Instagram Growth: How to Increase Your Followers Organically

Hélène Heath
August 13, 2017
Last Updated On
June 24, 2022

Here's a scenario: your brand's Instagram account growth has plateaued, you don't understand why, and you've exhausted all of your usual tricks. Sound familiar?

This one's for you.

Instagram is an ever-evolving ecosystem. There are over 1 billion monthly active users, and new tools are regularly. On top of that, its business capabilities are becoming increasingly robust, and its algorithm is constantly being adjusted. While Instagram remains one of the best marketing conduits of our time, the unfortunate truth is that it is highly saturated with brands, and the competition is fierce.

The ones who navigate Instagram’s algorithm need to be on the cutting edge of strategy. An ear to the ground is not enough anymore: social media editors are required to grow their brand's audience, even if the reality is that brands sometimes hit temporary plateaus in growth.

What is Instagram Growth?

Instagram growth is precisely what it sounds like. It is the growth of your accounts followers and engagement rate over time. A growth drought is nothing if not standard. Stagnation is a normal part of the process. It means that you've done all you could with your current strategy and that it's time to regroup, reassess, and reformulate a new course of action. You can't keep expanding your Instagram audience by doing the same thing over and over again. Social media is constantly changing, and your strategy must maximize post-performance.

Why It’s Important to Track Growth

Perhaps your sluggish account growth is trying to tell you something. It's certainly not because the opportunities are lacking, but rather likely signifies that your methods are not evolving at the same pace as your target audiences. The best way to grow Instagram followers is to meet consumer demands by developing a flexible social media and Instagram marketing strategy that's easy to modify when required.

It sounds daunting, but you should see it as something positive: a new challenge to meet and an opportunity to venture into the unfamiliar to evolve your brand's current efforts.

The problem is that plateauing is not part of any company's plan, yet it doesn't stop it from constantly lurking threats. Having observed it as a recent widespread predicament, we thought it was time to address the issue.

How to Grow Your Followers on Instagram

How can you reignite progress if you're experiencing a lull? Learning how to grow your Instagram audience all over again is par for the course for marketers on the visual channel. If you feel like you've hit a wall and your current efforts are no longer doing it, it's time for some weighty introspection.

Here's what you should do.

1. Observe Trending Content Like a Hawk

Take a few days to do a deep dive on your competitors’ Instagram feeds. Explore the surroundings, scrutinize the territory, grasp the patterns, the high-quality content that appears to be trending; put your spectator hat on, and ask yourself what you would like to see on the channel as an individual. Poke around brand accounts, Instagram influencer accounts, and even those not in your niche. Examine trends in composition and format, such as carousel posts or videos, especially if your brand is not fully established in Instagram Reels.

Wrap your head around what's new, what's fresh, and what gets you excited. Then regroup, and start infusing those bits of newness in your posts and stories in a way that makes sense. Do some testing, and adjust accordingly. We recommend testing out different posting times to get an idea of when your audience is active and when they aren’t.

Being a social media editor should almost require a sociology degree: a big part of the job is surveilling what people are into, analyzing specific demographic segments, and developing social media management strategies to serve them up what they don't even know they want to see. As a social media editor, you are in the business of forming habits. Form them.

2. Analyze Your Owned Content (Deeply)

The essential part of any successful Instagram account is its visuals. If your content output is subpar, you'll never attract new followers, let alone retain the ones you already have. Even if your content is excellent (and be objective here), if you're not growing your account, it might be indicative of the fact that your audience and potential audience have moved on and want to see something else from you.

Beyond manual calculations, perusing Instagram Insights, and surveying your published photos and videos, there is the Dash Hudson content segmentation Boards tool to assist you in the task. And it provides cold, complex numbers. Its granular capabilities are pretty bottomless, and it hands down, provides the most accurate evaluation you can get.

The tool allows brands to group their content pillars onto boards to analyze each segment's performance. This way, they can see what types of visuals are doing best and what posts within each group are outperforming others. A tool like this can play a pivotal role in account growth because it provides a tangible performance measurement.

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The Aritzia social team does an excellent job listening to their followers and interacting with them when need be.

3. Engage, Engage, Engage

Instagram users engage with content that resonates with them. When a user feels an emotional connection brought on by either visual content or interaction from another account, human nature prevails, and they get excited. If an Instagram account fails to ever communicate as such, it could be what's holding it back.

To make sure you don't stunt your growth due to mismanaged connections, you're going to have to put a little elbow grease into it. That means not just replying to inquisitive commenters on your content but also dispensing likes and comments on what other users are posting.

  • If there are questions from your audience in your comments, you MUST reply to them. Not only is it good business, but believe it or not, it's also meaningful for your followers.
  • If your fans/followers/customers are excited enough about your brand to go as far as creating a piece of content with one of your items and then tagging you in the photo, do your due diligence and give it a like or comment.

This one stone serves to kill two very hefty birds: first, your followers will be over the moon to know that they've caught your attention and that you're showing love back. This will likely encourage them to create more content around your brand, consequently expanding your organic reach, aka outsider eyeballs. Second, your comment will increase your overall account visibility.

4. Run a Contest

People love winning, and they love free stuff. The prospect of both is a great way to court potential new followers. We've gone in-depth about contest best practices in the past, and we recently had an exemplary demonstration of how to take it to new heights (hot tip: maximize the UGC!), but here are a few pointers to bear in mind if you're going to take that route:

  • Make things worthwhile for both you and your audience.
  • Develop a multi-layered strategy encompassing a cross-platform promotional approach.
  • Set some goals, monitor those benchmarks, and allow yourself to be nimble for an adapted course of action.

The primary objective that should serve as your guiding light when going the contest route is to attract new long-term followers, not have users drop off the second your sweepstakes have closed. Never stray from that principle, and always measure every decision against it. Oh, and don’t forget to share the contest on your other social platforms for maximum reach!

Jack Wills' summer Instagram contest gave the brand over 2 million impressions.


How to Track Your Instagram Follower Growth

With all the newfound ideas we mentioned above, you must be using the right tools to track your Instagram growth analytics. Yes, it’s easy to glance at your profile and see how many followers you’ve gained, but that’s not going to give you the information you need on who is following you and perhaps, why. 

Suppose you currently have an Instagram business account or Instagram creator account. In that case, there are lots of good analytics built right into the backend that will help you track your follower rates and the demographics of those followers. Be sure to keep a close eye on these analytics, as they will only help to inform you of what types of content to keep (or stop) posting. Instagram business account or Instagram creator account, there are lots of sufficient analytics built right into the backend that will help you track your follower rates and the demographics of those followers. Be sure to keep a close eye on these analytics, as they will only help to inform you of what types of content to keep (or stop) posting. 

The fact of the matter is that if you're no longer growing, something has got to give. It certainly isn't because there aren't new followers to be had, as new fish are being added to the pond daily. It most likely has to do with your content and that you probably haven't switched things up to keep pace with what users want.

The social media plateau is natural, and there is one fail-proof way to remedy it: change something.

Instagram Growth FAQs

What is a normal growth rate on Instagram?

This depends entirely on your following current number, but generally, a normal growth rate is anywhere between 2%-6% for accounts that are consistently posting and engaging with users. 

How do you increase followers on Instagram?

The best way to increase your Instagram follower growth is by knowing your audience and adjusting accordingly. Knowing how frequently to post, what type of content performs well, and creating genuine connections with your audience will naturally increase your Instagram follower growth over time. 

Why are my Instagram followers not increasing?

There are a couple of reasons why an account isn’t experiencing Instagram follower growth. The main reason is usually content quality and consistency. If your content isn’t matching your target audience's needs and wants, it’s likely that you aren’t going to gain followers as quickly as you’d like. If your content quality and consistency is on point, try doing some analysis on your competitors to see what you could do differently.


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