Social media platforms have revolutionized the way companies approach their marketing strategies in the last decade. They have also paved the way for individuals looking to promote themselves by building their personal brands and becoming influencers.
Instagram is by far the top social media platform used nowadays. It is so for many reasons but in particular because it drives a lot more engagement from followers than other platforms. More than double or triple the engagement depending on the brand’s industry.
Brands with a lot of followers on Instagram can better engage their audience, increase traffic to their websites, get higher conversion rates, and, in the end, get more profit. And that’s big!
But, competition is also big. 25 million businesses are fighting for Instagram followers. To get more followers on Instagram and encourage their followers’ engagement, brands need to stay ahead in the social media game. Navigating all the Instagram trends, best practices, and strict guidelines can be difficult since they are intricate and frequently updated and changed.
Some brands choose easy strategies like paying for likes and followers. However, that doesn’t get them far because paid likes don’t convert and the Instagram algorithm periodically blocks or gets rid of accounts that have a low quality and engagement rate. So, investing in a strategy that will track your Instagram followers and grow them organically is a much better game you can play for your brand and get results long term.
To get more followers on Instagram for free the organic way, follow these failsafe guidelines in our Complete Guide to Getting More Followers on Instagram and you will see results.
Why Instagram Matters?
If you are reading this post, I do not have to persuade you, but still, let’s have a look at some interesting data.
It is the second most used social media site and it boasts over 1 billion monthly active users? But it’s not only that. How about because 600 million users are active daily and 90% of them follow the account of at least one business? Imagine being able to snatch up and convert at least a fraction of these users.
60% of Instagram users say they use it to discover new products and 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram stories are those posted by business accounts. So, the potential for businesses on Instagram is amazing. Instagram followers are particularly great if you are targeting a younger audience. 33.8% of Instagram users are aged between 25 to 34 years, while the second largest group is the one aged between 18-24.
Have you heard the recent news? Warner bought an Instagram meme page Daquan for $85 million. Sure, the company that they bought has many other digital assets, but Daquan is one of the most prominent ones. If you are wondering why they did it, read a bit about the reasons behind the success of Old Town Road. I will wrap it up for you. If you have a following on Instagram or TikTok, you can make anything viral. So you sign an artist and make him/her the trend of this year through your online following. Sounds good right?
Every Instagram account has to start from that first follower before it reaches the 15 million that Daquan has. In this post, we will go over some of the best tips to get the ball rolling.
That said, it would be easier to list the reasons why getting more followers on Instagram is not important. Although we probably wouldn’t find any.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to seeing what strategies you can use to get more followers on Instagram fast and free.
But first, some words of wisdom:
Don’t Jump the Gun
Before you take out the selfie ring and buy any fancy photo and video equipment, make sure you have a clear strategy. A clear Instagram strategy should include things like:
- Knowing your audience – so you know what type of content to create and what trends to follow.
- Creating a brand story and a brand aesthetic – to be consistent and set up a brand image.
- A content calendar – to keep your audience engaged with regular and consistent content.
Don’t skip this preliminary step if you’re just starting on Instagram. It will help you create quality content that is guaranteed to push your page to the top and attract more Instagram followers for your brand.
If you are already on Instagram, make sure the content you post is on-trend, high-quality, and, most importantly, consistent with your image and with what your followers want.
Ok, now we can move on to the actual tips on how to get followers on Instagram…
1. Make the Most of Your Bio
Think of your profile and bio as your Instagram business card. You want it to be clear, look interesting, and inspire people to engage with you or your brand. Use the profile and bio as your best chance to sell your profile to potential followers and let them know what they can get if they follow your account.
Use all the available fields and provide accurate, clear information. List your contact information, so people can reach you effortlessly. Don’t forget to add a link to your website to drive traffic and keep things fresh by alternating the pages you link to depending on what your current posts are about.
For instance, if you promote a specific product on your website, you can use the link in the bio to direct people straight to the landing page of that same product instead of taking them to the home page and having them wander around aimlessly. If you do not have a special space, you can create a subpage easily with a landing page builder. Create the page to meet the visitors’ expectations and see what they expect to increase your conversion.
We also recommend using branded, short links in your Instagram Profile Bio. Branded links can increase click-through rates by up to 39% and since your Instagram Profile is the only available spot for links we recommend a tool like Rebrandly URL shortener that brands, shortens and tracks your links. (Note: Instagram Stories allows branded links as well but only if you have a business account with over 10k followers.)
Before we move into the main tips, we would like to share a couple of suggestions on the overall profile design. You may think that you have to be a pro-photographer to be successful on Instagram but that is not true at all. If there is one thing that you need, it is consistency all the other things are taken care of. Let’s check the tips.
When uploading pictures to your profile, you can take them directly with your camera and use some filters on them. But that does not stop here, check out services like Canva. Even with their free account, you will have access to many great Instagram templates:
If you are skilled in Photoshop, that is of course also an option, but maybe it is just too complex for such simple tasks.
Canva has an array of pictures that you can use, if you are looking for some additional sources of free images check Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay. There are many more resources to choose from, these just seem to be great choices from personal experience. You can also get videos from these platforms.
If you will need music for a video (story, IGTV) you can download some free music from Youtube Studio or head to Archive.org and check for creative commons audio there.
It all depends on your strategy, but if you want to post each 3 hours (for example) and have all the pictures ready (because you are posting motivational quotes on a nice background, or just have an inventory of great memes for your theme account) you might want to consider a scheduler about which we will talk later in this post.
Don’t Sell Too Hard
Instagram is a social platform. While the audience might be in the buying mood they did not open the app to be bombarded with links to affiliate websites. You are doing this for a purpose, sure, but do not go crazy on the promotion.
Think of it as a marathon rather than as a sprint. There is a quick buck to be made, sure. But the more aggressive you are with ads, the more followers and engagement you will lose. It is much more profitable to post links and shoutouts to a 1 million audience every second day for 24h, then to post ads 2x a day on a 100 000 followers audience. Not mentioning the hassle with setting all up.
2. Focus on Content that Can Be Shared and Featured
Think about it for a moment. What kind of content do people appreciate? What type of content attracts the most Instagram followers? It’s content that is visually engaging. The main idea behind Instagram is to tell stories using only images and hashtags. It’s all about being visually attractive.
So, creating high-quality content is the first and most important rule you need to follow to have your content shared and featured. It’s the best way to get more free followers on Instagram.
Next, focus on giving Instagram users and your followers content they will want more of. Make it catchy, appealing, inspire them to become engaged with your brand. Post comment-worthy pieces, tell stories with your captions and hashtags. Make your content shareable.
When you create content that is useful, memorable or is inspirational, people will be motivated to re-share it either on their profile or in their Instagram Stories. This way, anyone who is interested to know more about your original post click through to find it.
Making shareable content will not only drive your engagement rate that, in turn, will boost your reach. It will also help expose your brand to more potential followers that you wouldn’t otherwise get to.
High quality, shareable content also has great potential to be curated and added to feature accounts. Don’t know what they are? They are niche Instagram accounts that use hashtags to filter through and select relevant content that they simply re-share. Many feature accounts have massive amounts of followers and getting featured is a great way to boost your reach organically.
That being said, virality is a tricky thing in social media. This is the most shared photo on Instagram:
But everything has a reason. At the time, the World Egg Record Instagram page made a call asking the users to:
As you can imagine there are a lot of people who joined this call. At the time of this post, this Instagram photo has nearly 60 million likes, and the page itself has 6 million followers. They have 114 posts in total.
So you can see that even content that seems to not make any sense may go viral. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It is so ridiculous and so contrarian to the Kylie Jenner record-holding picture (actual Instagram post):
That you see that “the Egg” was at the right place at the right time.
3. Planning and Consistency Are Key
To keep your existing followers engaged and ensure the Instagram algorithm has reasons to boost your content’s reach, you will have to stay consistent.
Remember the content calendar we mentioned above? It can help keep you on track and it will also allow you to properly schedule posts depending on any new products you are launching or any events you are planning.
Let’s say it’s spring and you are planning to launch a new beauty product in the fall, for example. You will want to make the most of the time between now and then and you can use well-scheduled content to hype up your product.
You can start your promotion weeks in advance with some teasers. Then, you can follow up with even more descriptive teasers closer to the launch date. Finally, you can post content that promotes the product and informs people of the actual launch date.
Remember the Daquan deal? Well, the guys behind curated content and also posted up to 10 memes a day of their own content. 10 a day, each and every day for many years.
A content calendar will help you plan and keep you and your posts organized. It will also help you keep your content fresh and allow you to spice things up every now and then to balance the variety of your posts.
If you want to take it one step further, you may use Tailwind. This platform has a feature of Instagram post scheduling.
4. Know Your Hashtags and Cross-Market Them
Instagram search allows users to use hashtags to find relevant posts. So, using the right hashtags need to be an important part of your strategy to get more free followers on Instagram.
Instagram also gives users the option of following a specific hashtag, which means that your content can make it to their feed even before they start following your account. It’s a great feature that you need to put some research into so you can determine which hashtags work best for your brand and your goals.
The 30 hashtags Instagram allows you to use in one post means you have plenty of room to include a variety of hashtags from very specific to more general ones. By trying different strategies of order and hierarchy for your hashtags, you can find out which one was the most efficient and brought you the most followers. Then, keep doing it.
Hashtags have become so popular that they are no longer used only on Instagram. Hashtags are now used on promotional materials like t-shirts and on product packaging. Make your hashtag a part of all your marketing strategies both online and offline to attract new Instagram followers through every channel.
5. Invest Time in Your Captions
Don’t go thinking that just because Instagram is all about images (and now videos) what you write under your post will go unnoticed. Just like the hashtags, captions carry a lot of weight. First of all, they can totally transform your post from drab to fab.
Before you decide what your caption should be, keep in mind that Instagram only shows 125 characters of a caption. Users will only be able to see the rest of it if they click “more”. So, make sure you capture the heart of your caption in the first 125 characters for maximum effect and for inspiring users to click that “more button”.
You can go up to 2,200 characters, but short and catchy is usually the best way to go. If you want more, you can spice the text up with emojis and sprinkle the hashtags in the text instead of adding them as a list at the end of the caption.
6. Become Part of the Conversation
One of the best practices to use to get more followers on Instagram is staying relevant. You can do so by following trending hashtags and looking out for any popular conversations you can become part of. This will increase your visibility and your chances of attracting more followers.
Being a part of the conversation also means you mustn’t forget what your brand’s social media accounts are all about. And that is dialogue. The whole point of brands being on social media is that they can be transparent about who they are and what they are about and they can engage with their fans at a more intimate level.
The main reason followers follow brands is to be able to reach them directly and express their appreciation, concerns, or ask questions. Make sure you stay on top of this and are responsive and open enough to keep the conversation going and encourage followers and Instagram users to join in. This will make all the difference and can set your brand apart as well as convert leads and get you more Instagram followers.
The only thing that is even better than becoming part of the conversation is starting the conversation yourself. Social media is all about brands engaging with their followers so why not build on that and engage in dialogue full on.
7. Try a Referral Contest of a Giveaway
Lately, a strategy surfaced that is gaining popularity and it is partnering with Instagram influencers (which would be nothing new) and creating a giveaway with them.
These influencer giveaways are pretty simple. You partner with an account with followers, and they make content where their followers have to follow your account and one of the new followers will be chosen to get the prize.
This is not a completely organic tactic but has proved to be quite valuable and brings interesting results. Just be sure to make the contest fair and really give the prize away to someone.
Quick tip. When looking for influencer accounts to reach out to you can message them directly, this seems to be the best way. But (talking from experience) a lot of them will not even see your message as they get tons of them per day.
- When writing a DM, make sure that the first couple of words clearly states why you are messaging them. Because the recipient will see only that before they click the message. It will help the message stand out.
- Get the emails (which are frequently in the bio or on their website) put them in a list and launch an automated outreach to save time.
8. “Partner Up“
You know the saying – If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together? Guess what works for Instagram too.
Since we started the influencer topic in the previous section. One of the simplest ways to get some additional followers is the “I promote you, you promote me” strategy. Your account should already be of some size. It has to be at least comparable to the second party that you want to collaborate with.
If you have a smaller account, maybe you have some other value proposition. Maybe you have a stronger Twitter presence or have something else to barter with.
9. Take Advantage of All the Features
In its own attempt to keep users interested in the platform, Instagram regularly introduces new features. Learning how to take advantage of these features can help you get ahead of the pack and get more followers on Instagram organically. Here is a shortlist of Instagram features you’ll need to stay on top of to get more engagement and followers:
Username and Keywords
Users can find you on Instagram by username if they search for accounts or via hashtag if they search for hashtags. To secure a top position, you’ll need to take out your bag of search engine tricks. This means you’ll have to add your keyword to your username. Let’s take an example. If you sell shoes and your brand’s name is John Doe, your Instagram username should be @johndoeshoes. Easy, right
Tag relevant Instagram users. Tagging increases the likelihood that the person you tagged will engage with your post and share it on their own profile, increasing your reach and visibility. You can also use tags the other way around. Ask relevant users to tag your account to their posts to get a chance to reach new audiences.
Stories and Highlights
Instagram stories are very popular and they are very good at driving engagement and increasing conversion rates. 500 million accounts use stories on a daily basis and 45% of the most-viewed Instagram stories are posted by businesses. Stories are a great tool you can use to get more followers on Instagram.
You can add all sorts of interactive features on Instagram stories. You can do polls, use chat stickers, and use all kinds of crazy and fun stickers. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for your brand.
Explore the Explore Tab
Instagram’s Explore tab is available at the bottom of the app, in the form of a magnifying glass icon. It shows users photos and videos they might like posted by accounts they don’t yet follow. The Instagram algorithm chooses the grid contents based on accounts or posts the user has interacted with before. Getting on the grid can be a bit tricky, but it’s well worth it to explore how to make the most out of this feature for your account.
Try Instagram Live and IGTV
Instagram live is becoming more and more popular, as is IGTV that is changing the face of Instagram from static images to moving images. It’s one of the best ways to boost engagement and interact directly with your Instagram followers. It’s also a great way to attract more followers if you co-host a video with another account.
Once an Instagram Live is done, you can just forget about it or make it available for another 24 hours for anyone who wants to replay it. You can also add an Instagram Live to IGTV. IGTV is great if you plan to post longer videos since it allows you to post videos as long as one hour.
At the end of it all, there is only one sure way to get followers on Instagram – stay consistent and committed. You just have to keep at it.
You might try a couple of approaches and they will not work for you. No big deal. You are not looking for strategies that do not work, you are looking for ones that do. Remember, it only takes one strategy that will work for your particular niche and account to get the ball rolling.
Instagram has become a very competitive place. It will take time, and a lot of work to get the numbers you are looking for. Each day when you put in the hours and move forward, somewhere, somebody stops trying. Keep pushing forward.