• Updated Aug 2020 | Paige

How to Organically Grow Your Instagram Account

According to Hootsuite Instagram statistics, one billion people use Instagram everyday. And of Instagram’s 1 billion monthly active users, more than 500 million of them use the platform every day. So there are plenty of people using the platform that could be following you! For more detailed demographic information on who is using Instagram, check out The Marketing Helpline's 120+ Instagram Stats and Facts.

It may seem like no matter what you do, it is getting more and more difficult to grow your Instagram account these days. This sometimes leads people or businesses to want to buy followers but please do NOT resort to this. Buying followers may increase your follower count, but it will hurt your engagement, may get your account disabled, can reduce the visibility of your content and will not assist you in finding your ideal followers or customers. Any sort of bot is a big no-no and should not be used on your account, as they are against Instagram's policies but are also annoying, quite obvious and won't help you in the long run.

In this post, I will outline 8 ways to organically grow your Instagram! This means no bots and no buying followers.

1. Video

Use videos on your instagram, whether it is with IGTV, instagram stories, live videos, adding highlights to your profile and/or adding video posts. Videos allow you to tell and share a story that sometimes just is not possible in a photo.

There are so many options for what you can include in a video, that you can always be posting something fresh and new. Ask your audience questions, whether it is about your product or service, or if it is just asking them what they want to see you posting on your account. Share in your stories that you have an awesome new post up. Having a staff event at work? Show some behind the scenes footage of the event. Use boomerangs to show a quick, fun clip. Want to give your audience some quick tips, advice or teach them something? Make a short video tutorial to explain. Use polls to help make a decision.

With so many options, your videos can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as 60 minutes. Figure out what goals you want your videos to accomplish, and start creating!

2. Hashtags

Take advantage of hashtags on your posts. You can use a maximum of 30 per post, which is an easy way that people are able to find your posts, but you don't have to use all 30 of them. Use hashtags that are related to your content and brand, and that describe your photo and location. You can post the hashtags either at the end of your caption or in a comment.

Find hashtags that have less posts in them. For example, rather than using a hashtag like #travel that has over 400 million posts, try something more specific like #pentictonbc that has 28K posts. This will help your posts to rank higher, making it more likely or easier to get into the top posts than it would be using a hashtag with millions of posts. It will also help target your audience that are looking for content related to the hashtag.

Check out your followers and their accounts or other accounts that are similar to yours, and see what hashtags they are using. Switch up the hashtags that you are using, rather than keeping the same ones on every single post, to ensure they are relevant and related to the content in the post. Follow relevant hashtags, just like you'd follow another account, to see the type of content that others posting.

3. Consistency

There is no perfect number for how many times you should post on your instagram each week. As a general guideline, try to post a minimum of 3 times per week to keep your engagement up. The best schedule for your content is whatever works best for you! Whether that is 1 post every day, 1 post every other day, 1 post each day from Monday to Friday, every 2 days, etc. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Your insights are a great place to find the best time to post for your account based on when your followers are active and engaging with your content. To find your insights, go to your profile, click on the hamburger menu in the top right and select insights. The content shows your posts and stories and how many times they were seen. Activity shows the days that you have the most interactions (profile visits, website clicks, phone calls, directions) and the days your account is discovered most (reach and impressions). Lastly, the audience shows the top locations and when your followers are most active, so you can decide when the best days and times to post are.

If you use an app like Hootsuite or Buffer, it is easy to schedule your posts in advance for the next week or month. Other apps like Preview, Plann, or Planoly not only allow you to schedule them in advance but they also show you what your feed will look like once the photos are posted. So you can re-arrange posts and design them in a way that looks best.

Plann Desktop Feed

4. Post What Your Audience Wants

Again, using your insights is very helpful for this! You can use them to find out which posts perform the best, those that get the most likes, comments, shares, profile visits, saves, etc. You can filter by top posts for the last 7 days, 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 2 years. Are your top posts videos? Are they taken at a particular location? Were they all posted around the same time of day or day of week? Use this to determine what your audience engages with the most and keep posting content similar to that.

All the apps listed above also allow you to view different analytics such as competitor analytics, engagement rates and more.

5. Engage

It is called "social" media for a reason! Engage with your followers by responding to comments on your posts, and like and comment on other accounts. Don't just use 1 or 2 word comments like "great photo" or "love this" as they tend to look spammy and aren't very genuine. Ask a question about their post, comment about something specific or give your opinion. Ask questions in your caption as well, to start the conversation. If you like and comment on accounts that are similar to yours and have the same audience, it can help your account get more exposure to your target audience.

You don't have to follow an account just because they followed you, but you should follow accounts that interest you and whose content relates to you or that you enjoy. View others' stories and reply to them with emoji reactions or comments. Respond back to messages if someone replies to your story or sends you a DM.

6. Tagging

Tag the geo-location of your photos and tag any relevant accounts on the post as well. If you are at an instagrammable location, somewhere that is beautiful or unique, others may want to find out where the photo was taken and visit it themselves so geo-tagging helps them find these spots. Your photo will also show up if someone is searching that location.

If you are at a local coffee shop, for example, not only can you geo-tag their location, but you can also tag their account on your photo. This way, you will show up in their tagged photos too, and they may share your content to again get it seen by a larger audience! If someone wants to share your content, be sure to get them to tag your account as well!

Not only should you be tagging your posts, but when you are posting a story, use stickers to add the location, a hashtag or tag an account.

Instagram Story Tagging Options

7. Influencer marketing & UGC

Working with an influencer or account with a huge following can give your account a boost, if their followers are also your target audience. Most often an influencer will either ask for a fee or you will have to provide them with your product or service in exchange for them posting about it.

On the other side, if you want to re-post the content from an influencer or collaborate and exchange posts with another account, ask if you can share and be sure to tag their account and give them credit for the photo.

UGC or user generated content is another easy way to build the content you have available to post. If you have a branded hashtag, add it to your profile and ask people to use the hashtag when they are posting about your product, brand, service, etc. Consistently check the hashtag to see posts that have used it and confirm with them you can re-share their post on your account, with credit to them.

If someone tags you in a story, you have the option to re-post it to your account. This is a great way to add stories when you don't have your own content to share at that moment.

8. Share Your Account

Share your Instagram handle and hashtag anywhere you can. Add it to your website and email signature, share your brand hashtag in your marketing materials and use the same hashtag across social channels. Ask your followers to tag your account and use your hashtag when sharing posts about your company. If you have a blog, use your Instagram posts within the blog, to enhance the post and to direct your blog audience to your Instagram.

Growing your account will take time and patience, so don't expect your account to double overnight and don't resort to tactics such as using bots or buying followers. Spend a bit of time each day working these into your Instagram strategy and see how much your account can grow this year!

How have you organically grown your instagram account? Any tips I missed here, comment below!

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