Instagram is a relatively new social media platform in terms of networking, and everyone wants to increase their Instagram following, whether you already have an established brand or you're a new and upcoming photographer. With 300 million users active each month, and 20 billion photos that have been posted, it's not hard to see why.

Saying that, a lot of instagram users undoubtedly have trouble gaining followers through lack of tactic. The best plan of attack is to approach it with a marketing plan that can help your business.

We look at the five easiest ways to increase your instagram following.

1) Posting at the right time

Try posting at peak times when Instagram users are active so your posts are open to more observation and impression. In a research study to help Instagram users, The Huffington Post teamed up with Latergramme to work out the best times to post photos. Looking at more than 61,000 posts, they found that 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST are the best times to post, with 9 am. and 6 pm. supposedly being two timeframes to avoid. Make a calendar to keep on top of your posts and posting times, and analyse the results based on the attention they received.

2) Take advantage of hashtags

Hashtags are vital to social media, tag the right things and they can introduce another line of audience for your post which could be critical for an established brand. They  make your content searchable and easy to find. There's nothing more irritating than seeing a photo that has a lot of hashtags but none of them have anything to do with the image, so contextualise them. Using a popular hashtag can also increase your viewer-ship as it's current and people are constantly engaging with it.

3) Cross promote your content

You could be a well-established brand who have a big following on Facebook and Twitter, but your followers might not be aware you now have Instagram, so promote your profile on other social media websites. Share a link to the photos you post on other accounts so there is a direct reference to your profile on other outlets, and your profile will be cross-promoted so people can start following you.

4) User interaction

People love to feel included and appreciated, so interact with them and show them they mean something to you. This method is more time-consuming, but following your followers back, giving photos that promote your brand a "like" and even commenting on their photos are some ways to show your appreciation. This is also a way to show you are an actively social account, which is more likely to gain you followers.

5) Run promotions

If there's one thing people love, it's free stuff. Running promotions that offers exactly this to your followers is giving back to them, and also appeals to others who notice the promotion. You can set it up so Instagram users have to follow the account to be eligible to win the promotion, or even making it so that each user has to take a certain number of other users in the post, ensuring more followers each time. Using the cross-promotional skills suggested in tip #3, this is a sure way to gain a bigger following.