In the world of social marketing, everyone tries to find the recipe for success, but only few are willing to work hard to attain their higher purpose.
When learning about the struggle, some give up while others want to find the fastest and quickest path. On Instagram, you need to put in a lot of effort to develop great content and also find out how to grow Instagram organically.
Why paying for ads when you can first build brand awareness for free? All you need is a creative mind, generous amounts of patience and determination and a reliable source of accurate data (that's us!).
And since we all know that everything is impossible until it’s actually done, let’s see what can help you grow your Instagram organically.
Building Instagram followers organically
- What is an Instagram content strategy?
- 4 benefits of growing your Instagram organically
- 6 tips on the best way to grow Instagram followers organically
Before finding out how to grow your Instagram organically, it is better to learn more about what is an Instagram growth strategy.
An Instagram growth strategy relies on increasing your number of followers through organic content (without paying for ads or for followers).
Yeah, this may sound like the hard way, but it is also the safest way to do it, especially when you're just starting out in the business world.
Growing your Instagram without spending all your marketing budget means working more on developing solid marketing strategies.
An organic marketing strategy is a long term solution, since it requires more time to develop. But make no mistake: engaging with your followers and coming up with revolutionary content ideas can propel your account in front of your readers.
However, your main goal, as a marketer who is in charge of a brand’s Instagram account is not only to increase the follower count.
The next best thing is to make them all engage with your brand’s content. That’s your ultimate goal that will help you increase traffic.
If you choose to pay for fake followers, this will not increase your Instagram metrics, like engagement, reach and post impressions.
Moreover, your account may seem suspicious for Instagram and it is possible that it gets restricted.
Having a reliable community, with users who are genuinely interested in your brand, who suit the profile your buyer persona is what every business wants. A prospective lead could easily turn into a future client.
When you put your mind to it and decide to focus your entire content marketing team to develop quality content, you know what kind of expectations to set.
Attainable goals are the best kind of goals for a team.
Taking it step by step when developing your strategy really helps you see what are the benefits of an organic growth strategy on Instagram.
Here is a list of benefits that will convince you to try growing your Instagram organically.
- Increase engagement on Instagram - When sustainably growing your follower count with users who had already shown an affinity for your business it is more than clear that your engagement rate will reach new highs.
- Developing brand’s recognition - If you pay for fake followers, your real followers and potential partners will spot this from miles away. Are you wondering how? Well, the huge number of followers will not correspond with the values of your Instagram metrics.
- Decrease the chance to get banned or restricted - When you focus on your real followers and you interact with them, Instagram will not find any suspicious behavior when analyzing your account. This means that it will have no reasons to ban or restrict your Instagram account. By keeping it real you keep it clean.
- Attract new customers - Besides focusing on interacting with your existing community, your next goal is to increase your number of followers. By converting followers into new clients you will finally increase sales and your brand will prosper.
- Develop quality content
If you are wondering what lies at the foundation of a great organic Instagram strategy, the answer is simple: quality content.
However, it is not easy to develop it. Top-performing content, with original ideas, can take a lot of time and require many resources.
Using the right type and amount of content can help you win new followers organically.
Keep in mind the fact that Instagram is all about visuals, and you are competing with some impressive posts.
You don’t need a fancy device to take amazing photos. You have to pay closer attention to details. Natural light, a crisp image, and a relevant background will do wonders.
Phones these days are more than capable of taking some amazing pictures. However, a photo remains just a photo if you don’t create a story behind it and give it a personal spin.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that posting every day is not as important as posting meaningful content once a while (but not too rarely).
It is better to know your content reaches followers’ standards, being in accordance with your brand’s goals and values.
- Work on your captions
Speaking of stories, it is really important to think about great captions.
You can have an amazing Instagram Reel or a top-notch carousel, but it can all be in vain if your caption doesn’t attract readers’ attention to learn more.
Captions are the best way to fill in the gaps and tell your followers a beautiful story that could determine them to interact with your post (like, share, comment).
However, if your Instagram post’s caption is too long, no one will read it and they will rapidly scroll through to the next post in their feed.
Keep your Instagram message short, sweet and simple, and it will reach more people than you’d expect.
Instagram is predominantly a visual platform but a good caption can absolutely take your photo to another level. Some of my all-time best performing photos have had good captions to go with them. Think witty, honest, or heartfelt.
- Sina, @happygreylucky
- Alternate your types of posts
On Instagram, you can choose between photos, carousels, Reels and stories. It is better if you alternate them, showing followers how creative your brand is.
By constantly bringing something new to the table and keeping up with the latest trends, you will see that your followers will appreciate your content even more.
You need to get rid of monotony. Posting the same kind of stuff everyday will lead to a follower count decrease and this is the last thing you want.
Juggle with the various types of Instagram posts to make users happy, transforming them into potential customers to make YOU happy.
👉 Based our latest study on short-form videos, Instagram Reels have the highest watch rate. Maybe you should consider posting some fun Reels that could rapidly win over fans’ hearts.
The trick is not to choose post types blindly, but prioritize those which bring the highest amount of brand awareness, reach or engagement.
In Socialinsider, you can identify your top-performing posts by going to your Instagram analytics dashboard and scrolling all the way down to these two charts.
In this case, since Carousels and Reels seem to be the biggest engagement generators, they should probably be prioritized going forward.
- Post during optimal times
When planning your content for Instagram, it is best if you use a third-party analytics tool to see what is the best posting time, based on your demographics.
If you just post your content at random times, you cannot expect your followers to interact with it immediately.
Depending on your target audience, you should look at which is the interval they are most active on Instagram.
This way, you will know exactly when to schedule your content to reach more users.
Luckily, you can get a pretty solid idea when to post by looking at your own Instagram analytics or even your competitors'.
This chart will reveal the best times to post by engagement, down to the day of the week and the hour of the day. In this case, you can expect to have the highest amount of engagement if you post Wednesdays at 6pm.
- Use user-generated content (UGC)
When people buy your products or services, they may want to share their thoughts about it with their community. If they tag you, make sure you leave a comment to their post, thanking them for their feedback.
You can even go a step further and share their post on Stories, boosting the post's reach and promoting brand transparency.
Irrespective of their opinion, remember that you are there to show your customers that you are doing your best.
Even if they may have a negative post about your brand, go to their post comments’ section and try to solve the problem.
They need to know that everything is under control. This type of interaction may encourage other users to speak their minds, while some of them may support you.
This type of user-generated content that includes feedback can contribute to your brand awareness’ growth, helping you gain more followers.
There may be some other clients who can make an unboxing or a haul using your products. It is advisable to use their content, after receiving their permission, to promote your products.
This is how you support your brand’s recognition and engagament’s growth.
A good strategy to organically grow your Instagram is to make all of your posts easy to recognize by adding subtle branding elements to anything and everything you post.
Think colors, tone of voice, specific messages. Paying attention to everything that means "look and feel" is a great marketing strategy.
Don’t be afraid to associate strong, relatable values to your name. Choosing certain colors, angles and perspectives when developing content could really make you stand out from your competitors.
It will encourage your loyal audience to interact instantly and will connect a new audience to your brand instantly.
If people believe in your company, they will support you both online and offline, strengthening your brand’s name and bringing new followers to your page.
Just remember that the key here is authenticity. And if you think that nothing is authentic nowadays, maybe it’s time to look at your story.
The story behind the brand is what makes the difference, bringing a splash of novelty.
Many marketers have already learned that consistency is something to rely on when developing Instagram content.
When planning on how to grow Instagram organically it is crucial to be consistent.
The types of posts you use, how you phrase your captions, the way you edit your content and what colors you use in your setup become your trademark on Instagram, without you even knowing.
Your followers will search for them in every post and your consistency will give them a sense of familiarity, connecting even more with your brand.
This technique will not only retain your current followers, but will also bring new ones into your community. The way your content looks will make them see you as reliable and trustworthy.
- Learn about metrics
Consistency should not only reflect in the way you develop your content, but also in how you analyze your posts’ performance for a particular time frame.
Looking at data can help you find out with what type of content your audience engages more, what attracts them the most and what is the best time to post.
The most important metrics on Instagram you should evaluate include:
👉 If you want to know all about Instagram metrics, check out our guide.
Once you connect your brand's account in Socialinsider, you gain access to a large variety of Instagram metrics. It's up to you which ones you prioritize. To start, we offer an overview of the key metrics to track.
Please note that follower growth is calculated from the moment the account is added to the app. This profile was added recently, which is why the value of this metric is 0.
- Use hashtags to gain traction
Used correctly, hashtags can help spread your message to users who have never heard about your brand and help you grow your audience.
You will not only gain more followers, but those followers will be people that are genuinely interested in the topics described by your hashtags, being likely to engage with you.
So make sure that you use hashtags that are fairly popular, but aren’t extremely common.
In Socialinsider, you can easily measure which hashtags are generating more impressions or engagement, as long as you connect your brand's Instagram account and authorize it.
This type of data is only available to owned accounts.
Instagram allows you to add as many as thirty hashtags. However, too many hashtags can be disorienting for users.
The number of hashtags you use and the decision to place them in the caption or in the first comment should be taken after closely analyzing your audience and the size of your profile.
- Reinforce familiarity through Instagram posts
The content with which people engage the most is the one that plants the seed of familiarity. A common situation or a long-forgotten feeling put into a photo or a Reel can transmit so much sentiment.
Since Instagram is similar to a digital magazine, content on Instagram should be curated to share a common vibe or theme.
For instance, you may consider posting pictures related to a single subject matter, or resort to cropping all the images in a similar way, or even opting for the same filter for all your pictures.
- Assess personality through tone of voice
The way you phrase and write your message also plays a big part in being consistent.
Think of your brand as a person: the way they look and speak, their likes and dislikes are all part of their personality.
If you want your brand to organically grow on Instagram, you have to define its personality.
Make sure you communicate your messages in such a way that your audience can identify and relate to.
An important part of learning how to grow Instagram followers organically is by conducting proper market research.
Use analytics tools, like Socialinsider, to gain insights about your competitors:
✔ When and what are they posting about?
✔ How are they engaging with their audience?
✔ What type of content is generating excitement and what’s falling flat?
You can compare their Instagram profiles to your own and see what they are doing better.
This way, you can draw powerful insights that help you adjust your own strategy and help your posts perform better.
This will help you identify the strategies implemented by your competitors on Instagram, especially the ones that are popular on this social platform.
In Socialinsider, you can do this in more than one way.
- You can simply add your competitors' social profiles in the app and explore the data provided for each platform (or cross-channel).
- You can use the Benchmarks feature to see exactly how you stack up against your competitors, or how two or more of your competitors stack up against each other.
- You can compare your own profiles with other relevant competitors or the entire industry (using the Compare and Industry features, respectively).
You can apply either one or all of these methods to get your market research data and make better decisions when it comes to build Instagram followers organically.
Care to further improve your Instagram organic strategy?
Consider giving our newly revamped feature - Strategy - a chance to shine. Using the Strategy tool, you can track the performance of your competitors' campaigns on Instagram and essentially see what’s working for them and what’s not.
Let’s take a practical example.
Say you’re one of Notion’s direct competitors. You don’t want to miss out on all the AI-hype so you are soon launching an AI component for your product. You want to promote it properly but not invest too much money in the social media campaign. What do you do?
Well, you could take a look at Notion’s campaign centered around AI.
You can do this from the Strategy section. Just add the relevant profile into the app, create a campaign based on the keyword you’re interested in - in this case, AI - and voila!
You have access to your competitor’s campaign data and can extract insights to help you create a better organic strategy on Instagram.
To effectively grow your Instagram account, you should engage with your followers, by always being there when they have queries or questions.
A social listening tool can really help you develop a strategy that can increase and retain your existing followers, transforming them into a loyal community.
Spice up your content with more flavor so that your followers won’t ignore your posts.
Here are a few ways in which you can engage with followers:
- Instagram Stories - This type of content increases your brand’s performance without crowding up your follower’s feed.
- Instagram Live - Include Q&As to engage your followers for a longer period of time.
- Sneak peaks - When you announce a new product or update, make sure you offer your followers a sneak peak to make them even more curious. You can even set a countdown for them to get notified when the products are released.
- Giveaways - Contests and giveaways can help you increase brand visibility since the winners will tag your brand.
Networking doesn’t always mean connecting with influencers and your brand’s advocates. Networking also refers to keeping in touch with your community.
Without networking you cannot expect to have an audience, leave alone grow your Instagram followers.
Therefore, networking will help you increase your number of followers on Instagram, resulting in increased popularity of your business.
If you are wondering how to do it, here are a few ideas:
✔ Engage with others on their feed.
✔ Engage with your audience on your own photos by responding to comments.
✔ Team with a group of other Instagrammers and participate in #followfriday or other variations for your niche.
✔ Increase exposure by tagging brands, influencers or your followers in your posts.
✔ Setup giveaways.
✔ Let other people regram your posts (by resharing to their Story).
A good way to attract new followers as well as to make your Instagram followers feel excited about something new is by setting up recurring giveaways.
When your giveaway closes, the winners will most likely tag you and talk about you. So your account and brand will be exposed to a lot more potential new followers.
Besides, giveaways are proven to help boost engagement on your Instagram posts.
Hopefully these tips will help you better organize your Instagram marketing strategy without paying for ads.
However, it is important to keep in mind the manner in which you present your brand and engage with users actually contributes to growth in your Instagram followers organically.
Start tracking your Instagram analytics!