Created an Instagram? Great! Now it’s time to make it work. You can’t go from newbie to influencer overnight unfortunately, but you can grow organically without it taking forever. Everyone’s on Instagram these days and if you’ve got content you want to promote, it’s the perfect place to be. All you need to do is get your name known on there.
When you first set up your Instagram account, it doesn’t seem to be very user-friendly. Your page has no life to it, and it’s not tailored to your preferences at all. It takes time to build up a feed you can interact with. Of course Instagram will tell you to follow a certain amount of people when your account is new, but usually they’re not ones you tend to follow for long. The content is quite broad, so you really need to find your niche as soon as possible.
If you’re a fashion account, you’re going to have various accounts thrown your way as suggestions. Maybe you’ll love what’s offered, and you’ll gain inspiration for your own account. However, from personal experience I’ve found that typically as quick as I’ve followed them, I’ve also unfollowed. It’s nothing against the accounts, but it’s just finding your personal preference. You want accounts you can interact with. Finding the ones with millions of followers isn’t going to get you the conversations you need to get started.
It’s the same for any type of account, personal, business and creative. It doesn’t matter what direction you want to take your profile in. You’ll still be suggested obscure accounts that don’t really scream you…
1️⃣ Figure out your goal
This has to be the most important point. It sounds obvious. If you’re a music account, your goal is to share tracks right? It isn’t as simple as that though. You may be a music account but what genre? Who is your target audience? What do you want to gain out of this account? It might be that you just want new fans that you can promote your work to, and they’ll listen. Or, you might be a music blog writer, and you want to find cool people within the industry to interact with and write articles about. Maybe you review audio software, and you want a space to show your findings, since everyone’s on Insta right?
If you’re a beauty account, are you focusing on skincare, makeup or everything as a whole? Do you want to show off your work or simply use it to promote your YouTube channel where everyone can check out your tutorials? The choice is obviously yours and no one is saying you can’t decide to change things up eventually. It’s important you go in strong though. You don’t want to spend hours investing in your interactions with everyone and anyone. They’re not going to add to your account.
Yes, you might think you want all the followers you can get but imagine being a foodie account, reviewing the best steaks in your area and then following vegan dedicated pages. It’s not going to work. They’re not your target audience and more importantly, you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. Don’t get your name known for the wrong reasons. The phrase “no publicity is bad publicity” isn’t completely true. If you want your work to be respected and other people on the platform to help you out then you’ve got to go in on a respectable level.
2️⃣ Know your limits
Ps. The limit totally does exist here…
You’ll quickly find as a new account, you can’t spend days upon days following everyone you come across. There are limits for all Instagram users, especially newbies. With a brand new shiny account, you can only follow/unfollow up to 20 accounts per hour. This is with a maximum of 100-200 users per day. It might seem like a great idea to just spend a few hours following a mass amount of people, but it will only end up with you getting your account locked for a short time. These blocks can be a few days or longer which is going to be really damaging if you’re just starting out.
Some creators think spamming the follow button and then possibly even spamming the unfollow button will make them a star. You’re going to stumble across more problems than solutions by doing this. That’s not to suggest you don’t go around following people. After all, you want to create a community where you all share the same passion. Just make sure you’re careful with your follow limit. It’s counted as spam otherwise and again that will just put people off following you. If they notice your account is fluctuating massively, they’re likely to avoid you.
3️⃣ Be realistic when reaching for the stars
We want your account to go viral, as I’m sure you do too. However, setting unrealistic expectations isn’t going to boost your moral. It’s only going to dampen it. Say you’ve just created a profile, suggesting to yourself you’ll reach 500 followers by the end of the week seems a little unlikely. Of course there are exceptions. If you’ve already got other channels on different platforms that are performing well, then you might be able to reach this. For most of us though, it’s not going to happen just like that.
It takes time for people to learn your name. Eventually after you’ve been interacting for some time, they’ll start to recognise you and either follow or interact with your content. Work on commenting on other creators content and giving them feedback, as they might end up doing the same for you. Try to target smaller accounts first. By this, I’m not suggesting you only interact with accounts under 1k for example. But, maybe avoid all the 10k+ accounts while you’re still small. They’ve clearly established themselves already and are less likely to interact with accounts that are smaller. Comment and share the things you’re interested in, but if you’re looking to grow, it’s more likely an account with 1k will share your work over one with 10k.
4️⃣ Hash out those hashtags
Hashtags will become your best friend. You’ll suddenly wonder how you ever lived life without them. They’re great for finding new people to interact with and also for encouraging other people to follow you. It’s not about adding every hashtag you can think of though. There is a limit of 30 per post and with good reason. Sometimes less is more. You’re going to achieve more through a few solid hashtags than you are tagging everything that comes to mind.
The important thing to think of first is what your content is about. Whatever the topic, there will be hashtags that are trending and these are likely to change it up. A really irritating thing about the world of Instagram is how one simple letter can make or break a tag. This sounds silly but for example if you’re uploading a reel, #reel only has 21.5M posts compared to #reels which has 137M. That’s not me suggesting that both are great numbers to reach. For a potential audience, they both perform well. However, simply by adding an ‘s’ onto the end can help you reach so many more people. Have a look at my previous blog post where I talk about Display Purposes which is a free hashtag generator. For anyone starting out, this could be a lifeline.
A little tip…
There are companies out there that promise the best hashtags for your account. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t look into these, but I tested it out myself and the content I was provided is nothing I couldn’t have discovered on my own. It’s helpful having them all in one place but the internet changes up so frequently that a hashtag pack you purchase might not be useful for very long.
My best advice for this would be to head to content creators that offer the same service as yourself, and see what they’re using. Another method I’ve tried is typing in a hashtag related to my content and letting Instagram help me out. If I was to type #beauty it then shows me everything related to that underneath, along with the numbers of posts using it. If it doesn’t have many people posting it, then it probably doesn’t have many people searching for it either.
5️⃣ Don’t buy attention
It’s tempting, I know, but it won’t help you in the long run. You might think people are more likely to follow you if you have 100 followers on the day your account is first created. If these are all dead accounts though, what does it really add to your growth? If anything, it will make your content look weak because you’ll have 100 followers but no interaction with your work. Surely if you clicked on an Instagram account and saw they had loads of followers but no one commented or liked their posts, you’d want to know why?
While growing your account is important, it needs to be done organically. It’s the same with buying likes. You’d have to do it for all of your content to make it look believable, and you’d constantly be increasing how many you buy to make it look like you’re really growing. This won’t do you any favours with Instagram itself. They’ll be onto you.
Instagram have become really protective of organic growth. It’s the same with spamming the follow button. They’ll take that as you trying to game the system and put a ban on your account for a period of time. Meaning you can’t do anything on the app until it’s over. Buying followers or likes is a big no no in Instagram’s terms. Just don’t do it. Plus, don’t you want the satisfaction of being able to say you achieved that yourself?
6️⃣ Get to know useful resources early on
There are so many apps and websites out there that can help boost everything about your account. Again, just to confirm, I don’t mean buying views or interaction. However, there are a whole heap of apps that can help with your setup.
An account isn’t going to become successful if it doesn’t look appealing. If you’re music based, you want to include your release artwork or your artist images. This way it’s clear to see who you are and what you offer. That’s why branding is key. You need to establish yourself for other people to know who you are. Imagine everyone is clueless to the content you create. Pitch your brand in a way that is impossible not to understand.
UMUN is a fantastic app for ensuring your feed flows together. You can see your current layout and add new images and videos and play around with the order of them. This is really important to keep your Instagram account flowing. Some images work better together than others and colour contrasts are really powerful. As a content creator this is something you really should look into and the basic version of it is free.
Take a look into what editing apps are going to work for you. There are so many we could list, but it really depends on your content. Someone creating mainly video content won’t want the same as someone who sells their work through their imagery for example. Go to your app store and try different ones out. Many of them are free or at least offer free features. While some of them you will find it is better to pay for their premium version. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to just jump in and buy the first ones you come across. Try them out and see what features work best for your content.
7️⃣ Collab, collab, collab
Can’t stop, won’t stop. Collaborate as much as you can across different creators. It helps both of your Instagram accounts get noticed and encourages other people to reach out and ask to join forces. It might be a little tricky at first getting people to agree to start a collab. This isn’t because your work isn’t good, but often people only want to collaborate if they’re going to gain something from it themselves.
That being said however, there are a whole bunch of companies out there who will reach out to you over time. Some of them do come with a catch. After all, the best things in life are rarely free. There will be companies who message you with offers such as “just pay shipping and get up to 4 products free” then they’ll likely give you a code to share with your followers, that if used will collect some commission for you.
It doesn’t look tempting I’m aware. However, some of these are more useful than you’d first expect. Take a look at the number of followers they have. If it isn’t going to cost you the earth, and it’s a product relevant to the service you offer. I.e. if a clothing brand are reaching out to you, and you’re a fashion blogger. Don’t shut it down before you’ve done your research. They’re likely going to share your posts to their account once you’ve received and posted their items. This, at the end of the day, is exposure. Over time, you might find more companies offering you completely free items, with no catch as your account grows.
👯♂️ Help each other out
It doesn’t take a knock on your account to share someone else’s work. In return, they’re likely to share yours. It becomes a domino effect. Have you ever see those accounts that suggest 5 likes for 5 likes? People that opt to engage with the original post often find themselves liking the content of others that have done the same thing. It’s all about you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
If you spot another account similar to your content, why not ask them if they want to join up for a fun collab? Again as I mentioned earlier, possibly avoid the super powerful influencers to begin with. Focus on the ones like yourself, starting out and hoping to gain some attraction. Once you collab, your followers may become theirs and vice versa. The more you do this, the further your account travels.
8️⃣ Check the trends
Last, but by no means least, keep your eye on the latest trends. Instagram is a place to go viral, but you need to keep up. Things are forever changing in the world of social media, and you need to be one step ahead. For example, right now you need to get into Reels. There’s no avoiding them if you want to do well currently. They’re the in thing, and they could be the feature that helps your account double. Everyone’s using Instagram Reels to promote their content and just to have fun, showing their day-to-day lives. No matter what your content, you need to get on board and find a way to make them work for you.
Perhaps you’re a makeup artist, try doing a 1-minute video showing your favourite products. Or, as a musician, show the equipment you used to create your recent song. Whatever it is, Reel it. They’re what’s gaining the views at the moment. If you head to your Instagram analytics (which you absolutely must get to grips with ASAP) you’ll be able to see just how much traffic has come from this feature.
This isn’t the only trend that’s current. Challenges fly around the platform constantly. You can always find one within your field. For example, it might be a certain fashion blogger has created a 30-day challenge where they’ll specify what type of outfit you need to put together each day. Get involved with them when you can. Not only will it help you gain exposure through interaction, it will also encourage you to post more often.
If you’re someone who finds it difficult to keep updating your social media pages, these kinds of things are perfect because they pretty much force you to post. It’s no secret that those who post more often and show more content will have a larger following than those who ghost their followers.
Have fun with it!
So, we’ve given you our 8 top tips on how to organically grow your Instagram account from nothing. The most important thing for you is to enjoy it. If you’re starting from scratch, you’re far more likely to get put off and give up if it feels like a chore. Social media is supposed to be fun, don’t let it become something you dread doing. Otherwise, what’s the point?
It will be one of your best assets once you’ve cracked it and there’s always help available. Countless YouTube videos and tutorials on how to do a specific thing. It doesn’t need to take up all of your time either. Especially at the start, if you’re spending all of your time on it, you’re probably overdoing it. It will require more work the more you grow. Get to know the different features and try things out. Experimenting before it counts will benefit you in the long run. So, any weird and wonderful things you think might work, give them a go before your following grows to the point where it could damage your account.