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!

Has Instagram become Pornstagram?


There are few things I loathe more than a hypocritical network whose actions aren’t consistent with their guidelines… even if it’s the same platform I’ve promoted, defended, championed and became instafamous on during the last year. That’s right Pornstagram, errr I mean Instagram, I’m talking about you. Has Instagram become Pornstagram?

Has Instagram become Pornstagram

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that instaporn runs rampant on the photo sharing network. Articles published last August from Huffington Post and Daily Mail, among others, have already exposed the sexier side of Instagram. I’m not here to discuss whether or not this is wrong.

Fact of the matter is we live in a sexually driven society and if a 14yr old boy wants to see some T&A, he’ll find it somewhere else, like tumblr, where x-rated material is commonplace and allowed, if it’s not available on Instagram.


Innocent Victim

So where’s the beef? My contention comes from the manner in which Instagram chooses to play their “terms and condition” card. You see, I have a friend who recognized an opportunity to help attractive girls get Instagram famous.

I’ll refer to him as Kevin because he wishes to remain anonymous for fear that IG will disable(delete) his personal account, too, if he speaks out. But I’m not scurred, I’m gonna stand up and fight for equal rights anytime.

Here’s the long and the short of Kevin’s operation. He would give shoutouts to girls wearing skimpy outfits such as bikinis and lingerie. A shoutout is when you mention/recommend to follow another Instagrammer. Here are a few examples of what was posted on Kevin’s page (faces blurred since posts are no longer on Instagram and not considered public anymore)

Instagram Provocative Photos

I don’t see any nudity here, or partial nudity, for that matter. Are these pictures provocative and/or maybe suggestive? Sure. Is it anything you couldn’t see in a Maxim Magazine or Victoria’s Secret catalog? No. But, the funny thing is, Kevin has had 2 instagram pages shutdown for violation of terms since Mid-March.

I know firsthand how much time and energy he put in while building each account to 19,000+ and 28,000+ followers, respectively. For instagram to disable these pages without any sort of explanation or response is preposterous, if not insulting. Though, not responding to concerned users seems to be the norm with Instagram… unless you’re a major website or magazine, of course.


Preferential Treatment

With me being that instafamous guy and all, I offered my assistance to see if I could garner a response from their support team. Over the last month, a combined 40+ emails went unresponded to. Now, after investing all this time and experiencing such frustration, it’s personal. Especially after seeing “about us” entries such as this

The Chive Gap

SO THEY REALLY DO RESPOND!?! It would be one thing if Instagram was REALLY putting forth an initiative to rid its network of mature content. However, it’s a completely different animal when a network is obviously choosing who gets immunity to post what they want and who goes to instajail.

This is all the proof needed to show that Instagram is giving the green light to post racy pictures. Before I go on with the additional evidence, allow me to say I love The Chive website. I also admire and appreciate the women who are in Suicide Girls or published in Playboy. I think they should be allowed to have Instagram Accounts, BUT ONLY IF PEOPLE LIKE KEVIN CAN DO THE SAME THING!

A network as large as Instagram should know better than to allow certain brands/publications to post content which is even more revealing than what they shut down other pages for. Call me crazy, but these pics look a lot more nude and suggestive than what Kevin was running!

Pornstagram Playboy

Granted the kibbles and bits aren’t showing, but they all have seem to be missing something… CLOTHES! So much for not allowing nudity, right?

Instagram does offer a feature to report/flag content that you find inappropriate. To further my point, I went ahead and flagged each of these posts on multiple occasions last week since they’re clearly in violation of IG’s mythical terms. Not surprisingly, all three of these accounts are still active and none of the posts were removed. If these three entities are allowed to post beautiful women, why can’t Kevin?


Stop the Charade

I’ll be the first to agree that there is no place for underage nudity or sexually explicit content, but I can still find both on Instagram. Worry about that getting rid of that stuff so I don’t have to see a dude’s junk when I’m searching tagged posts. Worry about the spam-bots and fake profiles that have overrun your network. Stop acting like a playground bully and let everyone play in your sandbox instead of kicking the small guys out.

Really, there are two choices for Instagram and their Big Brother, Facebook. Either manage/limit ONLY the smuttiest (underage/explicit) OR eliminate the showing of skin altogether FOR EVERYBODY… none of this half-assed “We restricted a few tags and are removing a few pages” strategy.

So the ball is in your court Instagram Team… what’s it gonna be? Either shutdown these popular pages which are in violation of your terms or reinstate my friend’s @fantassticgirls account since you knowingly allow these pages to post content more mature than what he was posting.

I want to hear from you…what do you all think about this? Am I overreacting or do you agree are clearly two sets of standards here? What other examples of preferential treatment on social networks have you seen?


If you enjoyed this article, check another piece from Tony on how to become instagram famous

Tony Bennett is a passionate photographer, future Senator, and Instagram Superhero with over 100K Followers.  Above all Tony is great guy and would be happy to answer all your Instagram questions below.

Why You Should Use Instagram for Your Business


Instagram is arguably one of the hottest social networks right now, and you should use Instagram for your business. What started out as a small, somewhat underground network has now blown up into a huge online presence with more than 100 million users. I think it’s safe to say that most people with accounts on other major social media networks like Facebook or Twitter are now participating in Instagram as well.

Instagram uses the #hashtag, similar to Twitter. Users can tag their photos, then people who view the photo can click on the hashtag to see other photos that are tagged the same way. While some people make up their own hashtags, there are some that are popular and have become kind of a staple on the network. Some examples of this would include #dogsofinstagram, #latergram (when you post a photo after it was taken) or #tbt (throw back Thursday, where users post photos from their past). Instagram has proven to encourage lots of interaction between users.

In April 2012, Facebook purchase Instagram for approximately $1 billion. The networks are now integrated, and the Instagram Why You Should Use Instagram for Your Businessinterface offers users the opportunity to share photos directly to Facebook, Twitter, and several other networks as well.

So with the popularity of Instagram on the rise, it only makes sense to figure out a way to make it work for your small business. With more than a hundred million active users, you are bound to reach your audience by using this network.

Here are some ways that you can use Instagram to become instafamous:

Feature your products or services – Instagram offers fun filters that you can use to change your photos. You can also edit them right in the app. Take fun, artistic photos of things that you offer as a business. It’s more visually interesting than just a straightforward photo listing of products. There are also other apps, such as PicStitch, that you can use to combine several photos into one.

Let your customers know that you have an account – the great thing about Facebook and Instagram being integrated is that you can share photos on both accounts. By taking the step of putting your Instagram photos on Facebook, your followers will see that you have an Instagram account and check it out.

Have a relevant but fun username – Instagram is a great place to get a little more creative and fun. While your user name should definitely relate to your business, I think it’s fine to have a little fun with your username.

Use hashtags – some Instagram users merely post photos, but don’t use hashtags for each one. If you use relevant hashtags for each post, more people will see the photos that you post. For instance, if you tag your photo #saleoftheday, anyone who clicks on that tag from any photo will be able to see your photo also.

Instagram can be a fun social network to use for personal photos, but it can also be another weapon in your business’ social media arsenal!

(Photo Source)
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.