As of December, 2016, there were over 600 million monthly users on Instagram

Let that sink in. The ability to connect, interact, and become an influencer to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of lives on Instagram is astonishing.

In an earlier article I sat down with good friend and Instagram sensation Andre Crews, who gained 20,000 Instagram follower in one year! To many, Instagram is just another social media platform that offers video, photo, and countless hours of motivational, funny, and jaw-dropping content every second of every day. For others however, like you, Instagram (as well as other social media outlets) is a free, easy, and highly effective way to:

  • Increase your exposure to target audiences and businesses

  • Gain partnerships with apparel, nutritional, and other brand/companies

  • Monetize your day to day life by establishing a passive income stream

  • Reach more lives and make a bigger, lasting impact

Therefore, in this article, I plan to share with you five highly effective strategies to gain Instagram followers; all of which have not only have worked for people like Andre Crews, but also has helped The Barbell CEO nearly eclipsed the 10,000 follower mark in just over 18 months!

1. Establish an Instagram Posting Schedule

Consistency is key. To truly gain followers over time, you need to be active and purposeful, nearly every single day of the year, for years. That said, it doesn't need to be rocket science. I have used my simple posting outline for the past year, monitoring FOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS, each slightly different audiences and appeals. My strategies are simple, straightforward, and effective:

Post Daily, If Not More

Yes, daily. Or as best as possible. Understand that your reach is more than your little bubble. You have followers in Asia, Europe, Australia, and just down the street. Be consistent and post throughout the day (I find 1-3 posts per day is best) to expand your reach.

Morning, Midday, and Evening Posts

This schedule makes it very easy to stay on track. Just like you brush your teeth every morning, you can get in the habit of posting on a routine. Maybe it is during your morning commute (I ride a subway car), during a cup of coffee, or in between sets during a workout. Establishing a routine is key, and it will also let your followers and potential audiences know you are serious about what you do.

Use Hashtags

For heaven’s sake, use all 30 damn hashtags in every post. I don’t care if it “looks excessive”, it works. Do some research on popular hashtags, ones that aren't so vague, such as #fitness, but also not ones that aren't so specific that they limit exposure, such as #alliwanttodoissquat. Hashtags are like massive filing cabinets, that anyone, anywhere, can open and go through. If you hashtag #cleanandjerk in your posts as a weightlifter, chances are there are thousands of other lifters out there doing the same and surfing that specific hashtag. To make things super easy, make a hashtag master list on you notepad in you phone, and copy and paste it into every post, changing some as needed.

Here’s my “master hashtag list” for most of my posts on @mikejdewar:

#j2fitweightlifting #thebarbellceo #cleanandjerk #snatch #crossfit #crossfitter #squat #squats #musclegain #weightlifting #olympiclifting #olympicweightlifting #olylift #barbend #reebok #strengthcoach #stronger

You get the gist...

2. Involve Other Brands and Influencers on Instagram

Tagging other companies, brands, and influencers is an amazing way to increase your reach and validity online. Using brand hashtags, such as #thebarbellceo, can also help you gain attention from bigger accounts and influencers. When posting, have a purpose and clear direction on who you would love to see this post, then seek them out.

Note, it's very easy to become spammy with this method, so use it sparingly and not on every post. While I love seeing people use our hashtag, I often get discouraged (and often turned off) when I see the same person spamming it with every post the make, regardless of whether or not it actually pertains to The Barbell CEO.

3. Create and Share Amazing Instagram Content

Easier said than done, right? Wrong. First things first, the easiest way to make amazing content it to make sure your lighting and sound is good, and your framing is better. I hate when I see poor lit videos, muffled sounds, and framing that isn't panning out to get good angles of the entire scene.


Never aim the camera towards a light source, as this will cast a shadow upon you. Instead, place the light source behind the camera/phone so that you are well lit and the focal point of the shot.


Make sure your microphone/speaker isn't covered when shooting, speak loud and clear (might feel like you are screaming), and monitor the background sounds/music.


Play the rule of thirds. Place yourself, or whatever you are shooting in one of the thirds in the frame. Maybe that means you are dead center, or maybe off to the left. Whichever it is, make sure you are in the full video and not cropped out.

RePost Others

All you then need to do is have a plan, and a purpose. Great posts can be done on the fly if you are charismatic, passionate, and direct. Heck, I even have found reposting a great post from a fellow coach, athlete, or motivational person on my account. I love scrolling through the #thebarbellceo to see what other people have tagged in hopes of a repost! Don’t be ashamed to repost a great post, just make sure it matches your brand's voice and appeal, and does not compete with what you are actually trying to do (sell a product, build a brand, etc).

4. Be Genuine and Transparent on Instagram Posts

While hiding behind a mask on social media is all too common these days, I have found much enjoyment and fulfillment from being open, transparent, and 100% genuine with my posting and followers. Similarity, Andrea Crews discusses his workouts, offers tips, and captures him in the act of fitness, sweat and grit included.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on

By being genuine, you humanize your brand, making whatever you are putting out there not only more digestible, but also more relatable. Connecting with someone who doesn't know you is hard, but when you can show who you are by talking directly to them, or posting a daily workout journal online, not only do they get great content but the also feel a deeper connection to the individual providing it.

5. Change Lives Through Instagram

With great power comes great responsibility. The power you have (or potentially will have) to impact the daily lives of countless individuals through Instagram is immense. People are very aware of fads, gimmicks, and “fitness gurus” claiming weight loss and muscle gain, only then to have a million and one strings attached. I have found that the best way to change lives and gain followers is to take it upon myself to offer genuine (see above) content with the purpose to simply help others.

I speak to my audiences as if they are my friends, not someone I think I am better than. I offer insight, support, and a voice that is motivated by helping others. Take it upon yourself to speak to your audiences, let them feel how you genuinely want to help them become better. Do that, and they will share, follow, and become advocates of you and/or your brand.

Final Words

There you have it. My secrets to building stronger Instagram profiles, followers, and relationships. Remember, it’s a privilege to pop up on a stranger's Instagram feed every day, so don’t go abusing it!

Featured Image: @thebarbellceo on Instagram