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Instagram has over 700 million users now and is one of the most popular social media platforms around. With so many people on the platform, it can feel difficult to grow your Instagram fast and organically. Whether you are a business trying to find more customers or a blogger looking to get paid to post on Instagram, having more targeted followers can certainly help you!
If you started your account post-algorithm change in 2016, you will know how hard it is to get your photos seen. At times, it may seem like Instagram is purposely trying to lower your engagement. But the fact is, the platform is more popular than ever!
However, with these tips below you will be able to start seeing growth.
Be Consistent With Your Photos
This is one I can vouch for personally. Prior to starting Dana Nicole Designs, my Instagram account showcased my life as an expat and I posted mainly travel photos.
Once I opened up my business to client work, I shifted and wanted to post more photos related to my work and stopped posting as many travel photos.
The switch (and lack of consistency) really hurt my account and has taken me months to feel as if I’ve finally started to recuperate from the transition. During the transition I lost many followers (people who initially followed me to see my travel photos and didn’t have an interest in my design photos) and my engagement plummeted. I went from getting an average of 400-600 likes a photo to 100-200.
Consistency is incredibly important!
Be Consistent With Posting Your Photos
Now that Instagram doesn’t display content chronologically, your photos could be getting shown a few hours later to certain followers or a few days after you post.
It can sometimes feel like there’s not point to posting consistently if your followers aren’t seeing your content consistently, however, making sure you post daily or every couple of days (at the most) can definitely make a difference.
As Instagram is a very crowded platform, you should try and post regularly and consistently or the amount of people you reach will begin to decline.
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Find Popular Hashtags
With each photo on Instagram, you can add up to 30 hashtags.
Hashtags are definitely a tricky area when it comes to Instagram. Do you want to be using ones that have over a million photos within them or should you be using smaller ones with less then 10,000 photos in them?
I definitely see the most success when I use a mixture of both. For my account, I generally use only a few that have over 300,000 photos in them, a few with less than 100,000 and the rest that fall in between 100,000 and 300,000.
I find a hashtag with 200,000 photos is the sweet spot!
You may be wondering how to find popular hashtags for your Instagram account.
There are a couple different ways you can this.
First, to find popular hashtags you can manually go into the Instagram search for a general hashtag to help give you ideas. For example, here is what I would do if I was trying to find hashtags for graphic design:
Once you’ve searched for a hashtag, you can then click it to find even more that are related:
I do this with every hashtag to make sure I’m finding ones that are relevant to my photos, related and have a good amount of traffic to them!
You can also use a hashtag finder for Instagram to automatically generate hundreds of hashtags for you.
My favorite hashtag finder is Tailwind’s and they offer a forever free plan so you can try it out yourself at no cost!
Tailwind’s hashtag finder is superior because it divides hashtags up based upon their level of competitiveness. Lower competition means your photo will stay on the hashtag page longer and get more views.
Highly competitive hashtags should be used sparingly as your content will get lost in them quite quickly.
- Hashtags for Dogs
- Hashtags for Puppies
- Hashtags for Fashion
- Hashtags for Travel
- Hashtags for Fitness
- Hashtags for Art
- Hashtags for Cats
- Hashtags for Bloggers
- Hashtags for Days of the Week
- Hashtags for Nature
Interact With People You Don’t Follow
In order to try and find new followers, reach out to those who don’t follow you by liking or leaving comments on their photos.
Comments are especially good to leave because 1) everyone likes getting some thoughtful comments on their photos and 2) they will be more likely to click on your username to check out your account, and hopefully give you a follow.
Now, comments can also come across as totally spammy if you are saying things like:
- Nice one!
- Love it!
- *insert random emoji*
You get the idea…
Nobody likes to have a bunch of automated comments on their photos and if I get those I’ll usually delete it or straight up call the person out if I’m in a mood. It’s annoying so don’t do it!
To find people to interact with you will want to find accounts similar to yours, and interact with the people following them. This ensures you are targeting your audience so they will be more likely to give you a follow.
If you want to take it one step further, you can turn on notifications for accounts similar to yours, and whenever they post a photo, you can go into the likes and comments section of that recently posted photo and start interacting with those people.
This is a great strategy because those people are already on the app and in engagement mode, increasing the likelihood that they will return the favor and like some of your photos or even follow you back if they like your content!
If you are looking to grow your Instagram you need to keep in mind that it is a two-way street! Instagram is meant to be an interactive community, and if you want people to follow you, you have to follow people as well and return the favor!
Now one thing I will say – do not follow people and unfollow them. That is a dirty old trick that unfortunately many people try to use. Unfollowing people is more than ok, especially if you just don’t want to see their content anymore, but following just to unfollow a few days later is a big no, and could get you banned by Instagram.
If you are going to follow someone, make sure you follow them because you actually like their content and plan to interact with them!
Interact With People You Do Follow
As the platform because more crowded, it’s super important to interact with the people you actually follow. Go into your Instagram account once a day and like a handful of photos from your feed.
I’ve found that by liking photos of users, it ensures my content will likely end up in their feeds. Otherwise, my follower might turn into ghost followers and cause my engagement to plummet.
I also always seem to see the same user’s photos over and over, and so I will go into the account of those I am following and go to each account individually and like several of their photos. This will show Instagram that I am interested in seeing their content and will put their content in my feed (and will also put my posts into their feed).
Do An Account Takeover
Doing Instagram account takeovers has been super beneficial for my account growth in the past. An account takeover is when you manage an Instagram account for a day or two. This gives you the opportunity to be in front of your target audience, introduce them to your brand and even go viral on Instagram.
Instagram account takeovers are also beneficial for the account on the other end because they get to have content for a few days and get to have someone who is managing their account for them.
These were my images from an account takeover I did last year (minus the two recently posted ones). One of the images ended up going viral and still brings traffic to my Instagram page today.
This strategy is definitely one that can grow your Instagram fast and organically.
Post High Quality Photos
If you are trying to grow your Instagram, you will need to know a bit about photography. You can take nice photos with your phone, but you can take better photos by upgrading your photography equipment.
You also might want to consider upgrading your camera. If you don’t have a camera that takes quality photos, check out the best cameras for bloggers to help you narrow down a new camera.
A high quality photo is in focus, not blurry, has good lighting and strong composition. Adding some simple editing into your photos can really make them stand out a bit. Take the below photo for example:
I used my free Lightroom presets for Instagram to edit this image. These presets are available for you to download!
Post Photos That Tell A Story
If someone were to look at your last 9 photos on Instagram, what story would they get out of it? Try to post photos that all tell your story!
This ties back in with my point of consistency. If your photos generally all fall into the same category, it will be easy for someone new to your account to see what it’s all about. From there, they can make a decision as to whether they want to follow you or not.
If they have a hard time trying to distinguish what your “story” is and what sets you apart from everyone else, they will be less inclined to follow you.
Repost Old Photos
You likely spent a lot of time crafting all your photos and you should definitely use them more than once! If you post daily, then likely a lot of your new followers (or even current followers) haven’t seen some of your older photos.
Reposting old photos allows you to get more use out of them and get them in front of more people.
You can use repost apps for Instagram to quickly regram your most popular content.
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are one of my favorite ways to stay in front of my followers, drive traffic to my most recent posts and grow my Instagram. See this example below of how I’ve used stories to try and get extra people to view my posts.
Try to pique your follower’s curiosity when doing this and try not to over-do it!
Stories are also a great way to showcase behind-the-scenes and a more personal side to yourself and your account. I use Canva to design my stories so that I can use the same font that I use on my website and in all my branding documents. This keeps things consistent!
You can also use hashtags and add your location in your stories to bring in extra views. But I need to say – be careful with this feature and don’t give your precise location if you are worried about safety issues.
Use Instagram Live
Instagram Live can be a very useful tool to grow your Instagram! It can seem like a super terrifying feature, however. I mean, you can’t edit the video if you mess up and you are stuck using your phones camera which isn’t always the best quality.
When you go on Instagram Live, some of your followers will be sent a notification that you are live which is really great way to get their attention. You should also promote your Instagram Live before you actually go live, to get the word out to your followers as they won’t all be notified.
Live videos on Instagram last for 24 hours once you’re finished with them, and with the ability to go live with another user, your abilities to create interactive live videos are endless!
Tag Relevant Brand Accounts In Your Photos
Tagging relevant accounts into your photos is one way to get bigger brands to see your photos and potentially feature them on their account.
Target is one account that features user’s photos regularly. You will have to do a bit of research in your niche to find out what accounts feature user content.
You can tag up to 20 accounts in your photos currently, and this tactic is often overlooked when trying to grow an Instagram account!
Respond To Comments
If someone takes time to write a genuine comment on your photos, take the time to respond! If you really want to grow your Instagram, you will need to start thinking of it as a mini-community. You should always try to interact with genuine comments in order to keep that community growing and thriving.
As Instagram is public, anyone who comes across your photos will be able to see if you are responding to comments or not and it looks bad if you aren’t replying to people who leave comments on your photos. It’s not feasible to reply to every single one, but you should definitely try to reply to a few on each photo!
Instagram also allows you to “like” comments so you don’t necessarily have to respond to everyone, but giving some type of interaction will let your followers know you appreciate them!
Analyze What’s Working And What Isn’t
Growing your Instagram account isn’t just about trying to get as much content out there as possible. Every once in a while you should go through your photos and see which types of photos do well and which ones don’t. For example, are photos with you in them doing better than your other photos? Are photos of food that you take performing poorly?
If you have a business account on Instagram, you can have access to some pretty helpful analytics such as:
- demographic information
You can also use tools like SocialBaker’s Instagram analytics tool to get a bit more insight.
Create Engaging Captions
Your caption is just as important as your photo! A good caption will cause your reader to feel some kind of emotion and will tell them to take action on something.
Popular calls of action include:
- “double tap if you agree!”
- “comment below and let me know what your _____”
- “tag someone who you _____”
- “click the link in my bio to____!”
- “check out my latest story ____”
Your captions should give your readers the story behind your photo. Sure, lyrics and quotes are easy captions to think of but try to add something a little more.
For example, if I posted a photo of some of my client work I could write something like “check out this work I just did for a client” but that’s not really exciting and doesn’t exactly draw you in…
Instead, I could caption my photo something like “When so & so approached me to help them design a logo I was so excited. We sat down for our virtual coffee date and as she started telling me about her business and about all she had to overcome to start it, I just knew I wanted to help her craft something beautiful. Don’t you just love this new logo? Let me know in the comments below!”.
The second caption tells more of a story and is much more captivating! Try to include extra pieces of information in your captions to give your followers a full story.
What Not to Do
If your Instagram feels like it’s growing slower than snails-pace, you might be tempted to try some blackhat Instagram strategies.
Here are a few things not to do when trying to grow your Instagram account:
- Instagram pods: your engagement will be inflated and superficial.
- Buying followers: your followers won’t engage with your content.
- Promoting content without any strategy: this is the quickest way to lose your money. If you want to promote your content, make sure you have a strategy and target audience behind your promotions.
To summarize, there are many different things you can be doing to grow your Instagram fast and organically! If you plan to see quick growth, you will need to employ nearly every strategy listed above every day.
Remember, growing your Instagram account isn’t going to happen overnight but with a solid plan and the above strategies, you will be able to see steady growth!
This article may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Dana Nicole is an award-winning freelance writer for MarTech/SaaS who was rated one of the best SaaS writers by Software World. She specializes in writing engaging content that ranks high in search engines and has been featured in publications like Semrush, ConvertKit, and Hotjar.
Dana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has over 15 years of experience working alongside national brands in their marketing departments.
When Dana’s not working, you can find her dancing en pointe, cooking up new recipes, and exploring the great outdoors with her two big dogs.