5 secrets to growing your IG followers (Want to know how to get 5,000 followers for free?)


Instagram Matters for Your Brand

How to grow IG followers — Social media has deeply ingrained itself with culture and society. For businesses, that means they need to adapt so they can continue being relevant figures in the eyes of their consumers.

With the wide selection of options out there for social media, it might be overwhelming for businesses to step foot in this realm if they’re not familiar with this medium yet. Instagram is a great way to start since it’s probably one of the most visually appealing and interactive social media platforms — making it great for business, branding and image building.

Moreover, Instagram currently has a total user base of over 500 million Instagram accounts — making it a melting pot of various demographics and audiences that your brand might want to reach out to.

Why you want followers on IG

Followers are a relevant element to your Instagram page. Your followers are real people who enjoy seeing and receiving updates from your brand. They can be considered your primary audience on Instagram. It’s just important to remember that when it comes to followers, it’s always a matter of quality over quantity.

A profile may have millions of followers, but if these aren’t organic follows or just bot accounts, then there’s not much interaction or penetration that can be obtained from them. Organic followers pertain to individuals who saw your brand and genuinely liked your brand enough to follow you for more posts and updates. These followers are also the ones most likely to purchase or subscribe to your brand.

You might be asking yourself now, how do I get organic and authentic followers? There’s no hard and fast way to gain thousands or millions of followers in an instant, but there are some loose guidelines you can follow to boost your chances of reaching thousands of followers as quickly as possible.

So, let’s get started with our list of 5 strategies you can follow to accelerate your follower growth on Instagram!

The 5 Secrets to Gaining Instagram Followers

SECRET 1: Be consistent

Try to remain consistent with your presence on Instagram. This doesn’t simply mean following a consistent posting schedule. Maintain a consistent image and branding across your content on the platform. Try planning out an aesthetic and follow a posting schedule that can allow you to craft a thoughtfully and beautifully planned Instagram feed.

Instagram users greatly appreciate a well-planned and aesthetically pleasing Instagram page.

SECRET 2: Use stories, reels and IG Live

Make the most out of Instagram’s highly interactive interface and features. Live video is an indispensable tool for marketing on social media. For stories and IG live, your followers are immediately notified and thus can easily reach out and interact with your brand.

Furthermore, these features can help your brand gain exposure by collaborating with other pages to boost views and visibility. These features can also be utilized to generate user-generated content that can elevate your brand’s credibility. You can also try these techniques to get some user-generated content and increase interaction with your brand—

  • Hold a contest, stipulating that they need to like or tag friends to follow your brand
  • Collaborate with influencers and other related brands
  • Start conversations using questions of the day or polls of the day

SECRET 3: Use the right keywords and hashtags

For brand’s starting out with instagram, one of the first goals you should have in mind is getting yourself on the Explore page of Instagram. The Explore page allows your brand to be seen by non-followers who follow topics relevant to them.

Typically, getting into the Explore page involves scoring high in a metric similar to a Google Score. The metric is based on the popularity of your posts as well as the amount of people who interact with your posts on a regular basis.

Though not a full-proof method, using the right keywords and hashtags will help get you to the feeds of your target audience on Instagram — which can hopefully boost your presence enough to get you to the Explore page.

SECRET 4: Use analytics and tools

Analytics tools are supremely important for any brand who wants to grow its presence on social media. Analytics can help brands identify trends so they can identify what works and what doesn’t so they can consistently generate high-impact and high performing content.

There are a myriad of tools available as well to help you organize and plan your Instagram. There’s a variety of analytics and post scheduling tools available for you to use so you can maximize your efforts in an efficient way. These utilities are available if you sign-up on Instagram using a business account.

SECRET 5: Showcase your Instagram everywhere

Should it still be said? Don’t be ashamed to share or plaster your Instagram account on all of your platforms and every nook and cranny of the internet. You can’t gain a following if your audience can’t see your presence in the first place. 

Other helpful tips to build your Instagram presence


Share user-generated content. User-generated content is an extremely potent form of content that can help your brand establish credibility and authority. Constant interaction and exposure with your target audience allows them to create post highlighting your brand. Share these nuggets of gold on all your social media accounts and watch as your list of loyal followers grow.

Hop on trends. It’s a good idea to try and ride along the waves of a popular trend. It’ll give your audience the impression that you’re a brand they can easily relate to. It also fosters a sense of community with your audience. Just remember to be mindful and select trends that are relevant to your brand and audience.

Get a business account. This should be a given already since you are, after all, a business. Signing up for a business account opens you up to a variety of useful tools and features that can help you get the most out of your time on Instagram.


Cheat your way to thousands of followers. You have probably seen that email or Facebook post or message that’s telling you to buy an Instagram account with thousands, if not millions, of followers. It’s best to steer clear of these snake oil peddlers because, as we mentioned, having Instagram followers is a matter of quality, not quantity. Not only are you wasting money on untargeted followers, you also run the risk of ruining your brand’s reputation by having a large number of followers that might possibly be fake or spam.

Don’t spam-follow. It’s a matter of simple intuition, it’s not a good sign if a person sees that a brand or business has a larger following to follower ratio. Though it’s a good idea to follow some of your favorite or most loyal followers and clients, don’t simply send out dozens of follow requests to just anyone in your followers list.

Don’t demand for follows. Follows should be earned organically. Forcing people or engaging in dirty tactics to gain followers can tarnish your reputation as a brand and might make you come off as a brand who’s only in business for popularity, not for the pleasure of its audience. If you’d like to ask for follows, refer to the list of strategies we recommended above to get you started on asking for followers in a creative and constructive way.


Try following the solid pieces of advice above and you’ll be on your way to thousands of followers soon! It might not come at an instant, but that’s what it takes to gain solid and organic followers who will support your brand to the end.

Of course, the art of managing social media is an ever-evolving process — new features can spring up here and there and rules can be generated to corral the user base. Adopt a lifelong learner’s mindset and continue educating yourself on social media and how to grow your brand.

RESOURCES and notes


General Info—

Over 500 million Ig users brows the app daily, some of the most engaged audiences are here thanks to IG’s highly visual and targeted nature


  • Use the right hashtags
    • They should be relevant to your brand, without being too populated
    • Look for popular related hashtags
  • Use high quality filters
    • Look out for your audience’s favorite filters and use them
  • Post at the right times
    • Check out your analytics and post on periods (days and time) of high engagement
    • Pro tip: Use a social media scheduling tool
  • Steal your competitor’s followers
    • Try engaging with your primary competitors’ followers
      • Can be in the form of the following: follow a user, like a photo, comment on a photo
  • Pay for sponsored posts and product reviews
  • Use geotags to boost local discovery
    • Make posts/stories discoverable by tagging your location or the place the post/story was taken
    • Locations have their own IG feed and story
  • Organize your stories into highlights (essentially categorizing them)
    • Use your highlights to give your visitors a quick run-through, intro or primer to your brand.
    • These can help you immortalize your most relevant stories
      • Potential story highlights—
        • Trailers that tease what your account is about
        • Themed stories (like travel, product, testimonials, behind the scenes, etc.)
        • Explainer videos of your product or what you do
  • Ask for more followers
    • It’s okay to carefully nudge IG users to follow your page when they like a certain post of yours
    • Feature a follow request on your post or in your bio
  • Hop on trends
    • Alright your content with trending topics or hashtags to improve discoverability
    • Join the conversation in a meaningful way. Always ask yourself if your target audience would actually pay attention to the trend. Otherwise, you’re probably wasting your time
  • Run a giveaway
    • Make your rank in IG’s algorithm higher by asking users to tag a friend, like and follow for a contest or giveaway.
    • Doesn’t have to necessarily be a giveaway to ask followers to tag friends (e.g., posting a meme that asks followers to tag friends who skip leg day)
  • Share user-generated content
    • It’s an essential and potent tool in your marketing arsenal for gaining followers. User-generated content makes your brand more human which, in turn, makes you more credible, building trusting relationships with potential customers.
    • Tag/feature user-generated content such as reviews, testimonials and other forms of engagement on your IG.
    • You can  try messaging or asking your clients if they want to share with you some of their favorite pictures and experiences using or involving your brand
      • Additional tips:
        • Create a brand hashtags
        • Adding a call-to-action in your bio
        • Run a contest
        • Reach out to influencers
        • Adding an “ask” to your interactions with clients/followers/audience
  • Use IG Live
    • Live video is key to successful marketing on any social media platform. 
    • Followers are notified if you start a live video
    • Can be part of your story for 24 hours
    • IG Live is interactive and followers can comment or share reactions in real time
    • Additional tips to gain followers through IG Live
      • Collaborate with an influencer
      • Hosting ask-me-anything’s and Q&A’s
      • Brand teases like launches, events and updates
      • Hosting a talk show
      • Behind the scenes
      • Current events (day in the life)
      • Tutorials and product demos
  • Be consistent
    • Followers don’t follow you for what you’ve posted in the past but for what’s in store for your brand
    • Have a consistent theme and consistent posting schedule that matches with your audience’s preferences can be of great help. Instagram is a highly visual platform, make sure that you make your aesthetic on IG a priority
    • Consider bio and the last nine posts as your first impression on IG.  Get creative with the aesthetic and keep your brand consistent 
    • Try using post schedulers like Later or Letterfolk to help your brand achieve superb visual aesthetics in your feed
  • Monitor your follow growth closely over time
    • Use analytics tools to keep an eye on your follow rate and identify your most popular post and plan your posts accordingly.
    • Analytics an be an excellent tool for you to identify what your audience enjoys seeing from your page and how you can keep potent, high-quality posts consistent on your page.
    • An Instagram Business Account can help you get an IG Analytics dashboard that can help you identify several important metrics that can help you grow your following.
    • Use this data to identify where you’re successful and failing at.
  • Use IG tools at your disposal
    • A business account will give you an analytics dashboard
    • Try looking out for a post scheduler such as Later
    • IconoSquare is also an analytics tool for insights on your account and follower demographics
    • Webstagram can help you find the best hashtags for your posts and people for sponsored posts.
  • Closing remarks
    • As with any social network, the key to a successful strategy is to be authentic, social and identifying what to post on the platform.
    • Focus on engagement, not just followers. Engagement can help you identify your organic follows, which are a valuable asset to your brand

General Info—

Not suggested to buy followers or using bots (there’s aren’t organic follows)

Need to be selective of the audience since valuable followers are real people that care and engage with your brand

⅔ of profile visits are from non-followers


Step 1 – Lay the groundwork

  • Have a thoughtful IG marketing strategy
  • Define your target audience
  • Create a consistent brand story and aesthetic
  • Use keywords and hashtags to appear in search results
    • Only two fields on IG contribute to search results: name (don’t crowd with keywords, but include only the most relevant in the name field) and username (username needs to be consistent across other social media for your brand)
      • Example: Claudia Laroye (@itsclaudiatravels) includes “travel writer” in her name
  • Optimize your bio and profile
    • users/visitors will likely follow your brand if they resonate with your bio and profile
      • Include the following: what can they expect, why should they follow you and your brand identity
    • So make the most out of 150 characters

Step 2 – Create great content

  • Plan out and create a beautiful IG grid/feed
    • Posts need to be high-quality and visually engaging
    • The first things visitors will see is your content
  • Write compelling captions
    • Put most important words/information up front (within 125 characters)
    • Ask a question – gives the audience a chance to engage/interact/comment
    • Use emojis – they make posts more fun and enticing just be careful to use appropriate ones
    • Experiment with caption length – some users/visitors might opt for long captions while others prefer shorter ones. Just make sure if its short that the post visuals speak for themselves
  • Post content that’s re-shareable
    • Audiences enjoy content that’s engaging, useful and inspiring; so think about your types of content while you’re planning
    • People love infographics that they can share on their social media, blogs or websites
  • Embrace IG Stories
    • Half a billion IG users use and view stories everyday and 45% of most viewed stories come from businesses
    • This is a highly engaged group of people so use hashtags, geotagging and other tools to help you achieve more reach
  • Use Stories highlights
    • Relevant stories can be pinned as highlights. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself, your brand’s content, updates and policies; these are also part of the first things people see when they visit your page
    • Personalize the cover photo of each highlight to make it more engaging and to stay consistent with your branding and aesthetic
  • Post consistently
  • Post at the right time
  • Schedule your posts and stories

Step 3 – Make yourself findable

  • Use relevant hashtags to reach new users
    • Your hashtags are searchable and people can discover you through these hashtags; this is also an opportunity for you to create branded hashtags
      • Some users follow hashtags, not just pages. So it’s also a good opportunity to use these to be discovered by users
      • Refrain from using hashtags gimmicks such as #likeforlike, #tagsforlikes, #followme.
        • These are neither engaging nor relevant to your content
        • Opt for specific and relevant hashtags related to your brand and content
    • Tag your location
      • Easy way for people to find your content, give them more context and it will likely boost your chances of being discovered
    • Tag relevant users in posts and stories
      • Mention relevant users and partners such as customers, suppliers, other relevant businesses, colleagues/employees, someone who helped you with something or anyone who just wants to be mentioned
  • Encourage others to tag you
    • You can place a request to tag in the bio or some select posts
  • Cross-promote your IG account to other networks
    • Utilize other social networks where you already have a following
    • Indicate why they should follow your IG as well
    • When promoting your account, have at least 12 posts ready to look aesthetically pleasing or complete. Otherwise, your brand might not seem as credible
  • Embed posts in your blog or website
  • Share your IG using other communication channels
    • This may include places such as your website, email signatures, online newsletters and other outbound media you may be using including traditional media such as posters, packaging, business cards ar company merchandise
    • If you’re just starting with IG now, an email blast to your mailing list or followers may be helpful
  • Use QR codes
    • Sharing your IG QR code at real time events can help you connect with new followers in person. Plaster your QR on a poster, a presentation, press release or feature.
  • Try to get featured
    • Try to look out for feature accounts and try to get featured in their profiles. These accounts usually have 100K+ followers and curate and re-share content based on hashtags or tagging
  • Try to get into the Explore page
    • Explore page is the screen you see when you clack on the magnifying glass icon.
    • The explore page is where people can discover content from places they don’t follow yet.
      • This is a paid service, sign-up on IG with a business profile to heighten your chance of getting featured sans the cost.
      • The ranking for the Explore page is contingent on the volume of people that interact with a certain account. Business pages usually fare better since they go through a lot of interactions with followers.
    • Benefits of being in the explore page
      • Experience a potential spike on engagement for a piece of content
      • Increase in new followers 
      • Increased engagement with brand new followers moving forward
      • An increase in conversions
      • A boost in sales driven by product tags and IG shopping tools
    • Tips to get in the explore page
      • Identify your target market and reach out and cater to their needs/wants
      • Share engaging content
      • Try prominent formats such as IG Reels (internal link IG Reels blog here)
      • Cultivate an active brand community
        • Provide opportunities for engagement like starting conversations on the comment section, DMs and other brand channels
      • Post when followers are online
      • Use relevant hashtags
      • lIsten to analytics

Step 4 – Engage with your community

  • Follow relevant accounts
    • Only tag people in an IG post when it’s directly relevant to them.
    • You can follow whomever you like, following users may increase the chances of them visiting your profile, but don’t follow them with the intention of just getting their attention and be careful not to spam follow.
      • Having a higher follow-to-follower ratio damages your credibility as a brand
    • Engage in social listening to find conversations and influencers to follow
      • Check out “suggestions for you” section to help you find relevant accounts — these show up on your IG feed usually indicated in posts or stories
    • Engage with existing communities
      • Participate or introduce yourself to your target audience’s community by liking, commenting on and sharing content from other credible users within your community — but avoid generic comments that may make you look like a pot (e.g., awesome post! Or Such a great read!)
      • Helps in two ways—
        • People get notified when you like and comment on their posts. They might want to return the favor by liking, commenting and following you back
        • They’ll likely check you out if they found your comment interesting
    • Work with influencers in your niche
      • 605 of consumers say they’d follow a brand on IG after seeing it being endorsed by a trusted influencer
      • Place an internal link for our influencer marketing blog here
    • Collaborate with other brands
      • Work together with businesses or brands that you indirectly collaborate with. These may be local business improvement associations, shopping areas/retailers, complementary brands, etc.
      • One way to do this is to feature products and content owned by other companies (not necessarily competitors)
    • Try an IG Live collaboration
      • Users automatically get notified when the brands they follow starts broadcasting live
      • Use “Go live with a friend” to co-host a live video with a trusted partner, someone else in your industry or a relevant client.
    • Use interactivity features in Stories
      • Use polls, questions, chat stickers to get some minor, quick interactions with your followers. Keep these low-stakes and have the goal of engagement and interaction in mind
  • Pin your best comments
    • Select your favorite comments on your posts to expand your post’s reach and bolster your credibility
    • It has the potential to boost engagement

Step 5 – keep learning

  • Create an AR Filter
    • Photo effects that can give posts a touch of personality and branding
    • It can also potentially increase your user’s likelihood of liking and interacting with you.
    • Non-branded AR Filters can also appear in your IG stories effects gallery where other users can find and use it
  • Run contests
    • High likelihood of engagement
    • Ask people to follow, comment and liking your posts and ask them to tag a friend or a specific number of contacts
    • Try to encourage user-generated content which can highly engage your users with your brand, learn more about you, build credibility and further expand your reach
  • Learn from IG Insights
    • Get the Instagram Analytics tool so you can gate data on post impressions, reach, engagement, top posts and other relevant information about your posts, following, traffic and primary demographics of followers. 
    • Study the time and day when you have higher engagement and focus posting on these periods


General Information—

  • IG has become the cornerstone of many  brands’ social presence and landing conversions and engagement
  • Focus on organic following. Never pay for likes and follows


  • Optimize your Instagram Account
  • Keep a consistent content calendar
  • Schedule IG Posts in advance
  • Get partners and brand advocates to post your content
    • Know the value of your audience and try to encourage others to create user-generated content
      • User-generated content can be in the form of feedback, contest entries, testimonials or anything that can feature your brand
  • Avoid fake IG Followers
    • Never purchase an IG account just for the followers
    • It damages your credibility
    • Have no ROI
    • Doesn’t create buzz or engagement
  • Showcase your IG everywhere
    • Don’t forget to include your website and other social media accounts as well and feature your IG in these channels too.
    • Don’t ask for follows; create content so you can give organic followers a reason to follow you
  • Post content followers want and find relevant
    • Look out for IG trends and review your Analytics tools to identify what your target audiences likes and what they’re regularly searching for
  • Get the conversation started
    • Consumers like engaging with visual-first content such as photos and video than text.
    • Make use of all three formats by creating eye-catching visuals with quality captions that resonate with your audience
    • Respond to comments and questions through the comment section or through DMs.
  • Find hashtags that convert
    • Look for hashtags that aren’t too populated
      • Look for niche hashtags that are relevant to your brand
      • It’s difficult to stand out in a sea of hundreds of millions of people/brands using a single hashtag
    • Try checking out hashtag analytics tools
  • Make sure your IG Followers are happy
    • Avoid being too salesly, needy or robotic
    • Try to create posts intended to simply make consumers happy.
      • Builds customer relationships and loyalty
    • Provide content that treats your followers as if they’re your friends.
      • May be in the form of memes, inspirational content, resharing interesting photos or artwork.
      • Basically, anything that can put a smile on someone’s face for the day

Read also: How to create Instagram reels

About Me

Heather DeSantis is the CEO and Founder of Publicity For Good (PFG), Forbes 30 Under 30 nominee, PRNEWS Top Women in PR 2021 Entrepreneurs Award, Platinum PR Awards CEO Finalist 2021 and Ragan’s PR Daily Award – PR Leader of the Year for 2021 and has been working with CPG clients for nearly a decade.

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