How to grow your Instagram following when you’re just starting out

Instagram marketing is a helluva lot harder than it used to be. Once upon a time, a perfectly curated Instagram feed was enough to grow your Instagram following overnight. These days, Instagram marketing ain’t what it used to be. That said, there are a couple of tricks you can use to grow your Instagram following with people who are actually interested in what you do or sell. Here are my top tips to grow your Instagram following when you’re just starting out.

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How to grow your Instagram following when you’re just starting out

Instagram marketing used to be an easy, free way to market your business back in 2014. Heck, even in 2016 it was pretty easy to grow a large Instagram following. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s a completely different game. So many people come to me and ask: “Steph, how do I grow my Instagram following?” Do you know what I say back? I tell them, “you’re focusing on the wrong metric!”

But first, do you know where Instagram fits into your overall marketing strategy?


Your Instagram follower count is a vanity metric and, on its own, it counts for nothing! You could easily have just gone and spent $20 and bought a whole bunch of followers. The key is to build your Instagram following with people who actually care about your business. People who like your brand and who might one day become your customer or client.

But how do you find these people and how do you make them follow you?

How to grow your Instagram following with the right people

Instagram growth tip #1: HAVE GREAT INSTAGRAM CONTENT

Firstly you need top-notch content. If your Instagram feed looks like one big sales pitch, I’m not going to follow you. Chances are your ideal customer, or client, won’t follow you either.

What does your ideal customer or client use Instagram for? Are they there to be inspired? To learn? To watch videos of puppies attacking vacuum cleaners? Whatever it is – post more content like that and you’ll find it a lot easier to convince people to follow you.

Try to make sure your content is unique. Everyone out there has a perfectly curated Instagram feed made up of photos that aren’t their own. Instead of copying everyone else, try to create some of your own content – or at the very least put a lot of thought into writing your captions.

I recently shared 6 of my favourite tools for getting a beautiful Instagram feed. These tools make it super easy to create your own Instagram content and design the feed of your dreams.

Instagram growth tip #2: GENUINELY ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE

Don’t go and follow 500 accounts, only to unfollow them the next day. This isn’t engaging, it isn’t genuine and, in fact, it’s actually a pretty bad look for your brand.

Instead, allow yourself 30 minutes of Instagram time each day, where you go and make Instagram friends. Comment on their photos and just be a nice person. Don’t go and leave comments that are just emojis, or comments that just say “nice pic”. That’s not productive, engaging or genuine and it’s going to look like you’re just a bot commenting on people’s photos and replying to people’s Instagram stories.

If you haven’t got something insightful to say, just focus on being friendly and you’ll find that you start to build an awesome tribe. I also recommend you spend some time trying to build a connection with your Instagram audience.


Another great way to build your Instagram following is to drive people there from other sources.

We grew the Wildbloom Instagram following by 1,400 people in one month simply by adding a call to action on our free ebook thank you page.

Once they downloaded the free ebook, they were taken to a page that said thank you and a button that said “CLICK HERE for more free marketing tips”. So many people clicked that button and followed us because of that.

You could also link to Instagram from your blog or your email newsletter. Just add a quick call to action and tell them what’s in it for them. For example, for tips and tricks on X, Y, Z follow us on Instagram.

Instagram growth tip #4: DO YOUR HASHTAG RESEARCH

Don’t forget to do your research. Your hashtag research that is. Try to stay away from broad hashtags like #fitness or #beauty. These will at best get you a bunch of spam comments that you don’t really want on your posts.

Instead, try to find some niche hashtags that your ideal customer or client will be looking at or following. Instagram will then give you suggestions of similar hashtags that you can use.

To prevent you from always using the same ones, have a couple of different sets of hashtags saved for each of your different types of posts.


Working with an influencer, or influencers, can be a really good way to grow your Instagram following when you’re just starting out.

However, you need to make sure they’re actually influential and that they’re influential with your target audience.

This is worthy of an entire post on its own, so we won’t delve into influencers right now.

Instagram growth tip #6: CONSIDER RUNNING A GIVEAWAY

Last, but not least, you could look at running a giveaway. Before you do, though, make sure it fits into your overall marketing strategy and don’t do it just to increase your Instagram follower numbers.

Please remember Instagram followers, on their own, aren’t worth much. Rather, try and get your followers to join your email list in order to enter. Or, to increase your brand awareness, you can ask them to tag a friend in the comments. 

For more tips to level up your Instagram, check out my free cheat sheet below:

You might also be interested in some of my favourite tools for getting a beautiful Instagram feed.

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How to grow your instagram following when you're starting out

June 6, 2018

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