The Secret to Building A Loyal Instagram Following

Instagram marketing can be a source of fury and anger for many people. You post more, you change posting times, you try different hashtags, you repost things other people posted that got engagement and still nothing. You may even have a following, but do you have a LOYAL following? Do you have 1,000 true fans, or a million who do not care? 1,000 true fans will take you farther than one million fake, uncaring followers.

After a week of working full time on Instagram, what do we have? 8 more followers. And 3 of them are not even in the same country as your business. Great. Stupid waste of time Instagram, amirite? No, not exactly. You have the passion, you have the brand, you have the desire, but you can’t get anywhere if you don’t properly execute. The fastest car in the world can’t win a race if you keep driving off course. Instagram works, you just gotta know how to work it.  

When it comes to building a following on Instagram, you need to do more than just look at KKW and Kevin Hart’s pages. Yeah, they have a vast audience, but you can’t just copy people and expect it to work. You gotta do you, not be like everyone else. If people want to see Kim K, they go see Kim K, not you who is trying to be like them.

What Not to Do

Being A Copycat

First, let’s talk about what you need to stop doing. As mentioned above, stop copying people. Like with art and music, being influenced by other people’s accounts makes sense, look at what people do that you like and borrow those aspects. But full-on copying is terrible. It looks awful, it seems fake, and people don’t like it because it’s not you. Be original.

Misuse of Hashtags

Stop throwing out random hashtags. I don’t care if they are popular. Stop. Like now. Use hashtags correctly. This means use a combination of trending hashtags along with relevant to your post and brand. Sure, tossing in #fun or #instagood will almost always work. Stop hashtagging GaryVee and business names unless your post is about them. This is spamming. Spamming gets you shadowbanned.

Quality Above Quantity

For the love of god, stop Instagramming everything. Nobody cares if you went to the store and snuck 2 free samples. Stop. It is stupid. It is annoying. Nobody cares. You become like that one friend that can’t take the hint when it’s time to leave. Post quality content. More is not better. Do you want a $20 bill or 2000 pennies?

Photo courtesy of Social Media Today. Engagement drops the more you post.

Being Negative

No negativity or divisiveness. People do not like complaining. People do not wish to be frustrated or annoyed. You can get away with negative emotions when played right, people do not want to be sad. Sad posts perform negatively. Complaining, children starving, death, do not play well. Positive posts get shared more often than negative posts.

You also want to stay away from religion and politics unless that is your brand. There is no point in eliminating an entire religion or political party unless your brand is a church or politician.

Too Much Promoting

Finally, stop the endless promotion. I follow the 80-20 rule. People forget it’s not all about you. Nobody cares if you want to sell crap. Like Joe Dirt famously said, it is about the consumer. Give the consumer what they want, and they will follow you and look through your sales posts as well. If it is nothing but selling, why would I want to fill my feed with ads rather than things I want. Have you ever in your entire life heard people complain that what television is missing are more commercials and fewer tv shows? No? Then what makes you think people would choose this for Instagram?

It's the consumer meme


  • Stop copying other people’s style.
  • Stop using hashtags wrong or without research
  • Less is more. Only post your best content.
  • Avoid being negative or angry
  • Follow the 80-20 rule of promotion

What to start doing:

Quality Over Quantity. 

Yes, I already said this, but it needs to be said again. Only post top-quality content. Even if that means spending an hour planning it. One amazing post a week is better than boring posts every hour. If you have nothing significant to post, don’t post. You are not losing your audience by not posting. You will, however, suffer losing your audience if you are continually posting things people do not care about. Not many people will notice you did not post one day. A lot of people will notice you posted 5 things they do not care about in one day.

Instagram-Friendly Your Business

This is what nobody ever talks about. If you still have a store, make it Instagram friendly and encourage tagging. Restaurants, make your plates fun so people Instagram them, create a decor that people will take photos of, encourage users to use Instagram inside and have people check in to use Wi-Fi that lands people on your Instagram page when they access the Wi-Fi.

Use Stories

Stories are the future. You want to use stories for all sorts of temporary content. Holidays, flash sales, or even just for some ‘secret’ fun. You can promise a particular story post on a specific day, you can have polls your fans can participate in and even add links for people to use that vanish after 24 hours. Stories are becoming a top favorite in social media after a bit of a slow start. If you are not using stories for additional content, you are losing a lot of engagement potential.


Engage meme

Engagement on Instagram is the new engagement on Twitter. Recent Instagram algorithm changes are now favoring comments more. They are now creating custom ‘sticky’ top posts for each person based on their individual tastes. You don’t have to sell yourself if you make cakes for example. HuffPost posts about a wedding cake, you compliment the skill of the other baker. People who are fans of baking will see your comment as a sticky post, and some will want to check out your profile. Comment on brands you admire and don’t spam a bunch of flames everywhere.

Optimize Everything

Have your profile on point. Use a great propic, a professional caption, a link in the bio and have a verified page. Everything about your page needs to be professional, don’t save anything for later. When you post, use stickers, proper hashtags, ask questions, location tags. If you have an option to boost performance, use it. Every time. There is no point in not doing anything you can in every post when you are trying to grow an audience.


  • Again, quality over quantity
  • Make your location Instagram-friendly
  • Use stories as much as possible
  • Engage as often as you can with like-minded brands
  • Have a complete, professional profile

Remember your goal. If you want your fans to be loyal to you, you must be faithful to them. At the end of it all, you must give your fans what they want in a way that supports your brand. If you support and love your fans, your fans will love you. The goal is to have your Instagram fans become your biggest cheerleaders off Instagram. If people tell their friends about you, you are right where you want to be in social media. Never forget, social media is the beginning of the conversation, not the end.