, likely because of the style and limitations of the platforms most influencers use.

Nearly all of the survey respondents said Instagram was their No. 1 platform for influencer work, citing community and opportunities to connect with brands as the driving factor for this choice. In fact, Instagram and Facebook seem to have consolidated as the main hub for influencer marketing, and Hashoff expects this trend to continue into next year.

Still, there is some indication that influencers plan to reduce their dependence on Facebook and Instagram and use other platforms even less. Instead, more than 8 percent of influencers plan to make YouTube their No. 1 platform next year—perhaps a reflection of the growing influence of video in digital and social media.

Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat’s users

ood enough and convenient. That’s proved a winning strategy for Instagram’s clone, according to a dozen analytics providers, social media celebrities, and talent managers who told TechCrunch they’ve seen a decline in Snapchat Stories usage since Instagram Stories launched on August 2nd.

Most reported declines in Snapchat Stories view counts ranging from 15 to 40 percent, and a reduction in how often they or those they monitor post to Snapchat Stories. Meanwhile, our sources report rapidly growing view counts on Instagram Stories, and engagement-to-follower rates one social influencer talent agent called “Insanely f*cking high”.

The success of Instagram Stories, the decline in Snapchat usage we’ve heard from a wide array of sources, and Facebook’s relentless drive to compete with the startup could spell trouble for Snapchat’s IPO on the NYSE market that’s expected in March. Snap Inc declined to comment for this story.

Here’s how the social media content industry sees the impact of Instagram Stories on Snapchat.

 

Instagram Vs Snapchat

 

“Everyone is posting way less. Some are not posting at all anymore” on Snapchat, says the CEO of a social content production studio about the dozen social media stars they represent.

Several sources refused to be named in print for fear of retaliation from Snapchat or because they weren’t authorized to disclose client data. But across the social content production firm’s stars, the CEO says there’s been an average decline in Snapchat Stories views of 20 to 30 percent from August until mid-January.

In the 25 weeks since launch, Instagram Stories has reached 150 million daily users. That’s the same number of users that Snapchat’s whole app reportedly hit around June 2016, after seeing swift growth from 110 million daily users in December 2015, Bloomberg reported. Snapchat hasn’t announced a higher number since, nor has one leaked, despite it trying to impress potential investors during its current pre-IPO roadshow.

Snapchat is expected to publicly file to IPO this week, and that might include some larger stats. But the consensus from our sources is that they’d be higher if not for Instagram Stories, and Snapchat’s long-term growth, especially internationally, will be hindered by the competition.

Analytics Provider Shows Widespread Snapchat Decline

“Overall, from August to November 2016, the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story has decreased about 40%” says Nick Cicero, CEO of creative studio and social video analytics platform Delmondo. His company analyzed 21,500 Snapchat Stories to discover the steep decline.

Delmondo saw roughly a 40 percent decline in unique viewers across 21,500 Snapchat Stories analyzed from July (100%), before Instagram launched Stories, through November. Graph updated with Y-axis.

Delmondo saw roughly a 40 percent decline in unique viewers across 21,500 Snapchat Stories analyzed from July (100%), before Instagram launched Stories, through November. Graph updated with Y-axis.

 

Meanwhile, influencer marketing platform TheAmplify’s CEO Justin Rezvani says “On average our influencer community is seeing 28 percent higher open rate on Instagram than Snapchat”, referring to view count.

As for downloads, App Annie shows Snapchat saw a big drop right when Instagram Stories launched at the beginning of August. It fell to its lowest ranking all year, #11, after hovering in the top 3 for the first half of 2016. It’s unclear why it bounced back at the end of October, but it’s begun to slip again. [Update: Instagram experienced a dip in August download ranks too, which we’re investigating.]

snapchat-download-ranking

App Annie shows a steep decline in downloads for Snapchat when Instagram Stories launched at the start of August

Removing Auto-Advance Added Friction To Snapchat

snapchat-story-playlist

Without Auto-Advance, you have to manually select Snapchat Stories to watch in a Story Playlist

One thing that’s important to know as we review these reports is that Snapchat removed its Auto-Advance feature on October 7th, so users could no longer instantly watch every Story in their list in a row. Instead they had to manually select Stories to load as an ad hoc Story Playlist (pictured here), though there’s a little-known way to select all Stories with by tapping the triangular dot button.

This change should have directly caused some drop in views since Snapchat users aren’t being shown Stories they’re less interested in, which they might have fast-forwarded through while still triggering view counts. Snapchat marketing and analytics company Mish Guru’s CEO Thomas Harding says that in October when Snapchat removed Auto-Advance, a selection of its client accounts that have been posting consistently saw an immediate 9.64% drop in views.

You could argue that the remaining views are more intentional and therefore more valuable. But the change also made it less convenient to lean back and watch a day’s worth of Snapchat the way you used to on Snapchat and can on Instagram thanks to its Auto-Advance feature. And several sources think that’s leading some users to open Snapchat less overall.

Stars See Snapchat Views Down 15 to 30 Percent

Social talent agent Charlie Buffin who represents some former Vine stars says one of his top creators was averaging 330,000 views per day on Snapchat in late 2015 until June 2016. But by December, they were receiving 205,000 to 250,000 views per day.

“It is clear to us that regular users’ Snapchat usage/engagement have gone down significantly since the release of Instagram Stories” writes Buffin. He also noted that “Snapchat removing the Auto-Advance feature has affected the natural ‘binge-watching experience’ for consumers, which is really cutting into views for creators.” But Snap Inc doesn’t seem to care. “Snapchat has always remained distant from its creator community, which is not a strong move for the company” Buffin concluded.

snapchat-ad-deck

Snapchat shows ads between people in your Stories Playlist, so its revenue for this ad product depends on large numbers of viewers

 

One star, Hannah Stocking, saw her Snapchat Stories views fall from 150,000 on August 16th to 90,000 on January 17th. That’s despite massive growth on other platforms like YouTube, and Instagram where she rose from 1.2 million to 4.3 million followers in the same time frame. “Her Instagram Story numbers are growing faster than anything right now” says John Shahidi, founder Shots Studios, the Justin Bieber-backed selfie app and video creation startup that represents Stocking.

Media marketing and business development agency Fighter Interactive’s CEO Kwasi Asare tells me “Snapchat opens have gone down a minimum of 15 percent for some big social media stars.” He sees the removal of Auto-Advance as mistake, saying “Snapchat messed up by letting people choose whose stories they view individually. Instagram has more of a flow where it allows you to watch the stories of everyone you’re following.

Asare also believes Instagram’s clone has quickly risen to equal status with teens, noting that “Most kids are starting to post on Instagram or Snapchat, and then post on the one they didn’t post on first.”

Influencers Crave Instagram’s Reach

Social talent media company Galore’s CEO Mike Albanese says “Influencers that were late to build an audience on Snapchat pretty much abandoned the platform because it was so much easier for them to reach more people through their existing audience on Instagram Stories.”

Snapchat doesn't have an Explore tab to promote social stars the way Instagram does here

Snapchat doesn’t have an Explore tab to promote social stars the way Instagram does here

That said, he was the only source we asked who said that they’d seen growth in Snapchat views, though that was for “top Snapchat influencers” like models Val Mercado and Sahara Ray, and actress Ava Allen who he says pour a ton of effort into Snapchat and heavily promote their account through their other social presences. But he believes “there are less Snapchat Stories being published on a daily basis overall versus August of last year.”

A leading social media talent company’s co-founder tells me that amongst the stars they work with, “Almost all of them are down about 20 to 25 percent on Snapchat” since August.” One of their creators was seeing 75,000 opens per Story in August, and only 50,000 now. Another went from 50,000 to 30,000. Meanwhile, the stars are seeing 6 to 10 percent of their Instagram followers opening their Instagram Stories each day, which the co-founder called “really f*cking high”.

“Marketers are dedicating more resources to Instagram because you can’t grow on Snapchat. Now there’s a lot of campaigns we don’t even need to do on Snapchat.”, they say. “The only way to grow is from [cross-promoting on] YouTube or Instagram. Snapchat is making some of the same mistakes as Vine. They aren’t embracing creators. They want to be private messaging.” In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps them grow their Stories views by featuring them on its Explore tab that Snapchat lacks.

Then they gave perhaps the most damning quote we heard. “Everyone has forgotten that Instagram Stories is a Snapchat clone.”

Raining on Snapchat’s IPO Parade

 

These industry reports build on a mountain of anecdotal evidence about Instagram stealing Snapchat users that I’ve heard online and from my network, and seen in my own usage and view counts.

It seems Facebook has finally found way to challenge Snapchat after multiple failed attempts since it turned down the social giant’s first acquisition offer in 2012. Poke, Slingshot, Bolt, and Flash all flopped as standalone apps, while baking Snapchat’s best features deep inside Facebook seemed to have little effect.

But by putting a Snapchat clone front and center atop Instagram’s feed, the Facebook family of apps discovered a way to make its version more convenient to use than the original. And emboldened by Instagram’s success, now Facebook is testing similarly designed Snapchat clones in its main app as Facebook Stories, and its chat apps as Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status.

instagram-600m-2016-12

Snapchat lovers are exporting and syndicating their Stories to Instagram for extra reach. Those who’d only recently gotten into posting Snapchat Stories are finding it easier to watch and share on Instagram where they already spend time and have built a social graph. And people who’d never tried Snapchat but were intrigued by Stories are finding Instagram is good enough that there’s no need to sign-up for Snapchat.

It’s that last one that might be most threatening to Snap Inc’s IPO. We’re already seeing how Instagram is eating up Snapchat usage, reducing the Stories views it depends on to drive ad revenue. Yet what matters to Wall Street is growth potential. Ad-driven social networks need massive scale, which usually comes from international domination.

That can’t happen if Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp deliver the Stories feature to foreign countries where Snapchat hasn’t gained traction already. Around 80 percent of Instagram’s 600 million monthly users are international. And if Instagram Stories continues on this trajectory, it could prove bigger than the app it copied.

As I wrote a week after the launch, Instagram Stories castrated Snapchat, even if it can’t kill it. Snapchat will continue to have a lively user base, though Instagram may inhibit its continued expansion.

snap-inc-hardware

Snap Inc tries to reposition as “a camera company” with a Spectacles pop-up store in NYC

 

Reports from social media celebrity managers and analytics companies that work with big accounts may present a more dire outlook than what’s going on with average teens on Snapchat. Kids under 25 in the US who are completely immersed in Snapchat might not stray. But Instagram may be convincing the 25 to 35-year olds who came of age on its app to stick around, while it’s swooping on international teens before Snapchat gets popular in their market. Plus, vanity dictates that people will share where they get the most views, and many people have spent years longer building their Instagram audience.

Going Public With A Different Story

With its future in broadcast social media under fire, Snap Inc may need to tell a different story for its IPO. At the least, it might have to concentrate on touting its average revenue per user rather than its scale.

It has spent the past quarter repositioning itself as “a camera company” that makes hardware like its Spectacles camera-sunglasses. It’s also tried to double-down on the app’s first feature, disappearing private messaging, by adding a groups feature and improved navigation. But scrounging together hardware profits and monetizing chat directly can be quite challenging.

In six months, the game has changed for Snapchat, and not in its favor. Once the undisputed king of cool amongst Western teenagers with the potential to disrupt the world’s biggest social network, it’s now in danger of becoming just one of several popular apps for ephemeral storytelling.