Looking for organic Instagram growth tactics?
With more than 300 million active monthly users, Instagram still offers businesses the opportunity to reach new users without buying ads.
In this article, you’ll discover 10 organic tactics used by top Instagram marketers to gain more Instagram followers.
Tips From Sue B. Zimmerman
@SueBZimmerman, a featured speaker and recognized Instagram expert, started her Instagram accounts five years ago. Here are the organic tactics she’s used to amass an audience of over 40K followers on two separate accounts.
To start with, you need to post consistently. While the average Instagram account posts once per day, more successful accounts (like Sue’s) tend to post more frequently. Choose a frequency you can hold to.
As you begin to receive comments and questions on your posts, be sure to respond to everyone who engages.
You’ll also want to find and engage with others who post content related to your business, industry, or brand. You can find these users by checking hashtags that are relevant to your interests and brand, or by viewing the followers of your favorite accounts.
As you engage with others, don’t simply like the photos or leave generic comments. Comments like “Nice pic!” won’t leave an impression or inspire someone to check out your account. If you want to gain a new follower, leave thoughtful comments that have some heart!
Ready for some pro tips?
#1: Cross-promote to Gain Followers
If you have a blog or are on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat, you’ll want to broadcast and amplify the fact that you’re also on Instagram.
For example, take a screenshot of your Instagram account and share it on Facebook along with a link to your Instagram page. Or simply share your Instagram username in the post and ask your followers to follow you on Instagram.
#2: Add Emojis to Boost Discoverability
Emojis are the universal language on Instagram. In fact, Instagram reports that nearly 50% of all captions and comments on Instagram now have an emoji or two.
Because emojis are searchable on Instagram as both a hashtag or in your user name, people can find you based on which emoji you use.
For example, if you’re a photographer and include the camera emoji in your bio, a stranger who’s looking for a photographer by running a search for the camera emoji just might find you.
#3: Create a Photo Theme to Reinforce Familiarity
Instagram is akin to a digital magazine, so curate content that shares a similar theme or vibe. For example, crop all of your images the same way, post pictures of the same subject matter, or use the same filter on all of your photos.
#4: Add Hashtags to Gain Traction
The right hashtags can expose your images to a large targeted audience. You can add up to 30 hashtags, and interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.
Looking for supplemental hashtags? You can use Hashtagify to find hashtags that are relevant and related to your business. Simply type in a major hashtag from an already-popular post and see which of the resulting related hashtags you can add to your post to bring in new traffic.
Alternatively, you can search Instagram for one of your hashtags and look at the Top Posts results to see which hashtags others are using in their own posts. If you go this route, don’t copy and paste the string of hashtags from a post. Stay relevant to your audience and use only the hashtags that make sense.
#5: Use Audience Preferences to Inform Your Content Strategy
It’s important to go back through your photos periodically to see which posts got the most likes and comments. This helps you serve up more of what your followers are interested in and weed out the types of posts that don’t perform well.
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You can use a tool like Iconosquare to streamline this process and incorporate what you learn in your future posts and Instagram stories.
Tips From KK Fashions
@KKFashions, an Instagram clothing shop, boasts 15K engaged followers. Here’s what Kimberly Kniep has done to more than double her following organically over the past year.
Kimberly echoes Sue’s advice about maintaining an overall look for your account, posting consistently, and using popular hashtags to bring in more legitimate followers.
For example, if you’re a shop owner, post new items on a weekly basis so your followers have a reason to check back and see what might be available for them. Also add hashtags like #shopaholic, #fashionista, #shopig, #retailtherapy, etc.
As you work each of the following tips into your marketing, you’ll find that they combine to create a snowball effect that produces more followers with each cycle.
#6: Offer “Share for Shares” to Boost Exposure
This is a tactic you can use every day or potentially several times a day to form connections with similar businesses on Instagram and reach their followers. You offer to share an account or a product post that’s relevant to your own brand and your partner agrees to do the same for you.
#7: Run Giveaways to Attract New Followers
To bring in new followers and give your current followers something to look forward to, set up frequent giveaways. At the close of your giveaway, encourage recipients to tag you in an Instagram post that shows what they won. Every winner’s post will expose your brand and account to even more potential followers.
Tips From Brilliant Liu
Brilliant Liu is the founder of @house.of.leaders, a popular Instagram account with more than 267K followers. Here’s a few tips on how she grew her highly engaged Instagram account in a little over a year.
#8: Craft a Bio to Clarify Your Purpose
It’s simple but important to create an Instagram bio that describes you and tells people why they should follow you and what they can expect to see.
#9: Create Quote Graphics to Reach New Users Through Shares
Sharing quotes in images on Instagram isn’t an unheard-of tactic, but it’s important to post only high-quality pictures and take time to select quotes that are relevant and meaningful to your target audience. And don’t forget to give attribution if you take the quote from someone else!
As you match images to quotes, choose a visual that elicits an emotion central to the theme of the quote. When your quote resonates, the shares will grow and you’ll reach new users.
#10: Pay It Forward to Increase Exposure
An effective tactic that can help you build a network faster is to promote others. Post an image with a statement or a question on it, and then tag a specific follower. Ask for his or her input in the comments and include a reminder to tag another user for input.
As the image is tagged over and over, you’ll be seen by a wider group of potential followers from around the world.
Want more like this? Explore Instagram for Business!
While gaining followers on many social platforms can feel like an uphill battle, Instagram is a surprisingly easy place to create a quality following no matter what type of account you manage. Each of the Instagram accounts above is vastly different from the others, but they’ve all managed to build large, engaged audiences of loyal followers.
The way you engage with people on Instagram, and how you answer and motivate them, can help your Instagram account grow. When you help other people, they’ll tell their friends to follow you.
To spark meaningful engagement that turns passive users into loyal followers, take the time to create posts designed to open someone’s mind. As people ask questions, give each person a thoughtful response that moves him or her forward in some way.
Start by adding one or two of these tactics into your own Instagram marketing and see what works for you.
What do you think? Which tactic will you try first? Share your thoughts in the comments below.