You know you need more followers. And you’re tired of trying strategies that aren’t getting the results you want. Luckily for you, we asked Instagram experts how they approached growing their accounts and their businesses through Instagram, and curated their advice into this guide. So read on if you’re looking for the best ways to grow your Instagram following this year.
How to Grow Your Business on Instagram
Grow Your Instagram Followers Organically
Before we get too far into what our experts say you should focus on, we need to go over a couple of things you want to heed with caution.
First up, don’t buy followers. While the idea of getting a massive following in a short amount of time sounds appealing, the reality is purchased audiences don’t really care about your personal or business brand. Therefore, they’re way less likely to engage or convert.
An Instagram and TikTok Expert, Zi Yuan, writes, “it’s your most loyal audience who will convert from a follower to a customer. They’ll be the ones who are willing to purchase your course, your product, [or] your services in a heartbeat because they like and trust you.”
The other thing you want to avoid is constantly selling products or services. Of course, you want to earn money, but if your audience feels like all they’re there for is to be sold to, they’ll unfollow and go find somebody else’s content.
So, ready to get into what you should do to grow your following this year?
Use Instagram Reels to Expand Your Reach
Reels are the #1 way to reach a wider audience and grow your following.
They don’t just broadcast to the people already following you, but to anyone scrolling through the Reels tab. This instantly expands your potential audience and helps new followers find you when they otherwise might not have.
Zi says, “Instagram is heavily focused on expanding its IG Reels feature in an effort to compete with TikTok… This means that the algorithm has been heavily prioritizing IG Reels content in order to get even more people to use it.”
Ambarin Khambati, a social media marketer who grew a small business’s Instagram account to 6k+ followers from scratch, backs her up and adds, “The algorithm promotes this more than anything else. Make content that has a real person in it, and is informational. If it’s informational, people will replay it and save it, which is the best form of engagement.”
Many of the experts we talked to point out that trending sounds and effects can help boost your Reels performance - so constantly look out for the audio trends other popular creators are using, and adapt them to your own content.
You might be interested in: Instagram hacked: What to do if someone breaks into your account
Optimize Your Instagram Profile
Got more time? Optimizing your Instagram bio can help new followers find you through search and is key to growing your business on Instagram.
Mireia Boronat Ribas, a Senior Content Marketing Executive at The Social Shepherd, says, “the profile bio is vital to increasing reach and impressions in your profile, as it’s searchable.”
Adding relevant keywords without deliberately stuffing every term imaginable makes you searchable without sounding spammy.
You can see in their profile that The Social Shepherd strikes that delicate balance.
So if you want people to be able to find you, and follow you when they do, add some keywords to your bio that show off what you’re all about, and what visitors to your profile will care about.
Post Quality Content, Consistently
Whether you’re posting video, photo, or text-based content, make sure it’s of high quality.
What makes for high-quality content?
Shayla Price, social media creator turned founder of PrimoStats, suggests, “[to] create timely and timeless content. You want to create content that relates to current trends and news… You also want to create content that evokes emotion no matter the season.”
So when deciding what content to post, take advantage of recent news and trends, or think of something that will resonate with your following emotionally. But not all emotions are good. Shayla also warns, “[to] consider sensitive content that may impact your audience emotionally.
And you should deliver it consistently, so your followers know what to expect.
How consistently? Bryan Maniotakis, owner of the Minimal Goods blog who has grown two accounts to over 100k followers and 250k followers, tells Notch: “in order to maintain solid, consistent growth… ensure you’re posting at least once a day, ideally when your users are most active (you can find this in the insights tab in your business or creator account).”
Bryan Maniotakis, who has grown two accounts to over 100k followers and 250k followers, tells Notch: “in order to maintain solid, consistent growth…ensure you’re posting at least once a day, ideally when your users are most active".
If you’re not ready to post daily, don’t worry. Consistent posting is more important than quantity, regardless of whether that’s once a week or once a day. Zi says to post “as many times as you can manage while being consistent each week…being consistent will also train the algorithm that your account is more reliable, which will help [Instagram] decide to push your content out to more people.”
Paige Doherty agreed when she shared in our interview with @wandertears that sometimes you just need to “throw something together, write down a caption quickly, and publish.”
Optimize Your Instagram Grid
Aside from schedule consistency, you’ll want to keep your branding and aesthetic consistent to make a good first impression and convert new people to followers when they first find you.
One way to do so is to make sure your grid is visually appealing when people first land on you by arranging your grid to please the eye graphically. Keep in mind as you add new posts, your grid will change, so plan your content accordingly.
Mireia agrees, “Consistency in branding and tone of voice are essential, so your audience can easily identify you when scrolling down their feeds.”
So, try to keep a theme between neighboring posts or intentional contrast to keep your grid aligned with your branding.
Check out how set designer @gurait has carefully curated her grid aesthetic to make an eye-catching first impression.
Engage With Your Audience
Interacting with your audience is a sure way to maintain your following, or even better, get them to advocate for you by sharing or spreading awareness.
Zi considers “creating a loyal and engaged community is just as important as showing up consistently… I always recommend building community over getting likes.”
So how do you build a community?
Ambarin says, “[the] best and easiest way to do this is by using polls, quizzes and question tags in your story. A giveaway every few months also skyrockets engagement and followers.”
Zi builds on this by saying, “Aim to take the conversations beyond your IG stories and into your DM conversations.” She also points out, “Always respond back to your comments and DMs.”
So to engage with your followers, interact with them through stories, and talk to them directly through comments and DMs.
Use The Right Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags are another way to optimize your content to reach people who aren’t currently following you.
While it can be tempting to get creative with hashtags, you need to be intentional about it if you’re tagging to expand your following.
Users can search and follow hashtags, and if you’re tagging your posts with the same hashtags they’re looking for, your content can show up in their feeds before they even know who you are.
So how do you know which hashtags people are searching and following?
You can use a trial and error method by experimenting with different hashtags and seeing which tags are on your top-performing posts. Or, you can use a professional Instagram tool that includes a hashtag generator.
These will help you find the right hashtags faster so you can focus on creating content.
Cross-Promote Your Content
Whether your business relies solely on Instagram or other channels, you need to drive people to your Instagram profile if you want to grow your following.
Cross-promoting can be as simple as adding a link on your blog’s home page to your Instagram profile. Or elaborate as using other social media or even paid advertising to get traffic to your profile and let your content do the conversion work for you.
You can take this even further and work with other creators to piggyback off of each other’s following. One way to do this is by sharing each other’s content and crediting the owner in the caption.
Bryan says, “I have a trusted network of about 10 people that we all credit each other with, which not only reduces the amount of time to find new content, but the credit helps the network grow together.”
“I have a trusted network of about 10 people that we all credit each other with, which not only reduces the amount of time to find new content, but the credit helps the network grow together" - Bryan Maniotakis
You can see him putting that into practice when he posted this chess set and tagged the original creator, @philion.cgi, in the caption.
Regardless of the method, you can help those who otherwise wouldn’t have found your profile to land on your page by promoting it from other avenues.
Analyze Your Results (And Adjust Your Strategy)
Instagram creator and business accounts have unique analytic features that personal accounts don’t get access to.
One of the best features is finding your audience’s demographic and engagement activity. Insights let you see which types of people engage with your content and when they’re doing so. You can then tailor your posting for when your audience is most likely to engage.
You can also track your follows and unfollows and tie that back to the content you posted (or didn’t post) that day. This way, you can see which types of content your audience wants to see more of or might not have appreciated and adjust your content accordingly.
Bryan Maniotakis shared this screenshot of his Insights from when he took a week off his daily posting strategy, and you can see that he lost followers almost every day.
So, if you’re using Instagram for business, make sure you switch your account over to an account type with access to Insights. Then use that information to adjust your Instagram content strategy.
Now Go Grow Your Instagram Following - And Your Business
Now you’ve got guidance from experts on ways to grow your Instagram following. Take what you’ve learned and apply it to your account. Then, analyze what your audience wants and continue to show up for them. Before you know it, you’ll see that follower count start to tick up.
Unfortunately, this also makes you a target for hackers, who frequently steal Instagram accounts from creators and business owners. That's why Notch created the first insurance for Instagram accounts.
Curious to learn more? Read our article, the what, why and how of social media insurance.