How To Build A Following On Instagram and Vine

Scribbled by @stvmcg

Steve McGarry


Data supporting this experiment:

Over the course of 5 days:

10 posted Vine videos, obtaining 32 followers.

10 posted Instagram videos, obtaining 69 followers.

Brands are just now starting to gain serious traction on Vine and instagram.

Fortune 500 companies are publishing 6 second clips every few weeks trying to figure out how to get their brand into the hands of the 40 million Vine and 150 million Instagram users.

There is a way to get yourself or your brand in front of a large portion of these users. It just takes time.

The functionality of Vine and Instagram makes it difficult to drive users to a site from your profile bio. This deters a lot of ‘old school’ marketers. Many marketers think that “If it’s not driving traffic right away, why do it?”

The answer is “To build a community based around hashtags.”

Hashtags have become a vital aspect to marketing on video and image sharing platforms. (#SlingbotScience, #SlingbotHero)

Think of image and video marketing like this:

When you put out a press release, you shouldn’t expect every reader to come straight to your product or service and buy everything you have to offer. Right?

This is the mentality you have to have for promoting on Vine and Instagram. If you think traffic will flood to your site right away from either of these platforms, your wrong.

The key is to grow your audience over time, similar to content marketing and inbound traffic. High schoolers on Vine and Instagram have grasped the idea of building an active community over time; your company and brand should too.

So, I repeat, driving traffic from Vine and Instagram will take time.

Once you build a following, your posts will be shared to more people and this will increase the amount of overall viewers. In short, your post will become more valuable with an active following.

Also after you have built a strong following you can take your brands hashtag to the next level. (#SlingbotScience)

Key to know: Shares are what you are looking for followers to do. Marketing on both Instagram and Vine is a “numbers game.”

Vine: The 6 second wonder.

The key to Vine is Hashtags, (#) Jimmy Falon did an amazing skit with Jonah Hill that basically describes how many hashtags I recommend having in the descriptions of each of your posts.

When someone searches on Vine they will be directed based on hashtags and user accounts (@).

Your goal is to get in front of the people searching for the trending (popular) hashtags.

Now, at first in order to build your following you will need to include ALL the trending hashtags. Not just ones that have to do directly with your video. They can be loosely correlated to your videos content. This is something many people don’t understand. When promoting you want people who are searching for trending material to share yours. Why? Because they are the influencers and already have a large following.

Before recording your Vine go to the ‘Explore’ channel and scroll to the bottom.

You will see the ‘Trending Tags’ section at the bottom. Write these down before you start recording so you are prepared to implement them into your description.

Tip: If you see a hashtag that is sad (rare) don’t tag your video with the hashtag. Go with your gut. The tags don’t have to be directly related to your video at all, but it’s best to keep your brand associated with happy tags ☺

Record your video.

Make it funny and/or extremely creative. (top two categories are the most popular and are at the top Comedy and Art/Experimental)

Comedy is the most active category on Vine.

Studies show humor entices users to share more to their following. So be funny.

Create a production time limit:

Spend at least 1 hour on your Vine from concept to publish. It is important to set rough time guidelines so that you can have a recording routine to follow each time you publish a video.

After doing this a few dozen times, I now know when I am preparing to publish a Vine, it will take roughly an hour of my day. (This isn’t about time management, so we will move on)

Your Vine Description:

When describing your video make sure your copy is relevant and funny. Start with comparisons and short phrases your followers can all relate to. (When you do ____ then ______) (That moment you realize _____ is ________) (How ____ really works)

Creativity comes into play for description, so take 10-15 minutes of your hour production time and think of clever and funny copy before adding your hashtags.

Description incentivizes users to share.

Tagging other users (@) in your description is a great way to drive eyeballs to your video as well.

Tag someone who is an influencer on Vine. You can see the top influencers here Get on their radar.

Vine Hashtags:

The ‘Trending Tags’ you wrote down earlier, will go in your description after the written portion. (written description before hashtags so people know what’s going on in the video)

There are a few you should have in ALL your descriptions when building your following.







The magic of tagging videos and images with hashtags is you can manipulate and trigger sharing. Telling the world your photo or video is popular, with out proof of it being popular, can only happen on the internet. This is powerful in marketing.

If none of the Trending Tags you saw before on the ‘explore channel’ have to do with your brand, or you don’t like their connotation. Go here and start adding hashtags from these videos. The reason being these videos are already trending on Vine and when people search for them they will see yours (if it is tagged with the same hashtag)

I strongly recommend having the ‘popular’ six tags I mentioned above, as your backbone hashtags for each of your video descriptions. This will build your community fast.

Once you have an active Vine community you can start adding your brands Hashtags.

Creating a hashtag just for your brand allows people to find your brand through searching. It is the equivalent of keywords increasing SEO. (#SlingbotScience , #SlingerOfTheWeek , #SlingbotHero )

Upon making your brands hashtag you have to stick to your guns and use it EVERYTIME you post on Vine or Instagram. People will search for your hashtag like they would search on Google for your url or keywords having to do with your brand.

Instagram — Effective Video and Photo promotion

After recording your Vine video you can now upload it onto Instagram and continue recording for another 9 valuable seconds.

Yes, my order is Vine before Instagram.


If you link the videos and add content for a additional messaging on Instagram you are triggering engagement from your followers.

Recording times:

Vine- 6 seconds

Instagram- 15 seconds

Once you have done a few videos, with all the trending hashtags bringing eyes and followers to your accounts, you can start developing a story behind your Vine and Instagram videos.


The last video I published on Slingbot’s Vine was shooting a Tweet out of a slingshot and having it turn into flying Twitter followers (pieces of paper).

This is where the Vine stopped.

I then uploaded the 6 second clip onto Instagram and added 9 seconds onto the end of the video that concluded why I had done it.

Linking your Vine and Instagram accounts together can create a fun and entertaining narrative for your brand. Cross posting can be extremely powerful when you start gaining more followers on these two platforms. (viral promotions, contest, give aways ect.)

Hastags on Instagram:

Just like with Vine we will check what hashtags are currently trending. I check and go into the ‘explore’ channel. (Just like with Vine)

The key is to look for hashtag overlap within the explore channel. (Which photos or videos have the same hashtags)

Once you have your list, upload your saved Vine video (should always be saving these videos to your phone) and finish the promotion with the remaining 9 seconds.

Close the Instagram video with: Who, what, when, where, why, or how your company relates to the viewer.

As with Vine, keep it funny and entertaining or no body will share your video.

Instagram Description:

Hashtags can be mixed with influencer’s accounts (@) in your description. You will notice lots of popular Instagram users mix hashtags with accounts (@) to grab the attention of the people searching for those users and terms.

With this example above anyone who searches Instagram with these terms while they are trending, my video will show up in the feed.

Like I mentioned before, think of hashtags as the keywords to improve your videos SEO on these platforms.


The reason we started Slingbot was to help people grow their social following. Understand them using analytics and convert them to customers. We are passionate about social engagement.

Instagram and Vine are great examples of platforms you have to STAY engaged on.

I followed 60 people on Vine and over 300 people on Instagram so that I could like their videos and images.

I favorite or ‘like’ at least a dozen photos and videos everyday to gain followers on both Vine and Instagram.

If you are serious about getting hundreds of thousands of followers on these two platforms for your brand, then you are going to have to stay engaged with users, constantly.

You do not have to record a video every day, but you will have to like and favorite relevant photos and videos to keep gaining traction.

Quick way to grab followers on both platforms:

Search hashtags having to do with your industry (Tech, Startup, San Francisco) and favorite every single image or video in the trending feed. You will see results within minutes.


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Steve McGarry

Entrepreneur and #blockchain nerd making videos on @hackcrypto