Instagram can sometimes feel like a one-way street. A one-way street filled with spammers, fake accounts and people with exponentially more followers than you.

Believe me, I know it all too well.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: those spam-filled accounts with tens of thousands of followers? Many of those followers are as fake as Kim Kardashian’s you-know-what’s. Fake!

Artificial followers purchased solely to increase your numbers do absolutely nothing for your brand—in fact, they drive your engagement stats down because only a small fraction of your followers actually engage with what you post.

What you want to build is a real, engaged, highly-targeted follower base, whether that’s 5,000 or 500 or even just 50 people (but don’t worry, you’re going to truck past 50 in just a few days).

These are the kind of followers who engage with what you’re posting, like your posts, leave comments and most importantly, click through to your website. I’m going to show you how to get these followers in a completely non-spammy way. The best part? You can do it in as little as ten minutes a day.

Ready? Let’s go.

1. Get over your numbers obsession

This is the first and most critical rule. If you’re concerned with having your ‘Followers’ number be higher than your ‘Following’ number, this system is never going to work for you.

Will your following eventually outgrow the number of people you follow? Sure—if you consistently post great content. But in the beginning, it’s going to be a balance, and sometimes one number will outweigh the other.

Instagra follower numbers

2. Find the right people to target

This strategy is built on engaging with people who are not only in your target market, but who are highly likely to follow you back and become an engaged member of your tribe.

How do you find them? By tracking them down on the accounts they already love.

My favorite way to do this is by taking a look at the Search tab in Instagram. You can get there by tapping the magnifying glass at the bottom of the app’s screen.

When you do that, Instagram will automatically show you some of the top posts in your niche—and that already have dozens of people commenting on them. Bingo.

You can also find these types of posts by searching via your most commonly used hashtags and looking at the ‘Top Posts.’

You’re looking for highly engaging posts, in your niche, that already have at least 20 comments on them. Here’s a great example in my niche, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Grow your instagram following

3. Mine the already-posted comments

Let’s continue using the example post above. You can see below that the comments begin with posts from @onlyreem_, @ridiculouslifestyle, and @vickygarciafitness and so on.

how to grow your instagram following

I’m going to start going down this list of comments, looking for my perfect targets. Remember, all of these are people who have gone to the trouble of leaving a comment on a post, meaning they’re probably pretty engaged on Instagram.

And, they engaged on a post in your niche, meaning your topic is probably highly interesting to them. Then, there’s one more criteria you want to look for.

Here’s where follower counts do matter—at least a little. I like to seek out users who are following more people than follow them. This automatically tells me they’re not going to be hesitant to follow me back simply because they’re playing some dumb numbers game.

Got it? So, you’re seeking out users who have already commented on an account similar to yours, and who have a higher ‘Following’ number than ‘Followers.’

4. Check out their posts and leave an uber-thoughtful comment



They suck. They’re basically a slap in the face that says “I was too lazy to come up with anything interesting to say about your post. That’s how few shits I give.”

Don’t leave mindless comments.

You don’t have to comment on the person’s most recent post. You might not have anything insightful to say about it. Spend a few seconds tapping through their 3 or 4 most recent ones to find one that sparks your attention, one that you can actually leave a genuine, thoughtful comment about.

One more thing—tag the person in your comment, so they’re sure to get a notification about it. This also shows one more sign you were actually paying attention to their post.

5. Follow them

Nope, it’s not a one-way street where you go around collecting followers but never follow anyone in return. Sometimes YOU have to be the first to follow.

And guess what? If you’ve completed all of the other steps above, finding people in your niche who enjoy engaging with others, there’s probably a great chance you’re going to love seeing this person’s posts in your feed.

So follow them. You’ll be surprised how many will follow you right back, no questions asked.

Boom. A shiny new REAL follower who’s interested in the kind of content you’re sharing. Now go back to step 2, rinse and repeat.

Using this process you can easily leave one well-thought-out, well-targeted comment per minute. Ten minutes a day = ten new relationships, and in my experience at least 50% of them will turn into followers.

The great thing about this system is that there’s no ceiling. If you have an hour to kill on the bus or waiting for a plane, you can spend it on this process on Instagram and easily pick up 50 new followers. When you do it day after day, it adds up to hundreds of new high-value followers per month.

And that, my friends, is how you build a truly valuable Instagram audience.

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Tami Brehse

Tami Brehse

Tami is a television news anchor turned digital marketing consultant who helps small businesses achieve their PR and marketing goals.
Tami Brehse
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