10 Tips for Growing Your Instagram Followers, Without Paying

- BySonam Ram

Gaining Instagram followers – and, more importantly, growing your community – isn’t as easy as it used to be. And, unfortunately, buying followers is the ultimate no-no. No matter how tempted you may be to grow your followers fast, the first thing you need to know is this: don’t purchase them. Not only are they not likely going to be representative of your target audience but they will likely end up getting your account banned, as this practice goes against Instagram’s policies.

But the good news is that there are some steps you can take that have been proven to help you grow a community on Instagram, ethically and organically. Here are the some of the top follower growth strategies we’ve been using:

1. Create a content strategy. 

Don’t waste your time posting without a content plan. Every successful IG account has a well-defined social media content plan behind it! Begin by outlining 4-6 content categories that represent your brand messaging, and create content that aligns with your key messages, on a rotating basis. For example: If you’re selling furniture your categories could include: Products (posts about new products you’re selling), Quality (posts about the quality or process behind each item), Testimonials (posts about happy customers, using the furniture in their personal settings), Sales (posts about your sales and marketing), Team (posts about the people who make the furniture, and why they love their work, or the company owners and why their work matters) Inspiration (posts about the mission or vision of the company, ways it gives back, art or culture that inspires each piece.) To keep a feed visually and contextually interesting, it’s ideal to rotate through a framework like this, to both engage and grow followers. A feed that is all product or all sales info, tends to get pretty boring, fast.

2. Get to know your audience and what they’re looking for.

For any social content to be successful, you need to ensure you’re speaking to the right audience and delivering the content they ACTUALLY want to see and care about. First and foremost, decide who your target customer or client is, and then take a look at your current followers page to see if they match your target. If you’re trying to reach too broad an audience, you’ll miss out on really engaging any element of that audience. For example, if you’re a business coach, and your audience isn’t defined, your messaging will be too broad to really engage any aspect of your target audience. By niching down, and defining a specific audience, such as women who own wellness business, you can create messaging that directly appeals to people in that niche, and create much stronger, more resonant content that will grow your followers much more quickly than if you’re trying to speak to everyone. If you haven’t defined your audience, take a look at this article about how to define your customer avatar. 

3. Make a stellar first impression.

First impressions are everything on social media. Confused buyers don’t buy. Or do anything else you want them to do! When someone visits your profile, you’ve only got a few seconds to capture their attention. That’s why it’s critical to use your grid and bio strategically. If someone comes to your feed, they should be able to understand who you are and what you’re about in a few seconds. Your bio is key, so be sure to use it wisely. Here’s a guide to crafting a strong bio. If they have to think too much or don’t get what you’re about, you’ve just lost a potential customer. Using a visual planner like Later or Tailwind will help you map out your posts before they go live and ensure your grid looks amazing.

4. Share dynamic content. 

We touched on this point above, but want to emphasize the importance of choosing content that truly engages. Use a mix of high-quality photos, videos, Instagram lives, and stories. Use your analytics to pay attention to the kind of images and content that your audience responds to, and create more of that.

5. Don’t be afraid of intimacy.

Building intimacy with your audience is an important factor in not only engagement, but overall sales. To this end, you do need to socialize on Instagram, to boost your presence and your followers. If time is of the essence, you can take an organized approach and create a list of 10-100 top accounts you’d like to develop relationships with, and systematically comment on their posts, tag them in your posts and stories, and get into their DMs. This tactic will help make sure your account is noticed by the people you want to interact with, and who you’d like to know/follow your brand. One strategy that’s working for brands is to set your notifications so that you immediately know when an account you follow posts, and can be the first to comment or share. If you want to grab their attention, this is the best way to do it.

6. Show up in your feed. 

Your followers want to know who is behind the brand- so show your face, your team, and speak directly to your followers. You may not want to create videos or Lives, but take our word for it, this might just be the MOST powerful way to grow your followers.

7. Use the max number of hashtags on each and every post.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on every post, and we recommend using as many as you’re allowed! Thanks to hashtag tools like Later’s hashtag suggestions and Tailwind Tribes’s hashtag tool, you can easily research popular hashtags related to your post or industry, create as many sets of hashtag groups as you may need, and get strategic about using hashtags that will increase the visibility of your post. A rule to follow here: Choose hashtags that have less than 1 million posts (as you’ll be more likely to be noticed) and more than 2000 (so it’s a big enough group to get some attention.)

8. Use geotags in your posts and stories.

Adding geotags can help reach your audience in those locations as it increases the visibility of your posts. When you add a geotag to your post, if someone searches for that tagged area, there’s a chance they’ll come across your post. So be sure to geotag every post and story.

9. Run giveaways.

People love a chance to win things! Running a follow-to-win type of giveaway on Instagram is a great way to gain new followers. Make sure to give away your brand’s own items so you can attract contest entries from people GENUINELY interested in your products or services. Prizes don’t need to have a high value, and you can choose the length of time you’d like each to run for. You could also partner up with another account or influencer  so that you’ll both be able to reach each other’s audience and gain each other’s followers. According to Tailwind, accounts that host giveaways help grow followers 70% faster than accounts that don’t.

10. Spend your time wisely. 

If you don’t love being on IG, the most effective way to maximize the time you spend is to get on Instagram 15-30 minutes before you post and do some interacting, this will make sure your post gets higher engagement. Try it, it works.

These are the 10 key strategies you’ll want to have in place to support you in growing your followers. If you need help creating a content strategy, or want to hand this off to the experts, consider letting our team help you achieve your Instagram goals!