How To Get Instagram Followers Using Automation

Any business hoping to compete effectively in 2018 is undoubtedly aware of the benefits of maintaining an active presence on popular social media, such as Instagram. With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram has grown to become one of the most popular social media platforms among businesses looking to interact with potential customers and fans. Yet doing so successfully has become more of a challenge in recent years, as Instagram looks to protect users from repetitive ‘spam’ content while simultaneously optimizing their news feeds; filtering out any irrelevant content. This has resulted in the need for businesses to adopt a targeted approach to marketing on Instagram, through the creation of meaningful content and careful distribution to a specific online target market.

Person holding phone with Instagram.

With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram has grown to become one of the pre-eminent social media platforms of the 21st century.

A Strategy For Getting Instagram Followers

Despite the challenges, it is still possible to grow your Instagram followers organically without resorting to purchasing ‘followers’ (which often turn out to be little more than a shell of an account.) Savvy business owners have derived a unique formula to gaining targeted followers doing little more than liking specific posts, using specific hashtags, commenting on specific posts, or following certain accounts. The right combination of these actions can lead to substantial exposure for your company amongst a highly-targeted group of potential fans and/or customers.

How does this work?

It’s simple really. The goal with this approach is to search for accounts that might be interested in your content and make them aware of your profile. Thus, the first step is to conduct a targeted search for Instagram posts and profiles by using keywords related to your business. For example, if you are running a digital marketing agency, you might search “digital marketing” or “seo” to generate a list of targeted profiles and posts with which you can engage. Next, you engage with those profiles and posts that you believe may be interested in your content. This engagement can take the form of following certain profiles, commenting on certain posts, and/or liking certain content.

Person holding phone with Instagram.

Instagram allows users to search for keyword-related content easily through the search bar.

The goal here is to engage with as many targeted ‘potential followers’ as possible, by liking/commenting on their content and following their accounts. In turn, these potential followers will receive a notification leading them to your profile, where there is a likely chance they will engage with your content or choose to follow your profile. Voila!

Does this strategy work? Unfortunately, Instagram marketing statistics remain relatively broad, and there is no official measure of the success of this strategy. Empirical evidence would suggest that this strategy has proven very successful for many businesses out there. This is largely due to the fact that Instagram users are the most-likely to engage with a company’s content of all major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) As a result, Instagram users are generally more receptive to when a new company or organizational profile engages with their content and are most likely to follow-back.

Study on user-brand engagement by Forrester Research.

A study by Forrester Research highlighting the user interaction with brands as a of total fans or followers, on the various major social media platforms.

Using Automation to Grow Instagram Followers

The aforementioned strategy to growing Instagram followers only works if you are willing (and have the time) to manually search and sort through the mass of Instagram content in order to engage with that related to your company or organization. Naturally, this can be extremely time consuming. Not every account you engage with through this strategy is going to engage back with you, and thus in order to succeed you must engage with more Instagram profiles than you can expect to re-engage with you. One way to implement this strategy on a large scale is to utilize an Instagram automation platform, which allows you to input certain criteria about your target market, and which will engage with relevant Instagram users on your behalf.

Many new services have popped up in recent years which allow companies to partially, or fully automate their Instagram accounts. Whether engaging with fan comments on your content or engaging with new content to try and build up your account following; there is likely an automation service that exists to meet your specific needs. These platforms generally use machine learning or manual outreach to engage with members of your target audience by liking, commenting on or following specific pieces of content or accounts. The hope is that this engagement will encourage some percentage of people to follow your profile in return, as per the strategy mentioned above.

How Does Instagram Automation Work?

The goal of automation is to save you the time of manually developing a list of keywords, searching and filtering through Instagram content, and engaging with that most likely to generate return interest in your account. These automation platforms are able to do so by utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence to sift through a mammoth amount of Instagram content, finding only the content that is most relevant to your company or brand. The platform also has the intelligence to automatically ‘like’ certain posts, or follow certain accounts, depending on the initial criteria you input into the system. Thus, the engagement is continuous, which is critical in building a lasting online presence for your company.

Some of these automation platforms are also able to post comments on certain content, even if it is from an account which you do not already follow. This is particularly advantageous, as studies have shown that a user is much more likely to interact with you account if you leave a personal comment on, rather than simply like, their content. Machine learning has also facilitated the ability of some of these Instagram automation platforms to automatically reply to comments on your posts, based off an analysis of certain keywords in the content. All of these features are paramount to the business owner looking to grow their Instagram followers continuously, but that don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to managing their social media efforts full-time.

Should You Use Instagram Automation?

The answer to this question really depends on your goals as a company or organization. The nature of the Instagram algorithm means that your content is exposed to a vastly larger number of people once a few thousand people follow your account. Thus, for those companies looking to build an online presence on Instagram, it is most important to build a following when you are beneath this threshold. This is where automation can add the most value, in gaining a steady inflow of new Instagram followers.

That isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits to using automation if you already have an established Instagram following. It is equally important (and difficult) to maintain an Instagram following as it is to establish one in the first place. You must continuously interact with fans on your posts, ensure fresh content is regularly distributed, and continuously seek out new accounts and potential customers. Automation can help with all of this as well, and as a result we see many established brands using these platforms to ensure they don’t fall behind their competition in terms of online presence.

How To Monetize Your Instagram Account

As Instagram explodes in popularity across the globe, savvy users and organizations have sought out ways to exploit its popularity by monetizing their accounts. It is already well known that certain celebrities and public-figures earn a substantial sum by posting about certain brand products/services – a form of modern-day product placement. Kim Kardashian, for example, has been found to earn north of $500,000 for access to her 110 million+ followers via a marketing campaign. However, many people aren’t aware that there are numerous other ways that you can monetize your Instagram account in 2018, even if you don’t have the reach of Kim Kardashian or Kevin Hart.

Kim Kardashian instagram account.

Kim Kardashian is one of the most prominent Instagram celebrities today, with over 100 million followers.

Despite the general rule being that the more of an Instagram following you have, the greater your earnings potential; there are many ways you can immediately begin to monetize your Instagram account.

Sell Your Products/Services Through Instagram

One of the defining trends we are likely to see in 2018 is the greater use of Instagram paid ads and e-commerce functions among brands across the globe. Earlier in 2017, Instagram launched the ‘buy now’ capability which allows certain influencers (including brands) to include a link to their e-commerce platform in their posts. This has opened up the possibility of directly converting potential customers into customers 100% through the Instagram platform. While the feature is still relatively new, it has already become extremely popular – with the number of Instagram e-commerce users doubling from 1 to 2 million between March and September 2017. While the “shop now” feature is not yet available to the masses, Instagram has partnered with Shopify to offer e-commerce functionality to an initial group of businesses. The feature is expected to be expanded to everybody in the near future.

Instagram and shopify logos.

Instagram partnered with Shopify in 2017 to open up their new e-commerce platform to select businesses across the United States and Canada.

Become an Instagram Brand Affiliate

While becoming an Instagram influencer is often restricted to those with over 1,000 – 5,000 followers, becoming an Instagram brand affiliate offers anybody the opportunity to generate income from their Instagram account. The key difference between an influencer and an affiliate is that an influencer gets paid by the brand simply to display their product/service, whereas an affiliate gets paid whenever a customer actually purchases the brands product/service directed from their Instagram account. An affiliate is essentially an influencer who gets paid on a commission basis.

How does this work? Once you have signed up as a brand affiliate, you will begin posting content that highlights the product or service you are marketing and include a unique link to the product page in the post. Every time that an Instagram user clicks on your unique link AND purchases the product/service, you will receive a small commission amount (generally between $0.10 – $3.00.) The more people who view your posts, and the more aligned that your followers are with the brand you are representing; the more earning potential. This is a good way to monetize your Instagram account while you also work to increase your followers.

@glamourzine Instagram account.

An example of the type of posts typically made by Instagram brand affiliates – with the unique affiliate link in the description.

Each brand will have their own version of an affiliate program, where you will need to enroll. Rakuten Marketing and ShareASale are only two of many affiliate networks that partner established brands with Instagram affiliates across the globe. Alternatively, you can approach the brand directly to inquire about an affiliate program. The goal is to find a brand that aligns closely with the content on your account, where the branded content would resonate best. This is where Instagram affiliate marketers can generate the best ROI and make the biggest impact on behalf of the brand.

Become an Instagram Influencer

Last but not least, the more ambitious person may wish to focus on building a large enough following to become an effective Instagram influencer. As previously mentioned, and influencer is someone who gets paid directly by brands to promote their content among their followers. Not everybody can be an Instagram influencer, as brands tend to favour those with massive Instagram followings such as celebrities and other influential people. The brand is paying you up front to promote their product/service, thus they will only work with those accounts where they are confident they can generate a return on investment.

That is not to say that you need 1 million followers to earn money from your Instagram account as an influencer. In fact, a study found that many brands follow a ‘one-cent per follower’ rule to dictate how much they are willing to pay Instagram influencers per post. The same study also found that 66% of brands surveyed pay less than $250 per post, indicating that the majority of influencers on Instagram average less than 25,000 followers.

Later survey about Instagram influencer earnings.

The results from a survey conducted by Later, highlighting how much the average brand paid for a sponsored Instagram post in 2017.

The key to becoming an Instagram influencer is to a) have a large enough following to catch the attention of brands looking to advertise, and b) focus your account content on a specific niche to attract like-minded followers. Why is the latter important? If you don’t have 1,000,000+ followers brands are going to need another reason to pay for your ‘influence.’ By focusing on building an account around a particular niche (e.g. fishing, children’s fashion, Italian cooking, active living), you will simultaneously generate followers interested in that content. Brands that offer products/services which would generally appeal to people with those interests will be much more willing to pay you to promote them, perhaps even more-so than a celebrity with 1.6 million followers (and no connection to the brand’s product.)

Regardless of how you choose to monetize your Instagram account in 2018, there is an option available to you. Whether you are a small business looking to convert potential clients on Instagram into revenue through e-commerce options, or a growing social media influencer looking to convert some of their popularity into monetary gain; Instagram is the place to be. Having a strong Instagram following is the key to your success in any case, both in terms of quantity and quality. To learn more about how you can grow your Instagram following, visit our comprehensive guide here.

Become an Instagram Influencer

There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of being an Instagram celebrity, influencing thousands of people through social media about some topic or lifestyle. You may be familiar with such Instagram personalities as Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez), Cameron Dallas (@camerondallas), or Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty); who seemingly live their lives travelling the globe, receiving free products, and earning a nice living without a conventional job. Well, this is because they are examples of successful Instagram influencers, or people who earn money by partnering with brands/organizations to promote them within their Instagram accounts. Whether this takes the form of a free sports car, a free week-long stay at a Bali resort, or a direct cash payment; when it comes to the good life these Instagram influencers seem to have it all figured out.

Jay Alvarrez Instagram account.

Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez) promoting a Bali Resort in his latest Instagram post.

What many people don’t realize is that you don’t need to be a former celebrity or have over 1 million followers to become an Instagram influencer. In fact, a study found that many brands follow a ‘one-cent per follower’ rule to dictate how much they are willing to pay Instagram influencers per post. The same study also found that 66% of brands surveyed pay less than $250 per post, indicating that the majority of Instagram influencers average less than 25,000 followers. For those influencers who manage to break the threshold and join the Jay Alvarrez’s and Huda Katan’s of the world; the reward is even more lucrative. At this level (>5 million followers,) the average influencer brand-partnership campaign generates $150,000 in revenue.

Huda Kattan instagram account. Promotional post.

Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) promoting her personal beauty brand through an Instagram post.

Finding Your Influencer Niche

The first step in becoming an Instagram influencer is to decide what you want your niche to be. Do you want to be a beauty blogger and review various products to your followers? How about a travel influencer who captures the essence of various resorts, activities, restaurants, and other sites through their Instagram posts? Maybe you wish to create an identity around financial literacy and dedicate your account to educating people about personal financial management. The possibilities are essentially limitless, and given the rapid expansion of Instagram in recent years you can be assured that there is demand for almost every type of content imaginable. Choosing a niche is about finding what you’re most passionate about. Don’t simply try to emulate what you think will be most popular, as most successful Instagram influencers only got to where they are by demonstrating true knowledge and a passion for their content.

@iamgalla Instagram account. Men's fashion.

Adam Gallagher (@iamgalla) created his account around the Men’s fashion niche.

Why can’t you become an Instagram influencer by just posting what you usually post? Think about it. How many non-celebrity Instagram accounts (aside from friends and family) do you follow that don’t specialize in some sort of niche? Chances are not many. Focusing on a niche makes it easier to gain Instagram followers beyond your inner-circle, which is the second component in becoming an Instagram influencer.

Getting Instagram Followers

Once you have determined your niche, you must next focus on growing your Instagram followers. There are several different ways you can get Instagram followers. The goal is not only to get lots of followers, but also make sure that a good portion of those followers is: a) not bots, and b) potentially interested in your niche. Many services claim to be able to sell you Instagram followers, however most times the followers they sell turn out to be shell accounts. Brands will only be willing to work with you if you have exposure to a large, targeted, and real group of followers who are interested in the niche focus of your account.

Instead, we recommend employing strategies to get Instagram followers organically. There is a strategy that you can use right now to get real Instagram followers without paying a cent. First, you should search niche-related keywords and hashtags to find relevant content and accounts of those who might be interested in your account. For example, if you are trying to become a hockey-related Instagram influencer, you might search ‘hockey,’ ‘nhl,’ ‘slapshot,’ or the names of some famous sports teams. Next, you interact with the content to promote your own account. Liking and commenting on niche-related posts and following niche-related accounts are the primary ways to generate awareness and get Instagram followers. The more you do this, the more followers you will get to your account.

This is a time-consuming strategy, however, due to the drawbacks of buying followers, it is really the best way to get real, quality Instagram followers. Luckily, the larger your follower list is, the easier it becomes to get new followers. As your account grows, it naturally gains reputability, as people are more willing to follow an account with more followers than less. Thus 90% of the work you put in will go towards getting the first 10% of your followers. Certain platforms have arisen to assist small businesses and organizations looking to grow a quality Instagram following whom don’t have the time to invest in doing it themselves. Instagram automation platforms such as Social Bloom allow up-and-coming influencers and small businesses to hand-off their Instagram accounts to a machine learning system, which automatically follows, likes and comments on content and accounts according to pre-specified criteria. This remains a popular option for Instagram influencers looking to get a head-start on the follower list-building process.

Monetizing Your Instagram Account

Once you have built an adequate Instagram follower list, it is time to start partnering with brands, businesses, and organizations in order to monetize your efforts! The good news is, the use of Instagram influencers as a form of marketing has dramatically increased in recent years. In fact, another study estimates that total spending on Instagram influencers in 2017 amounted to $1 billion, and projects that advertisers will spend $1.60 billion on Instagram influencers in 2018 and $2.38 billion in 2019. In other words, the odds are in your favor.

Instagram influencer market growth 2017 to 2019.

Projected Instagram influencer market growth 2017 – 2019.

Voila! You are well on your way to becoming the next Kim Kardashian. Of course the process doesn’t stop here. To maintain your Insta-fame, you will need to continuously employ strategies to gain new followers, continuously produce fresh/interesting content to maintain your current followers, and actively seek out new brand partnerships wherever possible. Want to learn more about how you can grow your followers to get started? Visit our comprehensive guide here.