social media how toDo you have an Instagram account?

Want to get more engagement from your followers?

If you want to drive engagement on Instagram, there’s plenty you can do to increase your company’s visibility to get more likes, comments and followers.

In this article I’ll share seven tips for building an engaged Instagram following.

build an engaged instagram following

Discover seven tips for building an engaged Instagram following.

Listen to this article:

#1: Include Clear Calls to Action

On Instagram, calls to action (CTAs) appear either in the image itself or the caption.

This fun image approach from Brisk has the like built into the CTA. The company asks fans to double-tap their favorite flavor. Any double-tap on the image will result in a like.

brisk double tap instagram

Brisk’s Double-Tap campaign asks fans to double-tap their favorite flavor. It doesn’t matter which flavor fans double-tap for the image to get a like.

A simple way to get more engagement is to ask followers to “tag the person you love most” in the caption. They will likely tag others in the comments.

#2: Use Location for Calls to Action

Since Instagram only allows advertisers to share a clickable link in their posts, adding text to location is a great workaround to highlight a call to action.

For example, in the highly visible location spot, GoPro tells their followers to go to the “link in our profile” to be a featured Photo of the Day.

gopro cta on instagram

GoPro uses a CTA to point people to their URL.

You can also add text under an image’s location on Instagram.

First, upload an image to Instagram and share the post. Next, tap the three dots in the bottom corner of the photo and select Edit. The keyboard will then pop up along with the option Add Location.

cta on instagram step one

Click the three dots, Edit and Add Location.

Tap Add Location and a pop-up asking you to turn on location services will appear. Press Cancel, and then tap the Find or Create a Location search bar. Then, type in your CTA. Instead of a CTA, you can also just input your company’s URL. Click Create a Custom Location.

cta on instagram step two

In the spot that says Create a Custom Location, type in your CTA.

Click Done (or hit the checkmark for Android) and your CTA will show up directly above the image. Feel free to include emoticons in the location area to grab your followers’ attention.

#3: Leverage Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way for brands to stand out on Instagram and find people who are not yet following their account. Hashtags help organize and categorize images and video content, which aids in the process of content discovery. Just make sure to use Instagram hashtags that are relevant to the audience you’re attempting to reach.

For example, a cupcake company should add Instagram hashtags that are specific to their industry, like #EEEEATS or #Instafood, rather than hashtags about technology or photography. No one likes a brand that stuffs posts with unrelated hashtags.

One of the most popular (and all-purpose) hashtags on Instagram is #TBT, or Throwback Thursday. For example, Pepsi leverages the hashtag’s popularity by adding a relevant image.

tbt pepsi instagram

Pepsi adds a throwback picture along with the #TBT hashtag.

When you’re building up followers on Instagram, reach is everything. You need to do whatever it takes to get your content in front of the right audience at the right time. Nothing helps Instagram visibility like a relevant hashtag.

#4: Do Shout-outs for Shout-outs

On Instagram, you might notice people commenting on your photos with the acronym S4S, which stands for shout-out for shout-out. A shout-out is when you promote someone else’s account to your own followers.

foundr s4s instagram

Foundr magazine gives a shout-out to @secrets2success to promote them in this post.

To get the ball rolling, look for pages with a similar target audience, as well as companies with a similar or greater following than your page. That way it’s a mutually beneficial situation. To find these accounts, type keywords in the Instagram user search or do a web search for your specialty plusInstagram accounts.”

After you find appropriate pages, reach out to make a request publicly or privately.

To make a public request, comment on one of the page’s posts.

s4s instagram request

Request a shout-out for shout-out in the comments, like this user.

Otherwise, send a direct message to the account.

Upload a photo as you would any other image on Instagram. However, instead of selecting Followers, click Direct. Then, type the name of the user you would like to message in search, and select the correct name.

s4s instagram direct request

To send a direct message, first upload a photo. Then, click Direct and select the user you want to message.

Add a caption asking if the user is interested in doing a shout-out for shout-out. When this user writes back, Instagram will let you know through a home screen notification.

#5: Vary Caption Length

While Instagram is primarily considered a photo sharing application, some brands use it as a platform for sharing the written word. Each Instagram post allows 2,000 characters for captions, so why not push the limits and try something different?

For example, this post from Instagram includes a detailed description of their Weekend Hashtag Project, along with a compelling photo. This caption with a unique approach has more than 1,200 characters and generated more than 578,000 likes.

long instagram caption example

Sometimes a long caption is effective, so mix things up. This caption is more than 1,200 characters long and it generated 578,000+ likes.

Don’t underestimate the power of words. If your brand has the ability to tell a story using written words, go for it. Try different long and short captions to see which type of content resonates better with your audience, and pick a winner.

#6: Interact With Other Users’ Content

Don’t just use hashtags to distribute content more effectively, also use them to find like-minded users who do the same thing.

For example, if you’re in the fitness industry, search for hashtags like #Fitspiration or #FitnessAddict. Then engage with users who are sharing content with this tag.

instagram engagement example

Search for hashtags relevant to your specialty to find similar users. Then, engage with them by following, liking and commenting.

When you like or comment on someone else’s content, the user will receive a notification that shows your avatar and name. In some cases, the user will check out your profile, and, if they like what they see, they’ll follow you and engage with your posts too.

#7: Promote Your Account on Other Networks

After you’ve established a nice presence on Instagram with lots of quality content, share your posts on other platforms. It’s an excellent way to encourage new people to follow you on Instagram.

instagram shared on facebook

Share your Instagram content on other platforms to encourage others to follow you there.

Promote your Instagram account on other channels such as Twitter, Facebook and even Snapchat. Get creative with your Instagram marketing. In addition to sharing your Instagram account name or URL, give users a sample of the great content they will only find on Instagram.

Wrapping Up

With more than 300 million monthly active users, it’s no wonder more than 40% of Fortune 100 companies are using Instagram. With the right Instagram marketing plan, you can drive great return for your brand.

To find success on Instagram, commit to creating and sharing images that are interesting and relevant. Engage with other like-minded accounts so you can propel each other to success.

What do you think? What do you do to engage on Instagram? What types of posts are most successful for you? What other Instagram tips do you have? Please share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

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  • #1 is a tacky way to generate engagement, wouldn’t advise it.

  • Adam Duffy

    #3 hashtags don’t work for shit #4 nobody likes a shout out whore haha

  • The studies have shown that hashtags placed on your post within the first hour of posting has a direct relationship with the amount of engagement your post receives. As for #4 – I wouldn’t say “nobody” – There are plenty of accounts using this approach with more than 25k followers. Thanks for the comment though!

  • Joel Burke

    Great post Ross, loved #1! #doubletap

  • Adam Duffy

    I have 50,000 on mine, my friends have 490,000 200,000 and none of us use them anymore cause they don’t do shit, try it got and hit the tags for likes app and use all the popular tags, maybe place them in after a while you have posted, see if it adds any extra to your already organic audience reach, I know because I used to do it!!!!!, how often do
    You go searching for a hashtag? Me never, and even if you did what would the chance be you would follow them just because they used that tag, what’s the point, I like many of your other posts but his had nothing but common sense in this !!!!

  • Adam Duffy

    As for #4 it’s not uncommon to get unfollowed for shouting people’s out, proven fact! Do you have a personal Instagram account or are these just some statistics you have gathered?

  • I’ve been working with a brand account that has 150K along with my companies account 11K and we’ve found shoutouts to work extremely well. I think it all comes down to the context for how you do the shout as well. If you’re just saying “Follow @XYZ” and that’s your entire caption; you’ll likely get unfollowed.

    Overall, I’d say it all (both shouts and hashtags) depend on your industry and audience. In the fitness space, hashtags are used on a regular basis to find inspiration, new workouts and see other Instagram users personal bests for things like squats and deadlifts. In those cases, I’d say it’s applicable and the numbers I’ve seen on my own tests along with various studies, support that idea.

    I also *think* (nothing to confirm this AT ALL) that hashtags increase the likelihood of showing up on the “Discover Photos” page. Based on what’s reco’d to me, I feel the algorithm Insta uses to suggest “photos based on what you like” is connected to the keywords used in the posts you like and the more relevant hashtags you include, the more chances you show up.

  • Dan Shure

    Hashtags definitely work, it just depends what niche you’re in, how well you dig for the best hashtags, and of course the quality of your posts. I look through hashtag feeds all the time and so do many others.

  • jaje


  • Shawn

    anecdotal evidence is the best evidence.

  • Enjoyed your article Ross. Good points for both beginners and regulars using Instagram. #Respect

  • Thanks a lot – Glad it resonated!

  • 100% agree. Thanks for the comment Dan.

  • Kristina Hughes

    All these mention points very important for getting engagement on your posts.. Using hashtags and interact with other users content is more powerful points to getting attraction on your posts!!

  • Definitely! Instagram is a great place for two way dialogue and interaction.

  • Just create remarkable content 🙂 Great walk-thru.

  • Thanks!

  • It really depends on what kind of business you’re running. There are a lot of companies that use this method and actually have more benefits and a better feedback from their users.

  • Great post! This works for anyone just starting out or looking for new ways to build their followers.

  • Glenda MacDonald

    I am a total Instagram newbie. Found this article really helpful. Some things I have been doing intuitively as they are common to other platforms, and it is nice to learn more tips specific to Instagram.
    ….I spend most of my time on Twitter but am now sharing my photography via HTCOne through Instagram app to Twitter. Gaining a whole new and different group of connections with some crossover with Twitter. One really simple step I missed… duh…! Wondered why I only had one follower until a friend tried to folllow me and said I was set to Private…I am usually on desktop so didn’t realize as web interface is terrible. As soon as I went to phone and set to Public I discovered I had a ton of follow requests to approve and suddenly I am on my way, along for a great ride as I learn and master another platform! Thanks so much. Am really enjoying Instagram now.

  • Romon Fab

    Thank you! Will try to my account!

  • Dave Luis

    Hi Ross – point no. 2 – we have been trying this but what it does when you click on the company URL is open a Google Map location showing where the photo was taken, and not the company website. Any advice?

  • LOL at #1 and especially #4. I actually advise my clients NOT to do that. It looks silly and unprofessional. Only teenagers ask for S4Ss or F4Fs.

  • Number one is a bit cheeky. Most instagrammers would see this as a cheap way to get likes…

  • Totally agreed, seems a bit low brow

  • Amin

    very useful tips !

  • Austin Roberson

    Here’s how to get more followers:

    1. Find a competitor or someone in your niche.
    2. Go to their profile and tap “followers.”
    3. Engage with their followers by liking, commenting, and complimenting them.
    4. (optional) Follow their followers
    5. You’ll get follow backs without the cheezy “follow for a follow” thing and you won’t come across as desperate
    6. Use the app Followers+ to see which “followers of your competitor that you followed” follow back
    7. After a couple weeks if they don’t follow back, use the app to unfollow them
    8. Spend 10-15 minutes each week doing this and watch your following build fast

    I taught this last week and during my seminar one of the audience members tripled her following in less than 1 hour. 🙂

    Have fun!

  • You can’t create custom locations any more.

  • Shari Jackson

    This is working, Thank you!