10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers

By Thibaut Davoult | Small Business

If you’re managing a brand account on Instagram, you probably have one main focus: gain followers.

We know: gaining followers isn’t easy. It’s true with Instagram, it’s also true on other social networks by the way.
We’ll never insist enough: using services to buy your followers isn’t a valid way to grow your audience. Will you end up with 10,000 more followers? Sure. Will they bring you value? Not so sure. Will they still be following you in 2 months? That’s doubtful, as Instagram often cleans bots used by these services.

Here’s the good news though! You can organically gained followers by using these 10 simple tips:

1. On your website: Profusely link to your account

Create your own link and banners

The french Urban Outfitters’ website features a big banner linking to social media accounts and campaigns. It currently promotes the Instagram account for UO Europe, as well as an Instagram contest they’re currently running (more about that later in the article).

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image urbanoutfitters landing instagram edited110 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers

Same goes with the footer of Civil Clothing’s home page, with two visible links to its Instagram account:

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image civil clothing website footer socialmedia 10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers

Use Instagram badges

These Instagram-made icons that link to your account are the simplest way to get traffic towards your online profile. The Instagram blog has a tutorial for you to create your own Instagram badges.

2. On your Website: Add a Widget

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image instagram widget mlb10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers
Major League Baseball using an Instagram widget on their website

Widgets are a more evolved version of the previous tip: instead of adding a simple image link, you can use them to create an evolving gallery of Instagram photos, which will link to your profile. The gallery could feature the latest posts of your Instagram business account, or the posts you liked.

To learn more about Instagram widgets, read our article: How to Embed Instagram Posts online and on Facebook.

3. On other social networks: promote your Instagram (free and paid)

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image cross post nike10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers

Cross-promotion isn’t really new in the social media World, but that doesn’t mean it’s not efficient, or that you shouldn’t do it. Most brands are cross-posting their Instagram content to Facebook nowadays. This not only increases the Instagram account’s visibility, but also boosts the Facebook EdgeRank as well.

4. Optimize your contests to gain followers

A given, but a strong success factor in growing followers is managing contests. You’re free to strategize your Instagram photo contest the way you like, but there are ways to maximize their impact on your followers growth. Aéropostale set the example with their newest Instagram contest. Here’s what they did right:

  • Make Following your official account a condition for entering the contest
  • Make Creating photos that promote your brand a condition for entering the contest

Aéropostale simply had fans follow their account and re-gram this post to enter the contest.

5. On Instagram: Share often

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image share often instagram levis10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers

Levi’s aims to share a post every day. Sharing regularly is highly correlated with gaining followers. Each new post helps bringing new visitors to your account. These visitors will be more likely to hit the follow button if they see that your account is active. That is especially true if you stick to a strict editorial line, which leads us to the next point…

6. On Instagram: Optimize your sharing, and stick to an editorial line

Don’t hesitate to try new kinds of posts. Want to experiment with video? Do it. Want to try out new apps to beautify your content? By all means, do it. But if you don’t see the results you were hoping for (as in: you start noticing that your followers-growth is slowing down and that your engagement-rate shrinks), don’t get stubborn: change your strategy.

We know what we’re taking about here: at Nitrogram, we experimented using our Instagram account to share our articles. Here’s an example of how our followers reacted, with 2 posts that we shared back-to-back:

Article headline

Creative post

See how one barely got over 40 posts (while being one of the most successful blogposts we had) while the other jumped over 160+? Needless to say, we stopped bugging our audience with articles reposts.

On another hand, you’ll notice that Instagram only shares their blog articles with their account because it works for them. The lesson here is that you have to know what works for your brand, and the only way to get there is to experiment.

7. On Instagram: Comment on posts

This is an old but effective method. We won’t call it a trick because it takes time, but it certainly is an effective strategy in the long run. Regardless of wanting to gain Instagram followers, you should consider doing it only to answer customer feedback and provide social media support.

8. On Instagram: Mention others in your posts’ captions/Tag them

Everyone loves being tagged and mentioned. Well…maybe not celebrities who get thousands of notifications a day. But your fans and customers will! Some brands take this practice a step further by asking for photo submissions on Instagram, then reposting the best ones while mentioning their author.

10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers image blackmilkclothing resharing10 Ways to Organically Gain Instagram Followers
Instagram post by Black Milk Clothing

Black Milk Clothing often re-shares customers’ and bloggers’ photos. They even have a Pinterest board and a Facebook album dedicated to that.

9. On Instagram: Follow others

An important note on following people on Instagram (and other social networks as well) is: don’t overdo it. We’re seeing too many people following tens, sometimes hundreds of thousand people on Instagram or Twitter. This only results on us wondering why.

10. On Instagram: Listen to your followers’ feedback

Aside from measuring social signals to fine-tune your content creation, don’t neglect the importance of listening to the feedback from your existing followers. If they take the time to comment your posts, that means they care enough about your brand. Ideally, you want all your fans to care that much, listening to spontaneous feedback is a way to get there.

What have you tried to get Instagram followers? What do you think is the best way to do so? Why do you think The Ellen Show has 3 times as much followers as Jimmy Fallon? We’d love to know your opinion: tell us in the comment section below!

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