How to grow your Instagram following organically in 2018

Evidently, Instagram is really not the same as it was a couple of years ago and it keeps evolving such that it’s getting difficult to keep up with changes. For example, the darn algorithm implemented recently which seemed to impact all users to a certain extent. Personally, as much as it did annoy me at first, it also made me more curious as to how the whole algorithm thing works. Now I won’t bore you with more details about this. All you need to remember is that at present with the new Instagram algorithm, engagement is king.

 

Let’s jump right into today’s topic. One of my FAQ in my DMs includes:

“How do you grow my Instagram following “

I think the main question you must answer first is why do you want to grow your Instagram in the first place? Personally, I use Instagram to build awareness of my brand, get traffic to my blog and it’s a great way for you to build engagement with your readers and give them a little look at my life beyond blog posts. Instagram has opened the doors for various brand collaborations and campaigns as a mini portfolio of my work.

I find it difficult to pin point exactly what major thing helped me gain up an additional 10K followers last year. However, I can comfortably state the fact that it was not an overnight success and it involved a lot of trial and error. If you are looking at growing your following organically, here are a few growth hacks I have implemented in my strategy.

A disclaimer, these techniques are not for everyone. Some people will completely disagree with me and that is fine. Pick and choose what works for you and do it well.

Before I dive into the growth hacks, I would like to highlight the one thing you should avoid at all costs i.e. DO NOT BUY FOLLOWERS OR LIKES. Some might be for this but trust me, it’s a recipe for disaster. Not only will it show in your poor engagement, it will also send out alarming signals to brands about how authentic your account is. It’s not worth it in the long run if you are serious about growing your brand. However, if all you want is to insta famous then by all means go for it. Anyway, that aside let’s get into the exciting bit.

POST QUALITY CONTENT

I previously touched on the significance of content in this post, so if you would like more details please refer to that post. Content is like the heart of your brand/business therefore you need to strive to produce the best quality always. Understand your audience and produce more of what works well. Take clear photos and keep a consistent look of filters and overall vibe. Instagram images need to look nice but also stay true to your brand.

UTILIZE INSTAGRAM ANALYTICS

Last year I switched my instagram to a business account and was able to utilise the analytics feature. If you are not on a business account, you can use a third party like iconosquare. Your Instagram statistics and lets you know which photos had higher engagement (like/comments) and at which times they were posted (among various other data they offer, but I won’t get into that now). Posting times is a huge part of your Instagram growth. You will gain followers by having others like and/or tag their friends in the comments and the best way to do that is to post at times that most people (for your region) are on their phones. I use my inbuilt analytics to analyse which times work for me and to make sure I get the most out of each post. Of course there are times when I’m doing something that I post when it’s most convenient for me- but my growth is definitely better when I stick to popular times for my followers.

USE HASHTAGS

I certainly utilise hashtags on my Instagram. You can include up to 30 hashtags. Quick trick to avoid cluttering your caption with a Gazillion Number of hashtags is my putting them as a second comment in your photo. That way your photo is still categorized but the bulk of hashtags are hidden at first glance once you get other comments. These are the ones I use most frequently:

#fashionblogger #fashionblog #styleblogger #blog #styleblog #wiw

#outfitpost #ootd #blackgirlmagic

I also include anything relevant to what I’m wearing. For example, if I’m wearing a maxi coat and boyfriend jeans in a photo… I make sure to add additional hashtags: #boyfriendjeans #bfjeans #maxicoat. Or if I’m at a certain location, I make sure to use the city hashtag and the place. Same goes for the brand I’m wearing… know the brands you wear and check which hashtags they use for features.

By doing so you might just find yourself being featured on their sites. I managed to get a number of my pictures featured on popular brand pages like public desire and boohoo.com .

Sometime last year there was a lot of discussion about hashtag abuse causing some Instagram accounts to be Shadowbanned. To put it in simple terms, a shadowban on Instagram is when Instagram hides your account from everyone who isn’t already following you.  Your account and images don’t appear in any search results, and the hashtags that you use in your posts don’t lead to any hashtag search results pages.

So ultimately, no one can see or find your account, making it impossible to grow your Instagram following. If your account has been shadow banned you may not even know it. A known cause for being shadowbanned is using the same hashtag too many times or using a banned hashtag.

You can use third party tools like tailwind that generates a bunch of hashtags for you and this way you are less likely to end up using banned hashtags.

OUTREACH

Find others in your niche and engage with them. I remember spending an hour a day reaching out to other bloggers via comments and finding other bloggers to follow via hashtags. If you are hoping others will engage with you, you need to be willing to comment and put the time into becoming a productive member of the community using positive comments, likes etc.

One thing I would say is try to leave genuine comments on posts. A generic comment such as “lovely outfit “or emojis are okay but really will that spark a conversation or make the person check out your Instagram in return. Probably not. Remember, you are trying to get people to check you out so leave a comment that’s going to make one instantly go on your page. I for one know those that leave meaningful comments on my work and I reciprocate the support. I value everyone that takes time to like my posts however the Real MVPs are those that bother to read my long captions and even respond to my calls to action. Leave genuine remarks and try to grow loyalty through that.

FOLLOW OTHER ACCOUNTS

This is where people usually disagree with me, but this can be a useful technique to get more Instagram followers. You need to aggressively follow people each and every day. You are limited to following a maximum of 80 people in an hour. Do that a couple times a day so that you are following around 200 people each and every day.

To find people to follow go to accounts that you follow or like and follow their followers or the people they are following. Look for people that have similar interest and photos as you. You will have more success following followers if your images are in the same niche as the account the person is already following.

For example, I post mostly fashion and beauty images, so I will find Fashion & Beauty instagrammers and follow their followers. Their followers already like Fashion images so it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll like my images as well. I’m probably not going to follow someone’s followers that only post food images. People that are liking food images probably won’t like my fashion images. Make sense? Find your niche and follow those audiences.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!

Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Trecee Hutchinson

    This post is really helpful. I haven’t really focused on my Instagram in the last year, but I definitely want to improve my engagement in 2018. I will definitely be incorporating these into my IG strategy.

    Trecee

    http://www.treceefabulous.com/

    • Hey Trecee Fab.I look forward to getting back some feedback once you give these tips a go.

  • mide

    Thank you so much for sharing this Steph! My instagram growth is something that has been on my mind for a while now, thank God I came across this post! Would definitely put these tips into good use.

    theportablehub.com

    • Definitely give them tips a go and then let me know how it goes.

  • Rose Mutale

    This is super helpful Steph and i agree completely with you as far as taking some time out to engage with other influencers. Insightful as always babe 😘

  • What a fab and informative post! Very useful lovely. I especially like the tailwind hashtag thing I didn’t know you could do that! I’ve got tailwind so I’ll give it a go xo Imogen

    http://www.imogenrose.co.uk

    • Thanks babes. Glad it was helpful in some way. Yes Tailwind is totally awesome for hashtags.x

  • Fatima

    This was very informative, thank you for sharing beautiful. Now I’m off to IG to follow your followers lol

    • Hey beautiful thanks for the support and am glad you found it useful.x

  • Michelle Mutave

    Boo, this is the best post ever. I love how detailed it is and easy to understand. Now, let’s talk about how to use Tailwind. I have an account but don’t know how to use it 😀 especially with the hashtags.

    Have a nice day

    Michelle
    http://twenty7bymichelle.com/makeup-masterclass/

    • Hey hun. So happy to get such great feedback and am happy you found it useful. I will text you details about how to use tailwind.x

  • Thanks for these tips boo, indeed you’re the real MVP! Thanks for sharing this with us xx

  • My instagram has been oing through a phase for years. Hahaha… I have no idea how to pimp it up. Thinking of hiring someone to help out.

    http://www.rshanphonsi.com

  • Sindiso Moagi

    Great tips dear, I will definitely be incorporating them in my social media strategy
    http://www.sindisosdiary.com