Don’t pay and stay away from fake followers. Here’s how…
We’ve already covered why buying followers and engagement is always a mistake, but it still leaves the question: how do I get them organically? We can’t all be Jennifer Aniston, who rushed past the million-follower mark in mere hours of creating her account, nor can we operate like Beyoncé, posting near-identical photos in sporadic bursts and still drowning in engagement.
Growing a following takes careful planning and consideration. Here’s some guidance to get you started…
Create a regular posting schedule
The Instagram algorithm rewards regular content, as it sees you as an engaged and engaging user. That doesn’t mean you need to drop a photo every few hours – work out what’s sustainable for you, but every other day to every day (maybe once every 2 days for more niche content) is probably advisable. In order to make this work with your lifestyle and other commitments, you’ll need to bank content and have it saved to post on days where you don’t have time to create new content. Sketch out your regular week, think about where you can carve out a chunk of time to create and edit content and book it in. Treat it like an appointment and don’t move it for anything.
Do your housekeeping
Small changes you can make that can dramatically affect your engagement. Think of it as housekeeping – is your profile photo clear, recent and flattering? Is your bio up-to-date? Have you edited your name in your profile to include your niche, so that you rank higher if people search for it? Do an audit of your profile and take care of anything unrelated or unprofessional so you’re putting your best foot forward.
Curate your captions
If you’ve spent hours getting that perfect shot and editing it *just* so, having to then bang out a caption too may feel like a tall order, and defaulting to a string of emoji or a song lyric definitely feels more appealing. In reality, if you don’t put something with a little substance in there, no matter how good the content, it’s ultimately forgettable. It doesn’t have to be motivational or even philosophical, but do put *something* that could spark some discussion or be of service to somebody. Make sure you plan in caption-writing time, too, if they don’t come naturally to you.
Engage with your community
Engagement doesn’t just mean replying with a heart-eyes emoji to comments on your posts – you need to go and comment on other people’s, too! Firstly, this tells the algorithm that you’re a real, engaged user, and so it becomes more likely to show your content higher up, too. Secondly, it helps show to other people in your niche that you’re an active user, and piques their curiosity about you, too. That doesn’t mean spam people’s posts or add generic replies – maybe spend a few minute chunks a day commenting on posts in your niche you genuinely like and find interesting.
Use hashtags to your advantage
Let’s say you’re a food creator. The obvious tags are #food, #foodies and #foodporn etc – but those tags are so overwhelmingly popular, you’ll be pushed off the Explore page in seconds and basically swamped in content. Instead, do some digging and find a mix of hashtags to use, both niche ones and large ones, and deploy them. Smaller tags tend to have more engaged communities around them, which can be lucrative. And be sure not to just copy and paste the same ones over and over again, or Instagram might think you’re a bot.