An active Instagram account is a surefire way to promote your products and services, boost your brand, and increase your sales. And it’s free to create!
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Maybe. You do need an engaged audience of real followers, which is where many brands find themselves stuck. It’s not easy to grow your Instagram account organically.
Some might be tempted to buy followers to increase their audience, but Instagram’s revamped algorithm can spot fake user activity a mile away. Purchasing followers can lead to your account getting banned. Also, these bought followers aren’t likely to engage like organic followers would. High follower count means nothing if your engagement rate is on the floor.
The key to organic Instagram growth is more like a ring full of different keys. There isn’t a single solution, but with a comprehensive strategy and some effort, you can do it!
The smarter, long-term strategy would be to focus on gaining organic Instagram followers.
In order to obtain your target followers and grow your Instagram account organically, you need to be up to date with Instagram’s everchanging algorithm and its newest features.
It can sound overwhelming when you’re getting your business account off of the ground, but we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 tips for organic Instagram growth to help you get started in the right direction.
1. The Name of the Game is Consistency
There’s a reason this is #1 on our list. The most basic and important thing you can do for your brand is to be consistent.
From the type of content you post, to the aesthetic appeal of your feed, to the time of day you post, staying consistent allows your followers to know what to expect when they follow you. And let’s be real, they are following you because they like something you are doing with your account.
If you suddenly start posting completely different topics or stop posting all together, it is only a matter of time before you lose your hard earned following.
Having trouble staying on top of your Instagram posts? Here’s a resource on building a social media content calendar
2. Have a Strategic Posting Schedule
This goes hand in hand with consistency. You don’t want to just post whenever you feel like it. At least not when it comes to growing your business account! You need be strategic with your posting schedule.
Don’t listen to anyone who says there’s a “magic time” to post without seeing some data specific to your target audience. Noon on Thursdays isn’t going to work for everyone!
Your ideal posting times will depend on your target audience and their Instagram viewing habits. Your goal is to find out when your audience is most active, and craft your post schedule accordingly.
Here are two ways to determine when you should publish posts for more organic Instagram followers:
Look at your Instagram analytics to determine when your current following is most active.
Log in, go to your Instagram business profile, and click the “hamburger menu” in the top right (it’s the three lines). You should see an “Insights” option. If you don’t, you may need to troubleshoot your business page.
Checking out your insights will help you see when your followers are active on Instagram and give you a window of time that your posts will likely reach your desired audience.
This isn’t an exact science, so test out a few posting times to see what sticks. And review your insights regularly! As time passes, you’ll get more data and can adjust your strategy.
View similar profiles with high engagement rates to see their posting schedule.
Do some digging and find successful accounts that your target audience already follows. What type of content do they post, and how often? What time do they usually post, and does it vary depending on the day?
We’re not suggesting you copy someone else’s strategy. Just get some insight on what’s working for other people, and use what you learn to build a strategy of your own.
3. Make a good first impression with your profile
The first things visitors see on your Instagram page are your profile picture, username, bio, and story highlights. We’re going to run through our recommendations for each.
Tips for choosing an Instagram profile image:
- It’s a high quality image.
Whether it’s a photo or a logo, make sure it’s not pixellated.
- It fits the circle crop.
This is really common to see with logos. Check out this example:
- It’s not too hard to see at small sizes.
If you’re using a really detailed photo of your storefront or the full tagline version of your logo, you’re making it difficult for your Instagram audience to see. Choose an image that’s clear, bold, and easy to identify.
- It’s the same on all platforms.
Consistency is key! You want your audience to easily identify you no matter what platform they’re on.
Tips for choosing an Instagram username:
- It’s easy to memorize.
Avoid initials, special characters, or letter/number combinations. The shorter the better – keep it simple! What’s easier to remember – @myinstagramname or @myinstagram.nam3?
- It’s the same on all platforms.
You want your audience to be able to find you on all the social networks with only one name.
- It matches your business name.
This one probably goes without saying! Our ideal Instagram username isn’t always available, but get as close as you can to your actual company name and people will have an easier time finding you.
Tips for writing your Instagram bio:
- Optimize your name for searches.
Instagram considers the name field in search queries. Make sure yours is optimized with your name and/or a searchable keyword.
- Get your purpose across at a glance.
Describe what you do, and who you do it for. Keep it brief and scannable.
- Consider adding a hashtag or mention.
Instagram gave us this ability in 2018. You can add your brand’s hashtag(s) to your Instagram bio, or even tag other accounts.
- Add your contact information
Business accounts can add email, phone, and address to their bio without any taking up any character space.
- Get creative
Use emojis for bulleted lists, or to draw attention to CTAs. More ideas from Later here.
Tips for creating story highlights:
- Use short titles.
One or two words is enough. Any more than that and visitors won’t be able to read them.
- Customize your highlight covers.
Branded covers that help identify the content of each highlight are a great way to get a polished profile fast.
- Highlight relevant stories.
Unlike Instagram Stories that disappear a day, highlights can live permanently on your profile. Don’t pin highlights that won’t be relevant after tomorrow.
Your Instagram feed theme is another important factor to consider.
Be sure that each of your posts follows your brand’s story and aesthetic. Since Instagram is a visual platform, you don’t want to show users a mismatched, chaotic profile.
4. Utilize relevant Instagram #hashtags
If you aren’t using hashtags on your posts, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to expand your brand’s visibility.
However, you don’t want to add any ol’ hashtag just for the sake of hashtagging. It comes across as spammy and hurts your brand’s credibility. Use hashtags that are relevant to both your post and your audience.
There are a few popular hashtag strategies to try. Perhaps the most popular is the Staircase or Ladder strategy. It involves using a combo of low and high-traffic hashtags on each post, and measuring your results.
5. Understand your audience
When it comes to marketing your account, you don’t want to make the mistake of trying to appeal to everybody.
Identify your target audience. What brands do they follow and engage with? How do they interact with their friend group or colleagues?
Once you understand your target audience, you’ll have a clearer picture of what type of content you should post on your account to get their attention and more organic followers.
6. Engage with your community
Make connections by going outside your own feed and browsing relevant hashtags or locations. Like and comment on other people’s posts. Don’t go overboard – be authentic. You can build authority and credibility by actively participating in discussions on Instagram, but only if you’re being genuine.
By interacting with your online community, you’re also increasing your visibility. You can gain a lot of organic followers on Instagram by leaving your mark on relevant posts. Users will see your name and comment, and are likely to visit your profile if they’re participating on the same post.
Engage with your followers as well on your own page. Like and reply to their comments! This is fun for them and makes them feel like they are a part of your community. As a bonus, the more comments and interactions you get, the more your profile is pushed to the top of people’s feeds.
7. Post on your Instagram stories
Instagram stories are a proven method of increasing your visibility and engagement with followers. Not only can you add polls and questions for them to answer, you are more likely to get direct messages from followers due to you posting.
But stories aren’t just for followers – you can tag other users, your location, and add hashtags to reach a broader audience.
Stories are a simple way to grow your Instagram account organically. Be sure to add it o your marketing strategy ASAP.
8. Run promotions and contests
If there was a magic formula for organic Instagram growth, running contests and promotions would be crowned King (or Queen, your choice).
People love to win things and you can use this to your advantage. You can offer free or discounted services and/or products in exchange for a user tagging their friends and following the brand account.
Set your goals, plan your promotion, and measure your results. Do this once every month or couple of months and you will be amazed at how quickly your account has grown.
A quick disclaimer here – there are rules involving giveaways and contests. Make sure you understand what you’re allowed to do, and how you need to word things before you post. It’s best to consult a legal professional, especially if you’re marketing anything age-restricted like alcohol or tobacco.
9. Encourage followers IRL
Don’t hide behind your phone! Promote your page offline as well as online.
Get organic followers by talking to people in real life and encouraging them to visit your Instagram. Add your username to marketing materials, too.
Did you know Instagram also gives you a QR code for your page? This scannable code makes it so people don’t have to type and search for your brand. You can add this to your packaging, business cards, signage, ads, or wherever you think it would make the most sense.
It’s not easy to grow an Instagram account organically, but it’s worth it.
While it may seem like a lot of work to grow your Instagram organically, you’ll find that the hard work pays off in the long run. Not only can you rest easy knowing you won’t risk potentially getting banned off of the platform, you’ll have a loyal audience eager to consume your content.
Looking for a good social media publishing tool to help you take your Instagram strategy to the next level? Check out the social media management tool we recommend.