Are you feeling defeated by the Instagram algorithm? I was too, which is why I used my own account as a guinea pig and created this guide on how I gained 1000 Instagram followers in 30 days.
Let me start off by saying that it is close to impossible to gain authentic Instagram followers without any effort. Like most things in life, gaining Instagram followers takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears (kidding–but you get what I’m saying). If you’re looking for a get rich quick solution, this is not the article for you.
I would also like to mention that I am definitely not an expert– and to be honest, before I started this experiment I kind of hated Instagram. However, I knew if I wanted to take my blog to the next level I had to take the plunge and make an account.
I decided to run an experiment. I would take a break from Pinterest and dedicate as much time as possible to grow my Instagram account. I wanted to see how many Instagram followers I could gain within one month while using these tips. I can’t believe I need to say this, but no, I did not buy a single follower or have any help. I created my Instagram account on August 17th with 0 followers, and as of today I have 1,049.
Tip #1: Do not play the follow/ unfollow game.
There is nothing that makes my blood boil more than influencers who utilize this technique to gain Instagram followers. I am truly so grateful for each and every person that follows me, and because of this I am happy to support my Instagram followers and follow them back.
The guideline I followed this month was to follow 95% of accounts who followed me, given that they were within my niche. I truly believe I am only able to be successful on Instagram if I’m cultivating relationships with people who follow me. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule: I did not follow back spammy accounts trying to sell knockoff designer bags or creepy middle aged men (lol).
So what did I do if someone within my niche followed me, but for whatever reason I didn’t love their content? This may be kind of controversial, but I find the “mute” button really helpful in these situations. If the person follows me and is within my niche, but for example, I’m not into their feed style, I will mute their account. This way, I’m still supporting them by following them back, but the posts that do not interest me are not cluttering my feed.
Now, will I be able to keep up with following back 95% of all accounts as my Instagram continues to grow? Probably not. But for now, I have found great success with this method.
Bottom line: treat people the way you would like to be treated. If I see that someone follows me and then unfollows me an hour later, I don’t care if you’re Channing Tatum– I’m unfollowing you back. Just don’t be that person.
Tip #2: Engage, engage and engage some more!
This is probably one of the most important, if not the most important tip on how to gain Instagram followers:
1) Follow people within your niche, who are within the same “stage” as Instagram growth as you
2) Like their photos
3) Leave them MEANINGFUL comments
PSA: “cute!” or a heart emoji are not genuine comments. I always read the caption first and see if there is something I can comment off of from there. If the caption doesn’t contain a question, I will give a genuine compliment on something they are wearing, their makeup, their hair, etc.
Now when I say engage with other accounts within the same “growing stage” as you, I mean find people within your niche who have a similar amount of followers. Right now, I’m focusing on engaging with accounts within the 500 – 2,000 follower range. I find that these accounts are much more likely to reciprocate and follow back. I still do comment on accounts who have many more followers than I do, but if I comment on Dress Up Buttercup’s Instagram page, I’m certainly not expecting her to follow me back.
Another great way to find accounts to engage with is to look at who is commenting on your favorite influencers posts, and engage with them. If they’re engaging with the same content as you are, chances are they will also want to engage with you.
As far as how much time I spend engaging: I usually spend 15-20 minutes in the morning before I get to work, around 30 minutes during my lunch break, and 30 – 45 minutes after dinner. I know this seems like a lot of time to spend on your phone, but you have to remember that there are girls who do this as a full-time job. Until I get to that point, I’m trying to dedicate as much free time as I can to engaging with other accounts.
Tip #3: Use your Geotag to your advantage.
This is a quick tip I took advantage of last weekend. I knew that the Newport International Boat show was in town and that there would be a lot of social media buzz behind the event. I used this to my advantage and tagged the boat show as my location all weekend. I ended up in the top post section a couple of days in a row and gaining a lot of Instagram followers who were in town, who I otherwise may have not reached.
Tip #4: Be consistent.
This is pretty self explanatory, but post as often as possible and only at peak times. For me, I post almost every day at 12:15 PM during my lunch break. This is when I receive the most engagement. You can use an app to see when you should post, or if you have an Instagram business account, you can look at your insights page.
Tip #5: Post good content.
Another important piece of advice: if you were scrolling through Instagram, would you stop to like and comment on your own post? If the answer is no, then don’t post it.
Listen– I am in no way a professional photographer and I have zero experience in social media marketing. I take all of my own photos on my two year old iPhone 7. I do not have someone to take photos for me, and my boyfriend has no interest in becoming an insta-boyfriend haha. I set up my broken tripod on an old shitty table on my porch, set the 10 second timer and pose awkwardly while my neighbors stare at me in horror. It’s really not an ideal situation, but if I can do it, you can too!
I also invested in a great preset so that my entire feed looks (semi) cohesive. Another great investment has been using Planoly to get a feel what a photo will look like on my feed before I post it. The solo plan is only $7 a month and well worth the money–I could not recommend it more!
I do these photo shoots every Saturday or Sunday and make sure that I have enough content for the entire week. I try to produce 5 outfit posts, 1 to 2 flat lay posts and then one home decor or beauty post. With that being said– do not post just to post. I find that pictures of me wearing an outfit do much better with my Instagram followers than a “filler” quote post.
I cannot stress these last two points enough: do this because you love it and be YOURSELF. The market is so over-saturated right now with millions of Instagram accounts, and the only way to stand out and gain Instagram followers is to post unique content. If you don’t love posting unique content and engaging, it’s going to get very discouraging very quickly. There are days when I lose 40 followers in a day, and while that sucks, I’m not bummed because I love what I put out there and I genuinely have fun doing it.
If you found this post helpful, I would for you to check out my Instagram and leave a comment that you came from this post. In exchange, I’d be more than happy to take a look and provide constructive criticism on your feed. As always, feel free to reach out with any comments or questions and don’t forget to share this post!