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I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

It’s really hard to build a large following on Instagram unless you’re an established brand, showing lots of skin or are a celebrity.

But is it really…?

Well, it turns out that I’ve uncovered a handful of different strategies and tactics that can work for any brand looking to grow their account. Implementing these few ideas has helped Hustle & Grind acquire more than 4-5k Instagram followers a month.

Instagram is a marketing goldmine. More than a BILLION people use Instagram daily.

So it makes sense for you to ask how to market your brand on Instagram.


It’s all about leveraging the insights we uncovered and applying your own spin on these tactics to drive engagement with your audience.

These tactics are all about growth.

If you want to grow your Instagram following, I’m confident that you’ll benefit from this one. And if you’re just getting started, I hope you’ll take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Instagram – It’s a great place to start.

Let’s get to it shall we?

“Double Tap If You Agree” or “Tag Someone You Love”

This is a simple call to action that can have enormous results.

It might sound simple but you would be surprised how rare I see call to actions on Instagram posts. A call to action is when the person sharing a piece of content, makes a direct statement asking the reader to do a specific task.

Around the web, we’re met with call to actions every where we look:


But for some reason, most brand accounts on Instagram haven’t caught on that this tactic works well there as well. In the Instagram post below, @HustleGrindCo shares a quote from Neil Patel and in the top right-hand side of the image states: “Tag a friend below”.

The results of the post speak volumes: 573 likes, 137 comments and 84 new followers.

This particular hack works well because it achieves brand awareness to anyone tagged.

Other call to actions like “Double tap if you agree” or “Comment with your thoughts” are a more one-to-one engagement but have the power of leading you to the featured section on Instagram search or Discovery: Popular Content Accounts found on the “Top Posts” section are the pictures that include hashtags or images that line up with a users behaviours. If the content has generated a handful of likes within a short period of time, Instagram is more likely to place your content there.

Hook People With “Bucket Brigades” In Your Captions

Buckets Are you ready for one of the best tips I can offer?

It’s one of the tactics that once we started implementing for @HustleGrindCo, truly helped skyrocket our results. And it’s simple to do.

What’s so great about it?

Well, there’s no technical headache and no complex algorithm hacking. It’s just having an understanding of what a Bucket Brigade is and using it to your advantage. So let me show you:

Most people know them as transition sentences.

You may have encountered them while watching TV or reading a popular blog. It’s the idea of building up anticipation with your writing to keep the reader following along.

You know, like what I did with the first five sentences within this point.

In the first line, I asked:  Are you ready for one of the best tips I can offer?

This resulted in intrigue. From there I validated it by referencing what it did for Hustle & Grind. The next step was continuing to build the anticipation.

It’s a tactic that we’ve all seen on Talk Shows. The host will say things like “Come right back because we’re going to be bringing out Adele to feature her new single!!!!”

It gets you hooked. It makes you want to stay. The same tactic can be and should be used at the beginning of your Instagram captions.

Reach Out To Accounts For Shout Outs

Prior to Instagram ads, this was the most scalable and effective approach to grow your account. It’s still likely one of the most effective. But now, you have options. The concept is simple enough. You identify accounts that have a large following and reach out to them to see if they would be interested in shouting out your account.

Some accounts will have their email listed directly in their bio. If an account doesn’t have their email listed, reach out by commenting on their post or sending them a direct message.

Here’s a few tried and tested templates we’ve used:

  • Hey! Love your account. I’m wondering if you would be up for doing a S4S? I’ll shout out your account and you guys can repay us back with a shout at some point this week. Any interest?
  •  Hey! I saw your email listed on Instagram, I’m Ross, the co-founder of @HustleGrindCo – And we were wondering if you could send us some info re: shout outs. Do you typically charge? If so, how much? I’d love to figure out a way to collab – Let me know!

Both of these have worked wonders for our account.

The best shout outs are those that are built on a mutual respect between accounts. We’ve built quality relationships with folks like @FoundrMagazine and @Rich20Something (two accounts you should follow btw) and you’ll notice we shout each other out every now and then.

This isn’t anything beyond quality relationships and an appreciation for what each other are doing.

Run “Tag Your Friend” For Entry Competitions

This is an idea that we got from @WetShaveClub. It’s a simple concept that as soon as you see it, you’ll understand why it works so well:

A photo posted by WetShaveClub (@wetshaveclub) on

Brilliant right?

This post had more than 230 comments with people tagging their friends and ultimately; helping drive awareness.

One piece of advice: Don’t run contests that give away prizes that have nothing to do with your brand (Tweet This).

If you’re selling hair products, don’t give away an iPad. If you’re selling t-shirts, don’t give away a hoverboard.

I say this because in doing so, you’re not attracting people who actually want what you’re offering. Instead, you’re attracting people who simply want a big shiny prize. You want people to enter the contest because they’re people who would genuinely be interested in what you’re offering.

Tip: as you see growth, be sure to adjust your Instagram protection settings to secure your account from hackers.


Don’t get fooled by the hundreds of Instagram marketers out there offering overnight success.

Success on Instagram comes from building a following and then building a deep relationship with those who follow you. Now that you have a few tips and tricks on getting more Instagram followers, it’s important to understand how to keep your followers engaged.

Building a following that leads to real results (sales) takes time. We didn’t monetize the Hustle & Grind Instagram account until we were beyond the 10,000 follower mark. You may not have 40,000 followers yet, you may not even have 10,000 – But that’s perfectly fine.

Focus on those who currently follow you. Build trust, connect with them, engage frequently and don’t be afraid to check out their accounts and follow or send likes their way.

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Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds is a digital marketing strategist who has worked with everything from Fortune 500 companies to startups to drive results using digital marketing and technology.

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Duncan Ebata
8 years ago

Hi Ross, what did you use to make those text based images?

Ross Simmonds
8 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Ebata

Hey Duncan – Sorry about the delay! We use photoshop and illustrator to bring the visuals to life.

Duncan Ebata
8 years ago
Reply to  Ross Simmonds

Thanks, thought it might be one of the various apps for that.

Luiz Centenaro
7 years ago

I can’t believe I haven’t been using the “tag your friends” idea more. Just tested it and it worked like a charm. Thanks Ross!


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