Is it even possible to organically increase your Instagram followers anymore? While this platform is one of the best places to communicate your brand visually and connect with your audience, it’s no longer just a social network. Since the launch of Instagram Ads, Instagram TV, and Instagram Business Accounts, it has transformed into a playing field for influencers, marketers, and businesses to promote themselves.
Today, people use Instagram not only to connect with their friends but also to connect with their favorite brands and shop online. Studies have found that the majority of consumers use Instagram to search for a brand and 80 percent of them follow at least one brand on Instagram.
If you’re active on the platform, there are two ways to increase your Instagram followers: through paid and organic ways. If you’re just starting out your Instagram marketing journey and still not sure whether to spend your money here or not, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll go through the step-by-step process of gaining followers organically.
You don’t have to spend a penny if you follow this guide, but you do need patience and consistency because it does take time. However, with Instagram, slow and steady wins the race, allowing you to build an authentic and engaged audience that’s more likely to connect with your brand and convert. If you’re ready to organically increase your Instagram following, let’s dive in.
Get started on the right foot with our free social media goal-setting template.
1. Create Engaging Content
Instagram users are engaged and love to share and comment on photos and videos that they think are good. A study found that on average, Instagram images get 23 percent more engagement than Facebook images.
In order to catch your audience’s attention on Instagram, the first rule is to create engaging content. The more engaging your content is, the more likely people will share it. Here are some tips on creating engaging content and boosting your engagement rate on Instagram:
- Upload more video content because video posts are proven to get 38 percent more engagement than posts containing images. If you don’t want to hire a professional video agency, you can create your own video using these video marketing tools and platforms.
- Create content that your audience can relate to. The best content will depend upon your audience, so you need a clear understanding of who they are first and foremost.
- Post about viral topics from other channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
- Use the right hashtags to generate engagement and subsequent followers. To get it right, try the hashtag formula from Jen Herman, Instagram advocate and social media trainer, which she explains in a recent Social Media Examiner post.
2. Schedule Your Posts
After you’ve gathered fresh and engaging content, the next step is to schedule your posts for one week to one month—depending on how far out you like to plan. The key is posting at the right time. Hootsuite did a study on this using data from Unmetric and after analyzing the top 20 Instagram accounts from 11 different industries they found that the best times to post vary from one industry to the next.
For example, the best time for travel and tourism is on Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. while the best time for media and entertainment are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 3 p.m. Read the full Hootsuite Report to find the best times for your industry.
3. Collect a List of Related Accounts Within Your Niche
Compile a list of all competitors and major accounts on Instagram within your niche. For example, if you’re in the food and beverage industry, you might compile a list of all major food bloggers and restaurants that speak to the same audience as you.
Start by getting to know these accounts to better understand what you should publish. As you compare the brands, ask yourself:
- What topics does their audience engage with?
- Which posts are getting the most likes?
- How often do they post?
Now, use your competitors accounts to build your following too.
Don’t forget about your blog. Do a content competitor analysis with this free competitor analysis guide and template.
4. Follow Your Competitors’ Followers
After you have your list of the accounts, the next step is to follow their followers one by one. Those people are your target market because they already follow your competitors, which means that they’re interested in your industry and likely what you’re sharing as well.
In the current Instagram algorithm, you can only follow 50 to 100 people every day. If you follow more than 100 people per day, there’s a chance your account can get suspended by Instagram. Again, take it slow and steady.
5. Like and Leave Comments on Competitors’ Followers Posts
Dedicate yourself to connecting with a high volume of followers and engage authentically as you do, leaving comments when posts stand out to you. This shows that you’re paying attention to what they’re posting and also ensures that they notice you. Ideally, many of these followers will like you what you’re sharing and follow you back—making it a simple way to organically increase your Instagram followers.
6. Join an Engagement Group
An Instagram Engagement Group is a community of Instagram users who help each other in gaining more engagement and followers. Most of these groups are found on Telegram; HopperHQ explains how they work:
“Instagram Engagement groups are basically group conversations within Instagram and also on other platforms (e.g. there are several on Telegram app). They are called engagement groups because everybody participating in these groups are willing to like and/or comment on other members’ posts in exchange for their own posts getting liked and/or commented.”
If one member of the group uploads a new post on Instagram, the whole group will help by liking, sharing, and leaving comments on the post. Most groups also have rules that you have to follow to participate to make sure everyone gets the most out of each post.
The bigger the group is, the faster you’ll grow your followers. What’s even better is a group that can like and comment immediately after the new post is uploaded. This makes it easier to get featured on the Instagram Explore Page, giving making it easier to organically increase your Instagram followers.
You can find free engagement groups at:
You can also get engagement, but more importantly, organic followers, by following accounts that host Instagram Follow threads, like LarsenMedia. The idea is simple: you introduce yourself in the comments and then everyone follows one another for a follow back. All the accounts are real and authentic, making this an easy way to increase followers, even up to 60 to 100 new followers in one day.
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7. Repeat and Be Consistent
If you don’t want to spend money and still grow an engaged following, these methods work and are free to use. In my experience, gaining your first 1,000 followers in two months by doing this is very achievable. This means that in less than two years, you could achieve 10,000 followers without spending a penny. All while building a true and engaged audience.
Organically Increase Your Followers on Instagram
By gaining followers organically, you can save your marketing budget while also curating a high-quality audience that will connect with your brand and ideally convert into a customer or client. Be ready to invest your time and you’ll see it is in fact possible to organically increase your Instagram followers as soon as tomorrow.