Let’s face it: growing your audience on Instagram as an artist isn’t always easy, especially when you have to log long hours writing, producing, practicing and performing. But there’s a more recent, effective digital marketing tactics that will help make things a little easier and takes little to no time involvement from your part. I’m talking about becoming “Instagram suggested”: the process in which your account appears in the “Suggested for You” section of other accounts with similar content and/or target audience as you. This section appears when you follow a new account for the first time or click the “downwards arrow” next to the “following icon” on an Instagram account. This is a marketing tactic that many of those large brand accounts with 10K-100K+ of followers use to grow their following/audience at a faster rate and often employ their marketing team to handle this for them.
So how can this marketing tactic help you? By being Instagram suggested on enough accounts, you can receive a decent amount of new, organic followers daily- even when you’re off on tour and can’t post for a while. In addition, there’s a higher likelihood that these new followers will become true fans since your account was suggested on another account with a similar niche and target audience as yours.
So how do you get your account in the “Suggested for You” section? According to an Instagram post on the topic by “Instagram Doctor” Dave Talas, You must do the following:
Let’s dive into each one of these points:
1- Turn on “Similar Account Suggestions”
In order to show up in the “Suggested for You” section on other brands and/or artists’ accounts, you’ll need to enable the “Similar Account Suggestions” feature. You can do so by logging on to your Instagram account on your desktop, heading to your Instagram settings and checking the box in the photo above. This will also allow other accounts to become suggested on yours.
2- Link your Facebook & IG accounts
By linking your Facebook Instagram accounts together, you can become suggested on your friends’ accounts. You also have the added benefit of merging your DM inboxes, which you can access on either platform.
3- Befriend/Follow the Accounts you Want to be Suggested on
This plays into the previous point. If the account you want to be suggested on also follows you and engages with your content on Instagram, Instagram will consider them your friend and this will increase your chances of becoming suggested on their account. If you are friends on both Facebook and Instagram, your odds only increase. So if you’re friends with several artists, musicians and brands already and regularly engage with their content, then you probably are already suggested on their accounts.
4- Engage, promote & collaborate with the accounts you want to be suggested on
You can’t become suggested on another artist and/or brand’s account without engaging with them and their content. So you’ll want to DM them and like, comment, share and their content a few times per week. That being said, you want to avoid appearing disingenuine or “spam-like”. So it’s important to be mindful of what you’re commenting and sharing and how frequently you are doing so. For example, leaving “emojis” as comments on several of the accounts you’d like to be suggested on doesn’t offer any value to those accounts or their audience and will be perceived as spam by the Instagram algorithm. Instead, offer some value through your shares and comments. For example, you can ask questions, leave thoughtful and respectful feedback on their latest post, offer words of encouragement while sharing their posts to your Instagram stories and so on.
Another great way to engage with them is to collaborate; such as guest posting on each other’s accounts and/or collaborating on a song or cover. Just be sure to tag them in both the photo/video and caption of the posts so you can not only give them due credit but for Instagram to recognize you as being relevant to their brand/account and increase your chances of being suggested on theirs. Additionally, if they have a larger audience than you and are more well-known, you will benefit from the additional social proof you’ll receive the collaboration.
By using similar hashtags as the accounts you want to be suggested on, the Instagram algorithm will see you both as having similar content and target audiences and therefore suggest you on their account. For example, say you’re an Albertan country artist and your target audience is country music fans. You can check a few of the recent posts on some of the other artists and/or brand accounts you want to be suggested on for hashtags that they use. I’d suggest looking for location-based hashtags such as #yycartist and genre-based hashtags such as #altcountry that align with your brand, target audience and posts. So when you use them on your posts as well, you’re telling the Instagram algorithm that you both have similar target audiences and content, which will increase your chances of appearing suggested on their account.
Also, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t use the same hashtags and hashtag combinations on every one of your posts. You’ll want to switch it up, so Instagram doesn’t think your hashtag stuffing/squatting and thus limits who sees your posts for several days. If you don’t, you’ll ultimately end up hurting your reach and ranking in the Instagram algorithm.
Consistency is key. If you regularly do all the above, you’ll find yourself in the suggested section of multiple accounts in no time!
Next, let’s take a look at the types of accounts you should aim to be suggested on, so you can get the most out of being suggested and receive the maximum amount of loyal followers/new fans.
This one is a no-brainer. If one of your goals is to convert your online followers and fans into ones who show up to your live gigs, then it makes sense to aim to have your account suggested on other artists’ accounts who you share a geographical location with. This way, you have the opportunity to reach new fans that can attend your local gigs.
There’s no point in trying to get in the suggested section of an account that has hundreds of thousands of followers, but little to no engagement. You’ll also want to steer clear of accounts that have a majority “bot following”. Bots won’t convert, so you’ll be wasting your time engaging with accounts that keep them around for vanity metrics.
It’s also important to mention that these accounts don’t necessarily have to have a lot more followers than you; because that’s constantly changing. They should have real, loyal fans that are actively engaging with their content. However, if they have the golden combination of having a large following, a highly engaged audience and they post often, then the number of followers you will receive from being suggested on their account will be a lot greater than being suggested on an account with fewer followers.
If you want to receive the maximum amount of followers, you should aim to become suggested on accounts that post valuable content consistently throughout the week and are actively making the effort to engage with their audience. For, these are the accounts that consistently receive new followers daily and have an audience that is more likely to convert when it comes to pitching a sale. In your case, that might be streaming your latest EP or buying your latest merch.
Say a person or brand is recently under media fire or has a bad reputation. You wouldn’t want to show up in the “Suggested for You” section of their account. For, potential audience members/fans will see this and may associate their bad reputation with your brand. So you should aim to engage with accounts that have a positive brand image and share values that align with yours. For example, an artist who also runs a non-profit and/or often donates some of their profits to a cause/organization you support.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect marketing tactic and each tactic has its pros and cons. Unfortunately, the “Suggested for You” section on each user’s account is dynamic and always changing. Therefore, your Instagram account may only appear for a limited time on a given account. Another downside is that there will always be those who follow multiple accounts that are suggested to them without checking out their content first. So there’s a chance these individuals are only looking for a “follow back” and won’t be as interested in engaging with your content- they will just add to your following. However, there’s a chance that if you have great content and start popping up more in their feed, that some of them will convert to loyal fans. On the other hand, there will be those who check out the accounts suggested to them before they follow them. So you’ll want to make sure you have a compelling bio and content if you want to followers. Moreover, if a user already follows you, you won’t show up as suggested; as this section only targets Instagram users who don’t already follow you.
In addition, while this Instagram marketing tactic can help you grow your audience a lot faster, it shouldn’t replace your current Instagram marketing efforts. Rather, it should be incorporated into your existing Instagram marketing strategy. For the more you do to grow and serve your audience, the better your results will be.
While there’s no definitive proof yet as to whether being verified on Instagram will help you increase your chances of being suggested on another user’s account, it does have its benefits in this case. For example, being verified means your account will be ranked more favourably in the Instagram algorithm. So if your ranking is truly one of the factors that affect the suggestibility of your account, you’ll have the upper hand over your competitors. Also, having that blue checkmark next to your handle adds an additional level of social proof and desirability. So Instagram users who are suggested verified accounts are more likely to follow them.
For starters, let’s look at who shows up as suggested on your account. Are they your friends, artists you know, artists you don’t know and are in the same genre as you or brands and people who are completely irrelevant? If you have more irrelevant accounts showing up, this may be an indication that you need to refine your hashtag strategy. For, one of the criteria for accounts being suggested is using similar or the same hashtags. So take a few minutes to go through some of the recent posts of, and take note of some hashtags they use that align with your niche, content and target audience. Use those every once in a while in your posts and you’ll start to see a difference in your own “Suggested for you” section.
Here’s an example of one of my comments that was pinned:
In this case, I wasn’t trying to get a pinned comment. Tom Ross is an industry peer of mine, so I always show up and engage with his content and try to provide valuable input with my comments and shares. So on his recent post about having the power to say yes or no to opportunities at different stages in your career, I left this valuable comment.
So while a pinned comment wasn’t my goal, it still works as a great case study for those of you who are trying to receive one. So let’s break it down:
Of the 149+ comments on this post, my comment is the one people see first. As a result, it received multiple likes and replies. Not only that, but the IG algorithm will take the pinned comment into account and rank me favourably. Receiving a pinned comment from an account you actively engage with also increases your chances of becoming suggested on their account. So if my goal was to grow my IG following and I had a public Instagram business account, I would have received organic followers from:
Say I was to receive multiple pinned comments on accounts I actively engage with that have a larger, engaged following than I do and eventually have my Instagram account in the “Suggested for You” section of their accounts, I would receive hundreds (If not more) of organic followers daily for the time-period my account appeared as suggested on theirs.
So if you want to receive multiple pinned comments, you’ll have to actively show up and engage with the accounts you want your comments to be pinned on and provide valuable feedback, perspectives and insights in the comment section of their recent posts.
There you have it, how you can utilize Instagram’s “Suggested for You” feature as part of your current Instagram marketing strategy to grow your audience. If you have any questions about this marketing tactic, feel free to reach out via the contact form here. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have!
Khudanina, T. (Social Mafia). “How to get suggested on Instagram among your competitors in 2020!” Online video clip. YoutTube, YouTube, May 15, 2020. Web. Accessed Aug 15, 2020. https://youtu.be/V3_qpZJRTBM.
Talas, Dave. “Become Instagram Suggested.” [Instagram], May 2, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2020. Available: www.instagram.com/p/B_sBopVA8Gb/?igshid=1hzofzzrpi9e2.
Taylor, Loren. “3 Ways to Use Instagram’s Suggested Feature for Your Business.” Later, Later, 8 Aug. 2016. Web. Accessed Aug 15, 2020. later.com/blog/how-to-use-instagram-suggested-feature-for-business/.