Instagram was a new platform for me, so when I started it I felt like I was playing catch up and threw myself into it. I managed to get 1000 followers in 7 weeks, but I think I can get them in 4 weeks next time. The people I connect with are highly engaged, they like and comment on the pictures. I average about 150 likes now, so that's 15% engagement rate on Instagram.
Here are my top tips for how you can gain your first 1000 followers quickly.
1) Have a cache of photos ready
You don't want to struggle to find things to post at day 2. You also don't want to post boring content, that no one will be interested in. Luckily I am quite a keen amateur photographer so I had a bunch of photos from my facebook and google photos saved. I wouldn't start engaging with people until you have at least 9 photos personally, as you will have a very low rate of return engagement. People don't know whether you are active, and worth connecting with.
2) Post regularly
When I started posting, I would post a new photo once I reached X number of likes. You should aim to increase X over time. For example, when I started, I remember it was momentous to reach 10 likes. Then 20. Now I aim for 100 before I post a new photo. Instagram is a high frequency, high reward kind of platform; there is no drop off in engagement if you post a lot. Many brands post every hour. However, I would space out posting as people don't want to see a lot of your posts in one go in their feed. If you post 5 photos in 1 minute you will probably end up annoying people and they might unfollow you.
3) Follow back
If someone follows me, I will always follow back unless I find their content offensive or they are spam accounts. It also helps attract followers if you have a fairly even ratio of followers:following. I tend not to follow people if they have a very small number of accounts that they follow. I also use an app called InstaFollow, which lets you know when people unfollow you. This lets me know when someone has unfollowed me (some people follow and unfollow shortly afterwards, a tactic I am not a fan of), in which case I will follow suit and unfollow.
4) Engage with instagrammers
When I say engaging, I don't mean copying and pasting generic emoticons or phrases like "awesome x". You need to genuinely look at the photo and see what comes to mind. It can still be a 2 word comment, but make it obvious you've actually looked at their stuff. You should particularly engage with Key Influencers. Key influencers will depend on what your instagram account is about - if you are a mummy blogger, it would make sense to connect with other mummy bloggers. I particularly engage with people just after I have posted a photo, as I know a lot of instagrammers operate on a quid pro quo basis. Also remember to try and stimulate conversation in your text - ask a question. When someone comments, comment back and remember to tag them in.
5) Check Instagram regularly
This may sound obvious, but regular checkups over small periods of time is better than longer stretches infrequently. This allows you to maximise the potential number of people you are reaching. Once you get over several hundred followers, it will become very difficult to engage with everyone, so checking regularly is a good way to make sure you don't miss anyone out.