How To Get Your First 500 Followers On Instagram

Kicking off your business on Instagram is thrilling, but now you’re probably wondering “how can I gain more followers?” Followers are critical in helping your business gain legitimacy on Instagram and increase the number of eyeballs on your content. Despite their best efforts, many people are unsure how to gain their first 500 followers and ultimately get frustrated when months go by without significant growth. Here are six tips you can use to gain followers and bolster your Instagram branding.

But before you delve into these #InstaAwesome tips, I strongly suggest checking out my previous blog “How to Launch A New Instagram Account For Your Business”. You’ll learn how to set up your new business account, and strategize an impactful Instagram launch.

As you’re reviewing these tips, stop yourself from falling into the “I know all of this already” trap. Your business is too important for negative thinking like that. And if you have less than 500 followers as you’re reading this blog, then something needs to change. Right?!

First things first…

Make Instagram Your Priority

One of the surest ways to bolster your Instagram account is to make it your social media priority. While you may have other social media platforms, take a few weeks to focus on how you can more effectively use Instagram for your business.

What does this mean? Instead of spending time every day or week thinking about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, and Periscope I want you to SHUT.IT.DOWN. Stop what you’re doing, and give yourself the creative and mental space to focus on Instagram. If you’re not willing to take this approach you should consider whether or not Instagram is right for you at all.

When you dial back on other social media platforms, you’ll be able to invest more energy into your Instagram strategy. This is essential, especially at the beginning. If you focus on Instagram alone, you’ll reach 500 followers really quickly.


Announce Your #InstaDebut on Other Platforms

Ok, so I just told you to stop what you’re doing everywhere. But before you slow things down, give your audience on those platforms a heads up that you’ll be sticking to Instagram for the next few weeks. This will entice them to come follow you there so that they don’t miss out on any of your updates.

You don’t want followers on your other social media platforms to think you’ve dropped off the social media radar. Before you dial back your presence on these channels, let them know about your new Instagram account. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Blab, loop people into your exciting news, and let them know why they should follow you on Instagram. 

Even now I still try to cross-pollinate from one platform to another like this tweet driving people to follow our team account @SBZteam.

Announce Twitter On Instagram

Make Instagram a Daily Habit

Just like other social media platforms, daily updates are critical to growing your followers.

But you should never post just to post. So the most important thing to accomplish from the start is collecting enough images and saving them where they will be easily accessible from your phone. Systems people! Systems are a beautiful thing.

Next, take the time to strategize what times of day your followers are most active and what content catches their eye. The more consistent you are with your posting habits, the more people will come to recognize and trust your brand. 

On both of my accounts @theinstagramexpert and @suebzimmerman I post every single day and sometimes twice per day.

The benefits of posting daily include:

  • remaining top of mind
  • maintaining engagement from your existing followers
  • preventing people from unfollowing you
  • more opportunity to be discovered for your content

Have you posted yet today? Get on it!


Follow Popular Large Brands

Now this is a true action item peeps. I literally want you to identify 10 bigger brands that would have a similar audience. Find them on Instagram and follow them. If you can’t find them by searching on Instagram, go to their website and you’ll likely see and link to their account.

People often scroll through the followers of big brands to see who else is interested in the content. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to follow you back.

But remember, if someone discovers you because you follow another account they like,  they’ll only follow you back and stick around if your content is what they want to see in their Instagram feed.

Don’t Fear Niche Hashtags

Every brand has their ideal customer and strategies for how to connect potential clients with the brand. Instead of casting a wide net, use niche hashtags to capture followers where they’re already searching. Whether you’re a hairdresser, boutique owner, or realtor, take the time to strategize what hashtags are most likely to grab the attention of your audience.

Feeling the pangs of a hashtag headache? Delve into my “Hashtag Handbook” for a full list of niche hashtags designed to fit a variety of businesses and industries.


Spread the News Through Traditional Means

Kicking off your brand on Instagram is an exciting development for your business, and your customers are excited to celebrate with you. Loop them into the news by sending out a dedicated email.

But don’t make the mistake of telling people what to do without giving them a good reason. Explain to your audience WHY they want to follow you on Instagram if they’re already getting your emails.

For example, I tell people that Instagram is the best place to follow me if they want daily simple tips that I only share on Instagram. I only post a blog and YouTube video once per week, but I know that some people would rather get small bits of info every single day.

Another way to reach your existing base is to add your username to your business cards so you never miss an opportunity to let people know where they can interact with your brand.

If you’re ready to take your customer experience to the next level, add a social promo card in your clients’ purchases. If you own a shop, stick it into their bag at the POS. If you run an e-commerce shop, include something branded and memorable inside the packaging.

Not only will this encourage them to check out your Instagram, but it will also encourage them to know how they can tag you on various social media platforms. Hello UGC (user generated content).

Gaining your first 500 followers can often feel like an uphill climb. But with patience and strategy you’ll find that you can set up your Instagram for long-term, business success. By the time you reach 1000 followers, you’ll be an #InstaPro.

And even once you reach any milestone, you an always refer back to these strategies every few months to give yourself a nice follower boost.

For more Instagram tips and strategies, including the 7 key things you need to focus on, download my FREE Instagram Strategy Guide.