How to Grow Your Instagram Followers

How to Grow Your Instagram Followers

Yep. As you may be able to tell from the title, today we’re talking about Instagram! Specifically, how to grow an account from scratch – whether it’s for your personal account, work, or side hustles. There’s no exact formula on how to make your Instagram account blow up, and it certainly takes time (and effort) to be seen and somewhat successful, but I want to share with you a few tips and tricks that have worked for me! 

High Engagement = High Result

First things first, know that the more time you spend on liking and commenting on other people’s photos, the more Instagram favors your account. That means, more eyes will be on your posts and higher reach. So before we get into anything complex, make sure to spend a decent amount of time regularly to just like and comment on similar accounts. What I do is to head to Explore page, sort by category “Food” and go down a rabbit hole there! Alternatively, I find it to be useful to start with a hashtag that’s relevant to you, for example, I use #hkfoodieblogger as one of my hashtags for a post, so I go on to find other accounts/posts and interact with those too!

Hashtags are Key

A straightforward one, but still worth noting nonetheless.

I’ve noticed that there are two common mistakes in the usage of hashtags:

1. Too little of them and

2. Using hashtags that are too populated.

The first one is obvious, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags for each post, and I personally think it’s best to take advantage of all to increase exposure! Second, I’ve seen people that strictly use large hashtags only (ones in the millions range).

I think it’s good to use one or two of these, but chances are unless your account is big already, these huge hashtags will drown your post incredibly fast which leads to lower impressions and views. On the flip side, make sure that the ones you choose have some life around it – don’t use ones that nobody use, or else you’ll get nothing out of it!

My advice is to mix the range, using some in the higher count and some smaller ones in the thousands range so you get a bit of both. Best to also use a mix of location-based ones, like #hkfoodielife #balifoodies #balifoodguide #balifoodhunting #balifoodlovers #balifoodgasm #balifoodtalk, as well as some general ones like #feedfeed #hereismyfood #foodsnap #happytummy #goodtaste.

How to Find Hashtags

While we’re on the topic, I also get questions like: How do I find the best hashtags to use?

A few things I do aside from finding location-based ones above (which seems to be most efficient), is to go on explore page, look into one hashtag and see what shows up under the Related tab, and use those!

This helps when you are trying to create a list of custom tags for specific posts or when you want to spice up your usual set! Plus, these are typically relevant and in the same range of numbers so it should be a good addition.

Also, make sure to change your series on hashtags every now and then (best if you can change it each post!). Why? Because supposedly, Instagram shows less and less of accounts with the same tags as they can be considered spammy! And I think it’s a general habit and good for A/B testing anyways! The key is to collect and categorize a series of them to be used for different posts and see how they perform while mixed and matched!

One last thing, if you are on a business profile in which you can see insights of each post, it’s a good idea to check the number of your impressions and see how the “From Hashtags” part is performing. If it’s lower than from Home and other sources, it’s time to look for new ones!

from a new post

Join Engagement Groups

Ever wondered how people get a lot of comments on their posts? Chances are, they are in engagement pods! These are community (or groups) where people with similar interests get together to support each other. They are usually by categories, whether food, travel, dogs, or even more random ones. How it typically works is that you are required to like/comment the past 5/10/30 links on the group before you can post yours. Once you post yours, the people in the group will like and comment on yours in return.

There are some pros and cons to using these. The main pro is, of course, higher engagement. These groups almost guarantee that these people will always like and comment on your post, which should boost your engagement. On the flip side, these groups can be incredibly time-consuming, as you have to like other people’s posts too which could range from 10 to 30 posts before you get anything back. To me, it’s a good boost when you are just starting, but not a good long term game since by the end of the day, you want all your interactions to be organic.

These groups are often not promoted as they are somewhat exclusive. But Reddit and Telegrams are where they usually are, just look up IGPODS and your niche, like this. From these groups, you can find more exclusive invite-only ones on Instagram DMs and Whatsapp. 

Please beware of shadowbans aka your account can be on temporary lockdown if Instagram finds it to be too bot-like with the same comment over and over. 

Now, let’s talk about how to plan your content! 

Plan Your Grid

I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.

It helps a lot to plan ahead so that you can stay on schedule and keep your Instagram consistent, and it’s useful to see what your photos will look like once it’s on Instagram #aesthetic.

I tend to match photos based on its color tone and warmth level (cool ones together, and warm colors together) to create a more coherent grid look, and a few apps like UNUM, Planoly, and Preview help you do this!

UNUM is my personal favorite since you can switch around photos and its order (drag it down to the next row) but Planoly is also really nice because you can drag images around and schedule posts for Instagram. Whichever one you use, I’d recommend to start planning in 3s or even 6s photos and decide if that looks good for you personally. 

Here’s an example of how I use this idea for one of the accounts I manage @oriiofficial:

Get Inspired

My favorite thing to do while starting a new account is finding references to aesthetic or niche that you like. This helps with deciding what you want your account to look like and see how to accomplish similar looks.

A few I follow for Inspiration is @rjkaur.xo for the aesthetic (she is QUEEN of Instagram stories) and a few smaller but creative concepts I like @eatover (such a concept!) and @belicious.eats for her consistency and oh so pleasing edits.

Spend some time finding people you like, and see how they can inspire you to make your account nice too!

Maximize Bio Usage

Instagram bio is one of the most underrated but very useful features. Not only that it’s a great place to make a good first impression, but it’s also a perfect place for self-promo! First, make sure to include a relevant hashtag (or your own) in the bio so that it appears when searched, include your location (so people know what to expect), and a link to your other channels. 

A pro tip for the link is to create a semi-landing page so that the one link in your bio can lead to many different sources.

For example, we use the app Milkshake to make our link in bio. Here you can see that this one link leads to 5+ posts so that we can direct viewers to new articles or one that they are most interested in immediately.

link on bio

It’s also great for cross-promotion in case you have any other channels you’d like to direct your viewer towards! 

That’s it! I hope these tips help you and your account. If you have any more tips you’d like to share, please do let me know! And, in case you haven’t, follow our Instagram @fromcollegetonow for more dose of our lives 😉


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