1. Have a thoughtful Instagram strategy
To use any social network effectively, you need a clear plan.
Getting more Instagram followers is a great goal to start with. But followers alone won’t give you a successful Instagram account. Gaining followers needs to be part of a larger plan that connects to your business strategy and social marketing objectives.
Think about the reasons why you want more Instagram followers. What do you really hope to accomplish? Maybe you want to:
- increase brand awareness
- boost product sales
- drive traffic to your website.
Staying focused on these business-oriented goals will help keep your Instagram account consistent. It will help you tell a compelling brand story that appeals to new profile visitors and helps build (and keep) a loyal following.
2. Define your target audience
Ask yourself some questions about who you are trying to reach:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- When and how do they use Instagram?
- What are their pain points and challenges?
Answering these questions will help you craft the right kind of Instagram content to reach the people on Instagram who are most likely to give you a follow. It will also keep you focused on the needs of your target audience so you can consistently deliver content that makes them want to keep following you for the long term.
3. Create a consistent brand story and aesthetic
Maybe you want to satisfy curiosity by showing off how your product is made. Or share an employee’s perspective to humanize your brand. If you want to position your brand in an aspirational way, you could try showcasing the lifestyle or achievements of your customers.
No matter what you want to achieve, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand personality and look.
Your posts should be easily recognizable at a glance. Think of your Instagram grid as one cohesive unit. You can always use Instagram Stories to share content that doesn’t quite fit with the look and feel of your main feed.
Even if your products don’t all look the same, you can use consistent styling to give your grid a consistent look and feel, like @themillerswifecustomcookies does:
4. Use keywords to appear in searches
Before people can follow you on Instagram, they have to find you. Not a lot of the text on Instagram is searchable. In fact, only two fields on Instagram contribute to search results: name and username.
Your username is your Instagram handle. It’s a good idea to make it consistent with the handle you use on other social networks, since this also makes it easier for people to find you. Use your brand name or a variation of your name that people are likely to use when searching for your brand.
Your name can be anything you like, up to 30 characters. Keyword stuffing is never a good idea, but it can be useful to include your most relevant keyword in the name field to improve discoverability based on search.
We just said that the text of your Instagram posts isn’t searchable. But hashtags do appear in Instagram search. That means using hashtags thoughtfully can be a good way to get followers on Instagram for free.
Including relevant hashtags can help people find your content after a search, or after clicking on a hashtag from another relevant post. Instagram users can also follow hashtags, so your hashtagged content may appear in feeds of people who do not yet follow your account.
You can include up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post, but hashtags are often more effective based on quality rather than quantity. Do some experimenting to learn how many hashtags work best for your particular account.
Avoid hashtag gimmicks such as #likeforlike, #tagsforlikes, or #followme. These may give you a temporary boost in followers. But they will likely be bots or people only interested in being followed back. And that won’t help you build a meaningful, engaged community on Instagram.
6. Craft a great bio and profile
Two-thirds of Instagram business profile visits are from non-followers. Those new visitors are all potential new free instagram followers—but only if your bio and profile convince them to click the follow button. They won’t do so if your profile is unclear, incomplete, or unappealing.
In addition to the name and username fields mentioned above, your profile includes your website (a clickable link) and your bio.
Make the most of the 150 characters in your bio to convey your brand identity and show new visitors why they should follow you. What kind of content can they expect?
This bio from @abstractaerialart sums up the account’s purpose and promise in a quick, easy-to-digest way:
If you have a professional account (business or creator), you can also include additional details in your profile, like your contact information, type of business, and location. Make use of all the fields that are relevant to your business to give new visitors all the information they need to decide to follow.
This might seem too obvious to mention, but it’s actually a critical point when thinking about how to get followers on Instagram. Every post on your Instagram grid needs to be of high quality and visually engaging.
When a new user visits your profile, the content should make them want to see more. It’s that wanting more that inspires a new visitor to click Follow.
Great content also encourages people to like, comment on, and share your posts. That engagement gives you an Instagram algorithm boost and helps you get more reach and new followers.
And, of course, consistently posting great content ensures that your Instagram followers stay followers.
Although Instagram is a visual platform, writing great Instagram captions plays a big role in helping you get more reach and engagement. And, as you’ve already seen, reach and engagement are key factors in attracting free instagram followers.
Here are some key strategies to keep in mind:
- Put the most important words up front. If the caption is more than 125 characters long, users will have to tap “more” to see the whole thing. Make the most of those first words to inspire that extra tap.
- Ask a question. This makes it easy for your audience to leave a comment. That engagement will help make your account visible to more people.
- Try emoji. Emoji can help draw the reader’s eye and are appropriate for most types of accounts on this visual social network.
- Try different caption lengths. Instagram allows long-form captions up to 2,200 characters, so you can test out some in-depth storytelling if your post warrants it. Ultra-short captions can also be very effective when the visuals speak for themselves.
Will Tang of Going Awesome Places posts great photos with detailed captions that tell the story behind the shot. Since his Insta bio describes him as a “creator of ridiculously detailed itineraries and guides,” this caption approach is very on-brand.
9. Pin your best comments
One of the newest Instagram features is the ability to pin up to three comments for each post.
There are a couple of ways you can use this new feature as part of your plan for how to get more followers on instagram.
One option is to use pinned comments to extend your caption beyond the maximum 2,200 characters by continuing the story in the comments. This lets you take on more detailed and in-depth storytelling, which may be a fit for some accounts.
Another option is to pin your favorite comments from other users, especially if they are creating a lot of engagement.
Whichever way you use this new feature, it can help you manage the conversation on your posts, creating more opportunities for engagement and connection.
10. Promote your Instagram account on other networks
The most important way to get followers on instagram for free is to make it easy for people to find you.
Your Instagram profile should be easily discoverable. If you’ve already built a following on another social network, let those fans know about your Instagram account.
Share a link to your Instagram profile and give your existing social followers a reason to check it out. (Like an Instagram-exclusive coupon code, event, or contest.)
When BlogHer hosted Jameela Jamil for an Instagram Live, they made sure to promote it on their Facebook Page as well.
If you’re just starting your Instagram account, make sure to post some content before you promote the account elsewhere. Aim for a minimum of 12 posts.
You could also highlight some of your best Instagram posts on your other social channels. Consider boosting these posts with paid advertising to ensure that more of your Facebook, Twitter, and other social followers find and follow you on Instagram.