How to get your first 10,000 followers on Instagram

The most common way to measure the success of any social media profile is to check the follower count, and Instagram is no exception.

Once simply used as a place to post personal pictures, the platform has now become a hotbed for brands and Internet celebrities, with the emergence of “Instagram stars” and those launching careers right off their work there.
If you are busy trying to grow your follower count, take the lead from those who have already done it. We’ve got tips from 6 local Instagrammers who have hit the 10,000 milestone, and how you can do the same:

Keep it real.

from Blogger Tiffany Brien

“I just shared my life, kept it real and genuine and it seemed to relate to a lot of people and that’s when my following began to rise. I also started talking about fitness and healthy eating about 3/4 years ago before the dramatic increase interest in this world. But bottom line it was being real and a bit of luck which got me to where I am now.”
From blemish-erasing apps to cleverly angled photography, Instagram fakery is a common problem with the platform, and can actually get you in serious trouble with your followers these days. It’s better to keep it real and prioritise authenticity over flawless selfies if you hope to engage with new followers, because in the current climate of Instagram, they will see straight through your tricks.

Avoid growth gimmicks.

from Avril, A Life To Style

“My 10k followers were 4 years in the making. That’s how I got there. By producing original honest content in real time that truly reflects me and my life. And waiting. I also recommend ignoring numbers. I’d rather have 1000 genuine followers than have 10000 that is 90% fake accounts/other bloggers/people who don’t even look at your work or know who you are.”
You can now buy 100 followers for as little as $3, meaning that you can build a pretty substantial following with little to no effort. The problem with this kind of strategy? As Avril rightly points out, those accounts and people won’t engage with your work or your brand. Your follower count may be high, but your likes and comments will be low, if you get any at all, and not only is that demotivating for you as an Instagrammer, but anyone who visits your page will be able to read between the lines. Skip the gimmicks and play the long game if you want any kind of future with the platform.

Prioritise quality.

from Matthew, Best of Belfast

“You may be sick to death of hearing the adage ‘quality is king’ but unfortunately there is just no way around it. Quality content rises to the top… Quite literally, as the Instagram algorithm no longer pumps out posts in chronological order but works its magic to champion content that the community engages in the most.
For a whole year I posted every single day on Best Of Belfast. (At the start it was 3 times day!) In order to prioritise quality I made the decision to post less. The results? An increase in engagements and a decrease in my workload. I may be ‘reaching’ fewer people per week… But the posts I am putting out there are going further than ever before.”
As Matthew says, make quality your top priority. This means that, unless it’s part of some unusual aesthetic, ensure your images aren’t pixelated or blurred by uploading the correct resolution for the platform. You might also consider how lighting, especially natural lighting during the day, might affect your images. Dark, obscure images typically aren’t a way to engage followers.

Post the content you want to see.

from Fi, Gluten Free Fi

“I always say that you should only post content that you want to see, don’t post for the sake of posting, avoid typical Instagram cliches that people have seen a thousand times over, don’t do it for the numbers and to be completely authentic.  Having integrity and being authentic is the most important piece of advice – my followers follow me because I have my own voice.  I don’t change my writing style and I try to include as much of my personality as possible.  People are bored of that ‘perfect’ (fake) Instagram life, they want to hear from people who are genuine.”
This is the second part of what Quality Content is: the stuff that you genuinely find interesting.
As part of the community you are trying to reach, you are an ideal litmus test for whether your content is worthwhile or not. Ask yourself and answer honestly whether you would like to see the post in question on your timeline. Would you like it, or stop to comment? If you are more likely to keep scrolling, reconsider the post.

Limit scheduled content and endorsements.

from Annette, Little Penny Thoughts

“Limit scheduled content , I don’t pre plan my posts, I do them as and when it suits me.
Have consistency and familiarity with your daily posts.
Be authentic and true to yourself and don’t put yourself under pressure to impress others.
Network and learn off others that inspire you.
Limit endorsing other people’s products for your own financial gain as many people will see through this.”
It’s tempting to allow brands and companies more influence over your content. After all, it’s the dream of many bloggers and Instagram influencers to monetise their work and to be associated with industry giants. However, if you want to maintain an authentic persona and high engagement numbers, limit your #ad posts. Otherwise, your followers may feel more like an advertising demographic than actual friends and fans.
The same goes for scheduled content. While it is a handy way to keep on track of consistent posting, try to keep the same personality and energy behind it. People want to engage with you and your personality, not just what you think they want to hear.

Pick a theme.

From Paul, Harlso the Balancing Hound

“The most successful Instagram accounts typically have a theme, so we keep our posts fitting with our own: Harlso, and his talents. That doesn’t mean we just post the same thing all the time. It’s actually really important to stay relevant and topical, like posting seasonal greetings or commenting on a trend, such as fidget spinners in 2017. You should also try to engage with your followers, reply to them and comment on their pictures, and prioritise the quality of your pictures.”
Choosing a theme for your Instagram page is a great way to appeal to a niche community, or even just make a unique name for yourself, much like Harlso the Balancing Hound.
Moreover, themes can also help Instagram users decide to follow you. If they know that you publish consistent, similar content to the picture or post they originally discovered and enjoyed, then that makes it an easy decision to click ‘follow’. If that one post they liked was just a one off on your feed, they will move on to explore other pages instead.
Whether you are gaining followers for a personal pursuit or brand awareness, be sure to keep authenticity and consistency at the centre of your Instagram strategy. The platform can be a tricksy beast, with its ever changing algorithm and the state of saturation, but when you have a real story to tell and passion for what you do, the rest is just plain hard work and patience.


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