We all know the feeling. You’ve worked hard to post something on Instagram twice a day. You’ve watched your Instagram follower count rise. And then it drops.

What did you do wrong? Nothing. It’s just the fake followers and their shenanigans. The bots and the fishers of followers.

It’s disheartening, especially when you feel like you’re doing everything right. But, there’s hope. Your follower count may have plateaued for now, but if you pay careful attention to what I’m about to tell you, you’ll see major growth.

Keep reading. You’ll see in time.

1. Insta in Style

You might want to ask Mekanic.com about this because they’ve helped hundreds of companies up their style on Instagram. But Instagram success is all about standing out.

You want to be insta-ntly recognizable when you post. Why? Because people are scrolling endlessly and who knows when your content will break through the algorithm and hit human eyeballs.

From the colors to the font, you need consistency in your branding. Use the same filter every time. I use Mayfair for every post unless I’m going #nofilter. Pick a filter and stick with it.

Choose a type of content and stay with it. On my running Insta brand, I regularly post landscape photos and will be known for that anywhere.

2. Regain Control of Tags

You need to control where your content appears. You don’t want bots stealing your glory. You’ll quickly gain unproductive follower counts if you let this go rampant.

First, you need to go and hide unwanted tags on your profile. Go to your profile, select “edit tags” and have it “hide from profile.”

Next, change your privacy settings. You want to go to “options”, “Photos of You,” and “Add Manually.” This will keep people from being able to tag you without your knowledge.

3. Influence Through Influencers

89% of marketers say that influencer marketing is the same as or better than other marketing channels. And Instagram is where influencers live.

What is an influencer (if you’re asking this, you’re “old” according to the students I mentor at a local university)? It’s someone who gets paid through either money or free products to be the mouthpiece and face of a brand. They feature products and services in the social media and hype it up.

To catch influencers, you need to go looking. Approach people your current followers if they have 500 or more followers. You could always go to the web and find influencer marketplaces as well.

4. Your Bio URL Is Important

Are you running a blog on your site? Well, you should be.

Your Bio url shouldn’t just be your home page URL. It should be a dynamic place. If you are writing weekly blog content, change the URL then and post about it.

People won’t remember your URL bio unless you tell them about it.

Today, Instagram Business accounts allow you to place link tags in your posts. People don’t have to go to your Bio to hit up your site anymore. Not only can you do this in your posts, but you can do this in stories as well. If people see you’re posting useful content on your site regularly and posting about it, they’ll be more apt to follow your Insta for updates.

5. Be as Local as Possible

Instagram is all about being “on location.” Even if you’re a national or international brand, you have a HQ somewhere even if it’s in your Basement.

Let people know where you are in the world. Have meetups for your local Instagram followers. This way you can showcase your product and gain more local followers.

How? Invite everyone and reward them for bringing a plus one (even if plus one is grandma).

Then geotag your posts. All the local things. Show your product or service in action in your community. This will not only bring locals on board it will increase your authenticity as a company and a brand.

6. Make That Dedicated Hashtag Work for You

A dedicated hashtag is a creative endeavor. You need something memorable and something actionable. What do I mean by actionable? I mean a hashtag that people find clever enough to want to use in their own posts.

Finding your dedicated hashtag takes experimentation. Feed people different hashtags and see how they spread. If they don’t catch on, try something else.

Once you have one, use it everywhere. On your pamphlets, on your Facebook, on your site, paint it on your car, everywhere!

People will click on the hashtag and primarily see your posts because you’re using them. Make sure it points back to you in some way as well or someone might coopt it for their own branding.

7. Fewer Boring Hashtags

#word #paragraph #article #seo

If a boring marketer were to choose hashtags for their Instagram posts, that’s how they’d choose them. They’d stay safe by choosing boring hashtags.

While you want popular hashtags in your branding niche, you also want to throw down cleve hashtags too. Why? Because you want those hashtags to catch fire.

If you start inventive hashtags, they’ll take off and increase the number of people following the hashtag. Then, if you use the hashtag consistently in the future, you have guaranteed exposure.

8. Treat Captions Like the Content They Are

Google and Bing may not rank your Instagram captions. That’s fine. But Instagram will.

If you hadn’t noticed, Instagram began using a sorting algorithm just like Facebook. Only the most relevant content for a user’s likes and dislikes make it on their feed first. So, sadly, content bubbles are here to stay no matter how harmful they are for public discourse.

I digress.

You want to influence the algorithm. The best way to do this is through your post captions. Write post captions as if they were blog posts. Add useful content. People might not share these posts, but they’ll be more likely to follow if you’re giving them useful information right up from without requiring them to do anything else but follow.

9. Call People to Action

You’re the one who beats the drums of war. You’re the one who sets the pace. If they are following you and genuinely following you, they’ll do what you ask.

A compelling CTA is the only way to do this. March people to your site. Ask them to follow you. Ask them to check out your project. And above all, don’t be shy about it.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.