33 WAYS TO GROW YOUR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS ORGANICALLY
Welcome to the dojo, Instagram warrior. Are you ready to grow your Instagram followers organically?
That’s great! Because we’re about to drop so many practical, need-to-know tips on you—you’ll want to save this and keep a copy closer than a priest keeps a Bible.
Why are these tips so important? Choosing to grow your following organically is the only proven method for you (the Instagram warrior) to reach your dreams. Whatever they are.
Trust us. We know. We’ve been rocking social media for years. We’ve been through all the ups, downs, and dreaded algorithm changes.
Over the years, we’ve tried all the “Instagram hacks.” We even used to automate! And you know what we’ve learned from all that?
The only way to make a real impact on your goals is through organic growth.
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“Yea…. yea…. I’ve heard this all before,” you say, “but how do you actually start growing organically on Instagram and see real results?”
We’re glad you asked, grasshopper. And that’s exactly what we’re here to teach you.
You’re about to learn 33 actionable tips and strategies you can use right now to start gaining followers organically on Instagram. You’ll have the “Instagram superpowers” you need to start blowing up your following—one awesome post at a time.
But it’s important you know, this isn’t a list of ‘quick fixes’ that don’t work. In fact, these strategies stay far away from shady tactics, cutting corners, or trying to “game the system.”
Besides, you’ve probably already been bombarded with conflicting information and all the supposed ‘shortcuts’ you (shouldn’t) try for gaining a huge following.
Some users buy followers on Instagram, others use bots. And 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. Some, especially shady tips can even be dangerous!
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.
How to Grow Your Instagram Followers Organically
This article has recently been upgraded. It now includes 33 tried-and-tested tips from Instagram experts that will help you grow your Instagram followers organically for free!
Plus, we’ve also added in 6 expert posting tricks to help you get maximum engagement from all the new organic Instagram followers you’ll be getting. And that’s not all!
You’ll also find the answers to questions like:
“What’s the Instagram Explore tab, and how can I get featured on it?”
“Is it okay to run around following a bunch of accounts and hoping they’ll follow me back?” (hint: it’s not!)…
And, “How can I get featured on Instagram’s feed?”
So, strap yourself in, and get ready to build your audience and grow your Instagram followers organically—the right way!
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How to Grow Your Instagram Followers Organically
In this article, we’ll cover 20+ tried-and-tested tips from Instagram experts that will help you grow your Instagram followers organically for free!
- Stay true to your goals
- Know who you’re posting for
- Build your brand image
- Create a great profile and an awesome bio!
- Be creative with your content
- Promote your Instagram account
- Link to your Instagram profile wherever you can
- Use your Instagram nametag!
- Keep your hashtags relevant
- Get your Instagram profile featured
- Add your location
- Get featured on the Explore tab
- Make sure to follow the right people
- Stay active in relevant communities
- Mention relevant users in your captions
- Encourage users to tag their friends
- Be consistent with your posts
- Post at a strategic time
- Schedule your content
- Be creative with your captions
- Post on Instagram Stories
- Make your Stories interactive
- Do a Live Video
- Highlight what your brand is about
- Host a contest on your profile
- Try advertising on Instagram
- Make use of Instagram Insights
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.
When it comes to marketing, you shouldn’t waste your efforts trying to please everyone. You can’t. 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.
Remember, you’re not the only one in the marketplace doing the business that you do. No matter how unique your idea may be, there will always be competition.
The best way to stand out from the pack is through brand engagement. It’s important to 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 to post without a plan. You want to position yourself as a professional in your field, so you want your visuals to look right and give your audience a great 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 by @aurelycerise.
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.
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 (more tips on this coming up).
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Notice how @buzzfeedtasty does just that in its feed.
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.
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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.
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.
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!
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. Keep hammering away and being as relevant as possible to your followers.
As you build up your following and engage them, Instagram’s algorithm will start to recognize your posts as being valuable to others. The better your content, the more people react—and the greater your chances of being featured in an Instagram post.
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Statistics show that posts with tagged locations get a higher level of engagement than those which don’t. 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.
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!
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?
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.
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 will 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.
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Here’s a really neat example of tagging users in your captions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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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.
Bonus Tips (updated): Expert Posting Tricks For Getting More Engagement With Your Instagram Followers
As promised, we’re diving deeper for you to provide you with some pro, Instagram posting tips. Whether you’re a brand, a business, or an influencer, you can use these simple posting strategies to boost your engagement and get your following even more excited. Let’s get started!
#28 Post Using Instagram Carousels
According to research from Hootsuite, carousels take up a whopping 17% of Instagram feeds, get 3X more engagement, and 1.4X the reach of regular Instagram posts. That sounds like a good enough reason to start using them, but why do they work so well?
One possible reason is the “interest” factor in Instagram’s algorithm. Instagram tries to serve its users with content that’s most relevant to their personal interests. And because you’re offering different types of content within a single post, you’re more likely to hit a few extra people’s sweet spots.
Pretty neat, huh? Just remember, that doesn’t mean you should post a bunch of unrelated content. Make sure to stay on topic. But change it up a little with carousels to keep it interesting for your audience and boost your engagement.
#29 Use the right NUMBER of hashtags
“If I want to get the most reach, I should probably use the maximum number of hashtags, right?”
Not quite. It might seem like common sense: “more hashtags equals more reach.” But it’s not actually true. You probably don’t want to use all 30 hashtags available, because you won’t get as much reach.
Your “reach” within the hashtags you use works like this:
- The more hashtags you use, the less people you’ll reach who are following each of your hashtags. (Think of it like, shallow).
- The less you use, the more reach you’ll get to people following the hashtags you used. (Think of it like, deep).
For this reason, it’s recommended that you only use between five and nine hashtags that are hyper-relevant to your niche. This will provide you with the most reach in the most relevant areas to get more organic Instagram followers.
#30 Use the right caption length
With all the flashy visual content and videos on Instagram, it’s easy to forget the importance of your captions. But you definitely shouldn’t overlook them!
One of the key qualities of a good caption is it’s length. While length depends mostly on your audience, research by Hootsuite has found that captions averaging between 138-150 characters in Instagram feeds get the most engagement.
#31 How to create a better story with Instagram Stories
You can get a ton of engagement by utilizing the Instagram Stories feature. Even though they only last for 24-hours on the platform, they give an exciting opportunity for your audience to get in on the action of your life or brand.
Plus, we’re all wired to love a good story, right? But what components should a good story have? Here are a few, key things you should factor into your stories:
- Have some planned points before you start. Make sure you don’t start your story without a goal in mind. Think of your story like a map. You’re on a journey and you’re taking your audience on the trail with you. What will they see? What turns will they take with you? Keep it interesting and fun.
- Keep their attention with short scenes. Our attention spans are short these days. Make sure to break your video into scenes that are exciting and only a few seconds long. That will keep people interested.
- Provide value and/or a promise. Make sure you’re adding value to the lives of your audience. If you have something you can share that will improve their lives, make your story about that. Make a promise in the beginning of your video outlining exactly what they’ll get and the benefits. And then, give it to them!
- Make sure to add in CTAs (call to action). If you want your audience to engage, make sure to tell them what you want them to do. Whether you want them to like, follow, save, share, or whatever else—make sure to ask them. They’ll probably be happy to say “yes” if you are giving them valuable content!
#32 MORE ways to grow your following by going Live!
Do you have an event that your audience would love to take part in? What about some skills you can teach them in a workshop? Or a person they’d love to see interviewed? You can go live and take them along with you!
Some great ways to go live with your audience:
- Interview other people your audience is interested in.
- Host Q&A sessions that involve members of your audience or others.
- Collaborate with influencers or other brands to create a live experience your audience will get excited about.
- Offer a workshop where you’ll teach your followers how to do something they’ll find valuable and that’s relevant to your brand.
#33 Use user-generated content
User-generated content is created when real people record videos of themselves using and enjoying your products. If you’re a brand, you probably know there are few things that have more impact on sales than UGC.
That’s partially because people love seeing ‘regular’ people just like them—doing things they also love! Plus, it helps them imagine what it’s like to use your products or services themselves, making them more inclined to use them too.
Make sure your UGC is authentic and is something your audience will relate with. If you don’t have any user-generated content, you can come up with a strategy to create some.
Hint: It’s not uncommon to see brands running a contest to gather a few pieces of UGC for their Instagram and social media campaigns.
That’s it! Make sure to bookmark this page so you can return to it for reference as you grow your Instagram account to the moon.
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More About Social Sensei
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