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Best Instagram Growth Hacks to gain more followers [Ultimate Guide]

Growth Hack: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Instagram Following

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If you’re looking to get the most out of your Instagram posts, it’s time to start growing your following. Whether you’re looking to establish a business or even a personal brand, Instagram can be a powerful platform to reach thousands—or even millions—of your potential customers.

But developing a strong Instagram following isn’t always easy. While it’s certainly true that some people reach astronomical success seemingly out of nowhere, most will not succeed without a strong Instagram marketing strategy.

If you’re just starting out, you should set a milestone to reach your first 10,000 followers as soon as possible. Let’s call these 10,000 followers the foundation of your Instagram profile because it’s only after reaching this number will your name truly start to get out there.

If this seems daunting to you, don’t worry. Growing your Instagram following doesn’t have to be scary. Instead, treat it as a fun challenge, and with a little time and dedication, you’ll reach or maybe even surpass your goal.

It’s crucial to have a strategic Instagram growth plan in place before attempting to grow your following. Our comprehensive guide below discusses in depth everything you should consider as you design your Instagram strategy. By following these proven-effective techniques, you can get started strong by growing your Instagram following faster than you ever thought possible.

Use Your Profile to Score a Good First Impression

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Notice Taylor Swift’s high-quality and professional profile.

Don’t neglect your Instagram profile. Though it may seem trivial at first, having a completed and polished-looking profile helps give your account the authority it needs to attract the followers you want.

Whether you’re going for a personal or business account, having a cohesive profile helps further your brand and reputation. The truth is: you don’t want to look amateur, and having an incomplete profile will undoubtedly give you this perception.

Remember: how you are perceived is the number-one indicator of your Instagram success. If you come across as an expert or professional with a polished brand, you’re going to get a lot more fanfare than an amateur account.

There are four aspects to consider when making your Instagram profile. Keep the following information in mind so that you, too, can create a brand image that will wow and retain potential followers.

  • Profile Picture

Your profile picture serves as the online community’s first impression of you. Don’t mess it up.

While it’s true that they’re probably introduced to you from some of your posts, it’s not until most view your profile image that their real first impression starts to form.

Because of this, it’s essential that your profile picture represents you in a professional and aesthetically-pleasing way.

Take time to invest in the creation of an eye-catching profile image. If you’re looking to amass a large Instagram following, you can’t afford not to.

Also, keep in mind that whatever your picture is, it needs to be tied into your overall brand image. Don’t have a profile picture that doesn’t relate to your profile’s content, as this may confuse and even put off potential followers.

When you first make your Instagram profile, you will be prompted to upload a profile picture:

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Instagram will prompt you to upload a profile picture.

Be sure to choose an appropriate and high-quality image that matches your overall theme. Take a look at some of the Instagram photos of some popular accounts.

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Taylor Swift’s and Justin Bieber’s Instagram profile images.

  • Bio

Your biography is your second chance to make an impression on your followers. Do not—and I repeat—do NOT leave this blank. Having a blank biography can be the death knell of your Instagram profile’s success.

We get that it can be hard figuring out just what to say, and if you’re unsure, just let people know who you really are. What’s your purpose for being on Instagram? What phrase embodies you?

Take a look at former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Instagram bio:
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The profile of former First Lady Michelle Obama

It’s eye-catching and well-written, but most importantly, it’s filled with personality. Make sure that your bio has a little pizzazz to it so that your potential followers feel compelled to stay updated with what you post.

And, look, we get it. Not everyone has quite the resume to flaunt like Obama does—and that’s okay. Your biography just needs to capture what makes you interesting in a way that compels your followers to want to know more.

Because here’s the thing: if you look boring, why should people want to follow you? Chances are, they probably won’t.

The overall tone of your biography is up to you. Just make sure that it follows your overall purpose and theme.

And if you’re really unsure about what to say, you can find firms and freelancers who are willing to write you a great biography for just a small fee—something that may well be worth it in the long run.

  • Contact Info

This is the part of the profile that’s most overlooked. But just because it’s a common mistake doesn’t mean it’s excusable.

When you fill out your Instagram profile, make sure you leave some room for an e-mail address or other method of contact. You want your followers to know that they can get in touch with you. This makes you look more accessible, and it will encourage potential followers to keep coming back.

This is especially important for businesses, as you want your followers to be able to get in touch with you if they have any comments or concerns. It’s best that you don’t give out your personal email, however. Make sure that any contact information you put out is not linked to any other account.

And this is very important: make sure that your contact email address is not the email address you used to make your Instagram account. Never give away this email address, as it opens the floodgates to hackers who are looking to get into your account. If this happens, they can get your profile permanently banned.

Instead, have separate email addresses for both setting up your account and for marketing purposes.

  • Content

Managing the content you post is quite possibly the most difficult aspect to running a successful Instagram profile.

Though it may be tempting to post a hodge-podge mix of posts that cover a variety of topics, it’s important to have a clear and consistent theme—especially when you’re first starting out.

Be sure that you have a direction in mind before you ever make your first post. You don’t want to have your profile end up being confusing to potential followers who view it.

If you run a gardening and landscaping business, for instance, try to limit your posts to topics related to this. If you suddenly start posting photos and videos of winery and brewery reviews, you’re going to put off your initial audience.

With that in mind, realize that managing the content you post is a multi-faceted process. Over the course of our guide below, we will be providing several techniques that can help ensure that the content you post is both relevant and widely-reached.

Developing a Niche and Target Audience Through Specialization

Specialization is one of the most important tools to making sure that you’re running a successful Instagram profile.

We’ve touched on the process briefly already, but it’s such an important concept that it’s worth further elaboration.

First, it’s worth mentioning that the process of specialization is one that anyone must go through in order to be successful in any field—not just Instagram.

Medical school, for instance, is a process by which doctors are specialized to work in the medical field.

It’s also something that businesses do all the time—because they have to in order to survive. Because big-name companies dominate the market, it’s difficult to grow your company unless you specialize in a particular area.

You may, for instance, specialize in clothes for plus-sized clients or in shoes for sizes 14+.

In order to grow your Instagram following, you must go through a similar process with the content you post.

And it all starts with choosing a demographic.

Who are you marketing to? Who are you trying to get to follow your profile?

Maybe you’ve already got a business or brand in mind. In this case, who best fits your target audience? Men? Women? Those who are 18-24? People who are 32 – 38?

This information is critical to the content you post, the hashtags you use, and to the overall brand you’re trying to achieve.

Keep this information in mind while determining the identity of your Instagram profile. Importantly, don’t try to conform your profile to what you feel may be popular on a wide scale. Instead, grow your following with an increasing number of individuals who are interested in the niche market to which you cater.

You can do so by:

  • Marketing Your Posts to Your Target Demographic

Once you have your brand and target demographic in mind, make sure that you exclusively market your posts to them. If your focus is body positivity and plus-sized clothing, be sure that your content is accepting of your audience. If you suddenly start posting images of traditional runway models, you’re likely to anger the demographic that made your Instagram profile a success to begin with.

Instead, it’s best to cater to your market and your market only. You don’t want your brand’s image to be pulled into too many different directions. Instead, those who click on your profile should be able to immediately tell who you are and what you do with just a cursory look over your profile’s content.

Take a look at Taylor Swift’s profile:

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Taylor Swift’s Instagram profile.

Is there any doubt of what she does? While it’s true that she’s a big-name celebrity anyway, it’s important to see how she uses her Instagram profile to further enhance and market her career. Instead of posting unrelated content, Swift keeps her profile chock full of images and videos that highlight her recent tours.

This is, in a sense, marketing 101. You want an airtight public image that leaves little room for speculation as to your purpose. Keep this in mind when making both your Instagram My Day and Story as well as other posts that constitute your overall profile image.

  • Joining Instagram Engagement Groups

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Join groups of like-minded individuals who can help get your name out.

Once you’ve developed a niche, it’s a good idea to start joining engagement groups. These groups are geared for like-minded individuals and can get you instantly in touch with potential followers interested in the content that you post.

You can start to build a solid reputation with others in your community by liking their posts and following their pages. In return, many will do the same for you.

Think of engagement groups as a way to get your foot in the door with the audience you’re trying to target. If you can get in early and post unique content, you can possibly get thousands of followers using this method.

  • Interacting with your audience

Be sure to interact with those following your page. In doing so, you’ll stay at the forefront of their mind’s by increasing your brands top-of-mind awareness.

You’ll also have another chance to showcase your personality—which is usually always a good thing.

The bottom line is that you want to make your followers feel connected to you—and by interacting with them, you’ll help make them feel that you truly care.

Start replying to users’ comments as a way to build your brand’s reputation. It goes without saying, of course, to try not to get involved with any unnecessary drama. Remember, you’re trying to build a positive look for your profile—not drive your potential followers away.

But staying engaged with your followers means more than simply leaving comments back. It means making sure that the content you post is suitable and interactive for the followers you already have.

  • Consider a Promotion or Giveaway

If you’re really looking to get your followers engaged with your content, consider running some type of promotion or giveaway. The guidelines for the event are up to you—it could be anywhere from the “ninth commenter gets free tickets to my show” to “be one of the first twenty to comment to receive a handmade gift basket of our XYZ.”

Whatever it is, make sure that you actually follow through with what you’re saying. If you do promise the ninth commenter some reward, make sure that he or she gets it.

If you don’t, the event can backfire on your brand by making you appear untrustworthy.

By crafting an interactive and trustworthy image, you’re sure to increase your number of followers in no time. Be sure to stick with the strategy even if you’re not seeing the intended results as quickly as you would have liked. With a little effort and persistence, you’ll begin to notice your hard work paying off.

  • Have Your Followers Send in Their Pictures

Another great way to get your followers involved is to periodically feature their photographs. Consider holding contests or other events where you have your followers send in pictures of their own for a chance to have them featured on your profile.

By doing so, you’ll build trust with your audience and also encourage more people to follow you. Make sure that the images that are sent in are relevant to your brand, however. This will ensure that your followers are completely engaged in the content you’re posting.

Building Your Brand

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As you can see, a successful Instagram profile does more than increase your personal reputation.

It builds your brand.

If you’re looking to make the most out of your Instagram profile, it should be leveraged as a way to maximize your brand’s reputation to as many followers as possible.

By following the tips above, you’re already on the right track to establishing your brand’s image, but there are several other considerations to keep in mind as you take advantage of Instagram’s powerful platform.

  • Why Build?

You may be wondering what the purpose of brand building is, anyway. Maybe you’re just looking to use Instagram as an ego booster so that you can brag about the number of followers you have.

Doing so, however, is short-sighted. Instagram’s ability to get your brand’s name out to potentially millions of followers cannot be overstated.

Used correctly, Instagram can help you build a profitable brand that can quite literally make you rich.

Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Having a successful online brand—and the skills to build one—can open several doors in both the marketing and business worlds.

If you’re already a business owner, Instagram can be leveraged to help you grow your customer base and increase your company’s bottom dollar.

Building a successful brand and converting your followers into profit, however, takes careful planning and isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Consider the following tips as you look into building your online brand through Instagram.

  • How to Build

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Notice how Auburn University has established a clear brand with their football team.

Determining how to build your brand can be quite difficult because you must first determine what your brand is.

If you already have this in mind, good. You’ve already conquered half the battle.

But if you’re unsure as to what exactly your end game is, you need to give it some serious thought before marketing your brand.

Getting your brand’s name out and building a quality reputation is not something that is generally done quickly, and if you end up changing your brand’s message before you can even get solid footing, you might find yourself back at square one.

Discovering your brand’s identity means more than just the specialization that we discussed earlier. It also means deciding how you are going to approach your target audience, what specific problems you’re trying to solve, and what angle you’re going to take.

These aren’t easy decisions, and they’re not ones that anyone else can make for you.

Once you’ve reached them, however, you’re on the right track to establishing a successful brand image on Instagram.

Instagram offers several tools that you can take advantage of to help build your brand’s awareness. Consider the following features below to see how you can use your content to bolster your brand’s image.

  • Instagram Story

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Taylor Swift’s Instagram Story

Your Instagram story, also known as My Day, gives a preview of highlights to those looking for your page.

That’s what most people believe, at least.

But were you aware that this feature also allows your posts to pop up publicly in other users’ Instagram feeds?

In this way, My Day offers a unique way to further increase your brand’s reach. When making posts to your Instagram Story, however, be sure that you aren’t posting anything unrelated to your brand’s image. These posts could be users’ first impression of your content, and they will stay at the top of your profile.

Make sure that the posts here are eye-catching and engaging, just as you would for your regular posts. Use this section to your advantage to spruce up your overall image.

When making your My Day posts, there are some tips you should keep in mind:

    • Hashtags

Be sure to use relevant hashtags when you make your posts. You want to maximize your posts’ reach, and in order to do so, include hashtags that will hit your target audience. This can be done in a number of ways—including using popular hashtags. Keep reading below to for a more in-depth look on how to use hashtags to your advantage.

    • Locations

Including location on your Instagram posts can also boost their overall reach. Instagram has a feature that will show you posts in nearby areas, and by tagging your location, you’ll be able to reach people around you—or people who just happen to be searching that location.

This is especially great for travel pages or for businesses looking to target an audience in a specific area.

Adding a location to your post is simple.

First, click the stickers button located third from the top here:

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Next, click the “location” sticker found here:

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You can also find hashtag and other options here.

Make sure that your location is enabled so that Instagram can pull up a list of suggested locations.

When you add a geo-location tag to your post, it will pop up alongside other posts from the area. This is especially useful if you’re at a famous location—the Golden Gate Bridge for instance. By adding these geo locations, you can increase your posts’ overall reach to others in the area or those searching for particular landmarks.

  • Get Featured in Other Places

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Networking is important to your profile’s success.

Ironically, growing your Instagram following isn’t always done on Instagram.

If you’re trying to reach as many followers as you can, start taking advantage of cross promotion.

Have a blog? Are you popular on other social media?

Make sure that you’re using all the influence available to you to get your brand known.

Start linking your Instagram posts to your other social media and blogging platforms to increase your overall reach.

If you don’t have another platform, don’t worry. Though it might require a bit more work, you can start to grow your brand’s image by being featured with other big names in the industry.

This is a good idea even if you have your own platforms, but it’s absolutely crucial if you’re looking for another outlet to boost your posts’ reach.

Remember: you don’t have to do it all. If you really want to grow your following, you can get a head start by building off others’ success.

We’ll tell you how to do this through Instagram soon, but for now, we’re talking about marketing basics.

But before you can even begin, make sure that you have a complete understanding of what you’re looking to offer.

What, exactly, do you bring to the table?

Those are questions you’re going to have to answer to anyone you try to market with.

Let’s go back to our body positivity example. Let’s say you’re trying to secure an interview on a well-known body positivity podcast. Can you tell them exactly who you are and what you’re bringing to their program?

If you can answer these questions, you have a shot of leveraging others’ success to boost your brand’s reputation.

Get creative. Think of several platforms where you could possibly spread the word about your Instagram page, and don’t be afraid to get your name out there.

This is important: don’t think, “Well, I haven’t become anybody yet. They’re not going to want to help me.”

Talk with confidence. Know your brand. Know your mission.

You might be surprised at who is willing to help.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to those with whom you want to talk. Search popular blogs and LinkedIn pages to get in touch with the professionals who can help your case.

And if they say no the first time, don’t give up. Keep reaching out and making your case until you score the opportunity you need.

  • Work with an Influencer

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Working with an influencer can help you grow your following exponentially.

You can also work with an influencer who can help boost your followers. These are people who have a large Instagram following already and who showcase or highlight your profile in some way.

Working for an influencer isn’t free, but it can be a wonderful investment for those looking to quickly increase their Instagram following.

The best practice is to make sure that you’re choosing a respected influencer who has connections to the niche market you’re trying to break into.

It’s critical that you are positive that you’re getting the real deal, as several fake influencers try to make a quick buck from making bots to follow your Instagram account.

You have to be very careful here, as these bots can have your profile marked as spam—and this can send you back to square one.

A real influencer is great, however, because they can increase your follower count by the thousands in as little as a few days.

Keep in mind that you ARE going to need to actually have engaging content and a cohesive brand image for these followers to stick around.

Remember: an influencer can help you get your brand out to others, but it’s not going to improve the quality of your profile. That responsibility still falls squarely on your shoulders, and you need to make sure that you have an attractive profile and engaging content before using an influencer.

  • Cross-promote Your Profile

Cross-promoting your Instagram profile is a more cost-effective method of marketing your brand. When cross-promoting, you negotiate with other Instagrammers to promote each other’s pages. Cross-promoting may be the best choice if you’re new to Instagram—especially if you’re working on a budget.

If you do decide to go this route, make sure that you negotiate a fair cross-promotion. If you’re working with a profile that’s got greater reach than yours, you might not be able to expect a 50/50 trade-off, and that’s okay. While you should be careful not to have be taken advantage of, it’s important to consider the value your cross-promotion deal will bring to your brand.

Getting the Most of Your Instagram Posts

With that in mind, it’s time to discuss how you can use your content to your advantage. While it’s nice to have the ability to partner with and build off the success of others, make sure that you’re not neglecting your own posts.

Not only are your posts what generally convert your potential followers, but they’re also one of your biggest tools to getting your brand known to the rest of the public.

By following the tips below, you can get started on the right track to increasing your posts’ reach and to growing your follower base.

  • Use hashtags correctly

Hashtags are among the most important tools at your disposal as you attempt to increase your brand’s reach. Having a correct understanding of hashtags can position your brand as an authority in the field and increase your posts’ reach.

Get creative when using your hashtags—especially if you’re running your own business. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions on the proper use of hashtags, but if you’re one of the few to use them correctly, you can begin to grow your brand’s reputation.

The first factor to keep in mind is that you want your hashtags to be more than just relevant. They need to be relevant AND accessible to your target audience.

This is especially important for businesses who have branches worldwide. Instead of making your hashtags all in English, include some in the local language to help garner interest from your target audience.

Let’s imagine for a moment that your body positivity Instagram is looking to market a plus-sized clothing line in Canada. Include hashtags of major Canadian landmarks and cities so that those in Canada see your post.

The good news is: you don’t have to follow traditional rules that tell you to minimize the number of hashtags in your post.

In fact, you should use your maximum number of allotted hashtags. You’ve got 30, so make them count.

And to get even more out of your hashtag game, do a little research. Online websites can tell you which hashtags are trending in certain countries and locations. Try to incorporate these into your posts so that you can reach an even bigger audience.

  • Control Your Audience

In addition to hashtags, make sure that you’re controlling your targeted audience in other ways. Fortunately, Instagram allows users to control the intended audience for each post in your story.

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You can control who sees your stories.

You also have the option to limit posts to your close friends if you’re using a personal account. This is indicated by a green badge by the post.

However, if you’re looking to grow your following, this isn’t an option you should consider.

Of course, if you have a business, you set your profile to a business account. This will give you access to insight to the analytical data you need to judge your profile’s reach.

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Get insights into your profile with a business account.

To find this option, open your settings tab, and you will be prompted with this screen.

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If you’re a business account, click “Switch to Business Account.”

  • Repost Other Popular Posts

If you’re in a bind and don’t know what to post, don’t worry.

Sometimes the best choice to make is capitalizing off the success of others. Reposting successful photos or videos from others can be an effective way to jumpstart your Instagram career.

Make sure that the post is one that’s related to your overall brand, but otherwise feel free to capitalize on a viral post.

One viral post can see a jump in hundreds, if not thousands, of followers.

Be sure, however, that you have your brand’s image in place already. Remember: you don’t want to just draw followers to you. You want them to stick around for the long haul.

  • Use Apps

Making consistent posts is critical to the overall success of your Instagram profile. You can’t expect to grow your followers if you’re not posting on a consistent schedule.

Followers will begin to expect to see your content on a routine schedule. This increases your brand’s authority—as well as the authority of your profile.

If you find that you aren’t able to predict your schedule to make consistent posts, consider investing in apps and software that will allow you to schedule posts ahead of time. This does take a bit of preplanning, but it can be used to post consistent information across a variety of different platforms—all at the same time. This gives your brand greater flexibility in the online market.

Some powerful apps you can consider using are ScheduGram and Take Off. They cost $20 and $10 a month, respectively. Though this may seem unnecessary at first, these game-changing tools can free up your time so that you can focus on other aspects of your brand building.

Keeping Your Account Protected

One final point of note is that you should always be sure to keep your account safe. Violations of Instagram’s terms of service and community guidelines can be quite costly, and if you’re profile is removed, there’s often little chance that it can be recovered.

Understanding what is and what isn’t allowed on Instagram isn’t too difficult, and the terms of service can be accessed through the Instagram website.

Here are some big-time violations that could land your account in serious trouble:

  1. Pornography—Instagram does not tolerate pornography or sexually-explicit images of any kind. Avoid showing any nudity—even bare buttocks—unless it’s an image of breastfeeding or mastectomy scars.

Instagram notes that it tries to create a family-friendly environment, and nudity of all kinds does not fit the platform’s mold. The third and final exception to this is any work of art containing nudity, but please note that this does not includes nude photos taken for an artistic effect.

If you’re profile is caught with nude or pornographic images, you’re subject to a quick and permanent ban.

  1. Cruelty—Be sure not to post any content that shows harassment, bullying, or cruelty of any fashion. This type of content also runs counter to the intent of the platform and will subject your count to an immediate and permanent ban.
  2. Spamming—This category is a little trickier, as spamming typically will lead your account to being banned.

This can sometimes happen, however, through no fault of your own. If you really are using your account to spam others, you can expect it to be deleted, but there are several factors outside of your control that can lead Instagram to thinking you have a bot account.

For starters, you could be hacked (remember: never give out the email address associated with your account), and if this happens, there is a lengthy recovery process that may help you get your account back. Contact Instagram’s help center and speak with a customer care representative before clicking on the landing page’s “need help logging in?” option. There, you can find an option that will inform Instagram that you have been hacked, and you will be emailed instructions on the recovery process.

Another common mistake is to exceed your account’s daily likes and follows usage. Instagram typically limits the number of accounts you can follow and the posts you can like in any given day, but how many you’re allotted really depends on several factors, including: the age and authority of your account and the number of followers you have. The less you have of both, the fewer likes and follows you can make. A general guideline is to try and not exceed 50-70 a day of both.

The Bottom Line

Growing your Instagram profile requires strategic planning. By following the techniques above, you can carefully plan and chart the growth your Instagram profile and of your brand’s social media presence.

In everything you do—from planning your profile to posting your content—remember to capture the essence of your brand.

If you’re looking to grow your following quickly, consider cross-promoting your Instagram profile for better coverage. If you have access to a large following on another platform, make sure that your other followers are aware of your Instagram profile.

By staying true to your brand’s identity and targeting posts to your intended demographic, you can quickly and consistently grow your Instagram profile.