The game has changed, and the strategies that brands used to earn Instagram followers in the past may be less effective today. Instagram has introduced a plethora of new features, and it is safe to say that all marketers have felt the impact of Instagram Reels — which has rapidly become a cornerstone of the historically image-based channel. Instagram has become a destination for entertainment and interest-based communities served to users by an algorithm.
The bad news is that it’s much harder for brands to get noticed in a feed of hyper-targeted content. However, this is also an enormous opportunity for brands that have a deep understanding of their target demographic, what entertains them and what drives them to engage with their brand. Great content leads to better discoverability and more users hitting the ‘Follow’ button.
In the following guide, we provide you with 15 actionable tips that will help you redefine your content strategy and grow all of your metrics.
Gaining followers on Instagram is not just one initiative; every action you take on the channel ladders up to your brand’s growth. On your part, it requires consistency, innovation and, most importantly, patience. Every marketer dreams of going viral and seeing the followers pour in overnight, but going viral isn’t a strategy — good content is. Let’s dive into the tips that will help you grow organically over time.
Your followers on other platforms already want to see more from your brand. By weaving together your various social channels in one place (like your link-in-bio) you are able to cross-pollinate success across all of your channels. To really motivate your followers to look at your Instagram account, share snippets of your greatest content and let them know where to find more. This is a seamless way to tap into your existing communities and grow your Instagram followers.
Although social media like Instagram is more algorithmic these days, brand-new content still generally reaches the top of your followers’ feeds. Understanding when your audience is most active can significantly boost engagement, which sends a signal of confidence to Instagram that your content should be shown to more people, including people who don’t already follow you. Use analytics to identify the best time to post on Instagram for your brand and align your posting schedule accordingly.
Consistency is key. Maintaining a regular posting schedule will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. If your content is particularly good, viewers will follow you to make sure they get your posts as soon as they drop. Using a social media post scheduler will help ensure you always stay top-of-mind with your followers.
Hashtags are still powerful tools. As we explore in our Social Media Trends Report, hashtags are a proven way to increase visibility and optimize your content for search to reach broader audiences. You should research and use popular, relevant trending Instagram hashtags to ensure you reach as many people as possible.
Creators and influencers in your niche have already proven their talent in content creation, and they have a deep understanding of shifting social media trends that inspire audiences to engage. Influencer marketing is not just important for expanding your reach to new audiences, but it also helps keep your content fresh and exciting. Learning more about the differences between content creators vs. influencers will help you understand the nuances of each.
Social media engagement is not a one-way street; it’s also about brands connecting back to their loyal audience. Replying to comments, engaging in conversations and implementing a strong conversational commerce strategy go a long way to creating and fostering a social media community that autonomously boosts your content.
First impressions matter. Your profile is your pitch to casual viewers that they should follow you, so it is important to ensure that your bio and profile picture use the best-performing Instagram picture sizes, while pinned posts and Stories should reflect your brand’s identity and values.
Adding Instagram alt text is another great way to keep your content accessible to as many people as possible, which helps quite a bit on such a visual-heavy channel.
Understanding your audience’s preferences is crucial to creating content they want to engage with. You can often figure this out by looking at emerging trends on the platform, but sometimes you may be at a loss for what style and tone they want to see from you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate with your brand to keep your feed fresh and exciting. Creating buyer personas is one helpful way to gauge which trends and visuals your audience will appreciate most.
Authenticity on social media builds trust. In the current era of social media, with filters and AI-generated content, audiences are gravitating back toward content that they perceive as real. Stay true to your values, and don’t forget the human element behind your brand.
Incorporating user-generated content (UGC) into your strategy is beneficial for a number of reasons. Your loyal followers are your greatest advocates, and their content is a visual testimonial that signals the quality of your product or service to others. UGC is sincere, often lo-fi and lacking in production value, which means it is also perceived as more authentic.
Lastly, encouraging your followers to share content around your brand fosters your brand community, increases your reach and encourages more people to share UGC of their own.
Instagram and Facebook are notably the most sophisticated social media advertising ecosystem. Not only do your Instagram advertising strategies help drive traffic to your website and e-commerce stores, but they can also amplify your reach and encourage new followers. Invest in well-crafted sponsored content that does not just try to sell something, but also aligns with your brand and appeals to your target audience.
Everybody loves a good giveaway. They are a fun way to engage your audience and attract new followers, particularly when you are launching a new brand on Instagram. Just ensure the rules are clear, the competition is fair and the prizes are appealing.
Data will give you a clear, unbiased view of what content is working. Regularly analyzing your social analytics and monitoring tools will keep you up to speed on how well you’re doing and where your future opportunities lie.
There are highly popular Instagram accounts that exist to feature content from other accounts. Getting featured on accounts like Beautiful Hotels (5.7 million followers), Passion Passport (1.2 million followers), Discoverearth (6.5 million followers) or Wake Up and Make Up (11.3 million followers) can skyrocket your reach and encourage their massive followings to check out your brand. Strategizing to get featured on influential accounts specific to your industry can make a big difference.
Lastly, back to Reels. It cannot be overstated how much of a game-changer they are for brands. Users love the short-form, lo-fi video format, and creating engaging and fun Reels entices viewers in the Instagram Reels algorithm and on the Explore page. The feature may be out of your comfort zone as a marketer, as it is far removed from the glamorous content that has defined Instagram for the past decade, and more closely resembles TikTok, which many brands haven’t fully adopted yet. However, brands that have gone all-in on social entertainment are breaking out of growth plateaus and attracting new followers.
First of all, do not buy Instagram followers — there are no real shortcuts to gaining Instagram followers. Inauthentic practices will almost certainly come back to haunt you. Buying followers, spamming or using irrelevant hashtags can harm your reputation and lead to decreased engagement in the long run. It is much more beneficial to focus on authentic organic growth than trying to rush to the finish line. Instagram is a marathon; not a sprint.
Dash Hudson has a comprehensive suite of tools and insights to help you master your Instagram strategy. From scheduling to content insights, to social listening, Dash Hudson has all of the data you need to grow your followers organically and dive deep into Instagram Insights. Start a free trial now and outsmart social.
Fast follower growth requires consistent posting, engaging content and using analytics to figure out what content works best. Brands should avoid shortcuts and focus on sustained organic follower growth. In particular, buying Instagram followers will actually hurt your brand’s standing with the platform and lead to slower growth.
Instagram is over a decade old, and many brands that have been around since the beginning have fallen into the status quo of repetitive or outdated content. In order to grow followers further, brands should analyze their strategies, experiment and adapt to new trends.
Brands can increase their views on Instagram by posting more entertaining content and encouraging their community to share with peers. Quality content will perform much better with people new to your brand who discover your content by algorithm.