Whether you are a seasoned Instagram user with lots of followers or just starting out with a fresh account these tips are guaranteed to improve your engagement and Instagram profile growth.

In fact, I used these tools and strategies to grow my client’s accounts by thousands of highly engaged followers in record time. The best part, it costs almost nothing and anyone can do it.

I am going to use my dog’s Instagram profile as a case study and show you what are some of the tools I use to run this and many other accounts efficiently and effectively.

Jemma Instagram Account

Jemma Instagram Account growth in the past few months.

Here is a graph that shows Jemma’s Instagram account growth in the last few months.

Some interesting & quick facts about Instagram

When Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for 1$ Billion most people said they overpaid for it. Some said they stole it.

On April 9, 2012, Instagram had 30 Million users, on December 15, 2016, it had grown to 600 Million users. The social network today is on track to reach 1 billion users with the sky being the limit.

The social network is also popular with younger people, you wouldn’t see your grandma here, we can’t say the same for Facebook. 59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49.

Instagram is a hugely popular platform with influencers, the demise of Vine, brought many content creators over to Instagram. According to a recent research from Influence.co, on average, Instagram influencers charge $271 per post. Not too bad.

Are you a numbers person? We find stats delicious too. See here for much more.

Instagram has recently significantly stepped up its efforts to grab more of its users’ attention by launching an array of new features like live video, stories, ad serving platform and much more with features being tested and added to the platform frequently.

Despite all these most people do not know how to use Instagram to its full potential. This also includes marketers. Trust me, I have worked for many years in agencies.

Now let us get to the main course.

So, here is the exact process and tools I use to grow any Instagram profile to thousands of users from scratch.

1. Photo/Image Editing

Let’s assume you already have taken great photos that you want to share. The majority use the built-in editor on Instagram to edit their photos. I wouldn’t recommend this as the editor is limited, doesn’t use the full-size photo and the result is mostly disappointing.

So what tools do I use? 

Snapseed is a hugely popular and powerful mobile photo editing app and it is easy to use. The learning curve is low and they also provide tutorials within the app for novice and experienced users. Other photo editing apps I use to add some extra effects are Afterlight and VSCO. If you want something more unique and advanced I would recommend Desygner. It is like Canva, but for mobile. It allows you to add fonts, various layouts and more to your photos giving them a professional look and feel.

Snapseed Icon 150x150 - The complete guide to growing your Instagram followers and engagementdesygner app logoafterlight app logovsco app logo

2. Optimizing Your Post

For better results and engagement with your photos, it is essential that you follow some simple guidelines.

a. Write an interesting caption.

b. Have a call to action if possible.

What not to do. 

Do not use hashtags like #like4like or #follow4follow. They make you look desperate and the users that you usually attract with tags like these are not the ones you would ideally want.

Instead, you could write something more interesting. For example, just got this Thai tea from a street vendor in Bangkok and it is divine. What are some other things I should try during my trip here? Something like this is way more interesting and encourages people to share their own experiences.

Do not use unnecessarily long hashtags like #justgotthisthaiteaanditsdelicious, they serve absolutely no purpose.

However, you could add a personal touch with a personalized hashtag like #JemmaSummerTrip2017 where you collect all your photos and gives users access to an achieve of photos from a specific period or place.

Another way to engage with other users through your hashtag is #S4S or Shoutout for Shoutout. This means that you share someone else’s photo on your account and tag them in the caption or image and they do the same for you.

This gives you access to a wide audience and potential new followers. Make sure however that the person’s account you want to work with is in your niche and has the same level of engagement. You can start doing this by finding someone you would like to collaborate with and sending them a direct message or if they have an email or contact details on their bio through there.

c. Location Tagging

Tagging your location allows you to gain exposure to more people who are at the same location or looking at photos of that location. This is great as it is an additional option to hashtags.

d. Sharing to other social networks

Sharing your photo through Instagram after you post it to your other social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr make your photo appear as a link to your profile. For example, one way I use this is to post a photo of my dog on Facebook Groups.

The Facebook group Shiba Inu, for example, has almost 20,000 active users who share an interest in Shiba dogs and when they click on my shared photo they land on my Instagram profile.

Facebook Screenshot Jemma

You can also click on the three dots to copy and paste a shareable link to your preferred destination.

Another feature you could use, is only available through the web version of Instagram, instead of a screenshot you should embed a direct link to your profile. See an example of this below.

You could use this to embed any of your, or other people’s photos on any profile.

embed image from instagram

3. Scheduling

As we previously said, we need to do the whole management part with minimal effort and time. This step is not essential if you are only managing one account but if like me you manage multiple accounts then it can be a huge timesaver.

Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not natively allow scheduling and auto-posting.

Although there are workarounds for desktop publishing I wouldn’t recommend this as it can result in penalization of your account.

The current best solution is scheduling post notification. My current platform of choice Amplir sends you a message on Facebook messenger when it’s time to publish your post.

Amplifr, offers paid only tiers but another great alternative and one of the most popular tools of its kind is Buffer. Buffer sends a push notification on your mobile to let you know when to publish your photo.

Amplifr logobuffer logoThe reason scheduling is recommended is that these types of tools manage a lot of data and use sophisticated algorithms to know when it is the optimal time to publish. They also allow you to create and schedule multiple posts simultaneously which is a great timesaver when you manage multiple accounts. Additionally, they provide great insights and analytics about your photos that give you a better idea about your followers, your top performing posts etc.


These two tools need to be used discreetly and within limits, as they can result in a penalization of your account if abused. Automation tools are against Instagram’s policy. I am not responsible if your account gets banned. Use it in moderation at your own risk. I have experimented with it and I include it here for educational purposes.

Follower Assistant is an Instagram automation tool that puts your Instagram growth on steroids. It is like Instagress used to be for the web before it shut down its servers.

This one costs around 8$/Month* but you can use it with multiple accounts without any extra charge. It offers a trial for most of its functions, all the basic functions are free and the app has no ads at all.

What the application does is auto like, comment, follow, unfollow and more on your targeted hashtags.

Follower Assistant is exclusive to android (please let me know if there is an iOS equivalent) but if you do not have an Android phone and still want to use it install Bluestaks on your Mac or Computer and run it from there.

I have found a lot of similar applications that are web based but they cost way more, charge per account and are not completely reliable.

This type of software is a common secret with digital advertising pros.

They can be great if used properly or damage your account if abused.

While Follower Assistant (FA) also offers the ability to manage your followers, I use another app for some additional functions. The simple reason behind that is that the auto unfollow function does not differentiate between people who follow you and those who don’t. It simply unfollows everyone who is not added to the whitelist. So, what I do is add all mutual follows to the whitelist and run auto unfollow to remove the accounts I follow but don’t follow me back.

Follower Cop is a great little app that compliments FA very well. As I said, FA removes all the accounts who don’t follow you back automatically.

The way I use FC in addition to FA is to find mutual follow accounts that are inactive, have never engaged with me, are irrelevant to my accounts interests etc. The free version has all the functions with a few limitations and a lot of annoying ads. For a small fee, you can upgrade and reap the full benefits.

follower cop appFOLLOWER ASSISTANT

6. Getting the attention of influencers

Instagram Post notificationsA very effective way to connect with influencers is to turn on post notifications.

By doing this you will receive a push notification, instantly, when they publish a new photo.

Once you receive a notification, open your Instagram, like and make a comment on their post.

Being the first to engage with their new photo is a great way to get their attention.

It works amazingly well and has helped me grow personal connections with a lot of high profile influencers.

Being the first to leave a comment exposes you to a wide audience of relevant people.

Instagram Influencer EngagementIn my example, I followed this strategy with a Shiba dog account that has a quite large following and high engagement.The people who follow that account are also within my audience since my account is also a Shiba.

The people who follow that account are also within my audience since my account is also a Shiba.Not only he engaged with me but I also got some of his follower to follow me.

Not only he engaged with me but I also got some of his follower to follow me.After I did this I received around 20 new followers.

After I did this I received around 20 new followers.Not too bad for something that took less than 5 seconds.

Not too bad for something that took less than 5 seconds.Now try this with 10 or more profiles in your niche and I guarantee that you will see amazing results.

Now try this with 10 or more profiles in your niche and I guarantee that you will see amazing results.


In Conclusion

My final advice would be to NEVER, EVER buy followers. No matter what those services say that they offer real, gold platinum diamond quality followers there isn’t one that can really help your account other than inflating your ego and make you look desperate. How do you feel when you see an account with 200,000+ followers but each post gets 5 to 6 likes? Buying followers can really hurt your account long term as it tells Instagram that your posts are low quality and the algorithm stops showing it even to your legitimate followers. Buying followers is a great way to destroy an account. Trust me I have done that too.

I have tried everything and have made a lot of mistakes over the years.

There is a saying I love.

An idiot will never learn from his mistakes, a smart person will learn from his mistakes, but a genius will learn from other people’s mistakes – Unknown

Be a genius and learn from my mistakes.

So, there you have it, these are all my most frequently used tools for Instagram on the go. I have a few more that I love but then this article would be even longer than it already is.

I look forward to your comments. Let me know what you think and If you have any great tips that you want to add to this post.

If there is enough interest I will gladly create a part two.

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