How to Grow Your Instagram Followers Organically
Many bloggers skip Instagram in favor of Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. But with the right strategy and mindset, Instagram can do wonders for your blog’s brand awareness and also traffic.
For many bloggers though, Instagram is still a bit of a mysterious beast. It works fundamentally different from other social media channels and figuring out how to get the most out of Instagram can be quite time consuming and overwhelming.
Growing your Instagram followers is perhaps not as easy as it is with Twitter for example. Which is why so many Instagram users resort to dodgy tactics, such as the follow unfollow method, to increase their followers.
But growing Instagram followers organically is much more rewarding, in the short term as well as in the long term. It really does pay off to keep things real and to not try and game the system.
10 Ways to Organically Grow Your Instagram Followers
Stick to the following 10 habits and you will certainly be able to grow followers on Instagram. It may take some time, but it will definitely happen.
1. Start with Research
As a professional blogger or Internet marketer, you need to be prepared. Just like SEO takes time, and learning Pinterest takes time, and understanding WordPress takes time, getting your head around Instagram can also cause a few headaches.
So before you create an Instagram account, or before you starting posting things, it’s worth doing a bit of research. You need to work out who your competitors are and what kind of content they are posting. Create a list in Excel and keep track of these competitors and similar accounts.
You also need to work out who your projected audience is. Create a virtual profile of the person you want to target and create content with that profile in mind. You can do this by analyzing competitors’ accounts and see what type of people engage with their content.
See what they like most, what they comment on, what they’re saying, etc.
2. Publish Targeted and Relevant Content
Once you have a good idea of who your projected audience looks like and what kind of content generates the most interest, you can start planning ahead and publish targeted and relevant content.
Start publishing content that is laser targeted and super relevant. Don’t just post random stuff that has no connection with your blog, your brand or your audience. Only post stuff that your projected audience actually wants to see. Stuff that supports your blog or website.
It’s that type of content that will generate the most engagement, and that will ultimately grow Instagram followers organically and steadily.
Instagram can be ruthless. If you publish content that isn’t relevant and doesn’t interest people, they will walk away. In Instagram terminology, that means they will unfollow you. Just like that. Goodbye.
3. Publish Consistently
It’s also important to publish that targeted and relevant content consistently. This can be 4 posts per day, or just 1 per week. As long as you’re consistent.
There is no point in going mental and start uploading a new image every 10 mins for a few days, followed by an extended social media break for 5 weeks. Again, Instagram is ruthless.
All those new followers that you accumulated when you were super active, a large portion of them will turn your back on you if they don’t see new cool stuff coming from you.
Make a plan and stick to it. If you want to publish twice a week, put two weekly reminders in your diary and stick to it. Go ahead and publish that awesome content.
4. Use Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags… they are very, very important in the exciting world of Instagram. They can make your posts discoverable. It’s interesting though, because on some other social media platforms the excessive use of hashtags is frowned upon.
Don’t go mental though, there really is no need to add 20 or 25 hashtags to each post. It’s overkill. Instead, go for relevant hashtags that align well with the post your publishing. You shouldn’t have to add more than 10 hashtags.
The other thing you need to keep in mind is that Instagram really doesn’t like the use of unrelated hashtags. Some people try to be sneaky and add a popular or trending hashtag to a post that is about something completely different. Don’t do that, it doesn’t work.
Hashtags on Instagram work like a search engine. And if you’re trying to game the algorithm by using irrelevant hashtags, not only will Instagram not like it, its users won’t appreciate it either.
5. Engage with Similar Accounts
Posting great content is crucial but engaging with others is also very important. It’s a great way to get your name out there, to get more exposure and to ultimately grow your Instagram followers.
But your likes and comments need to be genuine. Please, don’t pay for tools that do the liking and commenting for you. It’s not only lame, it’s also very fake. Random, irrelevant comments don’t work.
All you need is 20 minutes to go through your Instagram feed and engage with others. Add comments that actually add value, comments that trigger a potential response, comments that stand out. This is a great way to show your appreciation for other people’s content.
6. Showcase Your Instagram Account
This one may be obvious, but you need to make sure that you include your Instagram account in the list of social media accounts on your website.
Share your Instagram content on your other social media accounts. Facebook also lets you connect your page with your Instagram account which is a great way to get more exposure.
Mention your Instagram account in your weekly newsletter and perhaps ask your readers to give you a follow.
7. Use Instagram Stories
One of the strongest features in Instagram is the concept of creating stories. Creating and publishing a story is not only very easy, it’s also a great way to add some spice to your account.
Instagram stories are meant to be a spontaneous and fun and typically appeals to a lot of people. It’s a great way to attract a bigger audience and to generate more engagement.
Please note that unless you add it as a highlight, Instagram stories disappear from feeds and from your profile after 24 hours.
Watch this video for some great tips on creating Instagram stories like a pro:
8. Tag Others
A good way to grow Instagram followers organically and get more exposure, is by tagging other accounts. You can do this when you post something that you think will be of interest of certain accounts. Most like they will appreciate the gesture and perhaps give you a follow or a mention.
And don’t be afraid to tag big accounts, as long as your content is relevant to them. You never know, they may share your content or give you a shout out of some kind. I certainly appreciate it when someone tags me in a post that aligns well with the niche that my particular Instagram account is in.
9. Add a Location to Your Posts
If the image you’re uploading was taken in a certain location, be sure to use that location in Instagram. It’s another way to make your posts more discoverable.
You can search for locations in Instagram so your post may pop up in these search results.
10. Use Branded Hashtags
Using branded hashtags are another powerful way to grow Instagram followers organically. A lot of big Instagram accounts have their own branded hashtags as part of their overall marketing campaign. Often they encourage others to use their hashtag to get more exposure.
This is especially true for accounts that mainly share other people’s content. So if you have an awesome image, use a popular branded hashtag and your post may get shared to a very large audience. Key here is to only do this when you have a top quality post.
It’s worth creating a list of brands and their hashtags, just so that you can quickly check if there is a suitable hashtag that you can use for a particular post. Don’t overdo it though as this may quickly turn into a spamming exercise.