Audience Growth

How To Get More Followers on Instagram in 10 Steps

by Jenni Stablein · Updated Jun 9, 2023

Wondering how to get more Instagram followers? Whether you are looking to build a new account from scratch, or you are experiencing a plateau in terms of your audience growth, figuring out how to attract new followers on a crowded platform like Instagram can be confusing. But we’re here to help!

Below, we dish out our top 10 tips on how to optimize your Instagram account to quickly gain more Instagram followers (for free!). 

10 Steps to get more followers on Instagram 

Obviously, you’re reading this article because you want to gain Instagram followers (and lots of them), but what is driving you to create an Instagram account in the first place? What are you hoping to accomplish?

For example, do you want to boost product sales or drive more traffic to your website? Or, maybe you want to increase brand awareness, or build a community of people who share your passion for a topic or hobby. Or, you might even use your platform for activism. 

Whatever it is that drives you to gain more Instagram followers, know that as long as you tell a compelling brand story, and stay focused on your objectives, you’re on the right path to building a loyal following of Instagram users.

Ready to grow? Here are 10 ways that can help you gain more followers on Instagram.

1. Optimize your profile  

Choose the right profile picture

First impressions matter, and that applies on social media. Since Instagram is all about aesthetics, your profile pic should be a sample of your brand’s aesthetic.  

According to recent statistics, the average Instagram user spends about 3 minutes on a single session on Instagram (opening up the app several times throughout the day). Think of your own social media habits, and you can probably imagine that a lot of scrolling can happen in 3 minutes. 

This means that, in order to capture your audience’s attention, you should take advantage of optimizing every Instagram profile detail with engaging content. Yes, this includes your Instagram profile picture! 

Luckily, optimizing your Instagram profile pic is pretty simple: just make it look professional. Here’s a great example from creator Kyyah Abdul:

Instagram users are more likely to connect with your brand if you have a high-quality profile picture. So as long as you use a high-res image of either your brand logo or a portrait of your face, you’re golden. 

If you’re using a portrait of your face as a profile pic, you want the image to be instantly recognizable. People want to know that you’re not a bot! The same goes for your brand logo — a pixelated logo is not a cute look.


Optimize your Instagram bio with descriptions  

Your bio is prime real estate for letting your Instagram followers know who you are and what you offer. So, take advantage of it! 

With only 150 characters to work with, you’ll need to get creative on how you use the space. The general rule of thumb is to keep your bio short, sweet, and informative. Keep in mind that you’re not completely bound to the description either. For example, some creators — like Skyelar Garcia of @managedbyskye — use the “Name” field to fill in more details about their page. 

Skyelar Garcia @managedbyskye


Add links to your bio

If you’re an Instagram creator, you already know that “link in bio” is pretty much your bread and butter. That’s because the popular CTA is a crucial tool for creators to grow and monetize their content by directing viewers off-app and onto their websites, online shops, portfolios, etc.  

Up until recently, Instagram only allowed its creators to include one link in their bio. This meant creators had to get extra strategic about what link to choose (or consider investing in a third-party link in bio tool, like Linktree). 

Instagram now allows influencers to add up to five links in their bio. And while this is definitely an upgrade, many Instagram users aren’t that excited about the new feature. In fact, most are sticking to third-party link in bio tools.

Why? For starters, Instagram’s link design isn’t very inspiring. It doesn’t offer any customization options, like images or a link description, to help encourage higher click-through rates. Additionally, Instagram’s new multi-link feature requires users to view links in-app, which ultimately benefits Instagram more than the content creator. 

Looking for a link in bio tool that can help you expand your link, description, and content options on Instagram? Here’s a list of our top recommendations.


Use Instagram Highlights to display your best content

Think of Instagram Highlights as a place to organize and display all of your greatest hits. 

Living at the top of your profile page, below your bio, and above your posts, Instagram Highlights allows you to create Highlight categories where you can show off your “best of the best” content. 

For example, if your content involves travel, you can create Highlight categories for each city you’ve visited. Or maybe you’re a cook — you can use Highlights to showcase different recipes. Whatever way you organize your Highlights, remember to add a catchy cover image to each category. You want to grab your viewers’ attention! 

Need further inspiration? Take a look at @bakedbylaora’s neatly organized Highlights:

baked by laora

Instagram Highlights is a great resource for your followers on Instagram to revisit any images, education, or tips that you’ve shared in previous Instagram Stories. By setting up these resources, you’ll be encouraging your following to revisit your page on a frequent basis.

2.  Post consistently

how to get more instagram followers

Have a regular posting schedule

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it has to be said: the more content you post, the more likely you are to gain more Instagram followers.

That being said, it’s very important to be realistic here. While it helps boost engagement if you post new content to your Instagram feed every day, it will only benefit your Instagram account if you can consistently produce high-quality content.

If your followers on Instagram are used to you publishing a post, Stories, or a Reel every day, but all of a sudden your content drops down to once or twice a week, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see your engagement rate drop too. 

Don’t get us wrong, that doesn’t mean you need to post every day. The key here is to simply be consistent with whatever schedule feels right and manageable to you.


Find your best times to post on Instagram

From conceptualizing to filming, editing, and beyond, you put a lot of effort into creating your Instagram content. The last thing you want is to waste valuable content on empty airwaves.

So, when is the best time to post on Instagram? As you can imagine, the answer to that question involves a lot of variables. 

To determine the best time to post on your Instagram, a good place to start is to take into account your audience’s location. Viewing habits range widely across regions, so this is one shortcut way to narrow down your best time to post.

Below are some of the best times to post on Instagram according to location (special thanks to the researchers at Later for these statistics): 

  • U.S. and Canada West Coast:  9 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • U.S. and Canada Central: 10 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • U.S. and Canada East Coast: 11 p.m. – 4 a.m.
  • South America: 5 a.m.
  • U.K.: 3 a.m. – 4 a.m.
  • Western Europe: 4 a.m. – 6 a.m.
  • Eastern Europe: 5 a.m. – 7 a.m.
  • Africa: 2 a.m. – 3 a.m.
  • The Middle East: 4 a.m.
  • East and Southeast Asia: 6 a.m. – 8 a.m.
  • Australasia: 11 p.m. – 12 a.m.

*Note that the above times are given in each region’s local time zone.

While this information can be super comforting whilst trying to sift through the vast mystery that is Instagram’s algorithm, it’s best to always take these statistics with a grain of salt. Ultimately, your audience is as unique as your content, and their viewing habits will determine your best post times. 

The good news is that the more content you post, the better grip you’ll get on what your audience’s viewing schedule looks like. 


Use scheduling tools 

Trust us on this one, Instagram scheduling tools will be your new best friend. There are plenty of social media management tools on the market, many of which — such as Later — host features that go beyond simply scheduling posts. 

Planning and automating your Instagram posts also helps you build a broader content strategy while saving you time on tedious tasks. That means you can focus more on producing engaging Instagram content!

Pro tip: In addition to planning ahead and implementing automated posts, we recommend creating a backlog of content so if you ever need to take a break from social media (IRL), you can.  

3. Engage with your audience 

how to get more instagram followers

Respond to comments and direct messages

At the end of the day, you won’t see any success on Instagram without your audience. For this reason alone, expressing your gratitude for your followers on Instagram is a good practice to get into. 

One of the best ways to do this is by responding to direct messages or comments on your posts.

Publicly engaging with your followers helps build a greater sense of community, and a safe space for open conversation.


Use the question and poll stickers in IG Stories

Who doesn’t love a good ‘ol poll or Q&A? Not only is using these features a smart way to increase engagement on your Instagram account, but it also helps promote genuinely fun interactions that’ll allow you to learn more about your audience (and vice versa).

To use the question sticker, simply open up Instagram Stories, create a new Story, add the sticker and type out your question, and share. Once your Instagram Story is live, you can track and share the responses of your Instagram followers. 

Here’s an example from designer and creator Barbiana Liu, who used the feature to discuss and answer career-related questions from her followers:

You can also create Instagram Stories with poll stickers to share fun surveys or seek opinions on trending topics:

Whether you use question or poll stickers, these two Instagram features encourage a more interactive community, which will increase your engagement rate and might even help to inform new content ideas. 


Run giveaways

People love free stuff, so it’s no surprise that running a giveaway campaign on your Instagram feed can be an effective method for increasing engagement and gaining new Instagram followers.

What’s nice about giveaways is that you determine the terms (unless you’re collaborating with a brand sponsor, but even then you should have a say in the giveaway terms). 

Before you launch your giveaway, some important points you’ll want to consider include:

  • Eligibility terms
  • Entry requirements
  • Giveaway time period
  • Winner selection
  • Prize details

Some examples of general eligibility include age restrictions (e.g. 18+), residency limitations, or any other requirements you find necessary. 

Meanwhile, giveaway entry requirements can include: 

  • Liking your Instagram post 
  • Following your account 
  • Tagging friends 
  • Using specific and relevant hashtags 
  • Sharing your post as an Instagram Story 

It’s best to create entry requirements that are trackable and will guarantee some kind of engagement with your Instagram account. 

For example, avoid asking your followers on Instagram to “share a post with two friends,” because you’ll have no way of tracking exactly how they’ll share that post. Instead, ask them to “tag two friends” in a post on your Instagram feed or via Instagram Stories. That way, you’ll be notified when they share your content. 

Here’s a great example from lettering artist Aurelie Maron, who ran a giveaway of three different prizes, including her online course:

4. Engage with other creators and brands

Follow, like, and comment on relevant accounts in your niche

Here’s the deal: If you choose one place to spend all of your time and efforts promoting your Instagram account, we recommend investing in engagement with other creators and brands.

The best (and most affordable) marketing you can receive as an Instagram influencer is to be promoted, or recommended, by an influencer or brand that your audience already trusts — even better if that influencer is within your content niche.

The best place to start is to follow accounts that are relevant to your content niche and like their posts. Better yet, slide into other Instagram creators’ DMs, or comment on and share their posts. 

Plus, the more you interact with Instagram creators of a similar content niche, the more Instagram’s algorithm will work in your favor.


Collaborate with other creators 

Once you’ve spent some time engaging with Instagram creators, the next step is to collaborate with them. One of the best ways to do so is by co-hosting an Instagram Live. 

When you co-host an IG Live with another creator, you automatically tap into their existing audience and expose your content to a whole new group of followers. It truly is a win-win scenario.

Wondering what a co-hosted IG Live could look like? Take a look at writer Jezz Chung and life alignment coach Didier Sylvain’s Live session, where they had a candid conversation about the use of personal power:

5. Experiment with Reels

Create strong hooks and the perfect loop to encourage multiple viewings

Similar to TikTok, the short-form video feature Instagram Reels is designed to help users discover new creators and content, making it a great way to attract new followers.

When it comes to IG Reels, you want to start your video with a captivating hook that grabs your viewers’ attention within the first few seconds. No pressure though! Just think about what visuals, text, or script you can produce that will pique your audience’s curiosity (another reason why it’s so important to really know your audience). 

Here’s an excellent example from recipe developer and food creator Hajar Larbah:

Next, craft your content as a seamless loop that flows from the end back to the beginning. Incorporate continuous motion, repeated actions, or narrative elements that invite viewers to watch your Reel again to catch all the details. Need some inspo? Take cues from beauty creator Steph Hui‘s seamlessly edited Reel:

Finally, engage in effective storytelling by establishing a clear beginning, middle, and end. You want to think about creating suspense, introducing conflict, or delivering unexpected twists to keep viewers hooked. 

By combining all of these elements, you’ll create Instagram content that encourages multiple views, hooks your audience, and keeps ‘em coming back for more. 


Use trending sounds and music

Long story short, using trending sounds and music is a smart and easy way of increasing the reach and engagement of your videos. All you have to do is make sure that you stay on top of what songs and sounds are trending on Instagram.

Checking out Instagram’s Explore page, or paying attention to what other Instagram creators within your niche are producing is a great place to start.

Here’s a great example from creator Jordan Watson aka @aceking:

Pro tip: Always remember to credit the original sound or music creator.

6. Use hashtags strategically 

Research relevant and trending hashtags in your niche 

Hashtags help Instagram understand how to categorize and group content, and they’re certainly a feature that you don’t want to ignore. However, you also don’t want to go overboard with hashtags.

Technically, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in a post caption. Sometimes, Instagram influencers will even spill their hashtag count over into the comments section (we’ve all seen those posts with a million hashtags in the caption and comments).

While hashtags are an essential marketing tool for Instagram, you don’t have to max out your hashtag count. Experts recommend using no more than three to five hashtags per post.

In addition, always make sure that your hashtags are relevant to the theme of your content. Scope out what your followers are using as hashtags, or what the hashtags are on the posts they like and accounts they follow. 


Use a mix of popular and niche-specific hashtags

You want a healthy mix of popular and niche-specific hashtags on your Instagram posts. This will help broaden your discoverability on Instagram while also making it easy for your followers to find your content. 


Create branded hashtags to promote your personal brand

Don’t feel like you have to be bound specifically to conventional and trending hashtags. You can absolutely create your own branded hashtag. Who knows? You might even spark your own hashtag revolution.

7. Keep SEO in mind

Include relevant keywords in post captions

SEO (also known as search engine optimization) is a powerful tool for anyone looking to market their brand online. Essentially, SEO keywords are placed strategically across various written content to help drive traffic to your page from search engines. 

Historically, Instagram users discover new content on Instagram’s Explore page via hashtags, location tags, usernames, and profile names. Recently, however, Instagram has added keywords to Instagram Explore’s search capabilities. This is great news for Instagram creators, because it means crucial areas of your profile, like post captions, just became even more optimizable. 

SEO keywords on Instagram can come from your account’s name, username, and Instagram bio, but you’ll see the most success when you implement keywords into descriptive and relevant captions.

For example, let’s say that you’re a pastry chef with an Instagram page dedicated to promoting your wedding cakes. Optimizing your captions, with keywords like “wedding cake,” “wedding cake inspiration,” or “wedding cake design” can help drive traffic to your page. Here’s an example from mother-daughter cake-baker duo, @rosalindmillercakes:

The Instagram post character count is 2,200 (which translates to roughly 330 to 440 words). That’s plenty of room to craft some creative and engaging captions, while incorporating relevant keywords in them.

In theory, you can use the same keywords as hashtags. However, there’s a difference between the two. Hashtags categorize and group your content within Instagram, whereas SEO keywords optimize your content for search engines and improve discoverability beyond the Instagram platform, attracting more organic traffic. 


Use location tags when appropriate

There are many advantages to using location tags in your Instagram account, such as: 

Local targeting: Geotags allow you to tag the specific location where your content was created. This is a great tool for influencers or businesses that are trying to target a local audience, as it attracts users in that particular area.

Discovery by location: Instagram users can explore posts and Instagram Stories from specific locations by clicking on geotags. This means that when you tag a location, your content becomes visible to users who are browsing through posts associated with that place. 

Community engagement: By tagging a location, you’re essentially joining a community of users who’ve also tagged that location in their posts. This creates an opportunity for you to engage with other creators and individuals in that community.

Local recommendation: Instagram’s algorithm takes into account location-based content and interactions. By using geotags, you increase the chances of your content being recommenced to users who are currently based in your location, or who have shown interest in it. 

Take London-based table stylist and hosting extraordinaire Kirthanaa Naidu as an example. When sharing recommendations for places to eat and go shopping in her city, she uses the geotag “London, United Kingdom” to make her post more easily searchable:


Add descriptive alternative text to your posts

Adding a descriptive alternative text (alt text) is valuable for a number of reasons, such as:

Accessibility: Alt text provides a textual description of the visual content for users who are visually impaired or rely on screen readers. By incorporating alt text into your posts, you’re demonstrating to your audience that you care about inclusive marketing.

Improved SEO: Search engines can’t interpret images but they can interpret text. Another bonus of incorporating descriptive alt text into your Instagram posts is that you’re only further enriching your search engine optimization. Alt text is valuable information for search engines about the images you use, which can help improve discoverability. 

Enhanced user experience: Since alt text provides additional context and information about the image, it enriches the user experience for your entire audience (not just those with visual impairments). 

Pro tip: Keep alt text concise, descriptive, and relevant to the image. Focus on conveying the most essential details and context of the image. While there’s no need to get excessive with your alt text description, you can still have a little fun with it. 

As an example, check out the alt text in this Instagram post from the National Park Service:

8. Cross-promote on other platforms 

how to get more instagram followers

Link your Instagram on other social media platforms 

Chances are, if your followers have Instagram, they probably have accounts on at least one or two other social media platforms. So, don’t forget to link to your Instagram account from other social media channels like TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. 


Embed Instagram posts on your website or blog 

It’s super easy to embed your Instagram posts on your personal website or blog. So don’t put your Instagram posts in a corner! Let your content run free on other platforms, sit back, and watch that organic traffic roll in.


Promote your Instagram on your podcast, newsletter, or other channels

Instagram marketing isn’t exclusive to social media platforms.

For example, if you have a podcast (or your friend has a podcast, or your friend’s friend has a podcast), it would be a great place to promote your Instagram account. You can boldly drop your IG handle or casually reference it. Either way, you want the verbal introduction to your account to be as compelling as your actual Instagram content.

Similarly, if you have a newsletter or a Substack, you can also encourage your subscribers to follow your Instagram account for more content.

9. Analyze insights and adjust your strategy 

how to get more instagram followers

Use Instagram’s analytics to gain insights on your audience 

As you start building momentum on Instagram, the social media platform’s analytics tool will quickly become your new best friend.

Harnessing the power of Instagram’s analytics is essential for understanding your audience and refining your content strategy. 

Start by exploring the Insights section of your Instagram Business profile, where you’ll find valuable data about your audience demographics (such as age, gender, and location). Use this information to tailor your content to their preferences and interests. 


Analyze your top-performing posts 

Analyze the performance of your posts, Instagram Stories, and reels to identify trends and patterns. Look for metrics like reach, engagement, and impressions to gauge the effectiveness of your content. 

The idea here is to pay attention to the types of posts that resonate the most with your audience and replicate their success. 

By leveraging Instagram’s analytics, you’ll gain actionable insights to optimize your content strategy, increase engagement, and foster stronger connections with your audience.

10.  Show up authentically 

Embrace your unique personality and content

As long as you have a clearly defined content niche and a good understanding of your ideal target audience, you’re already well on your way to getting more Instagram followers. 

The trick here is to be authentic. While staying on top of trends is key in social media content creation, try to resist the urge to follow what’s most popular on Instagram, and definitely avoid comparing yourself to other influencers. 

At the end of the day, your success will come from whatever content ideas are unique to you. Do whatever you have to do to cultivate and carve out your own personal content niche, and make friends with other Instagram creators who share a similar niche to broaden your social community.

Make the most out of your Instagram account

What’s that you hear? Cha-ching! Oh, right, just the sweet, sweet sound of you making bank from your Instagram content.

Seriously, though, there are plenty of opportunities to make money on Instagram — from brand partnerships and affiliate marketing, to Instagram subscriptions and selling digital products, and more. 

If you dedicate time to following even half of the audience growth steps shared above, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see a spike in your Instagram followers — and more followers equates to higher potential earnings. But how much money exactly, you ask?

If you want to get a realistic idea of just how much money you can make on Instagram, check out our free Instagram Money Calculator to estimate your earning potential! 

how to get more instagram followers

FAQ

How can I get more followers on Instagram quickly?

First things first, to increase your follower count, focus on creating engaging and authentic content. Instagram users are drawn to unique and relatable posts that showcase your personality and interests, so find your niche and share high-quality photos or videos that captivate your audience.

Experiment with different formats, like behind-the-scenes footage or interactive Instagram Stories, to keep your followers entertained. Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags or SEO keywords to increase the visibility of your posts, and attract new followers who share your interests.

Second, be an active member of the Instagram community. Engage with other users by liking, commenting, and sharing their content. This not only shows your support for other creators, but also helps you connect with like-minded individuals. Collaborate with influencers or creators in your field to tap into their audience and gain exposure.

Additionally, make sure to respond to comments and messages promptly. Building genuine connections with your followers fosters loyalty, and encourages them to spread the word about your account. Remember, consistency and genuine engagement are key to growing your Instagram following rapidly.

Does Instagram penalize you for buying followers? 

We don’t want to tell you what to do, but, don’t buy Instagram followers! 

We know it’s tempting when all you want is more followers, but don’t do it. Why? While you might see a spike in followers at first, it’s not likely to help you out in the long run.

Even though, technically, buying followers isn’t against Instagram’s Terms of Use, trust us here. You can’t outsmart Instagram’s algorithm, which is infamous for removing fake accounts and engagements. 

So while you won’t technically be penalized for buying followers, you’ll ultimately be doing yourself a disservice (not to mention wasting money) in the meantime. 

How can I get on the Instagram Explore page?

Getting on the Instagram Explore page can significantly boost your visibility and attract a wider audience. It helps to first understand how it works.

Basically, Instagram’s algorithm takes into account engagement metrics when deciding which posts to feature on the Explore page. That means the best way to increase your chances of showing up on the Explore page is to create super engaging content. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. But you got this! 

As long as you’re focusing on creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience, you’ll be working your way toward the Explore page in no time. Just remember to use other useful tactics to increase engagement, like communicating with your Instagram followers, including SEO keywords in captions, implementing hashtags, and creating Instagram Stories with Question and Poll stickers. 

Remember, the more interactions your Instagram post receives, the more likely it is for the Instagram algorithm to pick it up and make it to the Explore page. 

Follow The Leap on TikTokInstagram, and YouTube for more audience growth tips. We also make a newsletter.


Further reading

jenni stablein
About the author

Jenni Stablein

Jenni Stablein is a content marketer and freelance writer passionate about producing compelling and educational content for a range of clients across tech, fashion, product design, and art. When she's not writing, Jenni is nerding out about clouds (yes, clouds) or how to keep things alive in her garden. 
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