Everybody loves Instagram. Earlier this year, Instagram surpassed Twitter as the choice social media platform of nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in a study (one that curiously was rejected by Twitter – hashtag thumbs down).

It seems that, more than with other platforms, becoming a little bit obsessed with the number of followers you have is easy with this photo-and-video-sharing phenomenon. If you would like to see a few more red hearts in your Instagram future, here are some tips to get that Followers number skyrocketing.

Venture-Cover-111. Be real

Don’t brag. Don’t show off. Basically, don’t be Kim Kardashian – because we all know how that turned out for her. Your followers will see right through insincerity and get turned off – fast! That translates into hitting the Unfollow button which happens to be the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you’ve just spilled coffee all over your keyboard, post about it; you might actually feel better when you see that 57 other people have done the same thing that morning. Realize that it’s about finding your tribe, not seeming like the newest community member in Stepford.

Venture-Cover-52. Use #hashtags

Instagram recommends that you use hashtags when you post. Hashtags help identify specific topics, making it easier for other like-minded users to find – and hopefully, follow – you. The trick is to ensure that the hashtags you use are relevant to the content you’re posting. There’s lots of advice out there about using hashtags like #follow4follow, #followback, and #tagsforlikes. You’re welcome to use these, but you must know that the followers you gain may not be genuinely interested in what you’re doing or in the community you’re trying to build. If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, try the Search function and see what hashtags others are using. In fact, it’s always a good idea to do a quick search of a hashtag before you use it for the first time, just to be sure it is relevant to you and isn’t going to associate your content with an unfortunate search result. If you’re really unsure how to use hashtags for business, Hootsuite published an entire guide on that exact topic.

Venture-Cover-63. Use geotags, too!

Geotagging your content allows other people to see where you’re currently located. If, for example, you have a brick-and-mortar store, make sure to geotag your posts so that they pop up in searches and so other users posting in that area can easily find and interact with you. The idea is that if they’re in the area you’re in, they will be more likely to walk into your store. If you post it – and geotag it – they will come!

Venture-Cover-44. Be consistent

Be sure to post content often – the absolute bare minimum is once per week. But if you’re serious about building your following, aim for (a lot) more than that. There is no magic formula that indicates the perfect number of posts that will increase your followers on Instagram. But, posting consistently ensures that your content is always popping up in the feeds of your followers – not to mention in search results of the hashtags you’re now using – thereby increasing the chances that they will like, comment, or share your material. When your followers interact with your posts, their followers can see that in their own feeds. If you’re posting lots of great stuff and your followers are liking and commenting, it will draw new users to your feed, potentially turning them into followers.

Venture-Cover5.Know your audience

There is lots of conflicting advice about what time of day is best to post material on Instagram to get the most interaction from followers. A recent study suggested the best times were 5 PM and 2 AM. That might be great for someone else’s audience but might not be good for yours. Use the information that you already have on your customers and community to figure out when it’s best to post. Go back through your posts (or use a stats app) to see which posts performed the best and take note of the time you made these posts.

Ventue-Cover-76. Utilize your community

Frequently featuring your community – customers, for example – on your Instagram feed is an excellent way to strengthen relationships and show them you appreciate their support. Has someone come into your store and had a great experience? Or maybe you just had a great conversation with someone online? Ask if you can feature them in your next Instagram post. And don’t forget to tag them so their followers will see your post! But again – ask first.

Venture-Cover-87. Help others

Help other like-minded users build their own communities by finding and following them first, then liking, commenting on, and sharing their content. Aim to start or join in on conversations instead of interrupting them. In most cases, they will return the favour and you will slowly start to see that lovely Followers number begin its infinite upward climb.

Written By Jess Campbell