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7 Tips for Organically Growing Your Instagram Following in 2021

Growing your Instagram following undoubtedly increases in difficulty as the years go on. However, brand partners are still looking to Instagram for partnerships, so driving growth here can still have a strong ROI. We have gathered the top tips for growing on Instagram, as well as sharing some results from our own testing of these commonly shared growth strategies.

1. Use Hashtags

Do hashtags still work? The jury is always out on whether hashtags work and great hashtag research is certainly the key to good results. Hashtag results tend to ebb and flow, but have helped me (Kelly here, creator and Willa events planner!) generate significant reach outside of my following. The example below shows hashtag results from a recent Instagram post, where I had a reach that was greater than my following thanks to hashtags!

2. Engage with other accounts

Genuine engagement with other accounts can still drive results, but the $1.80 method is likely not the best strategy. Search for your target audience in community-based hashtags and track profile views and responses to determine the success of your strategy. Don’t forget to spend time genuinely engaging with your existing community as well!

3. Reels

If you’ve been looking to grow on Instagram, by and large the advice you have likely seen in 2021 is to grow with Reels. Based on the newly updated Instagram insights, this seems to be accurate. I have personally posted 11 reels over the last 30 days that generated a reach of 13.3K, most of which were people who were not following me. Check out the video below from Ana of detailing her growth using Reels!

4. Pay attention to what’s on your explore page

Interested in ranking on the explore page? Instagram has shared exactly how posts land there (in the least helpful format possible). Here’s a summary for you in order of importance:

  1. Information about the post such as likes, comments, save, and shares as well as how quickly that positive feedback is coming
  2. An individual’s history of interacting with the person who posted
  3. An individual’s activity on the app such as what they like, save, comment on or interact with, as well as what posts on explore you have engaged with previously.
  4. Information about the person posting, such as how much people have been interacting with their content lately.

I recently started experimenting with mimicking the content on my own explore page to see if I could get more explore page views. While my explore page views aren’t exploding, I have started to see it pop up in my analytics a lot more often.

5. Use TikTok or another social platform

Looking to boost your Instagram following without spending all your time on Instagram? Try leveraging other platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest to help boost your following. A great example of this is Christine of @christineleeee who grew her audience from 15K to 150K with the help of explosive growth on her TikTok, where she has a following of over 300K.

6. Post Consistently

It's the greatest key to unlock growth, but you need to do it over a long (think months) period of time to really see results.

7. Search Engine Optimization

Instagram has been cluing users into the fact that it will be expanding its SEO features and recently shared how search works on Instagram. When searching for a topic area, the results now look like this, suggesting Instagram will be doing more to rank content as a search engine. Interested in learning how to optimize your profile for search? Check out our post here on optimizing for search.