Don’t follow anybody in the top 100 if you want a follow back. This elite group with at least 2.2 million followers only follows back an average of 222. That means your odds of getting a follow back are less than one-thousandth of a percent.
Also, don’t follow anybody who recently became a suggested user. In typical “nouveau riche” fashion, most start unfollowing people once they’ve reached this coveted status. On average, they follow less than 500 and unfollow 2/3rds of their followers before their suggested user status.
Honestly, just follow people whose photos you really like and who engage with you back. Yes, both. You can already “follow” people whose photos you like in galleries and in books without the engagement, but Instagram is all about engagement.
My pal, @combustionchamber, asked me who to follow on Instagram. Here are three folks that aren’t IRL friends but whom I’ve admired from afar that I’d like to suggest. Here are folks on Instagram whose art I like but also have a high degree engagement.
Larry Nienkark, landscape photographer: This guy even gives discounts to his superb prints in the comments.
Melody Riffs, singer: She is singing 1000 songs for 1000 strangers. One of them might be you.
Ac Colvin, night-time and fashion photography: Ac really reaches out and chats with his audience. I really like his night time shots around San Francisco, especially the long exposure ones.