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Sometimes we all need a little boost from things like loop giveaways, but to organically grow your Instagram following is truly the best way to grow. An organic following is typically more engaged, more interested in your content and gives the satisfaction of knowing that they actually want to be following you. Even for Instagrammers with millions of followers, true, organic growth on the platform is getting harder and harder to achieve with the constant algorithm changes. The not-so-easy task of getting onto the Explore page or being featured on a big account seems more impossible than ever.

Once the algorithms started changing super frequently, we noticed a serious drop in the amount of followers we were gaining, and even in the amount of people who were seeing our photos. To combat this, we started playing around with different methods to organically boost engagement and exposure on Instagram. It took a lot of trial and error, but we’ve found three different methods that really helped grow our following, despite the up’s and down’s that come with the changes to the algorithm. All of the methods below are super easy to do, require just a little extra effort but are well worth it.

1. Bait & Catch

We like to call the first method “Bait & Catch,” and it’s for a good reason. This might be my favorite method of all three, solely based on how effective it is. Just like dating, everyone on Instagram has a type. Some tend to follow mostly fashion and lifestyle bloggers with cohesive feeds, cool clothes and fun travel photos. Others might enjoy brightly colored feeds filled with adventure, food and culture. You might have a different type, but overall, if you come across someone new on Instagram that has the general feel that you’re into, you’re much more likely to give them a follow.

Follow the steps below to learn how to Bait & Catch new followers:

  1. Go to someone’s instagram profile that you think has a similar style or overall aesthetic to yours. For example, if you have a photography page, go to someone’s Instagram page who has a similar photography style to yours.
  2. Go to that person’s full list of followers.
  3. Start from the top, bottom, or really anywhere in the list of their full followers and pick one of them.
  4. Go to that person’s Instagram page. If it’s private, move on to someone else on the follower list.
  5. Once you have someone with a public page (which honestly, is most people these days), and like three of their photos. It really doesn’t matter which ones you like, but try to keep it within their last 12 photos to the like is relevant. Also, be sure to comment on one of those posts that you liked. It’s super important to leave a thoughtful, memorable comment that is relevant to the photo. This ends up being much more attention-grabbing than a simple “Great shot.”
  6. More often than not, those people end up following you. Why? Because you have a similar aesthetic, look and/or feel to the person whose profile you found them on; because you’re like an account that they typically follow.

Genius, right? We know. A bunch of people use this method to grab the attention of people who have already proven that their interested in that type of Instagram page. While we can’t promise you that this works 100% of the time, it does work most of the time. The best part about it is already knowing that the people who follow you through this method will be engaged followers who are genuinely interested in your content. This method is also super easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of work. Give it a try to see for yourself.

2. Do Everything That Instagram Wants You To Do

Tip number two is to do (literally) everything that Instagram wants you to do. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Instagram rewards it’s users that participate in everything the platform has to offer. Are you not following any hashtags yet? Do you never post Instagram stories? These are things that put you lower on Instagram’s hypothetical “list.” This means that you’re less likely to be discovered by new followers on the Explore page and less likely to get exposure, even on people’s feeds who already follow you. Luckily, the fix to this is pretty simple.

  • Start following a few hashtags
  • Post Instagram stories
  • Comment and like on people’s photos
  • Follow new people
  • Reply to people who comment on your photos
  • Like comments on your photo

Instagram’s algorithm is getting smarter and is learning how to distinguish super-engaged users from the ones who just post photos and don’t engage elsewhere. In this sense, Instagram “rewards” you if you do all of the things the platform was intended for, aka authentically engaging with a lot of people.

We started testing this method out a few months ago, and truthfully, it works pretty well. We try to “super-engage” on my posts, which means liking comments and replying to people when it’s appropriate. We also noticed a huge uptick in the amount of people who followed us once we started following a few new accounts, which is something to take note of. After following 5 accounts that we was interested in, a random burst of 10 people had followed us. Again, we chalk this up to Instagram “rewarding” users by expanding our reach to people who don’t already follow us. (because we’re engaging on the platform in the way that they want us to.)

3. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

As you can clearly tell, we really can’t reiterate this enough. Collaborating is one of the most effective ways to boost your Instagram following in a totally natural and organic way. Collaborate with literally everyone and everything that makes sense for your personal brand. Collaborate with fellow bloggers in your area, collaborate with brands, both small and large, collaborate with photographers, make up artists, hair stylists, etc.

The power of collaboration lies in reposts, tags and mentions on Instagram. We’ll give you guys a really good example. We had a friend who decided that she wanted to be a fashion influencer and mainly keep that effort to Instagram. To boost her following and gain the attention of the right audience, she reached out to popular bloggers on Instagram in her area and asked to meet up with them to take pictures of each other and grab lunch. As a part of this, those popular bloggers gave her photo credits on the pictures they took that day, tagging her in their photo once they posted it and mentioning her handle in their caption. Let’s be honest, people are curious. If you see someone random tagged in a solo photo, you’re likely to go check it out. She did this over and over with a variety of different bloggers, and the result was both exposure to the right audience and a massive influx of new followers. The bloggers she was meeting up with had already done the work of amassing a huge following of engaged viewers. All she had to do was get her name onto those Instagram pages and lead those people to her own page.

Because Instagram is a lot more saturated than it was when my friend first started, it’s a little bit harder to get through to larger bloggers. We’ve personally tried to reach out to a few and the DM’s undoubtedly sat in their “Request” DM’s, unread. It’s totally fine, though. Collaborating with hair stylists, make-up artists, and photographers is mutually beneficial and equally as valuable. You end up providing more exposure for those people, while they simultaneously provide more exposure for you. Plus, who wouldn’t want to collaborate with someone who’s great at doing hair or amazing at getting the right angle in photos? Both their talents and their audiences can bring in new followers to your page.

The good thing about Instagram being so saturated, though, is that it opens up more brand collaboration opportunities for smaller bloggers. You don’t have to have the biggest following, it’s totally okay. Because the mega-bloggers on Instagram are busy working with high end designers and super popular brands, the smaller brands end up working with the smaller bloggers. We’ve had plenty of members who are able to collaborate and grow with a number of start-up brands and smaller, niche lines. There’s serious value in not only working with these brands, but having your content be reposted by them and getting exposure to their follower base. It’s really all about knowing your audience, seeing who has already tapped into it and what brands are a part of it, and pursuing collaborative relationships with them.

Side Note:

It’s important to note, though, that in addition to using these methods for gaining a following, that you also put effort into curating a good looking, cohesive feed. Think of your Instagram page as your 2-second pitch to someone about why they should follow you. First impressions are everything, and when you go to the instagram feed of someone new, chances are that you’re more likely to follow them if their feed is attractive and well put-together. These methods are the hook, but your Instagram feed is the thing that seals the deal. If you’re having trouble finding your “look” or elevating your photos to a level that would generate new followers, be sure to check out some of the other super helpful Tips & Tricks articles on the Wolf Blog.

Take these tips and try them for yourself watch them help you organically grow your Instagram following the easy and honest way!