Last December, Instagram hit a major milestone. The mobile photo-sharing social network reached 300 million users, passing Twitter’s number of active users.
With Instagram more popular than ever, brands and social media marketers are taking a serious look at how they can use the social network more effectively.
In today’s featured infographic, which I found on Jeff Bullas’s blog, there are 29 tips that can help you to succeed on Instagram. The most valuable is called “Engage to Your Heart’s Content.” In it, it mentions the 5/3/1 rule to gain new followers.
The 5/3/1 rule suggests you like five photos, comment on three photos, and as a result you should earn one new follower. Simple, right?
Someone who has taken this rule to another level and tested it is Neil Patel. In his blog post, “The Science of Instagram: How to Get Followers and Likes” he explains his detailed process of liking and commenting on Instagram photos.
He concludes his article by saying that if you want to grow your Instagram account by a few hundred followers a day, it’s best to randomly like hundreds, even thousands of images a day.
Since Neil’s article is a bit outdated (it was written in 2012), I wanted to add my two cents on how you can update his process to make it even more useful.
Nowadays it’s more common to receive Instagram love (a comment or like) from a stranger’s profile than it was in 2012. This reality has caused the 5/3/1 rule (or any variation of it) to lose some of its effectiveness. If you don’t align with their interests or photo taste, Instagram users have become less reciprocal.
To combat this, here are three tips to help make your commenting and liking efforts more effective in 2015:
• Before you start upping your Instagram engagement efforts, make sure your profile looks top notch. Meaning, have at least 15 (to show you’re active on the platform) photos that accurately represent who you or your brand are. This is important because your engagement efforts will cause people to check out your profile. If profile’s content is not beautiful, inspiring, useful, funny or interesting, you won’t earn a new follower.
• Discover the photos of the type of followers you want to attract by searching hashtags that are relevant to your brand. For example, if you own the account Nike Women and you want to attract followers who are active women, you’re going to want to search things like #fitness, #justdoit, #gymtime. Then you can like and comment on photos from female accounts that use those hashtags. This approach that incorporates some targeting principles proves more effective than liking and commenting on random photos.
• Don’t leave generic comments. Although it takes more time to leave a thoughtful comment on a photo, your comment is more likely to result in a new follower if its personal. Comments like “Cool!” or “Nice pic!” or “insert emoji face here” are a dime a dozen and won’t leave an impression, i.e. inspire a person to check out your account. If you want to gain a new follower, leave a comment that has some heart and/or personality.