It can be hard to grow Instagram followers with the correct techniques when there are so many shortcuts out there.

These range from buying shout outs, to buying followers and comments. While these may have short-term benefits or help you to boost your numbers, using the correct techniques will give you a long-lasting, loyal fan base.

Here are five tips to help you on your way.

1. Write compelling captions

Yes Instagram is known for being a visual platform, but that’s what makes this tip so valuable.

Your captions play an enormous role in boosting engagement and growing followers.

They should be interesting and relevant, with a bit of humor thrown if it fits your type of account.

For example, if your account focuses on raising awareness of human trafficking, humor wouldn’t be appropriate.

However, if your account focuses on a less serious category like cute animals or beauty or parenting, witty captions make the difference between someone clicking like, and scrolling past.

Captions cut off in the feed after a few lines so make sure to include all the important words at the beginning.

Either have everything they need to see in these few lines, or make the lines as compelling as you can to entice them to click ‘read more’.

Captions can also be used to ask questions or for calls to action.

These types of captions encourage users to comment on your post, and this engagement helps make your account more visible to more people.

2. Try Live video

Live video on Instagram is fairly new, and there are so many ways to use it.

If you’re attending an event, conference, community gathering or an in-store promotion, Live video is a great way to cover these on Instagram.

They appear within your Stories section and your followers are notified when you start streaming, making it a great way to grab attention.

When it ends, you can choose to let it disappear or make it available for a certain length of time.

It’s advisable to keep it up for 24 hours to encourage more people to view it, but make sure you publicize it on your feed letting people know they only have 24 hours to see your Live video if they missed it earlier.

3. Use Instagram Insights

Learning more about your target audience is a smart technique to boost your followers.

If you know who your target audience is, you can tailor your posts to your fanbase to make them enjoy your feed even more as well as attracting new users within your target audience.

Instagram Insights give information on impressions for each post, how many users your posts are reaching, top posts and demographic information including gender, age, and location.

Once you know who your audience is, you can identify areas to adjust your strategy to help you acquire more followers.

It could be that you have a huge following in another country, so you could start timing some of your posts to go up at appropriate times in those regions, allowing you to reach more users.

4. Ask followers to tag friends

By running little competitions with the rules including tagging friends, it gives an incentive for users to do so.

By having other people tagged, it automatically gives your post and account more visibility, opening you up to so many new potential followers.

This is a great technique to boost exposure to your account.

You can also just post simple questions, or ask people to tag a friend who’d enjoy the content of the post.

People don’t only tag friends to win contests, they tag them if they want to share enjoyable content.

5. Instagram Ads

If you’re established enough that you’re already using all of the main techniques to grow your account, and yet you want to take your account to the next level, consider advertising on Instagram.

If you’re going to pay someone to help grow your account, this is the best option.

Ads are available in the regular feed and on Stories. Instagram allows you to target your audience specifically and have ads appearing in the correct demographics for location, age, gender, other users, key interests and behaviors.

It’s a very targeted approach and will get your content in front of relevant users fast and often.

There are of course many ways to boost your followers on Instagram, but doing it the correct way using these techniques will help you build up a true following of people genuinely interested in your product or brand.