When I was first learning how to use Instagram to grow my blog, my number one questions was how to grow Instagram followers organically.
And definitely NO buying followers!
******* Update for 2020 *********
The Instagram algorithm is CHANGING!
Since I’ve written this post, Instagram has changed to put heavy emphasis on ENGAGEMENT.
The most important thing you can do to grow your Instagram account in 2020 is to engage with other users in the comment section AND through DMs.
Don’t just leave fire and happy face emojis! Take time to leave meaningful comments on posts. Also, read through the comments and leave responses to other commenters!
I was totally new to Instagram so creating an account and growing Instagram followers was completely not in my wheelhouse! I knew Pinterest really well, but this was new territory!
I’m not going to lie, I was always pretty reluctant to use Instagram for business, partly because I didn’t think it would help and partly because I wasn’t sure how it worked! I’ve always had a Facebook account and I come and go on Twitter. I’m super active on Pinterest, but the one platform I hadn’t even ATTEMPTED to master was Instagram.
It wasn’t until late last year that I got on board with Instagram and I went all out.
I did tons of research on Instagram strategies and the best way to grow followers. I have to say, I was pretty shocked at the shady ways people recommend getting Instagram followers!
My goal was to get 500 followers in the first month- and to my surprise- I ended up doubling my goal!
I got 1000 Instagram followers in 4 weeks.
Not only that, but I noticed a significant increase in my website traffic and opt ins for my freebies.
I never thought I would be so active on Instagram but now, I am a believer (#instalove)! It can be a huge support for your business and a great extension of your brand.
I'm going to share how I went from 0 to 1000 followers in 4 weeks! I also want to make it super clear that I did not buy any followers or use shady techniques techniques.
I'm definitely no Instagram guru. I just wanted to share some tips for anyone who's feeling stuck wondering how to grow Instagram followers organically & quickly.
1. Create an awesome bio
This pretty much goes without saying, but I noticed a lot of people don't take full advantage of their bio space. Make sure you think of how your bio will look to others. Try putting your title, company or passion FIRST before your name (i.e. "Entrepreneur" "Branding Expert", "Online Marketer"). This way, people will not have to actually click on your profile to open it before knowing if they want to follow you. This can make a BIG difference when Instagram includes you in "recommended" people to follow.
There are only 150 characters in your profile so make them count! Including a call to action (click here, sign up, follow, etc.) along with a link to your site or product is crucial to get blog traffic coming through.
I use a photo of myself for my picture, but I also tested using a photo of my logo and there was no difference in my follower count or rate of engagement with my photos. If you have a really clear, visually appealing logo, then go ahead and use that for your profile picture! The faster someone can identify what your account is all about, the better.
2. Post RELEVANT + beautiful content
This is a huge one and should be what all Instagrammers focus on! I see TONS of pages with so much potential, but they're either all over the place with inconsistent, poorly defined content, OR they are over-branded.
Yes, I totally think it's possible to over-brand.
These are the pages with too must repetitive content being posted too often. Even loyal followers will get bored with a selfie 3 times a day or the same image/logo with slightly different wording. From what I've seen, the best pages keep a consistent brand (ie. colours, posting scheme, message, etc.) but change up the content to keep everyone interested.
If you're not sure how to create awesome Instagram content, check out this tutorial on using Canva.
3. Post Consistently
This probably should have been my number 1 tip for how to grow Instagram followers organically!
Consistent posting is KEY!
I notice when I miss a post for a day or two, my account goes pretty stagnant, OR, I'll even have a drop off of Instagram followers.
How often should you post?
The sweet spot for me is once a day. Some people will post as much as 3 times, but if you're coming up with beautiful (and meaningful) content, that may not be realistic to maintain! Stick with once a day and see how people respond.
4. Post at correct times during the day
The other thing to keep in mind is that timing does actually make a difference with your posts. The best days to post tend to be weekdays over weekends, and people report some of the highest engagement rates on Mondays, There seems to be a consensus in the Instagram universe that the best times to post are between 8am-9am and again around 5pm-9pm.
With my Instagram posts, I always get the highest engagement rates between 8:30pm-9:30pm. I get significantly lower engagement when I post in the morning around 9am-12pm. The days and times may vary for everyone, so experiment and see what works best for you!
3. Don't skimp on the hashtags, but use them wisely
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags on every post. For my posts, I to put anywhere from 25-30 hashtags.
Using hashtags properly is identical to trying to rank on Google for a blog post: too popular and your post will be drowned out. Not popular enough and you won't get any views.
When you're looking at how to grow Instagram followers organically with your hashtags, try to put a mix of really popular and less common hashtags. Anywhere from 10,000-50,000 tags is good for your more niche categories, and some popular hashtags like #business, #instafollow, #instalike, #selfie, #quote, #foodporn, etc. have well over one million tags.
Make sure to have some consistency with your tagging so you're targeting the right kind of audience to follow you. For my brand, I always include tags that will appeal to my target audience including #bizbabes, #blogginglife, #blogger, #businesswoman, #bizbosses, etc.
What helped me was making a list of all the hashtags my target audience uses. I spent a few hours looking through the Instagram profiles of everyone with a similar brand and found out what they were tagging in their images. I came up with 40 hashtags to use regularly, and I don't stray too far from this list. This will help you stay consistent and your followers will know what to expect.
HEY, are you looking for the best Instagram hashtags? I've got something that might help!
4. Follow, follow, follow!
One of the most important elements of Instagram is user engagement. In order to have more users to engage with you, you must engage with them- which means following! I hear mixed opinions about following many people at a time on Instagram but I see nothing wrong with it, as long as you're not unfollowing them right after!
When I started my account, I followed people because I genuinely liked their profiles and wanted to see their pictures in my feed. It wasn't until my following count started getting a little too high (which looks spammy!) that I had to begin paring down. My strategy is to follow 100 people a day for a week, and then do one day of purging where I will unfollow the people who don't follow me or engage with my content.
If you're posting once a day, one week is enough time to see if someone is genuinely interest in engaging with your content.
When you're learning how to grow Instagram followers organically, it may not happen overnight and you may be tempted to use shady techniques. Please, please, please don't use the follow/unfollow tactic to get people's attention and gain Instagram followers when you have no intention of ACTUALLY engaging with them. It's SUPER frustrating and unprofessional to use Instagram in this way.
5. Engage with other users
This is so important! If you're ever looking to get into branding or working as an affiliate with a larger company, you will definitely want to keep an eye on your average engagement rate. To calculate your engagement rate, divide the number of comments and likes on any given photo by your total followers then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. Try to aim for 5% or higher.
Looking for new accounts to leave comments and likes? Search for different hashtags in your field and you'll find thousands of new pictures to check out.
I've made a habit of going on Instagram 3-4 times a day for about 5 minutes and I will like/comment on around 100 photos a day. Some days it's a little more or less, but 20-30 minutes each day and 100 contacts seems to be the perfect amount for me.
Any other tips or tricks that work for you? Leave a comment below 🙂 I almost forgot to mention: come join me on Instagram here!
I hope these tips will help you learn how to grow Instagram followers organically and how to build an awesome, engaged following!