Finding New Friends for Your Business’s Instagram Account

By Jennifer Herman, Eric Butow, Corey Walker

Once you’ve found all your Facebook friends and contacts on Instagram, it’s time to get more strategic about following the people who might have a genuine interest in your business. Instagram offers several options for exploring, searching, and suggesting new followers to you.

Exploring the Explore function

Instagram loves growth … the more people you engage with, the more users they get. And to keep those people, Instagram offers many ways to engage with them. One way is through the Explore page. The Explore page offers photo, graphic, and video posts that Instagram thinks might be interesting to you. No one knows the exact algorithm, but they usually present a variety of posts that have received at least 1,000 likes mixed in with posts that other people you follow have liked.

Here’s how to use the Explore page:

  1. Tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of any screen.

    Several photos, videos, and stories are presented.

    Explore page INstagram
    The Explore page displays stories, videos, and posts you might like.

    If you’re trying to get your posts displayed on the Explore page, note that the Instagram algorithm rarely selects graphics such as charts or infographs. It tends to favor photos or videos.

  2. Tap any photo or video that interests you.

    Now you can scroll down to see the rest of the Explore page.

  3. Tap the Instagram username at the top of any post that interests you.
  4. Look around the page. If you like what you see:
    • Like one or more photos: Double-tap each individual photo or tap the heart icon.
    • Leave a comment: Tap the photo, and then tap the comment bubble below the photo. Enter your text, and tap the blue Post link.
    • To follow a user: Tap the blue Follow button at the top of the user’s profile page.

      After you follow this page, Instagram offers several other accounts that it thinks you’d enjoy following.

This method of finding followers is time consuming. Also, popular accounts may not be looking to follow many new people, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a reciprocal follow. However, it’s always worth a shot and is a nice addition to your follower strategy.

Searching the Search feature

Another great way to find new accounts to follow is through searching Instagram. Instagram offers four ways to search: Top, People, Tags, and Places.

To try out the Search feature, tap the magnifying glass on any page. The Explore page appears. Tap the Search field at the top of the page. Top, People, Tags, and Places are now available for your choosing.

search Instagram
Search by Top, People, Tags, and Places.
  • The Top feature shows you accounts that you interact with often, followed by accounts you most recently interacted with. To find new followers, search for an industry or a keyword that relates to your business or target customer. For instance, typing real estate presents several accounts that have real estate in their username or in their profile title. Scroll through those that are interesting, and follow those you like!
  • The People feature can be used in a similar manner to the Top feature, but you may also choose to search by someone’s name. If you have a customer list, try searching for people by name. For those that pop up, scroll through to their account and follow them if they seem to be active. Personal accounts are more likely to be private, so you will need to request access.
  • The Tags feature allows you to search by hashtag. Start simply by choosing your industry and see what appears. For example, if you’re a dog trainer, start with #dogtraining. If you get too many results to be useful, add your city or state, such as #dogtrainingsacramento. Scroll through the accounts and tap the ones that call out to you. Then follow the ones that seem active and engaging.
  • The Places feature enables you to search by location. If you’re currently near your business location, the easiest way to start is to tap Near Current Location. Several nearby locations then pop up for your choosing. Tap a location near you, and then all the posts that marked that location on their post pop up. Tap some posts that catch your eye, and follow the ones you like.

On all the accounts you follow, make sure to like several posts and leave a meaningful comment or two (not just an emoji). This technique greatly increases the odds that the account will follow you back.

Letting Instagram suggest users to you

As mentioned, Instagram is on a mission to grow. Therefore, its main goal is making its users happy by making their accounts grow. When you follow someone, an algorithm kicks in and displays other similar accounts that you may like following. Instagram then presents many other social-media-marketing business accounts, and you can decide whether or not to follow them.

follow others on Instagram
After you follow an account, Instagram presents similar accounts you might like.

You might be wondering why you’d want to follow. They might not follow you back (but they will if they’re smart).