The Instagram equation: Art + Science = More Followers


The Instagram Equation

Oh how things on Instagram have changed. Much of the advice I shared here last year, besides the obvious practice of daily engagement with new members of your audience, doesn’t hold value today. I’m not backtracking, I’d like to think of it more as adapting because it’s not as if what I suggested was wrong… it’s just that Instagram moved the cheese on us. But fear not, your retired IG Superhero is hot on the trail of cheddar and ready to share a few tasty morsels with you!

The equation, though, is always changing. And while solving it can be a bit tricky, there’s more than one solution to grow your Instagram account.

There are a number of different solutions to the problem. Before we even get too much further, something needs to be established. What do YOU want Instagram to do for you and what do you want to do for Instagram? Me…? It’s become more about sharing stories and expressing my thoughts through pictures than the followers and being instafamous. Just take a quick moment and find out if you’re bringing something to the table.

Art Trumps Science

Being Instafamous isn’t just about the art, there’s also an underlying science of attracting followers which comes into play. Seriously, there’s a top secret instagram algorithm. Though, to set the right expectations, I will say Instagram places a much higher emphasis on creating good Original content. IG pages who only repost OPP #otherpeoplespictures are a dime or dozen.

If you can’t take a good selfie or aren’t willing to capture the beauty in nature or don’t have much of a creative passion in any capacity, then I’d recommend sticking with Twitter & Facebook. If you think you’re dedicated enough to the art part of the equation, read on.

3 “facts” about getting more followers on Instagram.

While these Instagram tips probably are fact, they’re *technically* hypotheses based on my experience, observations, and reports of mythical activity which I’m just masquerading as proven scientific truths. But they’re definitely not myths!

1) 1 like from an instafamous account has further audience reaching effects than 100, maybe even 1000, likes from average accounts. Back when I was running my #supergram contest, I heard multiple instances of substantial account growth WITHIN MOMENTS after participants posts received likes from my contest co-hosts and myself.

The Biggest jump I saw screenshot proof of was from my instafriend who gained 69 followers and saw a spike in activity to the tune of hundreds of likes within 15 minutes of the color queen @kardinalmelon liking his post.

A good follow up piece will be how to get their attention… it can be tricky. For now, I’d say be persistent and genuine with praise of their works. I also notice spike in activity when certain friends swing by and engage on my posts.

2) Instagram now suggests followers after you follow someone with a 4 figure follower count the only problem is I haven’t quite figured out a blueprint on how to ensure an account would be linked to another. But for experiments sake, I changed my “name” from “Tony Bennett” to “A Pure Michigan Fall showcase” and sure enough, I’m often one of the 3 suggested after someone follows @puremichigan.

By the looks of it, the algorithm is largely based on geographic location, so think about adding it to you bio or play with it a little to see if you can link yourself to a fast growing account.

3) It’s easier to get videos to “go viral”. Another unscientific truth, as I don’t have a written from Instagram stating “videos are more likely to appear on the “explore” page than images”. But I’m noticing a phenomena of video heavy accounts growing at a more rapid pace than photo pages with similar content.

I see at least 30-50 new followers whenever I post a video. However, on the flip side, my videos hardly ever get as many likes as the pictures do. It’s all relative, though, because more followers will lead to more likes on everything.

Don’t go fake – slow is better than shallow

Lastly, I’ve seen a growing number of folks go the route of buying fake followers. In theory, especially on instagram where perception is most definitely reality, it’s not the worst idea if done reasonably. No, I’m not advocating it but human nature says people are more likely to follow accounts with big numbers.

With that being said; it’s so easy to spot a fraud on Instagram that it’s not worth getting a bad rep over it. If you want to win over those key accounts, you need legit activity. Having 100k+ followers with only a few hundred likes on Instagram will stick out like a sore thumb.

Tony Bennett Instagram

My growth this year has been slower than the past two, but I’m rather optimistic that I’m on the right path. I’ve still managed to amass an additional 17,000 followers in the last 4 months after stagnating in the first half of the year using the philosophies discussed above.

It’s tempting to go get the fake cheese wiz and pad my stats… but I find the real stuff to be far more rewarding. Hope you found my facts to be helpful. Do you have any success stories to share? Make sure to comment with your instagram tag readers can check you out. I’m @tony.bennett, hope to see you around the gram!

Instagram: How to Become Instafamous


In September 2012 Facebook completed its acquisition of Instagram.  The deal was reported to be worth an estimated 1 Billion in cash and stock.

First things first, decide if Instagram is right for you. Odds are, you’re reading this because you either use IG already and want to grow your presence, or you’re still sitting on the fence and deciding whether to try it.  I’ll discuss several foundations of Instagram and show you some steps on how to become instagram famous and how to become instafamous all in one article.

Three Questions to ask to see if you’ll enjoy Instagram

1) Do you like to take pictures?

2) Do you consider yourself creative and artistic?

3) Do you want to expand your network and create loyal connections?

Assuming you answered yes to one of them, the debate is over… keep reading because the people already on Instagram are wondering why it’s taking so long to get to the good stuff.


Instagram Stats Board





I joined Instagram back in April of this year, when it first became available on Android devices.  In the 7 months since my debut, I’ve built a fanbase of over 60K followers (updated 4/16/2013; over 100K followers) who’ve collectively blown me away with their engagement. It’s safe to say, after earning 1.25 million likes and 36000+ comments, I’ve achieved a certain level Instafame. Now it’s time to map my success and pass on a few directions how you, too, can become Instafamous.


I know, I know, it was a bait and switch; I asked you if you liked to take pictures and you said yes, WTH!! That’s just the thing, though, anyone CAN take picture. Of course it helps to take a “better” picture, but the #1 concept I learned about photography is it’s all about the finish. Anyone can take a picture and upload it to Instagram; you need to set yourself apart. Here’s the deal – skip your latte and invest in a “pro” photo editing app.

Being a droid user, I can recommend a combination of PicSay Pro and the PicsPlay Pro to meet your editing needs.

A fellow IGer (instagrammer), Christine Kramer-Skulevold, has a few recommendations for iPhone users. She employs a suite of Photoforge2, Colorsplash, and Snapseed to enhance the experience.

Here’s a quick look at what a creative eye and technology can produce with some of before and after shots!


Simple Edits



Advanced Edits

This is a good segway – when you’re doing advance edits, don’t try to pass it off as an original. Some people’s feathers get in a bunch when you don’t disclose it as an edit.

Another “controversial” topic is the use of cameras outside of your phone. Some people are hardcore, iPhone only, purists that shun other IGer’s who post pics shot with a digital or DSLR camera. Well, I use a DroidX and Canon point and shoot… so the purists might not like me. It’s a 60% phone / 40% Canon ratio for my posts and, frankly, I don’t care what the aristocrats think.



Ok, let’s get it out of the way – I’ll tell you the “Big Secret” everyone wants to know. How do I do it… get so many likes… have so many followers… comments? It started with hard work and then became a helluva lot easier as I reached the popular page. So there it is, getting on the popular page will make you Instafamous. The End.

Just kidding, sort-of, but here’s the kicker. You’ll need more than a bunch of people following you to climb the charts. You want fans, not followers. Fans are the ones who actively view their Instagram feeds and engage with you on a regular basis. As your base grows, use tools like Statigram to keep tabs on your most engaging fans and monitor your progress. The chart below, along with the first infographic above, were both generated with

Run to a Million

Run to a Million


This part isn’t as hard as it seems, but takes time. You’re going to need thousands of fans before you make it to the popular page; which means more people need to know of your existence on Instagram. There are three main ways to accomplish this: follow someone, like their post, comment on posts. The first two are the quickest way to introduce yourself. If you want further detail on follow/like strategies, comment with your interest at the end of this post.

My Bieber Moment

My Bieber Moment

Most of the things we talked about fall under one umbrella – setting yourself apart from the other tens of millions IG users. I have one last tiny tip that will pay dividends immediately and probably will be the most impactful concept you take away from this. I’m assuming that you do (or will) respond to all your comments. Make sure you respond to all comments until you reach the popular page and can’t keep up with them all. The key here is to use your fans name in your reply to their comment. I’ve had over a hundred people respond by with something similar to “you’re the first person to ever called me by name here.”

Go ahead and ignore everything I said up until to the last two sentences. That’s the real secret – get to know your followers and make them into your fans.  Follow the information in this article and you’ll be on your way instagram fame.

Please share through one of the buttons below if you found this article on Instagram to be of value.  Thank You.

Tony Bennett is a passionate photographer, future Senator, and Instagram Superhero.  Above all Tony is great guy and would be happy to answer all your Instagram questions below.