Want to know how to get your first 1,000 Instagram followers? Wondering what to post to attract your ideal target audience?
In this article, you’ll discover a step-by-step strategy to speed up your Instagram audience growth without paying for followers.
What Marketers Should Know About Growing Instagram Audiences
Launching a new Instagram account can be a daunting process. Ideally, you want to start attracting followers as quickly as possible so you can generate engagement and meet marketing goals. But how much do followers really matter and why can’t you buy them?
Do Instagram Follower Numbers Matter?
You may have heard that audience size is a vanity metric for marketers or that follower numbers don’t really matter on social media. Although it’s true that these numbers shouldn’t be your end goal for Instagram, audience growth is an important metric to measure.
Here are a few reasons to get your first 1,000 followers and then aim to keep growing:
- Having more Instagram followers typically means more opportunities to get engagement. That generally leads to better reach for Instagram posts, which can help you grow your account even more.
- A larger audience means better brand awareness and more customers in your sales funnel, which can lead to meeting revenue and other key goals.
- A bigger following can serve as social proof to customers and help you land collaborations with other brands.
As you can see, Instagram audience size is important as a path to more significant goals. As you take steps to grow your following, make sure to track other metrics that matter to your business—such as engagement and clicks—so you can make measurable progress toward all of your goals.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Instagram Followers
When you’re starting an Instagram account from scratch, it’s normal to want to grow quickly. To reach your goals faster, you might even be tempted to buy followers on Instagram. However, buying followers should never be part of your Instagram growth plan. Here’s why:
- Artificially collecting followers (and engagement) is against the Instagram Community Guidelines. That means buying followers can lead to getting your account banned.
- Fake followers might look good on paper but they don’t lead to real engagement or buy from your business. They won’t help you reach the goals that really matter.
So what should you do instead? Use the tips below to streamline organic Instagram growth or run Instagram ads to promote your profile and acquire followers legitimately.
How to Grow a New Instagram Audience Quickly
Ready to grow your Instagram audience? Follow these steps to start attracting more followers now.
#1: Improve Your Instagram Profile Visibility
Before you publish your first Instagram post, story, or reel, take a few minutes to complete your profile setup. Optimizing your profile can help it appear in search and it can also inspire your target audience to follow you when they spot your profile or content. Naturally, an incomplete profile probably won’t attract many followers.
Start by fine-tuning your Instagram display name. In addition to including your brand name, consider adding a short tagline or a brief description of what your business does. Use keywords that your audience is likely to search for while still sounding human and relatable.
Then use your Instagram bio to add more keyword-driven information about your business. Your bio is also a great place to share social proof like an award you’ve won, the number of happy customers you’ve served, or names of notable companies that do business with you.
In your bio, you can add branded hashtags to help new followers find more of your content or even submit their own user-generated content. But don’t worry about adding non-branded hashtags to your bio, as they won’t help your profile appear in in-app searches.
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#2: Plan a Series of Introductory Instagram Posts
Next, create content that’s likely to resonate with customers and get them to follow your account. Since an empty grid won’t help you attract followers, plan a series of introductory posts to publish right away. For example, you might introduce your business, your line of products and services, and your team.
Don’t worry too much about the timing of these posts. Choose a time during business hours and publish to your Instagram profile. Once you attract followers and post regularly, your Instagram account insights can help you pinpoint when your audience is online and the best time to post.
#3: Add Relevant Hashtags to Posts
Hashtags aren’t a magic solution for exponential reach or follower growth. But they can help increase visibility and get your brand on potential followers’ radar. That’s because hashtags add context to your posts and help Instagram understand what your content is about. This allows the platform to deliver content to a more relevant audience.
When you add hashtags to Instagram content, you also have a chance to get your posts and reels to appear in related hashtag feeds or on related hashtag pages. For best results, follow Instagram’s official recommendation to use three to five hashtags per post or reel and a branded hashtag, and then measure the results.
Although Instagram’s in-app insights don’t provide analytics for individual hashtags, you can see results for specific posts. If you only add a few hashtags to each post, you can gradually determine which hashtags drive the best results for your account.
#4: Geotag Your Instagram Content
When you want to attract a local audience, Instagram geotags can also help you get on the radar of the right potential customers. Start by researching local geotags. Type the name of your region, town, or neighborhood into Instagram’s search bar to find the best one to use (i.e., one with relevant recent activity).
It’s okay to mix up your geotags with each post, as long as they’re relevant to your content. For example, if your business attends pop-up events at various locations, geotags are great for improving visibility.
#5: Establish a Recognizable Aesthetic
Now that Instagram has separate tabs for Reels and feeds for Stories, it’s easy to assume that the grid no longer matters. Although maintaining a beautifully designed grid isn’t as important as it once was, sticking to a recognizable aesthetic has never gone out of style. The more recognizable your brand is, the easier it is for customers to remember—and the more it stands out in a busy Instagram feed.
To make your aesthetic memorable, create a style guide for your Instagram content. Make note of the overall tone, color schemes, fonts, and filters to use for your content, as well as the templates to use for reels and stories.
#6: Use Compelling Calls to Action
No matter how much Instagram users like your content or your brand, they may not press the Follow button without seeing a specific prompt. Use calls to action (CTAs) in captions, creatives, and dialog to encourage viewers to follow your account.
Avoid empty CTAs that don’t offer potential followers anything of value. Instead, give them a compelling reason to follow—such as Instagram lives from your founder, a first look at your special offers, or exclusive content you don’t publish on any other channels.
#7: Drive Traffic From Other Channels
If you’ve already established a presence on other marketing channels, use them to attract followers on Instagram. For example, you can share a link to your Instagram account on Facebook or in an email. Include a CTA and give people a reason to follow you—perhaps to see unique content or access exclusive insights.
If your business has just launched, then you may truly be building brand awareness from scratch on Instagram. Regardless, it’s still helpful to add an Instagram link on your website so anyone who lands on it via an ad, an organic search, or a recommendation can easily find and follow your Instagram account.
#8: Recreate Content That Attracts Followers
The more content you create, the more data you can collect to guide your efforts. If you aren’t sure what kind of content to create next, use your Instagram insights as a guide. There are a couple of ways to figure out what’s working best.
Instagram insights reveal how many followers your account gained for every story and feed post you publish. To see this data, open the insights for any story or feed post and scroll down to the Profile Activity section. Look for the Follows metric to see how many new followers your post attracted.
Although the workflow above works for stories and feed posts, Instagram doesn’t provide these insights for reels. To get a better idea of which reels are attracting the most followers, use your account’s follower metrics to look for spikes.
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Then see if you can match up days that had big follower growth with particularly popular reels.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Instagram may recommend your content to people who don’t follow your account (yet) if they’re likely to enjoy it. Use your account insights to see which kinds of content typically get more non-follower reach. Then create more of it so you can reach non-followers and eventually convert them.
#9: Respond to Follower Engagement
When users take time to engage with your content, make a point to respond efficiently. After all, engagement and popularity are primary ranking signals for Instagram. The more engagement you get, the more you can improve visibility and grow your audience, which is especially important for small accounts.
If your team has limited resources for engagement, be strategic with your responses. Plan to be online and ready to respond in the first 30 minutes or so after you publish a post, reel, or story. If necessary, set up saved replies in Instagram so you can respond faster.
#10: Take a Proactive Approach to Engagement
While you wait for engagement to roll in, take time to interact with other creators’ content. When you engage with relevant accounts meaningfully—such as adding thoughtful comments—you can get your brand on their followers’ radar, too.
To streamline your outreach, create a list of brands that complement yours and influencers in your space. Add them to your Favorites list so you’re sure to see their content regularly. You can also opt to view your Favorites feed exclusively so you can engage even more efficiently.
#11: Collaborate With Complementary Brands
Struggling to get your content in potential followers’ feeds? Partner with more established brands to create collaborative content. For example, you can host a co-branded giveaway, make a recipe, or complete a project using both brands’ products.
When you publish the content on Instagram, use the app’s Collab tool. Once the other brand accepts your invitation, the content will automatically display on both accounts’ feeds, which can improve your brand’s visibility significantly.
#12: Partner With Influencers
Fellow brands aren’t your only option for partnerships. Partnering with influencers can be ideal for introducing your brand to a new audience and attracting new followers in your niche as long as your target customer aligns with the influencer’s audience.
To find influencers in your niche, use Instagram’s search bar or third-party influencer marketing tools to seek out and creators in your niche so you can follow and/or favorite them. Build relationships with them by engaging with their content before sending them a DM to work out a collaboration.
#13: Run Instagram Ads for Added Reach
If you have a limited budget for Instagram marketing, you can take the steps above to grow your audience at no cost. With an advertising budget, however, you may be able to build your audience even faster.
Technically, Instagram ads don’t offer an objective designed for follower growth. In Ads Manager, you can choose to run ads for Facebook page growth. But you won’t find an equivalent option for Instagram follows. Instead, your best bet is to use Instagram’s in-app Boost tool to encourage people to visit your profile and hopefully follow your account.
It’s important to note that running Instagram ads shouldn’t be your first or only step toward building your audience. A great ad might get people’s attention. But if your account has zero followers, minimal content, or an empty bio, those ads won’t get conversions. So it’s a good idea to try the steps above first and then supplement with targeted ads.
To set up an ad for Instagram follows, start by creating a great organic post that introduces your brand, showcases your products, and resonates with your target audience. It’s worth testing a few options to see what resonates with your current followers. Any organic post that exceeds your average engagement rate is a good candidate for this kind of ad.
Once you’ve decided on an organic post to promote, tap the Boost button and select More Profile Visits as the goal. Then create a target audience. If your hard work has already attracted an engaged audience, you can use the Automatic option to target people like your followers.
If your audience is too small to give Instagram many signals to work with, consider creating an interest- or location-based audience instead. Allow Instagram to target your local area or enter relevant interests. Then choose a timeframe and a budget.
As the ad runs, monitor the results to make sure the cost per follower fits with your marketing budget. Are you getting a lot of profile visits but not many followers? Consider updating your Instagram bio or publishing more organic content to make your profile look more appealing to your target audience.
Growing an Instagram audience to 1,000 followers or more is rarely an overnight process. But with this growth plan, you can reach this threshold more efficiently so you can focus on the goals that truly matter to your business—like engagement, traffic, and revenue.
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