Want to grow your Instagram followers without resorting to shady tricks? We’re here to help!
You’ve probably heard of ‘shortcuts’ to gaining a huge following. Some users buy followers on Instagram, others use bots. Although these could work to increase the number of your followers, they don’t have a real impact on your business. Plus, Instagram has already revamped its algorithm to spot fake activity on the platform. So, while Instagram tricks can boost your follower count, expect your success to be short-lived.
What you want to do is grow your follower count organically—no tricks involved, just real strategies and hard work. Taking the long way—not the ‘shortcut’—guarantees that those who follow your business account are interested in what you have to post about.
Here are 27 tried-and-tested tips from Instagram experts that will get you Instagram followers for free!
#1 Stay true to your goals
Why did you make an Instagram account for your business in the first place? Is it to:
Improve product sales?
Boost conversion rates?
Promote your brand?
When you know your Why, you’ll figure out your How. Stay focused on the goals you’ve set for your Instagram account and be consistent. This will give your target audience a positive impression of what your brand is all about, which in turn builds a loyal following for your account.
#2 Know who you’re posting for
When it comes to marketing, you shouldn’t go ahead trying to please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. Instead, focus on a particular market—the people who you want to be interested in your business. Once you have a market in mind, identify the following:
- Their age
- Where they live
- What they do for a living
- When they log in to Instagram
- Their challenges and pain points
Once you have identified all of that, you will know how to craft your content in a way that would appeal to the right Instagram users.
#3 Build your brand image
Remember, you’re not the only one doing the business that you do. No matter how unique your idea may seem to be, there will always be competition. The best way to stand out from the rest would be through brand engagement; create a strong and consistent brand story. You need to appeal to your target audience in a more personal way, in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing.
Resist the urge of posting just about anything you can think of without first planning out your content. You want to position yourself as a professional in your field, so your visuals would have to look right to give this kind of impression. Also, your branding should be seen in your feed. For example, if you have a specific color for your brand, make sure it’s plain to distinguish on your feed.
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at this Instagram feed (@aurelycerise).
#4 Create a great profile and an awesome bio!
Your profile and bio are among the first things that your potential followers will see when they look at your feed. So make sure of the following:
- Name – Try including a keyword to increase your brand visibility during searches
- Username – Be consistent across all your social media sites so your loyal followers won’t have a hard time keeping track of your updates
- Website – Indicate your business website. This is the only link that’s clickable on your Instagram feed
- Bio – Make all those 150 characters count. You don’t have to use up that limit, but make sure that you say enough to convince people to follow you
Here is a great example from @starbucks on how you can create an awesome bio.
#5 Be creative with your content
You’ll know when you’ve come up with great content when people start liking, commenting, and even sharing your posts. When Instagram ‘notices’ that people are engaging in your feed, it will automatically boost your account, increasing the chances of you getting more followers and likes.
To create good content, you have to come up with something that you know would interest your target audience. Also, keep in mind that your goal is not just to inform them but to also entertain them with what you have to share. So, do your best to create compelling and engaging content.
Notice how @buzzfeedtasty does just that in its feed.
#6 Promote your Instagram account
If you’ve already built a substantial following on other social networking platforms, make sure to let them know that you have an Instagram account. Chances are, your followers on another social networking site also have Instagram accounts and they are more likely to follow you.
To promote your Instagram account, you can try sharing a link to your Instagram profile. Also, if you’re just starting, make sure to start with at least 12 posts on your feed so that it’s not empty when people start checking it.
#7 Link to your Instagram profile wherever you can
Don’t miss any opportunity to promote your Instagram account. Post a link wherever possible. That includes your email signature, your website, and your online newsletters. And an email blast announcing your brand new Instagram account to your email list wouldn’t hurt. If anything, this would encourage your contacts to follow you on Instagram.
#8 Use your Instagram nametag!
Your Instagram nametag is a scannable code that makes it easier for people to open your profile and follow you. People no longer have to type out your Instagram handle just to find you on the app. Plus, it’s a great way to advertise your account offline! Add it to your packaging, your contact cards, signage, or wherever it would make sense.
Not sure where to find your nametag? Head over to the top right part of your Instagram profile and tap on the three-line icon.
#9 Keep your hashtags relevant
Some people, in an attempt to make their account more visible, add almost every hashtag they could think of even if they’re not even relevant to the brand or their post. We’re here to tell you that this strategy is not going to work. If anything, it’s only going to make you look desperate or even spammy. Just don’t ruin your reputation on Instagram.
When you add hashtags, here are three things you should do:
- Do your research well
Find out what hashtag is most popular among your target audience or what’s commonly used for products or businesses similar to yours.
- Come up with your hashtag
Create a hashtag that reflects your brand and that other users would also want to use to caption their posts.
- Use hashtags for your Stories
That’s also a great way to increase your chances of gaining new followers!
#10 Get your Instagram profile featured
Now, this is what we call free publicity and something you should aim for! When someone else on Instagram decides to share your post, that’s a great opportunity for you to gain new followers. There’s a lot of profiles that exist to just feature amazing content on Instagram, but the best account feature you can hope to get is being featured on Instagram’s feed yourself.
Wondering how you could land a good feature opportunity? Post great content and use the right hashtags. That will surely get you somewhere.
#11 Add your location
Statistics show that posts with tagged locations get a higher level of engagement than those who do not. It also helps other people who are in the same location as you—at a conference, for example—to connect with you on social media. Plus, if other users look up that location, they’ll see your post featured under that place. If your post is eye-catching, chances are high that you’ll gain a new follower from that.
#12 Get featured on the Explore tab
The Explore tab can be accessed by tapping on the magnifying glass icon that you’ll see at the bottom of your screen. Did you know that half a billion people check out this tab every month and that roughly 200 million people check this every day?
So what exactly is the Explore tab for? This is where Instagram suggests posts that you might like based on your recent activity on the platform and from accounts you do not currently follow.
The Explore tab is not limited to photos only. Instagram also posts Stories and IGTV. It’s not easy to get your post on this tab, but one thing is for sure: only the BEST content shows up here!
#13 Make sure to follow the right people
It can be tempting to just follow every user on Instagram and secretly hope they’d follow you back, but that would only make you look desperate for attention. No, that’s not the way to increase your follower count. You need to select the right users—those who are relevant to your brand or share the same interests as your company—and then follow them. Also, look for influencers in your niche. Checking out what they post is a great way for you to have a feel of what your target market is interested in.
But here’s a word of caution: Don’t send connection requests by the bulk. If you follow too many and your follower count is too low, it’s going to hurt your credibility.
Take a look at @9gag’s follower count. Now check how many accounts they are following. Tells you something, doesn’t it?
#14 Stay active in relevant communities
Instagram is just like any other normal social networking site—it’s got communities you can join depending on your interests. Engaging in these communities is more than just leaving a one-liner comment on a certain post. Work to say things of substance. After all, you don’t want to sound like a bot on Instagram.
Becoming an active member of a community that’s relevant to your branding will help build your credibility and authority in your chosen niche as well as make you more visible to your target market. It will also tell Instagram that people would be interested in what you have to post and will more likely feature you on the Explore tab.
#15 Mention relevant users in your captions
Increase the chances of engagement by tagging other users or mentioning their handles in your caption. Doing that will not only motivate them to engage in your post, it would also make it easier for them to reshare your post with just a few taps. Once they share your post, their friends would see your profile mentioned, and they could easily click on the tag and browse your feed. Who knows, they might even like you enough to follow you.
Here’s a really neat example of tagging users in your captions.
#16 Encourage users to tag their friends
When done right, this strategy will help promote your account even more and expose it to more Instagram users. That means, of course, that you’ll have more chances of getting new followers.
Check out the caption of a post from @beautifuldestinations.
#17 Be consistent with your posts
Anyone can get off to a good start on Instagram—posting cool content and making sure the aesthetic appeal is maintained throughout the feed. However, not everyone is consistent enough to keep that going. Remember, your existing followers followed you because they liked your content. If you suddenly stop posting, it will only be a matter of time before you lose these followers one by one. So, be regular with your posts. The more you post, the more followers you’ll likely get.
#18 Post at a strategic time
Don’t post just whenever you feel like it. That may be okay if you’re just managing a non-business account, but when you’re handling a business or a company account on Instagram, timing is everything. So, make sure to research what’s the best time for you to post something on Instagram. A good way to determine the right time for your posts is to see when other profiles similar to yours are also posting.
#19 Schedule your content
This is in connection with posting at the right time. Maximize the chances of your post being seen by using a third-party platform that would allow you to automate your posts. Plus, some of these platforms even allow you to look at how it will blend in with the other posts on your feed for aesthetic purposes.
#20 Be creative with your captions
Don’t go straight to your hashtags. Take enough time to come up with a caption worth reading—something your readers would want to read through. Now, this is just as challenging as coming up with an idea of what content to post, so here are some tips to help you out:
- Start with keywords and the more important points
Beginning your caption with something eye-catching will make your post look interesting.
- Ask a good question
People are naturally curious, so use that to your advantage! When used correctly, this can help increase engagement for your post.
- Use emojis!
Make your posts ‘pop’ by adding these icons to your captions. It also helps improve your post’s visuals.
- Vary the length of your captions
See what works well with your audience. If you find that posting a long caption is necessary for your post, then do that. Just make sure that people won’t doze off as they read it through.
#21 Post on Instagram Stories
This recent feature does a lot to make your profile more visible to a greater number of users. This is a proven strategy, and it has helped a lot of business accounts to gain a huge following. Recent reports show that those who post Stories are more likely to receive direct messages because of them.
#22 Make your Stories interactive
What makes Instagram Stories even more interesting is that it allows you to put polling stickers on your posts. This increases engagement with those who browse through your posts.
#23 Do a Live Video
This is a great way to engage other users in real-time, helping you build and grow your network. And you can choose to post a replay of your video on your story for the next 24 hours to maximize user engagement.
To go live on Instagram, simply choose the option which says, “Go live with a friend” and then ask the other person to host the Live video and invite you to it. The advantage of this is that your profile will be visible to all your friends’ followers as well. Again, another opportunity to expand your social network.
#24 Highlight what your brand is about
You’ll notice that Instagram allows you to post highlights right below your profile name and bio. Take advantage of that feature to give other people a glimpse as to what your business is all about. Again, be consistent with the overall theme of your feed so the visuals don’t clash and end up distracting other users.
Here’s a great example of how you can highlight your brand. Notice their visuals?
#25 Host a contest on your profile
People like participating in contests because of the rewards and you can use that to your advantage. You can ask people to tag their friends in the comments or to like your page in exchange for a product or a service. That will work like magic to boost your follower count and increase engagement for your profile.
#26 Try advertising on Instagram
Sure, there are a lot of ways you could get your profile in front of a new audience for free, but that would take some time before you start seeing results. Advertising on Instagram, on the other hand, gets your content in front of a wider range of audience, and generally produces results in a shorter time.
#27 Make use of Instagram Insights
This tool on Instagram allows you to know your target audience a little bit better. It also helps you see which areas you need to work on and what you can do to improve engagement for your posts. Another key thing that you could find out using this analytics tool is the best time for you to post content based on the time most of your target audience is online.