In order to use Instagram effectively, you need to build a solid base of Instagram followers. However, it can be difficult for brands to figure out exactly how to do this.

Gone are the days of shortcuts like buying followers or using bots. These tricks can increase your following for a short time, but they won't do you any favors in the long run.

That's because the only really valuable Instagram followers are real people who care about and engage with your brand. An incorrect number of followers can boost your ego, but it won't help your Instagram strategy.

Click on any of the tips below to learn more, or keep scrolling for a full list of ways you can get followers on Instagram for free.

Bonus: Download a free checklist This shows the exact steps a lifestyle photographer took on Instagram to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers, without a budget and without expensive equipment.

How to Get Instagram Followers for Free

1. Have a thoughtful Instagram strategy

To use a social network effectively, you need a clear plan.

Getting more Instagram followers is a great goal. However, followers alone will not give you a successful Instagram account. Getting followers needs to be part of a broader plan that ties in with your business strategy and social marketing goals.

Think about why you want more Instagram followers. What do you really hope to achieve? You might want to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase Product Sales
  • Increase the traffic to your website.

Focusing on these business-oriented goals will keep your Instagram account consistent. It will help you tell a compelling brand story that engages new profile viewers and helps build (and retain) a loyal following.

2. Define your target audience

Ask yourself a few questions about who you want to reach:

  • How old are they?
  • Where do you live?
  • What are they doing for work?
  • When and how do you use Instagram?
  • What are your weak points and challenges?

Answering these questions will help you create the right type of Instagram content to reach the people on Instagram who are most likely to follow you. Plus, you can focus on your audience's needs so you can always provide content that will get them to follow you for the long term.

3. Create a consistent brand story and aesthetic

You might want to satisfy curiosity by showing how your product is made. Or share an employee's perspective to humanize your brand. If you want to purposefully position your brand, you can try to showcase the lifestyle or the achievements of your customers.

Regardless of what you're trying to achieve, it's important to maintain a consistent brand personality and appearance.

Your contributions should be easy to see 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 match the look and feel of your main feed.

Even if your products don't all look the same, you can use a unified design to give your grid a unified look, like @themillerswifecustomcookies:

Miller's Wife Custom Cookies Instagram profile

Source: @themillerswifecustomcookies on Instagram

4. Use keywords to appear in search queries

Before people can follow you on Instagram, they need to find you. Not much 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 is a good idea to align it with the handle on other social networks as it will also make it easier to find you. Use your brand name or a variation of your name that will likely be used when searching for your brand.

Your name can be anything, up to 30 characters. Keyword padding is never a good idea, but it can be useful to include your most relevant keyword in the name field to improve recognizability based on search.

For example, travel writer Claudia Laroye (@thetravellingmom) includes the key phrase "travel writer" in her Instagram name, increasing the chances of being discovered by those searching for travel content in general, and travel writers in particular.

The key word

Source: @thetravellingmom on Instagram

5. Use relevant hashtags to reach new users

We just said that the text of your Instagram posts is not searchable. However, hashtags will show up in Instagram searches. That means that careful use of hashtags can be a great way to get followers on Instagram for free.

Including relevant hashtags can help people find your content after doing a search or after clicking a hashtag from another relevant post. Instagram users can also follow hashtags so your hashtagged content may appear in feeds from people who are not already following your account.

You can include up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post. However, hashtags are often more effective when they are based on quality rather than quantity. Experiment to find out how many hashtags are best for your particular account.

Avoid hashtag gimmicks like #likeforlike, #tagsforlikes or #followme. This can lead to a temporary increase in followers. But it will likely be bots or people just interested in being traced. And that doesn't help you build a meaningful, engaged community on Instagram.

Instead, focus on using targeted hashtags that are specific to your photo, product, or business like stylist Dee Campling does in this #wfh shot.

6. Create a great bio and profile

Two thirds of visits to Instagram company profiles come from non-followers. These new visitors are all potential new free Instagram followers – but only if your bio and profile convince them to hit the "Follow" button. You don't do this if your profile is unclear, incomplete or unattractive.

In addition to the name and username fields above, your profile includes your website (a clickable link) and bio.

Make the most of the 150 characters on your bio to convey your brand identity and show new visitors why they should follow you. What kind of content can you expect?

This bio by @abstractaerialart sums up the purpose and promise of the account in a quick and easy-to-digest way:

Abstract Air Art Instagram Bio

Source: @abstractaerialart on Instagram

If you have a Professional Account (Company or Creator), you can also add additional details to your profile, such as: B. Your contact information, type of company and location. Use all the fields relevant to your business to give new visitors all the information they need to follow.

7. Share engaging, high quality content

This may 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 high quality and visually appealing.

When a new user visits your profile, the content should make them see more. The desire for more inspires a new visitor to click "Follow".

Great content also encourages people to like, comment on, and share your posts. This engagement gives you a boost for the Instagram algorithm and helps you to get more reach and new followers.

And of course, posting great content consistently ensures that your Instagram followers stay followers.

8. Write compelling captions

While Instagram is a visual platform, writing great Instagram captions plays a huge role in getting more reach and engagement. And as you've seen before, reach and engagement are key factors in attracting free Instagram followers.

Here are some key strategies to consider:

  • Introduce the most important words. If the caption is longer than 125 characters, users will need to tap More to see the whole thing. Make the most of those first few words to inspire this additional tip.
  • Ask a question. This makes it easy for your audience to leave a comment. This commitment will help make your account more visible to more people.
  • Try emoji. Emoji can help grab the reader's attention and is suitable for most types of accounts on this visual social network.
  • Try different subtitle lengths. Instagram allows long-form captions of up to 2,200 characters, so you can try in-depth storytelling if your post warrants it. Ultra-short captions can also be very effective when the pictures 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 biography describes him as the "creator of ridiculously detailed itineraries and travel guides," this subtitle approach is very brand-oriented.

One of the newest features on Instagram is the ability to pin up to three comments for each post.

Today we're posting pinned comments everywhere. 📌

That means you can pin a few comments to the top of your feed post and better manage the conversation.

– Instagram (@instagram) July 7, 2020

There are several ways that you can use this new feature as part of your plan to get more followers on Instagram.

One way is to use pinned comments to expand your caption beyond the 2,200 characters maximum by continuing the story in the comments. This allows you to tell more detailed and in-depth stories, which may be appropriate for some accounts.

Another option is to pin your favorite comments from other users, especially if they generate a lot of engagement.

Regardless of how you use this new feature, you can manage the conversation in your posts, creating more opportunities for engagement and connection.

10. Promote your Instagram account on other networks

The main way to get followers on Instagram for free is to make it easy for people to find you.

Your Instagram profile should be easily recognizable. If you've already built a following on another social network, share your Instagram account with those fans.

Share a link on your Instagram profile and give your existing social followers a reason to check it out. (Like an Instagram exclusive coupon code, event, or competition.)

When BlogHer Jameela Jamil hosted an Instagram Live, they made sure it was advertised on their Facebook page too.

If you are just opening your Instagram account, make sure to post content before promoting the account elsewhere. Aim for at least 12 contributions.

You can also highlight some of your best Instagram posts on your other social channels. Consider enhancing these posts with paid advertising to ensure that more of your Facebook, Twitter, and other social followers find you and follow you on Instagram.

11. Embed Instagram posts on your blog

You have already seen some embedded Instagram posts on this blog. Each embedded post is clickable and enables users to go directly to the corresponding post or Instagram profile.

This makes embedding your own Instagram posts on your blog an easy way to showcase your Instagram content and drive traffic to your Instagram profile. And as mentioned before, every new visitor to your Instagram profile is a potential new Instagram follower.

For example, let's say this blog post was about LinkedIn demographics. (It's not, but of course we have a blog post on LinkedIn demographics.) We could add an infographic to share some of the key demographic details.

Or we'd instead embed an Instagram post like this:

Anytime you share visual content like photos, charts, or infographics on your blog, there is an option to embed an Instagram post with that content instead.

12. Post content to be re-shared

As you think about content that might help illustrate your own blog posts, think about content that other people might also want to share.

People love to share a good infographic so this could be a great option. When someone embeds your Instagram posts on their blog, you are exposed to a whole new audience of potential followers.

Also, remember to create content that users will want to re-share in their Instagram Stories. Anyone can re-share your main feed posts in a story. This is also clickable, so anyone who wants to know more can click through to your original post. This is another easy way to expand your reach to new audiences and potential new followers.

For example, this is what the same Hootsuite LinkedIn demographics post would look like when shared with my Instagram story.

Share Hootsuite LinkedIn demographics history again

Source: Instagram

13. Share your Instagram account in other messages

Think beyond your social channels when sharing your Instagram account.

Make sure to link to your Instagram account on your website, in your email signature, and in your online newsletters. The link doesn't have to be large: you can use a small Instagram icon.

Small Instagram icon in the email signature

Whenever you're promoting a new Instagram account, a quick email promotion that highlights some great posts is a great way to get free Instagram followers quickly.

And don't forget your offline materials. Coasters, posters, packing slips, business cards, and packaging are potential places to share your Instagram handle. There is an easy way to get more free Instagram followers to your account.

14. Use the Instagram name tag

Your Instagram name tag is a scannable code that Instagram users can use to follow you instantly. We have already said that offline communication materials also provide an opportunity to promote your Instagram account. The Instagram Name Tag is an easy and effective way to promote your account for offline materials like packing slips, signage, and product packaging.

Instagram name tag

Source: Instagram

Your name badge is also a great way to get new followers at networking events and conferences in real time. People you connect with in person can scan your code to follow you without entering your handle. Print it out and slip it into your name badge holder for easy access.

Find your Instagram name tag by tapping the three line icon in the top right of your Instagram profile and selecting name tag.

15. The aim is to be introduced

Feature accounts are simply Instagram accounts that curate and re-share content from other users based on a hashtag or tagging. Some of these accounts have a huge following, and if they share any of your posts (along with your handle), you can send out a new stream of Instagram followers your way.

There's a feature account for just about every niche and interest on Instagram. You will uncover them by doing your hashtag research as recommended in Tip 5. Some of them can get pretty specific.

For example, @damngoodstitch contains embroidery posts. The account has more than 145,000 followers.

16. Aim at the Explore tab

The Explore tab will appear when you click the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the Instagram app. According to Instagram itself, this is where you can find "photos and videos you might like from accounts you don't already follow".

The Explore tab is where you can find Instagram Posts, Stories, and IGTV. Users first see a content grid chosen by the algorithm. You will then have the option to delve deeper into specific content topics using the topic channels at the top of the screen.

Half of the Instagram accounts visit Explore every month. This is a great opportunity for brands looking to grow their audience.

How can you view your content on the Browse tab? It is not easy. Fortunately, we have a whole article to help you figure it out.

You can also pay to get into the Explore feed by selecting Explore as your ad placement.

Explore Instagram Follower Feed

Source: Instagram

17. Mark your location

Whenever your post or story contains a unique location element, consider adding a location tag. This is another easy way for users to find your content on Instagram.

If your business has a physical location, mark it and encourage customers to do the same. Users can then click that location and view all of the photos and stories posted in your store, restaurant, or office. This can help make your brand (and Instagram account) more accessible.

For example, if you search for the location of Van Wonderen Stroopwafels in Amsterdam, here is what you get:

Instagram Amsterdam location tag

Source: Instagram

When posting from a conference or event, adding your location allows you to connect with other attendees and expose your account to a very targeted group of new potential Instagram followers.

18. Identify relevant users

You can tag Instagram users included in your photos with an @ sign in your caption or use Instagram's tagging feature in the publication. Either way, they'll get a notification when you do.

Tagging people encourages them to engage with the post and share it with their own followers. Your post will also appear on the "Tagged In" tab of their Instagram profile.

You can also tag relevant users on your Instagram stories. Then they can share the content again for their own story with just a few taps. In this case, anyone viewing their story will see your username and click through to your account.

You'll find that we said you should only tag relevant users. Tagging someone just to get their attention is not a good idea. Tag only those that are included in your photo or that are relevant to the content of your post.

Some potentially relevant users to flag are:

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Other relevant companies
  • Colleagues or employees
  • Someone who taught you a skill or told you about something you share in the post
  • Anyone who appears in the photo

19. Encourage others to tag you

Another way to introduce your Instagram account to a new audience is to ask other Instagram users to tag you. When they tag you in a post, their audience will see your handle and click on it if they want to learn more.

Your bio is a great place to ask people to tag you on Instagram.

For example, Visit the USA asks Instagrammer to tag them so they can be listed on their account.

Instagram followers head to USA Feature Day

Source: @visittheusa on Instagram

20. Follow the appropriate accounts

You should only tag people in an Instagram post if the content is directly relevant to them. But you can follow anyone you like. If you follow someone on Instagram, there's a good chance they'll be reviewing your feed.

If your feed is full of compelling content relevant to their interests, they'll likely return the favor.

Social listening is a great way to find conversations that are relevant to your brand. And from there you can easily identify influential users (a.k.a. influencers) that you can follow. Following these top users as well is a great idea.

The Suggested For You section of Instagram is also a great resource for finding relevant accounts to follow. This will show up in your feed between posts or on the right side of the screen on a computer.

You can also access Instagram's suggestions by going to your profile, then clicking the three bars in the top right corner and clicking Discover People. Here is also a list of the most popular Instagram accounts chosen for you based on the algorithm.

However, be aware that you shouldn't be following other accounts too quickly. Your follower ratio is important for credibility. Your Follower Ratio is the number of people who follow you compared to the number of people you follow.

And don't play the game where you follow people just to get their attention and then stop following after they follow you back. This isn't good for your Instagram reputation as it really is an idiot.

21. Engage with existing communities

As with all social networks, Instagram is about the communities built within. You want to get in touch with these communities.

Get involved by liking, commenting on, and sharing content from other credible users in your community. Avoid generic comments (like "Awesome post!") That look like they came from bots.

This helps grab attention (and potential new followers) in two ways:

  1. People will get notifications when you like and comment on their posts, and can check your profile to return the favor.
  2. Other people will see your comments and will be able to review your profile if they find them thoughtful or intriguing.

22. Work with influencers in your niche

Here's an important statistic for anyone thinking about how to get more followers on Instagram: 60% of consumers say they would follow a brand on Instagram after being promoted by an influencer they trust.

We have a complete guide to influencer marketing to help you with this.

23. Work with other brands

Don't be afraid to reach out to other brands to see if there is a way to collaborate on Instagram. The right way of working together could help everyone involved gain more Instagram followers.

Think of brands or other companies that you already work with in other ways, such as: B. in a local business improvement association or in a shopping district. How can you collaborate on Instagram?

A common option is to host a multi-company product contest, as the Rocky Mountain Soap Company did with Annika Mang of @borntobeadventurous.

24. Embrace Instagram stories

We've already mentioned stories in some tips, but it's worth highlighting this feature in particular. Simply put, if you want more Instagram followers, you have to use Instagram Stories. Half a billion Instagram accounts use stories every day, and 45% of the most viewed stories are from businesses

People who use stories are very engaged. According to Instagram, every third story leads to a direct message.

Use the hashtag and location features on your stories to make them accessible to people who are not already following you. This is still a little-used way to get followers on Instagram for free.

For more information, check out our full guide to using Instagram Stories.

25. Use interactivity features

Instagram Stories offer a variety of interactive features for users to engage, such as: B. Polls, Questions and Chat Stickers.

Getting stickers increased video views by three seconds in 90% of Instagram's beta campaigns for this feature.

Interactive functions of Instagram followers

Source: Instagram

When users come across your story from a hashtag or location page, this instant engaging opportunity is a great way to get them to learn more about your brand by following them.

26. Make the most of the highlights of stories

Stories Highlights give you the opportunity to introduce your brand to people who visit your profile. Wrap up these highlights with lots of great information and content to show new visitors exactly why they should click Follow.

Use the cover photos for your highlights too. Porter Airlines does a great job with custom icons that show off their cute mascot.

Porter Airlines Instagram Story Highlights

Source: @porterairlines on Instagram

27. Try Instagram Live Collaboration

Instagram is the perfect place to enjoy live video, a trend that continues to grow on social media. Interactive features like questions and comments allow you to get in touch with viewers in real time and create more of this valuable engagement that can increase your reach.

Live video will appear in your brand's story. When the live video ends, you can make it disappear, make it available to play your story for 24 hours, or add it to IGTV. Users will be notified when an account they are following is broadcast live so a live video will really get attention.

To bring your live video to a whole new audience, use the Go Live With A Friend option to co-host live video with someone else in your industry. Ask the other person to host a live video, and then invite you as a guest. You both will be shown in a split screen introducing you to all of their followers.

In the era of COVID-19, Instagrammers used this feature creatively to host mini talk shows. For example, Design Emergency has a weekly Instagram Live where they use Go live with a friend to interview key figures in the design world, and Wine Spectator has a series with winemakers.

28. Try an IGTV series

While both of the series mentioned in the previous tip are featured on Instagram Live, they will also be posted on IGTV after the live conversation ends.

IGTV videos can be up to an hour long, so you can explore topics in depth. You can also create an IGTV series that will encourage viewers to follow your account instead of just watching a video and moving on.

IGTV posts appear four times larger than photos on the Browse tab, so new potential followers are more likely to click on your content.

29. Create an AR filter

AR filters for Instagram Stories are photo effects. Instagrammers can modify photos taken with their cell phone's front and rear cameras. Those posts with puppy ears? These are carried out with an AR (Augmented Reality) filter. This "which one (vegetables / pizza / emoji / etc.) are you?" Contributions? These also use AR filters.

Any Instagram user can now create an AR filter. The filters you have created are located in a section of your Instagram profile indicated by a face icon. If your filter isn't promotional or branded, it'll also show up in the Instagram Stories Effects Gallery, where any Instagrammer can find it.

How does creating an AR filter help you get more Instagram followers? When someone is using your AR filter, your account name will appear in the top left corner. It's clickable and can bring more new visitors to your profile.

Instagram Stories AR Filter

Source: @gucci on Instagram

30. Post consistently

Your existing followers want to see content from you. Deshalb sind sie dir in erster Linie gefolgt.

Wie bereits erwähnt, gibt Ihnen das erhöhte Engagement bei der Interaktion von Benutzern mit Ihren Posts eine gute Liebe zum Algorithmus. Wenn Sie Ihren vorhandenen Followern eine großartige Möglichkeit zur Interaktion bieten, können Sie auch neue Instagram-Follower gewinnen.

Wie oft solltest du posten? Eine Analyse von Tailwind ergab, dass die tägliche Veröffentlichung "viermal schneller wächst als die Veröffentlichung weniger als einmal pro Woche".

31. Zum richtigen Zeitpunkt posten

Ja, Instagram verwendet einen Algorithmus anstelle eines chronologischen Feeds. Das Timing ist jedoch immer noch wichtig, da es eines der Signale ist, die der Algorithmus berücksichtigt.

Hootsuite hat mit Unmetric zusammengearbeitet, um anhand Ihrer Branche den besten Zeitpunkt für das Posten auf Instagram zu ermitteln. Berücksichtigen Sie Ihr Publikum, um den besten Zeitpunkt für die Veröffentlichung Ihrer eigenen Marke zu ermitteln. Wie sieht ihr typischer Tag aus? Wann sind sie auf Instagram am aktivsten?

Testen Sie verschiedene Male und messen Sie die Ergebnisse. Wenn Sie beispielsweise eine Einzelhandelsmarke sind, möchten Sie möglicherweise die Veröffentlichung während der Mittagspause testen.

32. Planen Sie Ihre Beiträge und Geschichten

Ist die beste Zeit zum Posten keine günstige Zeit, um auf Instagram zu sein? Verwenden Sie ein Social Media Management-Tool wie Hootsuite, um direkt auf Instagram zu planen und zu veröffentlichen.

Wenn Sie Ihre Posts im Voraus planen, können Sie ein zusammenhängendes Instagram-Raster planen, das eine übergreifende Geschichte erzählt. Sie können auch Zeit darauf verwenden, hervorragende Bildunterschriften zu erstellen, anstatt spontan etwas Witziges zu finden.

Sie können jetzt auch Hootsuite verwenden, um Instagram-Geschichten zu planen.

33. Führen Sie Wettbewerbe durch

Mit Wettbewerben auf Instagram können Sie mehr Follower gewinnen, wenn Sie bei Ihrem Anmeldevorgang aufgefordert werden, Ihnen zu folgen und eines Ihrer Fotos zu kommentieren, indem Sie einen Freund markieren.

Die getaggten Freunde sehen auch Ihren Beitrag und können sich auch dafür entscheiden, Ihrem Konto zu folgen.

Durch die Förderung von benutzergenerierten Inhalten im Rahmen Ihres Wettbewerbs können Sie auch mehr Menschen erreichen. Die Leute erfahren mehr über Ihren Wettbewerb aus den Posts, die ihre Freunde erstellen. Dies ist ein effektiver Weg, um Vertrauen bei neuen Followern aufzubauen und mehr Aufmerksamkeit auf Ihre Seite zu lenken.

34. Erwägen Sie Werbung auf Instagram

Okay, dies ist nicht gerade eine Möglichkeit, kostenlose Instagram-Follower zu erhalten. Aber Instagram-Anzeigen können eine leistungsstarke Möglichkeit sein, schnell neue Follower zu erreichen, indem Sie Ihre Inhalte vor Leuten platzieren, die sie sonst nicht sehen würden.

Und im Gegensatz zum Kauf von Followern ist die Verwendung von Instagram-Anzeigen eine absolut legitime und effektive Möglichkeit, mit einer kleinen Investition schnell mehr Instagram-Follower zu gewinnen.

Richten Sie Ihre Zielgruppe nach Standort, Demografie und sogar nach wichtigen Verhaltensweisen und Interessen. Sie können auch eine ähnliche Zielgruppe erstellen, die auf den Personen basiert, die bereits mit Ihrem Unternehmen interagieren.

Neben dem Feed können Sie in Instagram Stories und im Explore-Feed werben. Weitere Informationen zum Erstellen und Veröffentlichen einer Instagram-Werbekampagne finden Sie in unserem ausführlichen Leitfaden für Instagram-Anzeigen.

35. Lernen Sie von Instagram Insights

Mit den Instagram-Analysetools erhalten Sie Daten zu Impressionen für jeden Beitrag sowie Reichweite, Engagement, Top-Beiträge und mehr. Sie können auch demografische Informationen zu Ihren Followern finden, einschließlich Geschlecht, Alter und Standort.

Wenn Sie diese Daten regelmäßig überprüfen, können Sie Bereiche identifizieren, in denen Sie Ihre Strategie anpassen können, um mehr Follower zu gewinnen.

Eines der wichtigsten Dinge, die Sie im Auge behalten sollten, ist die Tageszeit, zu der Ihre Follower Instagram verwenden, damit Sie posten können, wann die Leute Ihre Inhalte am wahrscheinlichsten sehen und sich mit ihnen beschäftigen.

Verwenden Sie Hootsuite, um Zeit in sozialen Medien zu sparen. Planen Sie Posts, binden Sie Follower ein, verfolgen Sie Ergebnisse und vieles mehr – alles über ein einziges, benutzerfreundliches Dashboard. Probieren Sie es kostenlos aus.

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