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How We Doubled Our Instagram Followers in Less Than 8 Hours The uptick was due to three easy steps that won't cost you much at all.

By Adam Callinan Edited by Jason Fell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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It's no surprise that there is tremendous value in a social following for businesses today, particularly with respect to those in ecommerce that can clearly measure conversion and define a return on investment within the various platforms.

After having had some great success using video advertising on Facebook with BottleKeeper, we knew that we needed to spend more time building out the other social channels, and in particular, Instagram, due to the video capabilities and the fact that the network just recently announced that it is opening the platform to outside advertising.

Related: Gain Long-Term Social Followers With These 5 Tips

So we created a simple plan, executed it and more than doubled our Instagram followers in less than eight hours. Now, I know what you're thinking, "did you go from 20,000 to 40,000 followers?" -- to which the answer is no. But we didn't just go from 20 to 40 either. We started the day with 410 followers, which had taken nearly three months to build after starting with a nominal 32, and in less than eight hours had 851.

The following steps include exactly what we did to more than double our followers in such a short period of time.

1. Create a contest.

BottleKeeper is a consumer product that is largely sold direct to consumer via an ecommerce platform, not unlike other products and services that you might be selling. What do the masses like more than anything? Free stuff. So we created a visual that included the details for the contest, while making the specifics as simple and straightforward as possible -- understanding that if people can screw it up, they will.

The campaign was designed so that the winner would be awarded two free BottleKeepers, and to enter all they had to do was follow BottleKeeper on Instagram and tag a friend in the comment section of the contest post -- which they were already looking at. That's it.

Related: The 100 Most Popular Emoji Hashtags on Instagram (Infographic)

2. Make it spread naturally.

There was a point mentioned in the previous paragraph that requires further discussion. To enter the contest, you must follow us on Instagram and tag a friend in the comment section of the contest image. The simple action of asking the new follower and potential participant to tag a friend means that your contest is going to move about Instagram into areas and followers that you don't currently have access to, and because it's coming from someone they trust -- their friend that tagged them -- they're considerably more open-minded to a product that they may have never been previously exposed to.

Then magic happens. The new person also wants to enter the contest, so they follow, tag their friend and the wonderful cycle continues naturally.

3. Leverage other outlets.

Regardless of your current Instagram following, it clearly makes sense to take advantage of any other following or user base that you might have handy. For us, leveraging Facebook and our email list made the most sense. So we put the same visual on Facebook at the same time that an email was being sent out to our entire list, notifying our loyal contingent of the newly launched contest -- which is like adding rocket fuel to a fire and resulted in an exponential uptick in Instagram activity and perpetuating the natural process of friends sharing the campaign amongst friends.

I fully realize that going from 410 to 851 followers isn't going to tremendously advance the planning of our company retreat to the international space station, but I have no reason to think that, at a greater scale, similar results aren't possible. But what I can tell you is that we're going to find out. Stay tuned.

Related: You Win When Using Giveaways to Grow Your Social Audience

Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

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