How to grow your Instagram followers

You may already follow us on Instagram, but you may not know that our Founder Elle Drouin, also has her own personal Instagram account and an Instagram account for her dog Mochi – who happens to be kinda famous. Having personal experience growing (and monetizing!) a following of over 100,000 Instagram followers, we want to share our best tips on how to grow your Instagram followers in this blog post.

How to grow your Instagram followers

To be clear – you shouldn’t focus on getting more Instagram followers for the sake of having more followers. We want you to have the RIGHT followers – people who are actually interested in your products / services / content / etc. And know that just because you have more followers, that does not necessarily equal more money! It’s better to have 1,000 loyal followers who are actually invested in you and what you have to offer than 100,000 followers who will never buy whatever you are selling.

Share high quality content

Notice we didn’t say great photos there. Because #realtalk, you don’t have to be an amazing photographer to find success on Instagram. While it *might* be easier to attract new followers with an eye-catching Instagram feed, you can also create graphics, videos, and other forms of visual content. It always starts with your target audience – for example, if you’re a wedding photographer who is trying to attract potential brides, of course your photography matters! People need to see your work in order to want to hire you. But let’s say you’re a business coach for busy moms – your audience probably cares less about seeing “perfect” photos, and cares more about the value you provide through your overall messaging. 

With that said, it doesn’t hurt to have great photos. There are A LOT of people who are going to be instantly more attracted to a gorgeous Instagram feed, and whether you like it or not – first impressions matter.

Pro-tip: if you’re not a professional photographer, we’re here for you! Styled Stock Society membership includes thousands of images plus customizable Instagram templates to make your life MUCH easier.

Understand your target audience

We can’t reiterate this enough. You need to understand your target audience – not only is this relevant for your overall brand, it’s also relevant for the content you create on Instagram. There are certain types of content that will work for other businesses, that may not make sense for your own. So just because someone else is doing something, doesn’t mean you should be doing it as well. 

You need to think about what types of content YOUR ideal audience will relate to. Who are they? What are they thinking about when they’re scrolling through Instagram? What problems do they have? How can you help them? 

Better understanding your target audience will help you create better content, and better content will help you attract and grow your Instagram followers! 

Show up consistently

Posting every single day matters less than it used to, but if you’re focused on growing your Instagram followers, you still need to show up consistently. When people see you regularly show up and share value, they are more likely to engage with your content. And the more people engage with your content, the more people will see it. The more people share your content, the more people will see it. The more you strategically use hashtags and geotags, the more people will see it. Noticing a pattern here?

But showing up consistently only works when you have high quality content. So we definitely don’t recommend posting every day just for the sake of posting. It’s better to share 3 high quality, engaging posts a week than post random things every day just to show up. 

#realtalk – we know showing up consistently means creating a lot of new content. That’s why we add new photos to our member library every single week and new Canva templates at least twice a month!

Use hashtags intentionally

Y’all. Use hashtags. But not just any hashtags, use hashtags that are targeted to your content and your ideal audience. I don’t know who started rumors that hashtags don’t matter or don’t work any more, but trust us – hashtags can help new people find you – which can absolutely lead to growing your Instagram followers. Don’t use hashtags that are spammy like #likethisphoto or generic like #beautiful. Do use a mix of hashtags that are targeted but have varying degrees of popularity – for example, some niche hashtags that less than 50k people have used but also some broader hashtags that less than 500k people have used. You can use up to 30 hashtags per photo, but even using a handful can make a difference in the reach of your Instagram posts!

Actively engage with new people

It should go without saying – but we’re going to say it anyway – you should be replying to comments and engaging with the people that you follow / the people that follow you. After all, Instagram is a social media network – so keep it social! 

If you’re focused on growing your Instagram followers, you should also spend time engaging with new people (who don’t already follow you). Instead of hoping that people will find you, you can proactively find them! 

You can search relevant hashtags in your niche to find people who are in your target audience. Also pay attention to what types of accounts people in your target audience follow – are they following brands / influencers / communities? Think about your competitors and other business owners with similar audiences – their followers are probably people in your target audience as well. For example, people who follow other businesses that sell feminine graphic design templates or chic customizable website themes are likely to be in our target audience because they are people who are DIYing their business + marketing and may have a need for stock photos to use in those templates and themes.

Pro-tip: when you’re engaging with people in your target audience, don’t just like a couple photos and leave an emoji comment. Take the time to actually respond to their content with thoughtful comments. So many of our IRL friendships started on Instagram, but you have to connect with people in a genuine way!

Leverage Instagram stories

There’s been a growing trend toward sharing more on Instagram stories in general over the past few years, but there are several ways to use Instagram stories strategically to grow your following and get more eyes on your posts! First of all, you may have seen more “suggested content” on Instagram lately, and often times you’ll see suggested IG stories pop up in your feed. So using stories is actually a way to increase your chance of your followers or potential followers seeing your content. 

It’s super easy to get sucked into watching Instagram stories for hours (#guilty) – so think about the types of stories that would be helpful / shareable for your target audience. Instagram stories are also a great way to engage with your followers and encourage them to share and interact with your content. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to use the sharing features built into Instagram to share your posts with their followers.

Share your Instagram outside of Instagram

If you want your audience in other places to follow you on Instagram, tell them why they should follow you on Instagram. There are so many ways you can share your Instagram with your audience outside of Instagram like:

  • Use a plugin to share your Instagram feed on your website (we do this on our site!)
  • Share a link to your Instagram in your email signature or at the bottom of your email newsletters (we do this too!) 
  • Put a call to action on your thank you pages to follow you on Instagram (yep, you’ll see this on some of ours)
  • Use your business card to promote your Instagram (@mochiandthecity shamelessly hands out her business cards on the street)

More tips on how to grow your Instagram followers

Our founder Elle Drouin has a few older blog posts on how to grow your Instagram followers here and here. If you’re ready to focus on growing your Instagram followers, we’ve got 20 free stock photos to help you get started!