How I got my first 5,000 Instagram followers in about a month (gaining 500-1k followers/week)

Disclaimer: I’m pretty new to Instagram and only started an account because I wanted to become a “social influencer.”  In other words, I wanted companies (e.g. Tomoson) to send me free stuff so I needed a social audience to be eligible for their offers.  I wasn’t sure how large of a following I needed to entice companies to send me stuff, but I figured that 10k followers across social media channels would be a good place to start.  I believe (and have now confirmed) that the two social channels that are easiest for a newbie to grow the fastest are Twitter and Instagram.

The Best Way to Attract Followers to Your Instagram Account

Have great content. That’s it.

If you have beautiful pictures, great quotes, and other useful images that people are looking for you will be able to grow your audience.  Even better, your followers will be people who actually want to see your content.

This is definitely the way to go.  The problem is that this strategy takes time.  Developing and posting great content is an acquired skill that takes work.  Don’t expect success overnight.  But keep working away at it and you’ll get better and attract the kind of followers that will help you grow your brand.

What about people that don’t have that kind of time?  Well that’s me.  I became a social influencer in December 2016 because I was struggling financially and couldn’t afford many Christmas gifts for my amazing wife and four children.  I figured if I could hurry and acquire a social following that I’d be able to entice at least a few people to send me free stuff that I could use as Christmas gifts.

The long and short of it is that my strategy worked!  I fell a little short of my 10k follower goal, gaining just over 8k followers in my first month.  But it was enough for a few companies to take a chance on me.  In December 2016 I was sent nine products which I reviewed and posted to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and this blog.  In total those nine products were worth several hundred dollars, but they only cost me $19.10.

Now that I have 5k followers on Instagram (and another 6k on Twitter) I am going to transition from my rapid growth strategy to a slow growth strategy and focus on building up other social channels (YouTube and Facebook).  But first, here’s exactly what I did to get to where I am.

Rapid Growth Strategy (grow by 500-1000 followers per week)

Requires: 60 minutes your first day of the week, 5-10 minutes every other day, and 60 minutes your last day of the week.  So a total of about 2-3 hours/week.

As I described above, the best way to grow a brand is to produce great content.  However, if time is an issue (like it was for me), you can still grow an audience without any content at all!  Indeed, I have seen Instagram accounts that have several hundred or thousand followers with no posts.  I recommend you put up some posts because then, while you grow your audience, you will also be getting likes and comments on your stuff.

  1. Create a profile that is optimized for growth. I don’t know how much the picture matters but I would guess that having an attractive mug will help you grow more quickly.  I don’t have such an attractive mug so I opted to simply put the logo of my company (probably a bad move).  What I did that was a good move was in the description.  I noted that “I follow back” and included the hashtags #f4f (follow for follow) and #l4l (like for like).  These hashtags will help people find you and entice them to follow you (with the assurance that you will follow them back.
  2. Find people you want to follow. Again, if you want quality followers this is going to take longer.  To find them search for influencers (the top people) related to your topic and follow the people who are following those people.  If you’re going for speed simply search the hashtags you put into your bio (f4f, l4l, follow back).  Now this is key: when you find those people look for people who have roughly the same number of followers as people they are following.  That means that they are probably using a similar growth strategy and truly follow back everyone who follows them (and their followers likely do the same).  Look for people with more than 1-2k followers and then go to their followers list.  Simply go down the line and click follow on as many as you can.  Instagram rules stipulate that you can only follow 200 people at a time, so follow your 200 and then give it an hour rest.  Repeat several times throughout the day.
  3. Follow 1000 or more people at the beginning of the week. Following step two you should be able to follow 1000 people or more in about 60 total minutes broken up throughout the day.  When you’re first starting out you can follow up to 7500 total people.  There’s nothing wrong with following all 7500 on your first day if you can, but likely Instagram will put a freeze on your account if you try to follow too many too soon.  So shoot for 1-2k that first week.
  4. Check-in and follow-back each day. You’ll be amazed when you wake up on your second day to see that you already have several hundred followers.  You’ll also find that many of those followers found you so their icon has a blue follow button next to it.  As someone who “follows back” you need to go through your list of followers and click on all of those blue buttons.  You’ll likely keep those followers long-term so this is in your best interest.
  5. Unfollow your non-followers at the end of the week. You’ll get less new followers each day throughout the week so feel free to add additional followers if you want. However, the advantage of not adding additional followers during the week is that you know that everyone you followed was given one full week to follow you back.  That makes it easier to clear them out and start over at the end of the week.  Now for this step I recommend you download an app for your phone or computer.  Just search the apps store for “Instagram non-followers”… I use an app call “Unfollow All.”  You’ll find tons of apps that allow you to login and access your Instagram account.  You then select “non-follow” and click on as many as possible.  Like growth getting rid of followers can also trigger a freeze on your account so I wouldn’t do more than a few hundred at a time.   Break it up throughout the day and unfollow all your non-followers by time you go to bed.
  6. Repeat the process. For week two choose a different “f4f” person to target for your follows (again, look for someone with at last a couple thousand followers and follow as many of them as you can). You should be able to gain at least 1-2k followers your first week and 500-1k followers for the next several weeks after that.

And that’s it.  The biggest issue with this rapid growth strategy is that it results in followers who probably don’t care about your content.  My goal was to get a quick 5k followers just to have the number and then to start to focus on getting the right followers.  Another issue with quick growth is that there are certain kinds of followers who follow everyone that you don’t want following you.  You are bound to follow several foreign accounts, people not wearing enough clothes, products you don’t like, etc.  My strategy was simply to follow as many as quickly as I could and then when I see accounts in my feed that I don’t like I simply unfollow them.

Slow Growth Strategy (grow by 50-100 followers per week)

Requires 5 minutes per day.

  1. Just do step number four from above. If all you do is check in a few times per week and follow back those who are recently following you then you will continue to grow your account a little each week.
  2. You’ll also want to do step five from above and unfollow your non-followers at the end of the week. That will keep your follows to follower ratio close to one and allow you to continue growing.

And that’s it.  I hope this short tutorial was helpful.  If you try my system out I’d love to hear about your results.  Post your results and any suggestions, strategies, and tips you might have in the comment section below.

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