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How to Get New Followers on Instagram in 19 Steps or Less

Published August 11, 2023

Instagram is huge. In fact, in 2022, it was the fourth-biggest social network based on the number of monthly active users. That’s a lot of engagement that a potential brand can gain from one social media platform alone. But those numbers also bring with them stiff competition. After all, as a brand owner, you have to get as many of those eyeballs on your products or services as possible. And even as a user who wants some social media clout, it will be difficult to grow your profile and gain new followers.

However, getting a decent follower base isn’t exactly rocket science. Naturally, it’s also not a walk in the park. But if you play your cards right, you could gain a lot of new followers and even turn your time on IG into profit. And in order to help you achieve this goal, we’ve provided you with a 19-step Instagram profile growth guide. Stick to it as much as possible, and you might just become as famous as Whindersson Nunes or Huda Kattan

Step #1: Optimize Your Bio

The first thing your potential followers will see is your bio. In other words, they have to be wowed by a profile picture, a 150-word text, and maybe a link. Admittedly, that can be quite difficult to pull off, but the pros still manage.

And how do they manage, exactly? Well, first, they opt for a username that’s memorable and reflective of their brand or what they are about in general. Next, they make sure the caption is as short and concise as possible but to the point. Remember, it’s not the size of the text; it’s the quality of the prose.

Finally, they provide relevant links to pages that boost their brand, and they crown it all with a memorable profile pic. It can really be anything, but it’s important that it relates to your brand and catches as many eyes as possible.

Step #2: Pick the Right Aesthetic

Brands know that clients love consistency. That’s why they tailor each individual social media page to reflect their overall message. Let’s use an example IG page. Privacy Please is a brand that sells women’s underwear. When dolling up their Instagram profile, they opted for subdued colors, a pastel-like quality, and soft, delicate imagery. Their choice of aesthetics is one of the many reasons why they boast more than 100,000 followers. And they don’t even have an official website!

To put it simply, with a powerful aesthetic as its attribute, your brand will gain new views and followers almost regularly. However, it will require a bit of preplanning. For example, what kind of brand are you, and what’s the message you want to send? Once you know the answers, choose a color palette and the type of content that matches your goals the best. 

Step #3: Strong Brand and Value Proposition

Take a quick look at Sephora’s official Instagram page. Can you tell what this brand is trying to sell after a two-second glance at the bio and some of the top posts? That was a trick question; we both know the answer is Yes, and for several good reasons.

Firstly, Sephora is a makeup brand that solely focuses on both beauty and beauty products. That’s why their bio is incredibly brief and to the point: a single sentence followed by an external link. And then look at the highlights. Simple, to-the-point icons depicting different segments of Sephora, be they related to the products, the sales, or even beauty in general.

Using Sephora as an example, we can deduce a few key details. Namely, if you’re a brand, you need a strong value proposition. In other words, you must know what you’re trying to say to your followers with your IG page, and they must know it from a single glance alone.

And it doesn’t even have to just be one area of focus. Sure, Sephora sells makeup, and lots of their posts contain images of products. But they also post videos of celebrities using makeup or promoting them one way or another. It’s hip, it’s trendy, and most importantly, it’s related to the value proposition of Sephora.

Step #4: Consistent Posting Schedules

Nothing is worse for social media than inactivity. It’s fairly straightforward: if you don’t post any content for a period of time, your numbers will go down. The algorithm will not push you forward, and you won’t see any engagement. That’s bad enough for people who use social media for fun, but if you’re a business, you stand to lose customers and suffer financially.

With that in mind, you will want to post on a regular basis. A consistent schedule will keep you in the loop, and the algorithm will promote your content. Furthermore, when there’s a routine to your posts, more and more new people are likely to notice it. Once you establish a certain timetable, your loyal followers will expect you to honor it. Remember, the more you oblige your audience, even in matters such as frequent posting, the more loyal they’ll become.

Step #5: Hashtags

A lot of people on Instagram utilize the hashtag #instagood. In fact, it’s so popular that it boasts over 1.6 billion hits, making it one of the biggest hashtags on the platform. Another hashtag, #photooftheday, is not far behind, with more than 1 billion search results in 2023 alone.

Present since the early days of Twitter; hashtags remain a powerful trendsetting engine. They can help promote your posts and get lots of new hits. And since millions of users tend to browse IG through some of their favorite hashtags, it’s only a matter of time before they run into your post, like it, and eventually, start following you.

Step #6: The Best Captions for Solid SEO Rankings

Search engine optimization is a concept that dates back to the late 90s. And just as it was back then, it’s still vital for any kind of online growth. To put it simply, if your brand doesn’t appear on the first page of search results on Google, you’re doing something wrong.

Now, how do SEO rankings help when it comes to Instagram, which is primarily an image and video platform? Well, let’s not forget that each post has captions. And when you write those captions, you will want to use some prominent keywords. By selecting the right terms and phrases, you will optimize each caption so that it can appear on the first round of search results on IG. The platform’s search algorithm is so sophisticated that you can search for anything, even if there isn’t a hashtag or an @ attached to it.

Step #7: Collaboration Is Key

In order to explain collaboration, let’s use Iviana Thui as an example. Thui is a Singaporean beauty blogger and influencer. Her page boasts nearly 20,000 followers. So, when a brand like Strabellas needs a good way of promoting its line of cosmetics and skincare products, it will partner up with someone like Thui.

Both parties reap the benefits of this collaboration. Thui gets a promotion for her IG page, as well as a free set of products from Strabellas and a fee for promoting their items. On the other hand, Strabellas gets new customers among Thui’s followers and also grows in terms of everyday engagement.

To sum up, if you want to improve your presence on Instagram and increase the number of followers, partner up with some other users. They can be anyone, from massive brands and influencers to smaller names and even unverified but regular Instagram goers.

Step #8: Consider Accessibility

There are quite a few Instagram users with vision problems. And depending on their level of impairment, they may have no other option for viewing IG posts than screen-reading them.

Now, as a user, how can you make your Instagram page more accessible to people who are visually impaired in some way? One way to do it is to make each post more accessible for screen-readers. For instance, you can reduce the number of emojis you use in your captions. Screen readers often can’t see the emoji, so instead, they have a text-to-speech feature that ‘reads’ each caption to them. And if you line up ten emojis back-to-back, the feature will read out every single one of them by its unique descriptions. Keep in mind that some emojis’ unique descriptions can contain up to 10 words.

Step #9: Pick the Best Posting Time

Depending on where you live, the IG users in your country will be active on the app at different times. What you need to do is research what the best time to post is. Focus on individual days during the week, as well as peak hours within a single day. 

Step #10: The Meme Economy

Going viral is almost guaranteed to get clicks, views, and engagement. Granted, lots of content creators succeed purely based on luck or happenstance. But you can achieve the same status of Instagram virality they attained if you use your IG content properly. All it takes is to combine your current aesthetic with a current trend or sentiment that resonates with the majority of IG users.

The best way to attain that goal is to create a meme. People of all ages enjoy a good laugh, and some of the most shared posts on Instagram, or any other platform for that matter, are memes. We recommend doing a bit of research to see what kind of memes grab the most user attention and tapping into that. However, don’t always stick to the same format. Memes tend to have a short shelf life, so always look for new meme opportunities on the horizon.

Step #11: Optimize Story Highlights

We’ve touched upon highlights a little bit with our Sephora example, so we will keep it brief. If you want to save a story that saw a lot of engagement, you can do that via story highlights. But don’t just save anything. Make sure that the stories you place under each highlight represent your brand well. In addition, give each highlight spot an appealing icon that will get viewers to click on them.

Step #12: Create Reels

Since 2020, Instagram Reels have been a prominent tool for any IG content creator. Therefore, as a poster looking to expand your reach, you will want to focus on using this feature to create high-quality content for your platform. Not only are they engaging and drawing in a ton of traffic, but they also have a designated spot on IG’s explore page. In other words, people will actively seek out Reels independently of regular posts.

Step #13: Don’t Forget Cross-Promotion

Does your brand have an official Facebook page, a Twitter account, or a TikTok channel? And what about newsletters, websites, or blogs? If so, don’t hesitate to ask your followers on other platforms to follow you on Instagram. Alternatively, link some of these platforms together so that your followers get alerts whenever a new post drops on your IG page.

Step #14: A Giveaway or Two Will Work

Both brands and individuals tend to host giveaways on Instagram. Broadly speaking, a brand will provide its followers with a chance to win some of its products. However, anything can do as a prize: discounts, vouchers, branded merch, and even profile shoutouts. Giveaways work because they provide potential followers with tangible goods they can use. In short, it’s a quid pro quo model where both sides stand to gain something.

Step #15: Encourage User-Generated Content

Paid-for advertising is great, but nothing beats organic growth. On Instagram, profiles grow thanks to the so-called user-generated content. This term refers to posts where you tag certain brands or individuals on your own accord. In other words, you get an unprompted promotion of your page by enthusiastic followers.

So, as a brand, make sure you encourage your users to generate content that contains your products. You can do that by sharing their posts via a designated Instagram reel for everyone to see. But don’t forget to ask them for permission to use their content.

Step #16: Analyze Other High-Performing Pages

All successful businesses analyze their competitors to see what works. As a brand with an Instagram profile, you’ll want to see how your competitors interact with their user bases. Pay close attention to their posting schedules, the types of posts they have, and what the most popular responses are to their content. Every single detail provides an opportunity to learn and grow.

Step #17: Connect With Your Followers

Brands that care for their consumer bases are the ones that succeed. Therefore, make sure to reply to as many comments, DMs, and inquiries as possible. Leave a like, address an issue, and share that reel that your users send you. The more you engage with them directly, the more likely they are to recommend you to future followers.

Step #18: Brand Ambassadors

A brand ambassador is not exactly as popular as an influencer. However, they often focus on a particular niche and have small but active numbers of dedicated followers. One example of a dedicated brand ambassador is Little Red Fashion Hood, who buys her clothing exclusively from Amazon. These users can be perfect for your brand since they cater to the same type of crowd that will want to buy and use your products. Therefore, we recommend that you connect with a few as soon as possible.

Step #19: When In Doubt, Ask

Finally, if you happen to be low on followers, don’t hesitate to ask people directly to give your IG account a follow. But don’t actually do it on the IG page itself. The profile needs to be attractive enough to draw the crowd in with its aesthetic alone.

Instead, use your other social media to inquire about new followers. When you post something on Facebook or TikTok, provide a link to your IG page and a brief call to action. Alternatively, if you own a YouTube channel or stream on Twitch, display your Instagram profile tag prominently and ask your viewers from time to time if they want to check it out. And if you run an active email newsletter, you can periodically remind them that you’re active on IG and that they should follow you for any updates.

Extra Step: What Not to Do

Now that we’ve covered all of the steps that can help you gain followers on IG, we should quickly focus on the big no-nos. Namely, a lot of brands that are new to social media tend to make mistakes. Sometimes, these mishaps can result in them losing followers and maybe gaining a bad rep. But in extreme cases, improper conduct can lead to account bans and, ultimately, no revenue growth.

So, what should you absolutely avoid doing as a content creator on Instagram? Here’s a brief list:

  • Never, under any circumstances, break Instagram’s Community Guidelines;
  • Don’t steal photos or videos off the internet and promote it as your own; your content must be original;
  • If you plan on buying followers, be careful where you do it; while there are legitimate services for buying likes and followers, there are also quite a few scams out there. Modern Instagram can detect bots and fake accounts quickly, and channels with massive inorganic growth tend to get the ax;
  • Don’t follow and then unfollow quickly after; some people tend to do that to get quick followers, but it’s not a good long-term strategy;
  • Do not ignore what your followers have to say about your content; remember, your followers are your Instagram livelihood, so take all of their honest criticism into consideration.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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