How to (Not) Get More Instagram Followers

Since I’m in marketing now and I wanted to put more effort into my photography anyway, I decided to do some experiments with my Instagram account to see how you can get more followers and engagement. In this blog post I’m summarizing the basic approach, data in the single phases, the outcome and I give a little preview of what I’m planning to do next.

Before I dive into the details let’s talk about about the history/background of the account and the data hosted there. I started with my Instagram account about three years ago and used to post random photos from my daily life. After a year I discovered the weekend hashtag projects organized by Instagram and started to use more hashtags from then on. Almost all of those pictures were taken with my iPhone 5. A few months ago I began to use more of my DSLR photos and I also tried to focus on certain motives like architecture, people and plants. Along with that I wanted to gain more followers and therefore started this little experiment.

For all images posted during this experiment I used around 10–20 hashtags to describe them. The first three or four tags were always my own words which I would use to describe the image. The rest came from TagsForLike.


  • started with about 260 followers, 300 following, 156 comments
  • spent about 8h over 40 days — followed 700 people
  • posted 3 photos per week
  • got about 250 followers, 100 likes, 15 comments
  • lost about 150 followers in the following month + 55 after Instagram’s cleanup (205 in total)
  • conclusion: costs a lot of time and does not bring you a sustainable followers


  • started with 375 follower, 252 following, 171 comments
  • spent 1h and tried free trial for 3 days — automatically followed 1.170
  • posted one photo a day (so 3 in total)
  • got 175 followers, 630 likes, 61 comments
  • lost 38 followers in the following 10 days (also posting one photo a day)
  • conclusion: very efficient

Follower Boost

  • started with 513 followers, 290 followings, 223 comments, 3980 likes
  • spent about 3h
  • posted 5 photos in 7 days
  • got 12 followers, 32 likes, 2 (spam) comments
  • lost 7 followers in the following 7 days (posting 5 photos)
  • conclusion: the users of that app provide on average nicer (not only selfies) images than the ones of GetFollowers but the app is too slow and has a lot of connection problems, so it’s no fun to use and also not very efficient.


Basically following hundreds of people and liking + commenting a lot of photos is the best way to increase the number of followers and engagements. This can be done manually in Instagram or with the help of different tools. However, all these tools can help to increase the number of followers but it’s doubtful, if those are sustainable followers and if they are interested in the content at all. In my case I got a lot of companies or pro photographers who followed me until I followed them back. Then they immediately started to unfollow me. So the logic consequence here would be to change one of the following variables

  • content type — from picture to movie
  • image motives — sports photography instead of architecture for example
  • image style — less saturated or more faded
  • use different hashtags
  • increase post frequency

Another possible consequence is to step out of the Instagram (tool) environment and try to promote the content through other channels, which I will try next.

However, if you liked this article or you have any feedback, feel free to text me or leave a comment below. Also make sure to follow me on Instagram and visit my flickr account.

Further resources

Originally published at on February 9, 2015.