Top 5 Cross Platform Mobile Application Development Frameworks

Cross platform mobile application development is a welcome respite for developers that find it hard to manage sizable teams for each of the mobile development verticals. Moreover, developing an application using this much-in-demand platform is a profitable affair as it helps in popularizing the product among a larger section of potential users. The lines below talk about this very topic and discuss various open source tools that developers use to create interactive apps.

Rhomobile

Previously known as Rhodes Framework, RohoMobile Suite is used to build native mobile applications that can function on multiple devices and operating systems. Owned by Motorola Solutions, the open source framework currently supports numerous platforms including iOS, Windows Phone, iOS, BlackBerry and so on. It uses Model View Controller (MVC) pattern where HTML and Ruby are used for writing views and controllers, respectively.

Appcelerator

For developers wishing to create applications for desktops and tablets alongside mobile phones, Appcelerator Titanium is a welcome choice. It supports iPhone, android, iPad and Blackberry based applications and also allows the programmers to use JavaScript to develop native apps for Android and iPhone. Knowledge of Titanium API is important for coders willing to use it.

PhoneGap

It is yet another much sought after cross platform mobile development framework. It lets the coders to use the combination of JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3 together with standardized web APIs to build quality applications to run on a slew of OS and devices including iOS, Android, Symbian, BB, Windows 8, Windows Phone and more. Developed by Adobe systems, PhoneGap consists of Apache Cordova as underlying software.

MoSync

Developed by Mobile Sorcery, MoSync provides free, simple, and open source Software Development Kit (SDK) to build a flurry of cross-platform mobile applications. Developers can use it to create native apps with the help of C/C++, CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript. The framework supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone among others. The company also offers to download MoSync SDK and Reload tool right from its website for maximum benefit of its users.

Sencha Touch

Web developers prefer using Sencha Touch to build interactive application UI with the help of JavaScript library together with the combination of HTML5 and CSS3. With this framework, programmers can comfortably and swiftly develop apps that could run perfectly on the devices supported by Android, iOS and BB. The mobile web apps thus developed give the appearance and experience of native applications. An additional advantage with Sencha Touch is that it offers GUI based controls, which further simplify using the mobile web applications.

For companies and individuals into the business of mobile application development, these frameworks promise very cost-effective solutions as compared to the native platforms. Moreover, owing to the fact that the code written in all such tools are reusable, once written, developers can use them as many times as they want. Prominent reasons such as cost-effectiveness and enhanced visibility due to the availability of apps on multiple OS and devices, often tempt the clients from different walks of life to invest in these cross platform mobile development frameworks and rear exceptional benefits in the long run.


iPhone App Development – How Long Should It Take to Build an App?

Many companies are often somewhat surprised at how long it takes to develop an app from start to finish. While apps are run on mobile phones and don’t typically take up much memory, they still take a good deal of time to plan out, design, develop and launch. While they rarely take as long to develop as a full software application or website, most apps typically take at least two to three months to develop from start to finish.

Typical iPhone App Development Timeline

Architecture & Planning – 2.5-3 Weeks: During this phase of the project all facets of the app are thought out. Beyond a simple idea of what the app needs to do and how it needs to look, what other resources are needed? Does the App need to connect to an outside database? Push or Pull content? The entire app is mapped out from start to finish. The more that can be done in the planning phase in terms of mapping out content and functionality will make the rest of the development process go much smoother. We estimate that it should take 2.5 to 3 weeks for this phase, though the larger, more complicated the app, the more time it will take obviously.

At the end of this phase, you should have a mapped out architecture of the app, an app map if you will, as well as wire frames for the app.

Design Phase – 3 Weeks: The design phase is where Comps are created to show how the app will look. Color schemes are implemented, comp images are inserted and place holder text is generally used at the start of this phase with it being replaced by the actual content either at the end of this phase or during development. We work with our clients to understand their branding message and carry that through the app. During the design phase you need to be careful as having too many people involved in the design process can slow down the app’s production, especially when you begin Design by Committee. This phase should take roughly three weeks, but like I said, can be slowed down if timely feedback is not received by the client.

At the end of the Design Phase you should have full design Comps which will be developed during the next phase.

Development Phase – 4-8 Weeks:

This part of the project has your designs being turned over to the developers so that they can properly code the application. The various pieces are hooked together including navigation, user interaction, database integration, web services and eCommerce platforms. Any and all functionality is built in to the app, all coding is performed and pages are properly linked. Development time can vary significantly based upon the complexity of the app.

At the end of the development phase you should have the first version of your fully working app.

Testing Phase – 1-1.5 Weeks:

The testing phase is one of the most important parts of the projects. Some clients want to cut down on the testing phase or eliminate it altogether to save time, we HIGHLY discourage doing that. The testing phase ensures that the app works properly, all databases are connected, there are no broken links in the app, and everything works as was designed. If an app is pushed through to deployment and does not work it will be caught by Apple and rejected. Even worse, if the app does sneak through Apple’s approval process and does not work, a few poor reviews can really hurt an apps chance of success in the App Store. During testing, we test on any and all devices that the App will run through simulators and live devices, including the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone 3Gs, and iPhone 4.

At the end of the testing phase, everyone should be confident that the app works as expected and has the highest chance of success in passing through Apple’s approval process.

Deployment Phase – 6-14 Days:

This is the point where the app is submitted to Apple and awaits approval. While approval times have greatly improved since the App Store was first launched, we generally tell our customers to expect anywhere from 6 to 14 days to have their app approved. It is possible to try to expedite your approval, but with roughly 500 apps being submitted on a daily basis, we see this rarely happen.

At the end of this phase you should have a fully functioning app ready to be downloaded from iTunes.

Planning is the Key to Success

This outline is what we see for the typical app development. One should expect roughly 2.5 to 3 months from start to finish to develop an iPhone application. Some apps may require more time, while others may be able to be pushed through the process a little faster. We were recently able to complete an app in under a month, however a lot of the design was completed and there was excellent communication between us and the client.

Keeping open communication between project managers and the client has allowed us to keep on track with development time lines and deliver apps on time or early in most cases.


10 Key Steps to Turn Your Mobile App Idea Into Reality

Many people and companies are coming up with new mobile app ideas to make it big in their field. They either want to reach a new audience or better serve their existing customers.However, people are reliably unaware of the steps or process needed to turn a mobile app idea into reality. Due to lack of ability and information among startups and established companies, most of them do not know how to go about shaping the app idea.

I have helped several companies build their mobile app. Here are the 10 key steps I have followed in my 6 years of experience. I believe that my list can help anyone from any industry get their mobile app idea turned into reality.

Step 1: Write down your feature list

Conceptualize your idea begins by taking some notes. Before doing anything, you should write whatever comes to your mind. Writing down the feature list on a piece of paper helps you focus on your idea and expand on it. I recommend writing your idea several times and in many ways. This list will also be helpful when you are discussing with your co-founders, designers, investors or developers; they all are going to ask for it. Note that you should have them sign an NDA before you share your feature list. Your feature list should be clean and easy to understand. Also make sure it has popular and unique features, which will play the major role in success of your product.

Step 2: Do the market research

After writing your strong list of features, you want to do market research to find the competition, trends and market needs. Make sure there are no similar apps in the market. If there are, find out their reviews, ratings, feedback, and what is missing in them. Add features in your app that would make it unique and more attractive to the audience. After doing market research, you should update your feature list.

Step 3: Identify the users / audience

It is very important to find who would use your app and who the audience would be for your product. Your users are from a particular industry, gender, region, age group, existing customers, income group, specific profession, or any other group. Once you identify some demographics about the audience, you can find out what people from these demographics prefer or like. Knowing your audience helps you re-engineer your app and the features in it to cater to them. Your whole project moves around user engagement. You can also conduct focus group studies to find out what your audience may like or dislike. Your audience will decide your product's success, and this insight from focus study can go a long way in defining product success.

Step 4: Identify the monetization strategy

Making money is the largest reward and energizes for your idea. You can make money from your app idea in several ways: subscription fee, in-app buy, in-app ads, user data, sponsorship. You want to know which one works for your app, audience and market. Launching a paid app does not work these days, but you can make the app free with in-app purchase option for more functions. In-app ads are also losing their shine these days due to user experience. Having user data is becoming a big monetization technique, as you can use it to make indirect money. You can find sponsorship for the app; this works for an app with a social mission. It is important for you to select 1 or 2 techniques that would give you good return on investment.

Step 5: Create a rough sketch / wire frame

You may not have done it before, or may not know how to do it. However, the rough sketch or wire frame helps you define the concept and refine the requirements of your product. You can draw a rough sketch using paper and pencil, while a wire frame can be created using online tools. When you start doing the sketch / wire frame, you will be able to polish your app idea and features list further. Also, this helps you decide the proper navigation of the application. You do not need technical skills for this step, but you need to have a common-sense understanding of how navigation works. Your wire frames, along with your feature list, will create very good specifications for you to build the mobile app.

Step 6: Approach local mobile app developers and get estimates

Once you have your first version of the feature list and wire frame, you want to start identifying sellers who can build your mobile app in a high-quality, cost-effective way. You should search for local vendors and some global vendors and reach out to them. Once you shortlist 5 to 6 good vendors, have them sign the NDA and send them the project details. A good vendor should check your details and ask you lots of questions. You should make sure to answer them in detail so that your idea is fully communicated. A good vendor should also be able to give you some suggestions to improve your idea. You should receive proposals from multiple vendors, with time and cost for development, and compare them. You should check the vendors on past performance, process, price, time, testimonial and their eagerness to work for you. Finally, you should be able to select one vendor and start working with them.

Step 7: Complete the UI / UX

Once you have selected the company, you should work with them to create the UI / UX of the app. You should have them first create the detailed wire frame of the application so that you can visualize each screen, function and flow of the application. After review, you can decide to add or remove features. Once the wire frame is complete, you want them to create the visual design of the application. It should give the color, theme, fonts and visual appeal for your idea. This step will give you a near-final picture of what your mobile app would look like and how it would flow. After completing it, have your vendor reevaluate the development plan, time and cost. If the first estimate of time / cost has increased, get more funding or cut some of the features. You want to pay the right value to your mobile app developer.

Step 8: Get the app developed and tested

Have your app developer start building the app for you. They should be able to send you the app (in progress) every week and you should be able to test and give them feedback. It is very essential for you to QA the app as they develop it, as this helps you control the quality, cost and timeline, and learn wherever the mobile app needs some tweaks. You can involve your friends in the testing as well. If you come up with new sets of features during the development, discuss those with your app developer and get the time and cost estimate. If it fits your budget, get it done right away. If not, wait for the next phase.

Step 9: Launch the app and market it

Once you are satisfied with the app, launch it in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. You should also start marketing the app. Get some consulting from experts on app marketing. You can also do self-marketing. Start on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as this is an easy way to spread the word about the app. You should also reach out to reporters and bloggers who may be interested in your app and write about it. A press release on free sites or a paid site can be very handy. If you have more in your budget, you can hire a PR or app marketing company.

Step 10: Gather market response and prepare for the next phase

After the first launch and marketing, you can collect user data, market response and demand. If you receive a good response, you can plan the next phase for the app. Repeat Step 1 through 9 for the next phase. This time, you should be able to do them a lot faster and more efficiently. If the app is not received well in the market, find out what is hampering growth and have a plan of action.


Growing Mobile Application Development and Apple’s iPhone

In today’s scenario Smartphone application development has earned massive popularity and now mobile phone is not just a tool for making voice calls. Mobile apps development popularity led to the development of uncountable and exclusive applications such as web browser, email, games, etc.

Mobile apps are pre-installed or can install third-party applications. The latest Smartphone such as android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows and Brew are almost hand-held computer that allows performing various tasks on your mobile phone. The software development is a process for developing applications for Smartphone or mobile phone.

Latest breed of Smartphone had revolutionized the world of communication. These mobile phones are entertaining, usable and powerful. These Smartphone can fulfill your needs for music and entertainment, photographs, internet browsing and much more. iPhone is one of the most outstanding Smartphones in mobile arena. iPhone comes with numerous features that make it a perfect gadget for your business operation.

Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows and Brew are some of the popular mobile phone platform that acquires major Smartphone market. Among all, iPhone is an excellent phone in terms of technology and applications supported. Apple provides the tool for a developer to build diverse app that make iPhone Application development significantly easy.

The popularity of iPhone application in the current times has made iPhone Apps Development as fastest rising businesses. In year 2008, Apple launched Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone has encouraged numbers of developers for iPhone Applications Development. Millions of mobile applications are available in the apps market. These can be use for information, play video games, GPS, entertainment, ticket reservation and do a lot of other things.

Smartphone users can download mobile application from the Internet from their respective store. iPhone user can download apps for Apple app’s Store. Apple encourages developers from all around the globe to submit their iPhone application on their App Store. Apple app store got millions of application and due to this iPhone became the most sought-after phone today. Increasing number of Apple’s iPhone customer has created iPhone Apps development as most happening mobile software development business of today.

Outsourcing yours iPhone Apps development job is a terrific idea that will save your precious time as well as capital. Search mobile software company on the Internet, reviews their previous works and sign a beneficial agreement.

The Indian apps development companies have a quality workforce at low cost, which let them offer attractive rates with quality mobile apps development.


Digital Marketing Agencies: What They Do

There is a small difference between a marketing agency and a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing agency handles the marketing aspect of a business, but in the digital world. They still offer many of the same services.

Web Design

A good company will have a team of graphic designers and web developers that are capable of designing an amazing website.

Content Writers

A digital marketing agency will also be able to write their own material or have a team of content writers that can help them optimize a website for SEO purposes. This will help to drive in traffic from search engines, helping to increase sales.

Branding

A digital marketing agency isn’t all about how things look. They are also able to help companies come up with the perfect brand to suit a company. For example, a jewelry company does not want a brand that looks childish. Instead, they want a brand that shows that they are sleek and advanced or traditional and trustworthy. These companies are experts in the branding area.

Analysts

Analysts are able to decide how much traffic a website gets before and after changes, analyze a target audience and more. All of this statistical data is vital for determining whether a campaign has been successful or not.

When these businesses have an analyst or a team of analysts, they will be able to show their clients how successful the changes they implemented have been, or how unsuccessful.

Media

Digital media is at the center of this agency. They do not mess with outdated forms of advertising, such as newspaper ads and pamphlets. Instead, they focus on modern technology to help businesses do their goals. This can include various aspects of technology.

They may build a mobile app for one business, and design a new website for another company. These are the people behind businesses on the internet.

Measurable Goals

These companies don’t use outdated methods of advertising, and they won’t use a method unless they know that it works. When a business hires one of these companies, they can rest assured that a team of analysts has tried and tested the method of advertising that they are going to use to take their business to new heights.

They do this by constantly analyzing different data on different projects of their own. For example, they may make a test website and then analyze the traffic that comes to the website based on certain things. In doing this, they are making sure that something works before using it with a client.

Learn About a Target Audience

Because these companies focus so much on data and statistics, and on results, they also focus on a target audience. They want to help every single business succeed, so they must know who the target audience is.

This is great for businesses that are having a hard time getting a clear picture of who their target audience is. There are some businesses that will hire these companies just to help them understand more about their target audience and come up with some measurable goals to get themselves started.

Overall, these businesses are the people to call when a business wants to become known on the internet. If it has to do with the internet, they have a specialist that can make it happen. Things like mobile apps and website design come naturally to them. SEO is second nature, and brand awareness is a part of daily life.

If it has anything to do with increasing profits utilizing the latest technology, these are the companies that can make it happen and make it look easier than ever before.


Top Mobile Apps Development Platform

There is no doubt in the fact that mobile is constantly changing the life of people by changing the way people work. But then again, it is also true that in the present times mobile has no relevance without mobile applications. This is the age of applications, and time is not far away when it will be difficult for people to survive without mobile apps. The demand for mobile app development platforms has been on a constant rise as the mobile app market is continually growing. Industry experts have already predicted that by the end of 2014, mobile internet users will surpass desktop internet users.

And that is the reason; enterprises all over the globe are constantly looking for a right mobile app development platform that can lead to highly effective mobile application development. However, with the availability of a variety of platforms, each claiming to be the best, it is not easy for enterprises to choose the right mobile platform. So, given below are some of the leading mobile apps development platforms that would allow you to build a more dedicated mobile experience, including increased engagement and revenue.

PhoneGap

This award winning tool integrates different development languages (like JavaScript and CSS) with the browser, and is capable of running apps on a variety of operating systems such as Android, Symbian, iPhone, and BlackBerry. One of the most distinctive points of this tool is that it uses a native application wrapper that gets integrated with the browser.

Whoop

This is a controversial mobile app platform, which boasts of being apt even for non-developers. And that is the reason it is presently one of the best platforms for beginners in mobile development. However, note that even though this tool is quite easy to use, it fails to fulfill some important requirements for the latest features on hardware. It typically works well with almost all major operating systems – Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, and many others.

Kony

When Kony was first launched in the year 2007, it mainly concentrated on consumer-facing apps, however, has since then added B2E competences, via organic growth. The platform is typically suitable for projects that need to use native features on a wide range of mobile devices. The tool can be used to build apps once for smartphones, feature phones, tablets, mobile browsers and desktop browsers, and then deploy to all of them.

Appcelerator

Using this mobile app platform, developers can easily create native applications that run on mobile phones, tablets, and desktops. It uses a wide array of development languages like Ruby and Python to name a few, and enables an individual to evaluate the performance of an app, and deliver solutions based on the cloud.

TheAppBuilder

TheAppBuilder tool provides a set of applications to suit employees, clients, events and brochures, with two different approaches available. Building the app is quite easy by using the online toolkit, and by working with TheAppBuilder itself to build the structure of the application and populate it with primary content. Updating the structure and content of your applications is also easy, no matter even if you go live, because you can make infinite updates and publish on numerous mobile platforms in just one click. The platform runs on Android, native iPhone, and iPad with updates going live within a minute of submitting a change.


How To Create A Perfect App For A Travel Agency

Tourism is one of the most far-reaching services – in every meaning. It can be asked for by any adult person anywhere in the world. Numerous travel agencies offer various services in their own way. If you run one, or run a business of some similar kind, you surely have a full-fledge website that brings comprehensive information about your services to the desktop web. But what about mobile users?

That’s the issue no one should forget about. Any travel agency has to help their clients plan and enhance their journeys through the mobile. A usual website may be quite inconvenient for mobile devices; its content must be extracted without any information losses. A mobile version of the website is essential for business, but may not give the experience provided by a mobile application. But what should be inside a mobile app, dedicated to one of the most popular leisure activities?

Choice of platforms. There is no surprise that Android and iOS are the most obvious choices for a mobile application. Further it depends on the complexity and details of the project. There is a way to make a cross-platform application using PhoneGap. It allows to utilize the native capabilities of mobile platforms and build a hybrid app. For example, PhoneGap allows to incorporate geolocation into your application. For more complex software products you may need to create a native app for iOS, Android – or perhaps native apps for both of them.

The perfect app will be based upon the services you offer. That’s what mobile users need. Clients must easily find what they are looking for. List of destinations, means of travel (flights, rail, cruise lines etc.), hotels and resorts, sightseeing tours and special offers, car rentals and all the necessary contact details – you should concisely structure your services and information to bring it to mobile clients. The whole list of your services is easy to navigate through – that will be appreciated.

The app will hugely depend on your specialization. For example, you provide special travel services for honeymoons, or you could specialize in business travel. Dedicate a section of the app to the sphere you are known for.

For any of the options, details matter. Think of what must be essentially included – descriptions, pictures, prices, reviews. To facilitate the choice of your client, include filters and various categories to make it easier to find an option of an all-inclusive resort or a hotel, according to the personal preferences – food, leisure activities, amenities.

Reservations. Here is what we need after we have found exactly what we want. Buying a flight ticket or a special tour, hotel reservation etc. In case there are any special events, offers, or urgent changes, such as a flight delay, you are able to inform your client instantly via push-notifications.

Mobile apps are winners because of their ability to work offline. This means anywhere. Internet connection is surely essential for updates of information, reservations, and secondary, for sharing in the social media. But in case of urgent need to check some details on destinations, dates, pricing, reservations etc. – all this can be stored in the app and run offline for the convenience of the user.

Tourism and the whole travel industry include a very broad sphere of services to encompass. That’s why there can be more other interesting features to apply, which will be must-have to your peculiar business and the peculiar services you offer. But here you have read how a great app is presented to the user. Make your mobile application informative, recognizable, convenient and, as a result, preferable among people around the world.


Aspects That Drive Startups to Invest in iPhone App Development

A mobile app has become a key marketing tool for businesses in this age of mobility. However, with such a range of mobile platforms, it becomes a bit intimidating for startups with limited budget constraints to decide on which option to invest for app development. This is the reason for which people mostly consider the option of building apps for a single platform that can bring great results at limited means. Thus, it is important for businesses to have a detailed overview of the advantages of both these platforms.

Android and iOS are the two major mobile operating systems each of which comes with their unique features and functionalities. However, with a greater scope of revenue generation and better usability, iOS enjoys more advantage over Android.

Safety

Nowadays, mobile applications require a high level of security. Apps for online shopping, making payment and different other services transfer highly confidential information via the servers. While considering this fact, iPhone apps offer extended functionality to users. The approval process of App Store across iOS platform is highly strict which, restricts the malicious ones to get through it. Apple has given prime emphasis on user information safety regardless of size or type of devices and thus, it holds more safety as compared to Android devices.

Compatibility

Android supports through a range of smart devices in the market. However, the iOS devices are always in sync with each other. This, in turn, helps the developers and business owners to lay more focus on development instead of its compatibility running across different devices. Furthermore, Apple controls the iOS software ecosystem and is solely responsible for all the changes in it. Since the company manufactures all its devices by themselves, therefore, they enjoy integrated control over its software as compared to Android OS. Moreover, Android has made efforts to upgrade its functionalities, add huge storage space and increase processor speed which, will allow businesses to develop feature-packed applications.

Greater Specification on App Development

Developing iPhone apps offer greater scope to developers to work precisely across a small range of iPads and iPhones. On the contrary, Android hosts more than 12000 devices across a range of screens, processors and versions. Experts often suggest customers develop an iPhone app and iterate it as per the updates for obtaining proper user feedback..

Though Android allows you to connect with a broader audience, iOS user group is more loyal and engaged. Thus, being a startup with the major goal to display brands on the forefront for increasing revenue, building an iPhone app will serve as the ideal choice.


3 Most Productive Ways of Promoting Your iPhone Application

The key aim of a business behind building an iPhone app is to generate revenue out of it. Adhering this fact, building it successfully is just half the way to succeed since it requires the right marketing strategy as well to make its presence felt at the right place. Though most of the marketing techniques are quite similar to each other across a range of platforms and devices, however, the App Stores need some special treatments since, these are huge stores which, include mobile apps that serve various purposes.

Noticeably, marketing an app to make it stand in the App Stores is a herculean task. Thus, here we have jotted down some of the most effective ways to market an iPhone app successfully.

Promoting App in the iTunes App Store

Promoting the app in iTunes App Store is a crucial step and is possibly the most influential factor in determining its success. It’s certain that most of the avid iPhone users always look for newer apps to enjoy a better experience. These users mostly look forward to the iTunes App Store for getting relevant information on the newest apps and this is the very fact for which, you must focus on the App Store for promoting your App.

Website Banner and Social Network Ads

Developers mostly concentrate on promoting the apps through the social network. Though it will help the entrepreneur to drive some users to the app, however, it cannot serve as the primary vehicle for promotion. Thus, before you invest in the marketing activities, it becomes important to choose the right form of advertising that serves your app’s purpose as well. Promoting it via social media and other networking ads is a popular and highly effective way to reach a greater section of the audience thereby, stimulating greater revenue as well.

Submitting the App to Review Sites

Often developers overlook this useful technique for promoting their app and let it gain more online visibility. The app review sites are potential locations to feature an app for free where it can fetch some great user reviews as well. Furthermore, these sites offer a scope of extra link building to the website of your mobile application as well.

Needless to say, a great thing needs a great medium to prove its greatness. Thus, a well-developed iPhone app needs a concrete marketing strategy for increasing its online visibility which, will ultimately boost its downloads as well.


How to Build Real Followers on Instagram

The Right Way to Grow Your Business Using this Powerful Brand, Audience and Content-Marketing Tool

We’ve been talking lately about how to boost your business marketing with Instagram. Contrary to what many people still believe, Instagram isn’t just a fun app where you can post food, holiday and family pics.

Instagram has become a powerful brand-building, audience-building and content-marketing tool for businesses. It has over 200 million active monthly members sharing 60 million images and 1.6 billion likes per day.

A note of caution: there are plenty of people out there who promise to grow your Instagram followers by the thousands, but beware. Most of them use fake accounts created by bots to inflate your numbers.

These types of followers have zero value. In fact, they can even be dangerous, wanting to steal your password or photos or infect you with a virus.

According to the data security company Imperva, these bad bots account for 28.9 per cent of bots on Instagram.

The best way to build your Instagram followers is by being authentic to your brand and your audience.

Here are 3 tips to help you get real Instagram followers:

1. Tell a Story with Hashtags

It’s great to use your business name as a hashtag, but you need to think beyond that.

If you want to use your Instagram posts to get followers, use other hashtags that tell the story of the image you’re sharing. You want to start a conversation when you’re sharing posts for things like:

• Events

• Promotions

• Contests

• Product launches

A good example of a brand who does this well is @Tostitos. They use the hashtag #GetTogetherAlready to encourage people to get together and share their chips, and also to use the hashtag when they share photos of their meetups.

By using engaging, relevant hashtags, you can be discovered in Instagram searches and hopefully build up followers on Instagram.

2. Get Creative

Instagram is all about photos, so many people think of the caption as an afterthought.

Don’t neglect the image caption! You can generate engagement and promote sharing by using descriptive words that will engage, inspire and entertain your followers.

Here are some ideas to help you build up followers on Instagram with your posts:

• Use questions in your caption. Write your question at the beginning of the post so that people see it first.

• Get personal with your post. Tell a story about yourself, or how your product helped or inspired someone else.

• Ask people to tag others. Asking people to tag three of their best friends or tagging someone they are grateful for brings other potential followers into the equation.

A great example of a brand that does personal posts well is the @NatGeo Instagram account.

They create breathtaking Instagram Stories with informative captions to educate the user on the plight of animals around the world.

Remember when it comes to using Instagram posts to get followers, it’s all about being authentic. Don’t use questions in every single post or tell a personal story that isn’t genuine.

3. Go Local

One of the best ways to build your Instagram followers is to get to know your neighbours!

Whether you’re creating Instagram ads or want to promote your event in a specific area, you can see what’s going on near you by going to the search page and clicking on the Places tab.

Type in the location to see the geotagged posts for that area. Then visit relevant and recent tagged posts – not those of competing businesses, obviously – and leave a comment or even an emoji and follow the person if you like what you see. Hopefully, this will be the start of an organic interaction.

For example, if you offer life coaching services, you could type in your location followed by “entrepreneurs.” Local entrepreneurs may be looking for more work and life balance or help with life goals or career challenges.

Similarly, if you have a physical location that people have checked into on Instagram, comment on those posters’ pictures to make sure they’re aware of your Instagram presence, and then follow them.

These are some of the best ways to build Instagram followers the right way: no bots, no shortcuts, just tried and true ways to engage with your audience and turn them into followers!