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How to increase your followers on Instagram & Facebook

Discover how to legitimately increase your followers

Many of us in public relations have the added responsibility of managing the social media accounts for the business or clients we work with. Increasing the number of engaged followers on those accounts is an ongoing goal for nearly everyone but it's important to do this in a way which is authentic, so you create an army of engaged brand advocates and not just numbers.

Naomi Ross from Sydney Design Social joins me in this episode to provide an overview of some of the legitimate options you can use to increase the followers on both Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook and Instagram reward video content in terms of giving it higher visibility but great photography will always be more engaging than boring video content"

Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about growing your followers. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".


  • A 'likes' campaign is designed to drive 'likes' for a Facebook page, not a post. There sole purpose of this campaign is for someone to click 'like' on a page which therefore increases the number of followers.

  • This is a paid, ad campaign and can increase your followers for just a few dollars a day.

  • For those who question why you would pay for a 'likes' campaign plus pay to boost your individual posts, it's worth knowing that it is cheaper to show an ad to your followers, than to a new audience. So, the bigger your number of followers, the less it will cost you to get an ad in front of them. And that's beneficial if you're trying to educate them about a product/service you're offering. You know your followers are already engaged with your brand so they're more likely to be engaged with what you have to say, versus someone who has never seen your brand before being advertised to.

  • Here's some extra information which may help you.


  • A 'lookalike' audience is an audience which has similar characteristics to your existing audience. They may live in the same area, listen to a particular type of music, enjoy a specific drink, watch similar television shows, be interested in other beauty brands etc.

  • The theory is people with interests similar to your existing audience are likely to be more interested in your business, than someone who has zero similar interests. It's an effective source of finding like-minded people to connect with your brand

  • This is a paid, ad campaign which can be managed from Facebook Ads Manager for both Instagram and Facebook


  • Each and every post you release on behalf of a business should have a purpose. Aim to inspire, entertain or educate your audience with a piece of content.

  • If you have great imagery/videos, articulate and clever copy and there is utility to your content, people will want to follow your social media accounts.

  • If you are generating paid campaigns yet have poor content, then your return on investment will be minimal. You may get people checking out your page but they're not going to stay or want to engage with your brand if the content isn't great.

  • Spend the money on creating better content before you start to spend it on ad campaigns.

  • If you've not already done so, make sure you add your key competitor Facebook pages to 'Pages to Watch' within Facebook. Just head to 'Insights' on your FB page and scroll down within the overview until you find 'Pages to Watch'. Add in the FB pages of your key competitors and you'll see it shows their percentage change in page likes plus their engagement levels, which is a great comparator for you. You can also see which of their posts are generating the most engagement and if they have more engagement than your posts, you can review what they're doing differently to you in regards to content and take some inspiration from it. You can view engagement on their posts by heading to 'Insights' and then clicking on 'Posts'. You'll see your top posts and to the right of that, 'Top Posts from Pages you watch', which lists your competitors top posts.


  • Just because someone has liked a post, it doesn't meant they have liked your page. So, it makes sense to ensure people who already like your content, also like your page.

  • This is free and easy to do, here's an article to show you how to do it.


  • Competitions are a great way to expose your brand to a new collection of followers. It may cost you to giveaway a product or a service but the new, relevant followers it attracts is the pay-off.

  • There's a few competition campaign options out there including the 'tag-a-friend' mechanic, which encourages people to tag three friends to win. Those friends see they're tagged and if the chance of winning that prize appeals to them, they will also tag three friends and so on.

  • Just make sure you're giving away something that is directly relevant to your brand. If you're a fashion label and you give away wine, you're potentially going to attract people to the competition who just want to win the wine and have no interest in your business. Sure, they may like your page but you're not building an army of followers genuinely interested in your brand, so your ongoing engagement percentage won't be great which means your ROI will be low. So choose something a prize that directly relates to your business.

  • Also, make sure you look into the competition guidelines set out by Facebook and Instagram.


  • Although used on Facebook as well, hashtags on Instagram are a more effective tool to drive new followers.

  • Instagram is a discovery tool so people search hashtags within Instagram to find content which may interest them.

  • By using hashtags in (or under) your post, you'll show up on those hashtag searches which means likeminded people are discovering your Instagram account. Five - eight hashtags is a good number to aim for.

  • Create a collection of hashtags that are relevant to your business. Start broad with a hashtag that relates to the kind of business you have, for example #bar #cocktailbar. Include locations such as #sydney #bondi, consider specific offerings #cocktails #negroni and review relevant industry trend hashtags #cocktailoftheday #cocktailgram.

  • In addition, think about each individual post and the hashtags relevant to that particular content. If you're posting about your bar's signature Negroni, then consider using #campari. Likewise, if you are tagging in a partner, make sure you use any hashtags relevant to their business.

  • You can also include hashtags specific to your business which may be the name of your business or the name of a particular campaign. However, these are unlikely to bring in new followers, rather put that content in front of people already engaged with your brand.

  • Make sure you tweak the hashtags for each post and don't just copy and paste the same selection in. If your cocktail bar is posting about a hamburger special that week, it doesn't make sense to include a #sydneycocktails hashtag.

  • Take a look at the hashtags on Instagram to find out which have high engagement. By entering the hashtag you want to search, such as #sydneycocktails, you will see how many people follow it. If you have an obscure hashtag, you'll see not many people are following it so attracting new followers with that hashtag is unlikely.


  • If you have a website, make sure you clearly have the icons for any social media accounts visible on there.

  • A newsletter (or EDM) database is invaluable for speaking directly to your audience. But, you may find many of those who have subscribed don't actually follow your social media accounts. Make sure links to your social media accounts are on your newsletter template.

  • You can also import your email database into Facebook and create a Custom Audience from it, here's an easy guide on how to do so. You can then advertise directly to your Custom Audience or use them as a base for a lookalike ad campaign to attract new followers

  • If you're creating printed assets, such as business cards, brochures and posters, don't forget to include your social media handles on those, too.


  • Influencers are considered people who have 'influence' within their industry sector. There's some sectors that attract more influencers than others such as fashion, beauty and travel, as they generally produce very inspirational visual content.

  • If you have partnered with a relevant influencer and they post about your product/service, you are creating brand awareness for your business among mostly like-minded people, which therefore should result in an increase in likes to your page.

  • You can engage influencers with a paid campaign, which means you give them $$ in return for a post/s. When you do it this way, you can be very specific about what messaging you want them to include, what their focuses are within the content etc. Often, you will have approval over their content before they post, and you can determine when you want them to post.

  • Alternatively, a contra campaign means you provide a good or service in return for a post. You shouldn't expect to review their post before it goes live and you will have less control of what elements they focus on within their post.

  • Regardless of what method you choose, you should ALWAYS evaluate their percentage of engagement with their existing followers. There are some programs that can do that easily for you but they can cost money to access. A quick and easy way is to look at their last 10 posts, average the number of likes they've had (if you look on your computer and hover over the post you'll see the number of likes each post has had), divide that number by their total number of followers and then multiple that number by 100. That gives you their percentage of engagement. I personally don't do influencer marketing with influencers who have less than 2% engagement.

  • You can also ask them for a screenshot of their audience analytics before you commence on a partnership. If you have a business that only sells products in Australia, yet 75% of an influencer's followers are based outside of Australia, you're not going to be reaching that many relevant people through them. So ask them to send you a screen shot of where there followers are based when you initially reach out to them, or if they reach out to you.

  • Consider the ROI. If you are spending $$$ to engage with influencers or even giving away products/services, is that the best use of your money? Or are you better off spending that money on some amazing photography? There's no right or wrong answer, just consider what is best for your brand and your budget.

  • Ensure you have measurement in place. If your goal is to increase awareness of your brand then it's all good and well that an influencer has 500 likes or perhaps 5,000 likes on their post about your product. But, how did that change your growth of likes on your page that particular week? Did it have any impact? Make sure you compare the % of growth you've had for the last few weeks with the week after they posted. If the number of likes you receive on average per week increased dramatically then that's a great result. If they didn't change at all, then that influencer post didn't convert people to liking your page. It may be that that the influencer post did drive people to visit your page but it was your own content which wasn't great so they didn't choose to follow your brand.

  • Additionally, if you want to see a spike in sales, make sure that influencer is promoting a product code so you can see what sales relate back to them.

  • If you are doing a campaign that includes multiple influencers, just think about how you will isolate the measurement from each of them. It may be worth ensuring you only have one influencer post per week, so you can see exactly what resulted from their post and then compare each of them over a month or two. That way, you can see which influencers are a better alignment for your brand and you can consider doing a longer-term campaign with them.

If you need a recap on any other elements of social media such as creating a strategy, managing accounts or writing effective social media copy, you'll find more episodes here.


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