Three Simple Tips to Get More Likes and Followers on Instagram

Smile! You're on Instagram.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve probably got an iPhone. That’s because Instagram is the popular social networking/photo-sharing app that’s only available on the iPhone… so far. (An Android version has been promised, but has not been released yet.) Then again, maybe you’re just curious.

There are many photo-sharing apps that are fun, like PicPlz, Hipster, and others, but Instagram has really taken off. Described as a cross between Flickr and Twitter, it’s surprisingly simple: just shoot, edit, and share.

Instagram launched in October 2010 and has now been downloaded 8 million times. It’s become so popular it was mentioned in a Super Bowl commercial this year that focused on phone innovators.

So far, Instagram doesn’t have much of a website, other than a link to download the app. But there are some third-party tools that add functionality, such as Followgram (your own vanity Instagram URL and photo feed) and Statigram (a web viewer for statistics).

Instagram’s built-in effects can make otherwise mediocre shots turn out surprisingly good. Just crop your shot (square format), then add a filter or leave it “normal.” You can also choose to share your Instagram photos with friends on Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Posterous, Tumblr, and Twitter. It’s fascinating to see what other people around the world are photographing and to see what people respond to.

So how do you build up followers and likes on Instagram? 

First of all, take decent photos. (Of course, that subject could be a whole series of posts.) Whatever you’re into, make it look interesting. Sometime close-up views of otherwise ordinary everyday items or places can be fascinating when viewed out of context.

Next, apply some of the same principles you’d use to build a following on Twitter, like following and engaging with other people.

Here are three simple tips to getting more followers, likes and comments on your Instagram photos:

Three Simple Tips for Getting More Likes on Instagram

  1. Follow friends and people whose photos you like.
  2. Like and comment on other’s photos.
  3. Use hashtags (#) to help people find your photos.

That third tips is very effective. Say you take pictures of sunsets. Look at the tags that other people are adding to their sunset photos: #sunset #clouds #sky #cloudporn #nature, etc. You can always make up your own hashtags, too. Then, add tags regarding the location and other relevant details.

Sunsets are popular photo subjects on Instagram. Adding hashtags will help others find your photos.

If you Tweet or post your photos to Facebook or elsewhere and you don’t want to clutter up your caption with tags, just publish your Instagram photo without tags, or maybe just one or two. Then add hashtags later in a comment to your own photo. (You can always go back and add tags to older photos that didn’t get the attention you feel they deserved.)

Don’t be shy about using some generic tags. For instance, #iphone, #iphoneonly #nofilter (if you didn’t add effects), #iphoneography, #instagram and others will also help people find you. If your photos are any good at all, adding a few hashtags to your shots will result in some immediate likes.

When you get comments, reply and thank people directly by using the @ symbol, followed by their Instagram handle. Name options will appear as soon as you type in the @.

One thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to include all the little symbols for thumbs up, smiley faces and the like. Clue me in if you know how to do this.

Please follow me on Instagram and share your Instagram handle in the comments below so I can follow you. Happy shooting!

123 Responses to Three Simple Tips to Get More Likes and Followers on Instagram

  1. Great post, Mitch! I just started Instagram, and I love the simplicity and ease of sharing!

    And I know the answer for the symbols. Its an app called Emoji. If you download this app, it will give you an array of symbols to use within your keyboard. You can use those symbols in text messages as well!

  2. Mitch, great little article! As you know, I do love Instagram and enjoy following you as well. There are many great alternative camera and post-processing apps out there. I find myself doing a lot of work with the more sophisticated ones and slipping into Instagram as the final step… taking the images to market as it were. Okay, so I’m not a purist. I’m just trying to squeeze as much out of my imagination as I can! ;-)

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  3. Excellent tips! I recently started using hashtags and it has really made a difference.

    Also with Statigram, if you participate in the contests, it will boost your exposure. lol No pun intended.

  4. As an Android user, I am not an Instagram user, so it was nice to kind of dive into how this product works via your post. Thanks!

  5. These are very helpful tips. I’d imagine you can use some of these tips to increase followings in other places, as well, yes?

    • Thanks for commenting, Debra. The same ideas work for Twitter, including the hashtags, but each network has its own structure and culture. I think the first two tips are more universal.

  6. Hi Mitch! These tips are very helpful. Thanks for sharing! Do you recommend a certain number of tags to put or should we just add the tags that come to our minds?

    • Hi Alexia, thanks for stopping by! I don’t have a specific number for you, but generally the more tags you include, the more likely it is that people will find your photos. It also depends on the subject matter. Try experimenting to see which ones get more response. Also, you can always go back later and add another “comment” to your photo with more tags to generate additional responses. Leave your Instagram handle so I can check out your photos :)

  7. Aralynne Devonne

    Hello Mitch! I tried adding hashtags to my photos and only got more likes. Any other tips on how to increase the number of followers?

    • Hi Aralynne, thanks for the comment. What’s your Instagram user name? I tried searching for you but couldn’t find you. Followers are going to be harder to get than just likes, since it’s more of a commitment and you need to show a track record of consistently good photos in your feed. But getting more likes will help attract followers, just not as quickly. I’d suggest following other people who shoot similar subjects, then you’re more likely to get them to follow back. (But don’t just follow, then unfollow. It’s poor etiquette!)

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  13. I am following you now. Have been on Instagram for about a month as an Android user. Sometimes it seems like a popularity contest, but I really enjoy seeing all the different photos and it is inspiring me to take better pictures and try to be more creative. Thanks for the tips!!

    • Hi Kerri, thanks for commenting! It does sometimes seem like a popularity contest, although you could probably say that about a lot of social networks. Thanks for leaving your user name, too. (Found you! Thanks for the follow.) Have fun :)

  14. Oh yeah, my user name is speakingthrupictures. Thanks

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  23. Lol so I just read this article and I was like hmmm… I never add hash tags to my posts, So I went back to this picture that I posted 15 weeks ago and added hash tags like #sky #clouds #pretty #sunset and sure enough a picture that had NO likes just got about 7 haha. I never knew how effective hash tags really were. :) thank you!

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  42. Hi Mitch,

    Nice article. But I’m still skeptical about some people’s tactics. I ses alot of users with 4 and 5 digit followers and then they only follow less than 100. Do these people build up a followers list by following alot of people and then just unfollow them after a while ? I also notice most of the popular photos on instagram are very poor self-portraits, and 50%-60% are posted by underaged girls who have a massive following list.. I feel instagram is losing alot of its pureness in recent months. Just today a picture with just a black canvas made it to the popular page..

    In my case, (i’ve been in IG since beginning of year) I try to make photos as interesting as I can. Hashtags gain me a couple of instant likes, sometimes they also bring more likes to other photos on my portfolio, but I can hardly squeeze followers out of them.

    In any case Mitch, I leave you my username: @salvas23

    • Hey Salvador, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I’m also somewhat puzzled how some people can have so many followers without following very many and only a few photos. Following, then unfollowing is certainly one tactic, and there are apparently some Instagram auto-bots employing such tactics to boost follower numbers. As far as young girls getting a lot of followers, that’s just male nature, especially with a provocative profile picture and a lot of pics of themselves. (I have no idea how a black canvas would be popular!) Following and engaging (i.e. commenting) with other people definitely helps increase followers. Consistency (posting daily), without getting spammy about it, also helps. But I wouldn’t worry too much about the quantity (# of followers) as much as quality (finding people whose photos you like). Have fun!

  43. Thanks Mitch ! For the reply and followback. Just today I noticed I’m getting around 3-4 users who consistently “like” my photos everytime I tag them with specific hash. Its like, picture is tagged and the like comes right in, anytime of the day. According to their portfolio (or lack of it) Im %100 percent certain they are using some Automatic Liking Bot. So yeah.. Its a shame it comes to this.

    Cheers

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  57. Hi Mitch, nice post.
    I don’t want to take away from your tips, however I find that just generally being social on IG works wonders. I have just hit 1400 followers, with 196 photos. But I only follow 17 people (and I don’t do the follow/unfollow thing).

    When I first started IG I posted a new photo like every 6 hours. But then when you can’t upload the next one because of sleep/work, it becomes a nightmare. Plus this looks VERY needy. I now only post a new photo after a minimum of 22 hours. This could be too long but works for me.

    Another tip: Utilise the maximum 30 hash tags, you are allowed 30, so use them!
    Another tip: (sounds contradictory), dont use all 30 at once! Use 15 at time of publish. Then once the hype has died down (after 10 hours), post another 15 tags – it’s effectively 2 lives for your photo!

    Take photos of ANYTHING, as long as its interesting and not just spam, do it! My most liked photo has (right now) 471 likes. What is the photo? It’s a fly. It’s even slightly out of focus. But it has a green back…. Hmm.

    Also if you like the ease of a bot, try Instaautomator , it’s an online program (no downloading) that you can get to like the 20 most recent photos for a tag of your choice. It also has the ability to follow people automatically, though I’ve not used this, I think it would do my head in with regards to the news feed lol.

    Also post editing comes in handy (and I don’t mean those IG filters!), I use Snapseed more often than not, and on the odd occasion I use PicFX – but I only really use that for the black & white options :)

    • Hi Adam,
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Like you, I find that being social on IG helps a lot. I don’t have nearly as many followers as you, but have fairly high engagement with them. (I also don’t do the follow/unfollow, which is poor manners.)

      I have been posting on IG at least once every day. I don’t always use all 30 hashtags, but I follow your practice of spacing them out at different times, after the initial reaction has subsided. This works! In the post I mentioned going back and tagging older photos. I like your description of “2 lives” for your photo!

      I also like taking photos of anything interesting. Some people stick to one subject, which I can appreciate, but I like variety. As long as it’s approached from a unique perspective, anything can be interesting!

      Snapseed is one of my favorite apps. I’ll have to check out PicFX.

      What’s your IG handle, Adam? (Most people commenting here just seem want to promote themselves and get a follow!) You’re one of the few to actually offer tips! Thanks again :)

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  74. Well, I haev an android and I use instalikes to get hashtags. Well, it doesnt work, like i get no likes nor followers..? umm..

  75. Thank you do much for the tips. They are really assisting.
    The #hashtagging really works. I’m really trying to get more and more likes on my pictures and at times it gets frustrating when a picture (black canvas) gets loads of ‘likes’.
    I use Snapseed all the time too. :-)

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    See you all on Instagram!

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