Updated on 11.11.2018
Want to Know How to Become Famous on Instagram?
Who wouldn’t? Having a luxurious life of travelling the world, meeting with other famous and inspirational people, being adored and the list goes on. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Well to become famous on Instagram or any other social media platform is just not something you set yourself out to do – or is it?
I’ve been doing online marketing for nearly 10 years and I’ve seen some social media accounts go from zero to hero in a heartbeat and some have worked their way to fame in a decade.
In the end it doesn’t really matter how long it takes. If you want it enough, you can achieve this. The world really is your oyster.
However, I believe there are certain best practices that help you to become famous on Instagram. As an Instagram marketing expert I’ve put together this article to help everyone get into the spotlight faster.
1. Why do you want to become famous on Instagram?
I’m not going to ask why you want to be famous in the first place. That might end up being too philosophic conversation and it’s a topic for another time.
But the main question you need to ask yourself is what do you want to be famous for?
Is it the fact that you’re funny as hell and people are drawn to you because you make them laugh? Is it because you have a great taste in fashion and people turn to you for outfit inspiration? Or are you an expert in your field seeking to help others to become better at something?
The common thing these scenarios have? They all provide value to their audience. You need to provide value, without there’s no fame and following.
End of story.
If you don’t do anything for others with your content, then it’s really hard to convince people to stick around. Think about the famous people you follow. You follow them because you like them, you like their music, their lifestyles etc. You get inspired by them.
If you want to be like them, then you better start acting like them – by providing valuable content.
Here’s why you should consider Instagram as the platform to share your story.
Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms out there. A lot of marketeers (including myself) say that Instagram is the best place to engage with your audience. The engagement rate on Instagram compared with other social media platforms is several times higher thanks to the simple visual approach in which the content is delivered.
It depends on the niche a little bit as well, for example if you’re in finance or politics then you might consider Twitter instead. If you’re niche is heavily related to images and videos then Instagram could be the one for you.
In the early 2019 we’re looking over 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram (source: statista.com). And the rate of growth doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
So yes, it makes sense to be present on Instagram.
2. What is your talent/passion?
First you got to ask yourself this question: What is your talent or passion?
Ideally, you want to start your Instagram page around something you are passionate about and you have talent for. This is the surest way to have a great start.
If you have great passion to start a singing career, but you cannot sing at all, then don’t be sad. There are creative ways you could still shine in the spotlight.
For example you can come forward with your lack of talent and make fun about it. If you’re genuine, people will like you and follow you.
Or why not start an Instagram account about your journey of learning to sing and share your experience with the world?
There are several ways you can make yourself interesting.
3. Get the first 100 to 1,000 followers
We all have friends and family. Be sure to include everybody in your journey. This is something people often forget to do or for some reason just don’t do.
I get it, when I started @gettinggrowth, I was super nervous. The truth is, putting yourself out there is like walking in front of an unknown audience for the first time on a big stage. There will be people who absolutely love you the way you are. There will be haters (the internet – duh!) and the rest will just not care. Yet!
As long as you have fun and please the people who love you, you’ll do great!
Those first followers are important so you could actually work out your processes and start getting a rhythm of how you want to do things.
I’ve recently written an article for Hopper on growing an Instagram account from 0 to 20 000 followers. Be sure to check that out later as well. Don’t go yet..
4. Develop your own hashtag to become #instafamous
Most brands and big accounts have developed their own hashtag, which is solely used by them and their followers. This is a great way to build your “tribe” and community of engaged people around a specific topic.
Of course if you’re Coca-Cola or Apple, people all over the world will use your hashtag without actually following you.
Having your own hashtag makes your account look more professional (and bigger than it actually might be) and it gets people interested in you and the movement you’re creating.
Your hashtag could be your account’s name, the name of your product, program, movement, service or just a creative combination of words that are related to your niche.
For example here’s Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) with his hashtag #leanin15, which is the name of his dieting plan.
5. Use a large variety of hashtags
If you’ve done research about using hashtags, you’ve probably found contradictory advice. Some say use only a few hashtags so you wouldn’t look too spammy. Some say you should use 30 hashtags, which is currently the maximum amount of hashtags allowed by Instagram.
Research shows that using more than 11 hashtags gets more engagement. Buffer has put together a very nice article about using hashtags.
I personally recommend using all 30 hashtags per post. Just make sure you keep them relevant and keep changing them once in a while to reach different audiences.
In 2018, we did some experimentation on using less hashtags and using them in post caption instead of in the first comment. If anything the engagement decreased. So try using all the them and make sure they’re relevant to the post and your niche.
PRO TIP: Don’t use super popular hashtags like #life #love etc. Instead try using hashtags that have around 100k to a few million post shares to gain better reach.
6. Track your exposure with different hashtags
This one is huge!
Most of us don’t realize that people aren’t just browsing their friends’ profiles, but also searching for new cool content.
If you want your posts to be featured in the “top posts” section for certain hashtags you need to gain massive traction in a short period of time after posting. Usually your posts can stay up for around 48h. It depends on the hashtag and other accounts using it.
I recommend checking all your hashtags a few hours after posting. Did you hit the top posts section with any of them?
If you didn’t then you’re probably using too broad and too popular tags. Try using less popular ones to get some traction. When your account is already big you can pretty much get to “the explore” even without using the hashtags (Instagram reads other signs besides hashtags as well).
On the other hand, if you did hit “the explore” with all the used hashtags, you should consider using hashtags that are even more popular to reach an even bigger audience.
Keep testing which hashtags work for you and which ones don’t.
It’s not always about popularity as well. I believe Instagram’s algorithm is somewhat similar to Google’s and it also takes into account factors such a CTR (click-through-rate) and account’s activity. So if people don’t find your content relevant with a certain hashtag, then they’re not clicking/tapping on your post. This gives Instagram indication not to keep it in the top posts section.
7. Make a list of competitors and idols
This is important for so many reasons.
Firstly, it’s good to get an understanding of their profile. How are they interacting with their followers (could you do something better)? What type of posts get the most shares? etc.
Secondly, it’s better to be friends and collaborate with your competitors, rather than fight for the followers. I suggest interacting with your competitors all the time and exchange shoutouts if possible (will get to that later on – so stick around).
Thirdly, if there are certain idols or competitors that you want to interact with, but you don’t really get their attention, don’t take it personally. We’re all humans, and we all have 24 hours in one day. They’re probably just overloaded with everything that’s happening on their social media.
However, you could occasionally mention them in your post captions. If they see that, they just might respond by leaving a comment. In those cases your post has better chances of being pushed into the explore feed. A comment from an account with a super high follower base is considered very valuable.
8. Your bio is important, but don’t overthink it
Tell something about yourself in 150 characters.
That is a challenge if you have a lot to say.
When it comes to writing an outstanding bio there really isn’t one right way to go. If you’re familiar with the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) concept, then your bio would be either the Awareness or Interest part.
Make a bio that grabs instant attention and interest so your potential followers would want to scroll down and see your posts.
If you have a link in your bio, then it’s definitely a good idea to draw attention do it. You can spice up your bio by using your personal hashtag (which we talked about already).
You can also use emojis 😂😍🔥🔥 in the bio, which is a nice addition to make your bio look more lively. Although, it really depends on your niche and target audience. I’m pretty sure everybody on Instagram gets emojis, but it might not be appropriate for certain accounts.
Let your potential followers know what your account is about and suggest them to follow you. Something like “Follow my journey towards learning to sing from zero”.
9. Set your theme
You obviously want to stand out and not be another indie lifestyle blogger, food lover or world traveler. Wow, that almost rhymed.
Anyway, you should always try to stick to a certain color pallet or photo style. Don’t copy it from someone, but think about what you love and how can you make your feed look unique.
Of course, the more people will see the real you, the easier it is for you to create content and make people fall in love with the real you.
10. Tell a story
Telling a story online isn’t that difficult. We all have stories to tell. The janitor in your apartment building has a story, the CEO of Google has a story and YOU have a story.
The way we present these stories is everything. There are 3 key elements why people interact in social media.
They want to be entertained, inspired and educated. These are linked with what we discussed in the first point.
Let’s come back to your talent. If singing is your thing, here’s some cool ways you could tell a story:
- Did you learn or are you learning a new vocal technique? Great! Let your followers know how you did it or what progress you’re making. Maybe you can give them pointers on how they too could master the technique.
- Did you get turned down on a gig? (There-there) That’s a positive thing. You can now share this story with your followers and maybe even organize a live concert to them via Instagram Live feature. People are mostly emphatic and this would be a very engaging thing to do.
- Did you hear a great joke the other day? Well, why not turn it into a song and record a 60 second video of you performing it?
11. Building a stunning feed
Instagram is all about beautiful content. Don’t expect to get away with photos that are shot in low resolution or that are poorly lit.
Never post content you’re not 100% happy with. Make each post seem like you worked on it the whole day.
Here’s an article on planning and designing your Instagram feed and making it stand out.
So what about selfies?
Glad that you asked. If you’re building your personal brand and not managing the account of your company, then selfies are definitely in the center of your Instagram feed.
Dan Zarrella, Hubspot’s social media expert put together some interesting findings on what makes a good selfie. Of course, if you’re a pretty person, chances are better, but there’s actually some other factors to consider. Investigating more than 160,000 photos with the hashtag #selfie, Zarrella found on his blog:
- Using the right color schemes gets more engagement. These are cool, earthy tones, such as blue, green and beige.
- Using filters isn’t always the way to go. Although the filter “Willow” takes the 1st place, “Normal” came out second. Also selfies with the hashtag “nofilter” got almost 10% more engagement. If you’re taking photos with a professional camera (which I strongly recommend), then doing some editing in Photoshop is all you need. #nofilter, just heavy editing.
12. Be consistent
Decide how many posts you will make per day or week. If you’re really serious about becoming famous on Instagram, you should aim to post at least 2-3 posts per day. That’s right – it’s a lot of work.
And no, it does not look spammy. As long as you’re posting high quality and valuable posts, you’ll be good.
Instagram likes accounts that post consistently and post quality content. So make Instagram love you and it’ll reward you with higher engagement rates and better chances to hit the explore every time you post.
On the other hand if you find it hard to produce a lot of content, don’t stress about it. Build up your feed and post a few times a week and spend more time simply interacting the community and building up these long-lasting relationships.
In fact I’ve recently seen with some accounts I work with that sending DMs, replying to comments and interacting with new accounts helps to boost engagement a lot. Pay attention to these activities.
PRO TIP: Take time during the weekend to produce a majority of content for the coming week, so you wouldn’t ask yourself “What the hell am I going to post today?”
13. Find your best posting times
Many marketers will say that there are certain times of the day or week when you should be posting. While there is some truth in it (weekends tend to work better), I believe everybody should figure out their best posting time based on their own account and followers.
All accounts are different and the way your audience is consuming social media could be totally different from your competitors. I suggest using a service like Iconosquare to get better insight into your audience and figure out the best posting times.
14. Curate your tagged photos
Soon, when your account starts to grow, people will start tagging you. Unfortunately, some of these tagged photos are in poor quality and posted by shady accounts.
You want to be in charge of the impression you’re making and not let everyone do it for you. Although some user generated content is good for you. For example getting tagged by magazines and other PR related users is most likely good for you.
Luckily, you can remove the tagged photo from your profile, by visiting the photo and choosing “photo options”. You have the opportunity to remove the tag and still keep it in your “photos of you” section, but the best would be just to switch off the “keep in photos” option and leave the tag itself.
I believe that there’s some discoverability associated with accounts that have been tagged a lot. It works like a back-link in the SEO world.
Another thing you can do is change your Instagram settings so that tagged photos won’t show unless you approve them first. This can be changed under “Options” -> “Photos of You” -> “Add Manually”. Don’t worry people will still tag you, but you now have better control over what content is visibly associated with your account.
15. Get local exposure
Remember, people around the world use Instagram. If you’re travelling somewhere, be sure to interact with the local community on Instagram as well. Make photos, videos and stories. Geo tag them and interact with similar accounts nearby.
This feature is a great way to build new relationships and increase your following. You shouldn’t really use geo tags randomly. Make them relevant to your actual position.
Also using geo tags in your Instagram stories is huge. I see account using geo tags in their stories get nearly 2-3x more views.
The more relevant it is, the more clicks/taps you’re going to get from the explore feed. Again, this gives the Instagram algorithm indications that you have good content and it starts pushing it even more.
16. Double tap that
The power of using CTA-s (Call-to-Action).
Various researches show that using proper CTA in your bio or posts increases engagement significantly. Having a consistently high engagement brings you in front of more people and eventually gets you more followers.
So every time you’re posting something, think of a call to action. Here are some CTA-s that usually work:
- Double tap if you agree
- Tag a friend/family member/partner (someone who needs to see this)
- Leave your comment below
- Let me know what are you thoughts on this
- Yay or Nay?
- Comment to enter the competition / giveaway
17. Buying Instagram followers?
Buying followers is like faking your resume or CV. You’ll get noticed, but never pass the interview.
To be honest, I’ve bought followers myself and I do not regret that, it was an experiment to see how it impacts the account’s growth. And there’s definitely some positive growth aspects involved.
Social proof – people want to follow accounts that are popular and all kidding aside, followers count still is one of the most important number that new potential followers look at. Also, media count and your following count are important and especially the ratio between them.
Let me explain.
Let’s say you have just started and you have 5 posts. You have followed few of your friends and all your posts have 12 likes accompanied with 3 comments. Now you decide to buy 30,000 followers. Instant fame right?
Well, if a new potential follower visits your profile, what do you think will happen?
Would you follow yourself and think… “wow, this girl/guy is really cool, I’m gonna follow them” or will you be like “30k followers with 5 posts? Really? Probably a fake account that will be deleted soon anyway” (leaves the profile).
In perspective, having only a high follower count means nothing. I mean NOTHING! If you have a bunch of random (fake) people following you, ask yourself what good does it really do?
Real engagement is the only metric you should work with. You don’t want to have passive fans. You want to put your energy in pleasing the few super engaged fans (even if there’s less than 100 of them).
So in conclusion I’d suggest not buying followers if your account is already growing. But if you really want to boost up your first impression, do it in a believable way and use a trustworthy service for that (if you’re interested in that shoot me a direct message on Instagram).
A shoutout is really nothing more than simply a mention of somebody in your post or story. You can either mention the account in the post caption, mention them (tag) on the post media itself or you can make a screenshot of their account profile and use that as a post media. Even better would be a post or a story of you two in it.
You can either exchange shoutouts or you can buy shoutouts.
Shoutout for Shoutout (also known as S4S)
This is were you exchange shoutouts with accounts that are in similar niches and in similar sizes. So basically reach out to accounts that are in similar sizes and see whether they are up for a S4S. Use this script for example:
Hi! How are you? Found your Instagram account and I really love your posts. Was wondering if you would be interested in a shoutout for a shoutout agreement? Either way, keep up the good work!
This is basically what it says. You pay a user so he/she would do a shoutout for your account. The shoutout rates start usually around 5$ and pretty much can go into thousands. Usually, the price is dictated by the follower count and/or engagement. The more followers and engagement an account has the more he/she could ask for the shoutout.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people look into engagements and end up paying something like $50 for a shoutout from an account with 50,000 followers, whose engagement is horrible. The result – maybe 5 to 10 followers if you’re lucky.
So, I suggest to pay by the average engagement not the follower count. I would say $20-$30 per shoutout from an account with an average engagement (comments + likes) per post of around 1,500 to 2,000 is quite okay.
You can obviously reach out to them the same way you would with S4S request. Don’t over do it though. With paid shoutouts it’s your money you’re spending, but with S4S you are potentially upsetting your followers. Image if you’d follow a cool account and all of a sudden they started to post somebody else’s content and promoting these accounts that you don’t like/know. You’d unfollow right?
19. Get featured
If you’re sharing real value and you’re in a newsworthy niche don’t be afraid to reach out to journalists and other media publications to get featured.
If you have something to offer then there’s probably other people, who want to share that. You can get featured in blogs, news sites and also get on other Instagram and social media accounts.
We already covered shoutouts, but some Instagram accounts offer the “get featured” option when using their hashtag. @motivational.diary for example does that in fitness niche.
Always try to find ways to get real stories about yourself. Buying articles or exposure is short-term. Remember what we covered about buying followers? Good!
20. Engagement groups
Engagement groups are basically group conversations within Instagram and also on other platforms (there are several on Telegram app). The idea is that all the participants in the group will engage (like and/or comment) with each other’s posts. This can happen asynchronously or on specific times of the day.
For getting massive growth it’s better if you can plan the time when you will get a lot of engagement. It’s important to get a lot of engagement in the first hour when you post, because this indicates to Instagram that your content is good and it should be pushed to the Explore section.
When participating in these groups make “good posting times” irrelevant. You should post on times that these engagement groups start the engagement or a round as they say it.
Since they are not heavily promoted you should simply direct message me or any other social media person on Instagram and ask if they are in one of these groups and if they could possibly add you too. Now, some of these groups are free and some of them have entrance fees, but they all work pretty much the same.
These groups are pretty underground and can really blow up your growth if done consistently. I’ve seen many account from going gaining 100 followers per day to gaining 1,000 followers per day just by participating in these rounds twice a day.
However getting likes from the same accounts over and over again doesn’t really help a lot in 2019. Comment groups are still awesome though. For getting more likes I have partnered up with a few talented people to bring you auto engagement service which combines different traffic sources.
We can get you good quality likes to your posts at a cheap cost (compared to regular advertising).
If you’re interested in that email me (email@example.com) or send me a message on Instagram.
21. Engage with your audience
This is probably one of the most important things you should be focusing on.
If you have gained a follower – interact with them. Send them a DM to greet them and introduce yourself. With quick replies it’s actually very easy. If you haven’t set up quick replies yet head over to your Instagram settings and add a welcome message.
It can be something like this:
Hi (name)! Thanks for following me. How’s your day going?
Next. Respond to all of your comments and take some time from your busy day to reach out to your followers yourself. Go an like and comment their posts.
Also if you are constantly interacting with your audience, Instagram will start pushing your content to their feeds. If your content is good they will like and comment. When you have good engagement, Instagram starts to promote your content in top posts section and explore feed as well.
So keep that in mind. It’s not only about accumulating as many new followers as possibly, but it’s also about building strong long-lasting relationships with your followers.
If your account isn’t switched to business yet, it about time you do it.
Now you might be saying that your not a business and you don’t want to sell anything. That’s cool, but without a business account you can’t run promotions on Instagram.
Promotions or ads, however you call them are about to get more relevant than ever. Instagram (I mean Facebook) have not been meeting the expectations of the investors in terms of revenue and stock price. In order to increase the shareholders confidence we’re probably going to see some new ad products on Instagram and Facebook in 2019.
I’m thinking ads between our stories, in middle of IGTV, ad objectives to be suggested accounts to follow, promoted DMs etc.
Early adopters (advertisers) will definitely be rewarded, so I suggest you get your head into ads game as well.
Right now what I suggest you do is head over to business.facebook.com and create a business manager account for yourself. Add you Instagram account there and create a new ad account. Under your add account you can create custom audiences. Good idea would be to create an audience of all the people who have visited your Instagram profile and run a promotion to them.
Of course there’s plenty more ways to run successful campaigns. I’ve actually just recently launched a brand new Complete Instagram Ads Training if you’d like to know more about running ads.
Mistakes to avoid
- Instagram account is not public – if people cannot find you, they will not follow you!
- Following a bunch of random accounts.
- Following / liking too fast (as in 200 in few minutes) – You’ll probably get banned!
- Posting duplicate content all the time.
- Not responding to comments or doing it poorly.
- Focusing on quantity instead of quality.
- Using irrelevant hashtags.
- Posting over promotional content.
Instagram is a wonderful platform to become famous and I personally believe it’s going to be one of the hottest platforms in 2019. It’s all about delivering good valuable content. The more time you spend talking with your followers and reaching out to new followers and partners the more successful you’ll be. It might seem like a struggle in the beginning, but after you hit 1,000 followers it starts to get fun and your growth should start accelerating. Practice the principles covered in this article and you’ll be good.
If you found this article useful, I’d really appreciate a comment and feel free to share this in your network.
Also I’m keen to get to know you, so follow me on Instagram @gettinggrowth.
Remember there was a link in the beginning. If you still have time to learn more head over to HopperHQ blog to read my post about growing to 20k followers and beyond.