With over 10 years of success, growing on Instagram is still as important as ever – for personal brands and businesses alike. If you get enough followers, you can even make money from the platform – but getting followers isn’t always easy. In this post, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to grow your following and compete with the millions of other accounts on the platform. 

Instagram logo

Why Getting Followers on Instagram is Worth It

Getting followers on Instagram is about more than just getting an ego boost. 

Instagram is an extremely valuable form of free marketing – it’s a chance to get your brand in front of millions of people and connect with your target audience. 

The more followers you have, the more visibility you have for your brand, the more opportunities you have to monetize, and the faster you can grow. 

And with all the new features that Instagram has added over the last few years, you can now make a full-time living, build a business, or launch a store, directly from the platform. 

Regardless of why you want to start an Instagram, you’ll need followers to get the most out of the platform – and the more followers, the better. 

The Investment Needed to Get Followers on Instagram

One of the best things about Instagram is that there’s next to no upfront investment – or any investment – to grow your followers.

In fact, paying for followers is a fast way to get yourself permanently banned from the platform. Getting more followers really comes down to knowing your audience, being strategic, putting in the work, and staying consistent. 

That being said, investing in some automation tools to help you answer comments, share stories, or schedule posts will help you gain followers and stay consistent. Doing all of this manually is a big time drain, so it’s worth investing in a tool or software to make this step easy. 

Tailwind is one of the most popular scheduling tools, and for good reason. Not only can you use it to schedule your posts, but you can also use it to design posts, reels, and stories directly in the app. 

Tailwind also helps analyze your posts, telling you what times you should post for maximum views or engagement AND it can help you identify which posts in your niche are trending.  

Not only does Tailwind save you a LOT of time, but it also boosts your chances of growing much faster, especially when you use it alongside Instagram’s own features and analytics tools. Plus, Tailwind offers a free version and a paid version, so you try it without cost before you upgrade for more features.   

Now, there’s never a guarantee that a tool will give you a certain number of followers in a given time frame, but it can boost your chances of growing faster and make the journey a lot more painless. 

Tailwind for Instagram landing page

9 Steps to Getting Followers on Instagram

Okay, so we know that followers on Instagram lead to more sales, growth, and brand exposure. But the hard part is actually getting them. 

We’re breaking down the steps you’ll need to step up your Insta game and grow your following: 

Step 1 – Market Research 

The first thing you’ll need to do, before you even start an Instagram account, is to do some research. 

Like with anything, growing a following comes down to knowing your audience, you’re why, your niche, and your offer.

Instagram is a double-edged sword in the sense that it’s extremely popular – which also makes it highly competitive. If you don’t have a specific plan for your account before starting, you’ll struggle to stand out against the millions of other accounts on the platform. 

Before you can grow, get clear on these things: 

Choose Your Niche 

Just like starting a business or a blog – without a niche, you’ll struggle to find an audience. 

With so many accounts on Instagram, you need to do something specific to get any attention. Think about what you’ll talk about, what topics you’ll cover, and who you’re talking to. This will then help you find a target audience and plan your content. 

Understand What You’re Offering and Why People Want It

If you want people to follow you on Instagram, you need to give them something in return. 

Whether that’s entertaining them, teaching them how to do something, or giving them daily inspiration – you need to get clear on what value your account provides and why people should follow you. Getting clear on why you have an Instagram will also help you with your messaging and crafting a compelling bio later on.

Research Your Audience 

Once you know your niche and your why, you can start doing some research into your target audience. Think about what type of people would follow your account, what kind of content they’ll find interesting, and how you might tweak your branding to fit that. 

Research Keywords in Your Niche 

Instagram has been moving away from focusing on hashtags recently. Instead, they recommend adding keywords to your captions. This helps the platform give better recommendations to users, and if you use the right keywords, will boost your chances of being suggested to your target audience by the platform. 

Step 2 – Make a Plan 

Success on Instagram heavily relies on consistency, so putting together a plan ahead of time will make your growth a lot faster and easier than if you just post blindly. 

Take some time to sit down and create a content plan and schedule – where you decide on what you want to post about every week, what content you’ll cover, and what type of posts you’ll create.

Obviously what you’ll post will depend on your niche and your why, so think about what makes sense for your goals, your brand, and your audience. Take a look at what other accounts like yours are doing, and use that to inspire your own strategy.

If you really want to stay consistent, you should also plan when you will film and edit posts, reels, or stories. Especially for video content, content creation can be a lot more time-consuming than most people expect – so setting out a day once a week to bulk create content will make staying consistent easier. 

If you need some help with what you can post, Tailwind has templates that can help. Not only do they help you plug in and schedule all your posts and content ahead of time, but they also give you tips on what’s working in different niches, and designs you can customize to save you the hassle of creating your own graphics. 

You’ll also need to put aside some time once a week to answer comments and interact with your followers to help build your community. Factor this into your planning so you don’t forget – otherwise you risk losing the followers you do attract. 

You’ll also need to set some goals and milestones to help you measure whether what you’re doing is working. This could be growing by a certain number of followers each week, or getting a certain number of likes. Luckily, Instagram has an analytics feature that makes this a lot easier! 

Step 3 – Set Up Your Account 

If you already have an account, then skip this step. 

But if you’re starting a brand new Instagram, now’s the time to set up your account. 

This is pretty easy – you just need to fill in some details like your name, email, and phone number, and then you need to choose a username. 

You don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself when choosing a username, but you should try and keep it in your niche, or keep it consistent with any other user names or brand names you have. This will make it easier for your audience to find you, especially if you’re trying to grow followers by promoting your account through different channels, like your Twitter or Facebook. 

You’ll also need to add a profile picture and a bio. Try to stay on brand with both of these. When you craft your bio, try to use niche keywords and make your why and offer clear. You want it to be immediately obvious to any potential followers what you do and how you can help them. 

It’s also a great idea to set up a business account. This will give you access to lots of Instagram’s features that will help you grow and reach the right people. You’ll be able to categorize your account (e.g. creator, lawyer, artist,) and add a link directly to your store or website. 

A screenshot of the Instagram profile for Revolve

Step 4 – Bulk Create Content

Once you’ve set up your account, you need to start putting the planning you’ve done into action. The hardest part of being on Instagram is the time it takes to create content. Doing this in bulk will save you hours every week – time you can instead spend growing your followers. 

You should bulk create at least the first month’s worth of content (or minimum 10 posts) before launching your account. You want to create enough content to start filling out your feed and give potential followers something to look at when they arrive on your profile. 

How difficult it is to actually create the posts will heavily depend on what kind of content you’re sharing. If most of your content focuses on photography, then you’ll want to focus on the editing. If you are planning to share posts that are content-heavy, like education content, you might need to go and bulk create graphics. 

There are plenty of tools you can use to help you with this – you can even do it directly in Tailwind. Just remember to put some thought into your branding when you make these graphics. Colors, fonts, and tone are all part of appealing to your target audience, and at the end of the day, Instagram IS an aesthetic platform. Your content needs to look good. 

Another big part of bulk creating your content is to write out the captions ahead of time. This means writing out interesting, valuable comments and adding in the keywords you researched earlier. 

Hashtags are no longer a priority for Instagram, but if you do add them, try to look for hashtags with lower competition or popularity. Like trying to rank for SEO keywords on a blog post, you want to aim for hashtags with less competition than newer or less established accounts. Tailwind has a feature that will help you identify the right features for your account. 

Step 5 – Schedule Your Content 

Once you have enough content to fill out your feed, it’s time to actually schedule it and post it. 

If you’re using a scheduling tool like Tailwind, you’ll be able to plug in when you want to post, and schedule everything ahead of time – even your stories. 

The only thing you won’t be able to plan ahead of time is Instagram lives – obviously. But, by scheduling things all at once, you’ll have more time to interact with followers each week. 

The best thing about using scheduling software like Tailwind is that – not only can you schedule your Instagram posts and stories ahead of time – you can also align them with your other platforms. So, you can also schedule your Pinterest, or Facebook posts, to go out at the same time. 

Posting across different platforms (known as cross-posting) makes it easier for people to find you on Instagram and gets you in front of a whole host of potential followers. 

A screenshot of the Tailwind Instagram post editor

Step 6 – Make the Most of Instagram’s Features

If you have switched to a business account, this is your chance to use it. 

Once you’ve started posting regularly, you’ll be able to see which posts people are liking or interacting with most by using the analytics tools. This will then help you to plan your next batch of content based on what’s working. 

Instagram also likes and pushes accounts that use the different features. 

So if you want more reach and more potential followers, try and use as many Instagram features as you can. This means using things like polls, Q&As, or stickers in your stories, or going live once a week at least. 

You should also try to include a CTA to share or save posts in all your captions. Instagram wants to see that your account is one that people enjoy interacting with and that you have high-quality, engaged users. The more shares you get on your posts, the more Instagram will push your account to new audiences. 

Basically, the longer you can keep people on Instagram, the more the platform will reward you by promoting your account to a bigger audience. 

Step 7 – Connect With Your Audience

The next step to growing a following is to start building a community. 

It’s not enough to just post and hope for the best – you’ll lose followers if you don’t make them feel valued and interact with them. The more you connect with your audience, the easier it will be to keep, and then get more, followers 

Take some time every week to answer or like comments, follow people back, and do Q&As in your stories. 

A really great way to grow your account is to ask your followers what kind of content they like and what they want to see more of. You can ask people directly through your stories with the poll feature. It will help you to create more valuable content, which makes it more likely that you’ll get shares and saves. 

Going live is also one of the best ways to interact with your audience. Instagram really pushes accounts that go live often, because it keeps people on the platform longer. 

And, the more lives you do, the stronger of a connection you’ll build with your audience. You should also really try to give as much value as possible when you do a live video – so that people share your account or suggest you to others. 

Remember, if you want people to follow you, there always has to be an incentive. 

Step 7 – Use Trends to Your Advantage 

Another way to improve your reach and get featured on the explore page more is to use trends to your advantage. 

This is especially true of reels, where trending sounds can help get you pushed onto people’s explore pages. See what’s trending, especially in your niche, and see how you can put your own spin on it. 

The trick with following trends is to find a way to balance it with still giving value or serving your audience, and keeping it on brand. Followers know when someone isn’t creating authentic content – and that will just lose you followers in the long run. 

You can also tag other creators if you’ve got inspiration from them – there’s a chance they might tag you back or feature you in their stories, which can help expose you to a whole new audience of potential followers. 

Looking at trending content can also help inspire you if you start running out of ideas about what to post. Tailwind even suggests trending hashtags to you to help you think of new topics to post about.

Tailwind landing page for getting Instagram hashtags recommended to you

Step 8 – Partner with Other Accounts 

One of the BEST ways to gain new followers and grow your account is to collaborate with other accounts in your niche. 

Partnering with other people in your niche will help you to get in front of another audience, and give you potential access to someone else’s followers. And, unlike the explore page, you’ll be in front of an audience of warm leads – making it that little bit easier to convert them into followers. 

You can create reels with someone else, go live together or feature on their stories as a guest expert – anything that works well for your target audience. Just remember, the same way as if you were going on a podcast or writing a guest post for a blog, you need to produce a LOT of value in these collaborations to convince someone else’s followers to follow you too. 

It’s never enough to just get in front of potential followers – you need to make sure you are following up on your offer and giving them a reason to follow you.

Step 9 – Hold Giveaways and Competitions 

One way to grow a big number of followers quickly is to do a giveaway. 

Something that a lot of accounts do is give people an incentive to follow them through competitions where people need to follow, like, and share a post in order to get entered into the sweepstake. 

If you do this, make sure that it’s a REAL giveaway and that you announce the winner on the day you say you will. You can get into big trouble with both your followers and the FTC if you falsely advertise a prize. 

Now, while this is a good way to get followers quickly, if you haven’t done the rest of the work to have a valuable account, you won’t gain loyal followers. It’s still better to focus on growing organic, engaged followers. 

You’ll be rewarded with more growth and exposure in the long run and it will open more doors for you if you do decide to monetize your Instagram account down the line. 

A screenshot of bossbase.inc's Instagram post for a summer giveaway

Next Steps 

Once you’ve started growing your followers and the numbers are going up, it’s time to think about how you’re going to use that to your advantage. You can monetize on Instagram in a lot of different ways – including brand partnerships, sponsors, sales, or even coaching. Start thinking about how you can use your hard work and huge following to hit your goals!

Want to find out what else you can do to make the most of the ‘gram? Check out these Crazy Egg posts next: