How to boost Instagram growth: 20 social media pros share creative examples

Growing your Instagram following may seem like a long, tedious process. While it’s true that it takes time to grow a solid base of relevant organic followers, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to boost Instagram growth and see results quickly. Often, all it takes is a little momentum to get the ball rolling.

To help you find some inspiration for creative tactics and Instagram marketing strategies you can use to start growing your Instagram following, we reached out to a panel of social media pros and asked them to answer this question:

“What’s a creative example you’ve seen to boost Instagram growth (and how can marketers learn from it)?”

Meet Our Panel of Social Media Pros:

Read on to learn from our experts’ creative examples of boosting Instagram growth.


Shaunda Necole

Shaunda Necole

@ShaundaNBlog

Shaunda Necole is a business coach, motivational influencer, and entrepreneur. She is the creator of Get Your Name Out There Magic Marketing, where she shares her secrets and insider tips – how she got over 100 thousand people to follow her in less than a year with big brands and media outlets taking notice!

Instagram influencers are using affiliate marketing concepts to boost Instagram growth. What is affiliate marketing you may ask? It’s the practice of being rewarded (usually monetarily) for the referral of a link to another site where a user performs a desired action (i.e., views, purchases, subscribes, etc.). Influencers are leveraging this concept inside the app by partnering with each other and referring their own audience onto another influencer’s page on the platform with some type of incentive or reward for the users who take part. The desired action in this affiliate model is usually to follow the Instagram account that the user is referred to. The reward, in this case, is new followers for each influencer and often a high-value prize for the follower that wins via a random selection. This type of affiliate strategy can be useful if each affiliate partner has an active, curious and participating audience to accept the call to action. Ultimately, it results in an increase of new and authentic followers for each of the affiliates. Marketers can follow this Instagram trend and level up their strategies for reaching new online audiences with simple affiliate incentives.”


Adeel Shabir

Adeel Shabir

@adeelshabi

Adeel Shabir is the Content Marketing Executive at GigWorker.

Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users. 64% of its users are between 18 – 29 years old. Video posts receive 38% more engagement.

Creativity can be shown on Instagram in many ways, but the target audience is to be kept in mind. Kylie Jenner posted a picture about the birth of her daughter and it skyrocketed because of the personal brand and name. And it created the most liked Instagram post. On another hand, World Record Egg made a staggering entry with 53 million likes on a post with a simple image of an egg.

“Growing Instagram is not that complicated, but it requires proper research and tools that helps you enable your audience to go through your Instagram page. Videos are the fastest growing (or most popular) format on Instagram because it’s easy to watch a 1-minute video rather than reading an article or detailed post about health fitness.


Anita Anderson

Anita Anderson

@acaweb

Anita Anderson is the Owner of ACA Web Consulting.

The best tip for Instagram growth happens to be free (except for your time): networking with your followers or those who are searching within your given niche. Search the hashtag(s) associated with your Instagram page and see who’s interested in a similar category then comment, like, and engage with them. I’ve seen high reciprocity using this method. When you do this type of engagement, be sincere as it will be apparent to fellow Instagrammers whether or not you’re just phishing for followers.”


Keith Kakadia

Keith Kakadia

@KeithKakadia

Keith Kakadia currently runs one of the top social media agencies, Sociallyin. They help medium-sized and large brands tell compelling stories and sell through social media. He enjoys helping people and helping companies grow.

“The typical answers would be something along the lines of getting a hashtag, trending, or posting every day to keep people interested. However, in the real world, this isn’t the way it works. Quantity doesn’t automatically equal quality. Instead, my creative team and I have developed ways to promote specific brands and businesses without just spamming our followers feeds.

Instagram stories have a lot of potential in terms of creative graphics creations, live behind-the-scenes videos, and other sneak peeks that can help to capture your audience. Remember though, that people like creative experiences. Don’t do the bare minimum to get by. Use the platform to promote the outreach of your company. Tell your followers about what you’re passionate about. Embrace beauty and color. This is what makes your followers engage, not random pictures posted three times a day.

If you haven’t thought about running a giveaway or a contest, consider doing so. Maybe make it into something that allows your followers to voice their opinions in a very public way. Example: if you’re creating a new service or product, why not run a contest that allows one of your followers to NAME the new product? This will light a spark of creativity among your followers that will drive excitement and engagement!”


Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith

@expertsureData

Ollie Smith is the CEO of ExpertSure.

In my experience, incorporating a ‘call to action’ into every post can have a positive effect on the growth of your Instagram. More often than not, when you ask people to do something, they will actually do it. I would start with asking everyone who sees your latest post to ‘like’ it. This approach works best if you use a funny picture or something related when starting off. You can then progress on to asking your followers to ‘tag’ their friends who might like or agree with a picture or statement you have posted. That will in turn motivate them to act accordingly – and watch your Instagram grow!”


Beth Cooper

Beth Cooper

@KNBComm

Beth Cooper is the Director of Marketing at KNB Communications, a full-service PR and Marketing Agency. She has over 10 years of experience in marketing and has spoken at several marketing conferences as a recognized expert on the topic of social media.

“1. Hashtag clouds. A hashtag cloud is a group of hashtags that you compile for use on each Instagram post. It is one of the most effective ways of boosting Instagram growth as it puts your content in front of the eyes of individuals who are not already following your account. Instagram currently allows you to use 30 hashtags per post. Posting your hashtag cloud in the second comment is better for aesthetic purposes, as it won’t distract from the caption. In order to pick the right tags for your content, perform hashtag searches. Use the popular hashtags within your industry and look at the top posts on the hashtags. Instagram tells you how many tags each hashtag has within the search results. Don’t waste your time browsing through a super-popular tag with 150 million pictures. More specific tags that have tens of thousands or even a hundred thousand tags are more curated and are used intentionally by accounts within the industry. Example: don’t browse #sunset (204 million posts). Browse sunset_lover (25.8k posts). In order not to appear spammy, don’t use hashtags that are not relevant to your posts.

“2. Strategic engagement. This is a method that often goes overlooked, but can be extremely effective in jump-starting growth. While exploring hashtags your potential followers would use, engage with desired followers by ‘liking’ or commenting on their posts. Interacting with people will put your account on their radar and will increase the likelihood of a follow.

“3. Feature content. Featuring the content of others on your feed is another creative approach to experience Instagram growth. People are more likely to follow your account if you are showcasing something that they created because you will be providing them with much desired exposure as well. Just be sure to get explicit permission from each user before reposting their content.

“4. Giveaways. Holding contests and giveaways often results in a boost of followers. You can increase the effect if you add rules like contestants must be following specific accounts in order to be entered to win something. Following an account in exchange for the chance to win an awesome prize is a good trade, and individuals are prone to engage in this exchange. It is important to make sure participants are aware of all of the guidelines of the competition by communicating them clearly when describing the giveaway. Be sure to check all state and federal rules.

“5. IGTV. Finally, using the IGTV feature on Instagram is currently a great tactic to boost Instagram growth. Videos are extremely popular right now, and especially popular within Generation Z, who have a major presence on the platform. Implementing quality videos into your regular content will attract the attention you are looking for in order to experience Instagram growth. In addition to that, IGTV is still a relatively new initiative, and Instagram’s algorithm is treating content posted on it favorably. Be sure to put a ‘preview’ tile of the IGTV video into your main gallery for extra views. Choose a cover image either from the video or upload one that fits your feed well.”


Ryder Meehan

Ryder Meehan

@UpgrowSF

Ryder is a 15-year digital marketing and customer acquisition specialist focused on search marketing and social media. He is the Co-Founder of Upgrow, a performance marketing agency in San Francisco, and has previously led digital marketing teams at Fossil, Samsung Mobile, and Tatcha.

My favorite creative Instagram growth strategy I’ve seen is using country-specific content and boosting that content with ads. A global business influencer was able to reach 100K followers within 2 months by using this technique. This works very well as ads in certain countries are significantly lower cost-per-click than the US. In his example, he targeted the Philippines with a post quoting Manny Pacquiao, a local hero, gaining real and active followers for under $0.10 each.”


Dustin Tyler

Dustin Tyler

Dustin Tyler is a social media influencer with around 70k followers. He mainly uses Instagram to promote products that he thinks my audience may enjoy. 

Some of the more creative ways I’ve seen other influencers (including myself) grow their following is by holding contests and doing giveaways such as tag 3 friends in the comments and you can win so and so or tag 3 friends for a free 24-hour shoutout in story. I’ve even seen large scale celebrity influencers give away $10,000 and other expensive prizes if people follow them and their team. I noticed they all gained thousands of followers through that contest. Overall, all these methods work quite well.”


Stacy Caprio

Stacy Caprio

@StacySays_

Stacy Caprio is a Marketing Consultant at Stacy Caprio, Inc

One creative way to boost Instagram growth is to find an influencer or high follower account in your niche and partner with them by trading shoutouts, going on each other’s lives, and tagging each other in stories, doing all these shared actions for maximum benefit. This exposes each of your audiences to the other’s audience, allowing you to each boost your own followings and engagement.”


Sanem Ahearn

Sanem Ahearn

@Colorescience

Sanem Ahearn, the Head of Marketing at Colorescience, a San Diego-based makeup company, made up of health forward formulas.

“Partake in giveaways. Everyone loves free stuff so when you hold giveaways, the likelihood of people joining and sharing your brand exceeds expectations. Incorporate giveaways of your product or service to your Instagram marketing strategy for reaching audiences from different niches. Free stuff appeals to the masses so giveaways are a creative way to rapidly boost your Instagram growth from the support of your audience.

“Hold contests. Contests are a great way to simultaneously get exposure for your business and also engage with your audience. Healthy competition can make for a creative audience. Invoke a playful contest and boost your social media presence by answering back to contestants and broadcasting the playful experience.”


Chris Gensheer

Chris Gensheer

@gensheer

Chris Gensheer is former Pastor turned Agency Owner of Empathy Marketing Group. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses by clarifying their messaging online, in print, and in person, because clarifying your message can be the simplest and most effective way to grow your business. 

“My experience and expertise say that the best way to boost an Instagram account organically is to treat your IG account (and any social media) as a personal, or social, interaction, instead of an algorithm.

“All platforms change, tweak, and adjust various elements, but the one constant across them all is: Do people engage with this content or creator? If so, you’ll win. If not, it doesn’t matter what ninja marketing or creative hacks you employ.

“Practically speaking, this looks like what Gary Vaynerchuk has labeled his $1.98/day strategy. He spells this out for LinkedIn, but I have applied it to Instagram and Twitter and have seen consistent addition of followers (without paying for them), increased engagement in the form of comments, hearts, and shares, as well as a couple of business opportunities on account of my feed and engagement.

The strategy is read, follow, and leave a substantive comment on other people’s content; or in Gary Vee terms, leave your two cents on 90 pieces of content and you’ll have your $1.98/strategy for organically boosting your own social media profile.

“I’m sure there are other great ideas, tips, tricks, and other hacks. But at the end of the day, the most social engagement is what wins. They don’t call it social media for nothing!”


Matt Erickson

Matt Erickson

@MattEricksonLA

Matt Erickson is the Marketing Director for National Positions, a digital marketing agency in Westlake Village, CA. He has his undergraduate in International Business and Marketing as well as his MBA from CSUS Sacramento. His main areas of interest include social media, branding, and marketing psychology.

“It is hard to overlook all the work that GaryVee has put into Instagram. He has taken full advantage of the microcontent style but also looped it into using IGTV. He will post powerful pieces of video content that are hard hitting in and of themselves and will prompt the user to watch the full clip on IGTV where the user can see the full 2-5 minute video that continues from where the clip left off. Instead of trying to fit the whole video in the standard Instagram post time restriction or just use stories, this is a great creative way to leverage the extended video functionality of Instagram.”


Ilya Ryzhkov, Peak Resulting

Ilya Ryzhkov

Ilya Ryzhkov is the Owner of Peak Resulting in ON, Canada.

The most recent (and probably ridiculous) idea I saw recently was this guy: Mercedes G class giveaway. He did it by himself, no ‘subscribe to 20 other pages’ stuff, the only term to enter was to put a story with 2 hashtags and tag him. 500,000,000 impressions over 7 days, 40,000,000 page views, huge media and TV outreach. Everyone was buzzing about him. (Check out his 4th highlight named ГеликПодписчику.)

“The best part that old G class was probably worth around $60-80k which is nothing compared to gains. Another thing to notice is that his engagement went down after the giveaway, which means the quality of those who subscribed was not that good.” 


Kaddie Fancher

Kaddie Fancher

@KCMediaINC

Kaddie Fancher is the President & Founder at KC Media.

A successful tactic we see at KC Media for clients to boost their Instagram growth is what we refer to as spreading the love. We encourage our clients to engage with similar brands, their influencers, and their followers regularly by leaving thoughtful and personalized comments on others’ posts. It grabs the attention of the account receiving the comment as well as others who follow that account, leading to more profile visits, follows, and engagement on their own. A well thought out comment goes far beyond the mindless double-tap and shows the audience on the receiving end that you care. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to add value and say something interesting!”


Sarkis Hakopdjanian

Sarkis Hakopdjanian

@BusinessClinic7

Sarkis Hakopdjanian is the Director of Strategy + Principal for The Business Clinic, a business and marketing consulting agency that helps businesses grow their Instagram followers.

One creative strategy that we’ve used to help our clients grow their Instagram profiles is to focus on getting the attention of their target market. For example, if our client owns an optometry clinic, then we find all of their competitors’ optometry clinics in the city on Instagram and start following their followers. The people following our competitors’ Instagram accounts are likely their customers, so by following them, we’re getting their attention with a notification. From our experience, we’ve been able to get about 30%-50% of our target market to view our client’s Instagram profile and have been able to convert 10%-20% of those users into new followers. If we follow an additional 5,000 users in one month, we can grow our Instagram profile by about 500-1,000 new users. More importantly, these are our clients’ target market, so they’re highly relevant users.”


Anjana Wickramaratne

Anjana Wickramaratne

@inspirenix1

Anjana Wickramaratne is the CEO of a Digital Marketing Agency, Inspirenix.

“There are several methods that can boost your growth on Instagram but I am going to share one of the most effective methods that digital marketers use to boost Instagram growth.

“Here is the GOLDEN METHOD. Competitor Engagement Benefits. What is Competitor Engagement Benefits, and why is it one of the most effective methods to boost Instagram growth? Well, in simple terms, Competitor Engagement Benefits means engaging with the people who have engaged with your competitors’ Instagram accounts and posts. By engaging with people who have engaged with your competitors’ posts, you increase your chances of getting them to engage with your posts and account, as well. How do you engage with these people? You can follow the people who have liked your competitors’ posts, and there is a very good chance that they will follow you back which will lead to a boost in your Instagram growth. Also, you can engage with these potential engagers by commenting on your competitors’ posts. It can be an argument on a statement in a post or just a positive comment, which engagers on the competitor’s account will see and may engage with you if they see you have good knowledge on that topic. I myself use this method for my clients which has bought in good results on my clients’ Instagram growth.

“That is the Golden Method to boosting your Instagram Growth that most articles on the internet don’t cover, and it’s one of the most effective methods.”


Rio Rocket

Rio Rocket

@theriorocket

Rio Rocket is a multi-hyphenate film, TV, and voice-actor, commercial model, motivational speaker, and event host. He is also a highly accomplished graphic artist, web developer, and branding expert. 

What I’ve seen a trend in are moving photos. As we’ve already seen, video drives engagement up but requires more work to create than still photography. Photos can be animated with a variety of software programs, including modern versions of Adobe Photoshop, and are simply stunning to look at.”


Rahul Kumar Singh

Rahul Kumar Singh

@rahulitblog

Rahul Kumar Singh is the Chief Editor at HubsAdda.

“Content your followers like: This is common sense that you have to create quality content, but take a look at your feed more deeply. I hope you have a business account (if you don’t, change it now). Use your analytics to see which posts have the most engagement, at what your followers react to most and compare, ALWAYS. Try to copy posts that got the most engagement. By that I don’ mean to copy-paste the same content, just try to understand what caught your followers’ eyes. Post in comments asking if you should make more videos/photos ‘like this.’ That’s how you will get more loyal followers.

Get bigger pages to shoutout you: You can find who could do this for free by asking some big pages that re-post to share your content for you. If you are a photographer with 2k followers, send some DMs to pages with 100–200k followers and you could double followers overnight. Just engage with those big pages before you do that – comment on their posts and be active – but don’t spam! Provide answers with a structured and interesting opinion.

“Try to gain a certain amount of followers by targeting your niche: If you’re only liking and interacting with accounts that are similar to yours, Instagram is going to suggest those people‘s followers, or when a new person visits their account and clicks follow, you may pop up as a suggested user.

“It is important to build your brand awareness by gaining new organic followers. Some people trust accounts that offer fake ‘insanely fast growth’ services. Many say they can boost your numbers quickly. Be careful. There is no such thing as fast results in the social media business. You have to expand your business as safely and accurately as possible.

“Socialize: Comment on others’ posts with genuine comments and also on your posts. You can’t be a snub and expect to grow on Instagram, unless you’re a celebrity.

“Follow: Don’t follow just anybody, especially those snubs that don’t follow back. Follow people that you’d like to follow.

“Post quality stuff: The pictures and videos you post should be as visually appealing as possible. This is crucial for growing on Instagram.

“Engage with your audience: Creating interesting posts is an important thing. But to ensure that relevant people see those posts, we need to engage with them on a daily basis. IG’s algorithm is such that when you subscribe to certain topics and like specific posts, it automatically displays related content on your explore page. To promote follower growth in an organic way, the best thing to do is to regularly like and comment on the posts that are similar as yours (or fall into the same industry in case you’re promoting business through Instagram).

Use direct messaging: This is also a very powerful option that Instagram offers (applies if you have a business account). For example, create a database of relevant profiles (the only thing you have to do is to scrape their IG handles) and then you can use it to DM information about your updates, offers, and similar. People who are interested will accept your message request and hopefully start following you.

“Make the most out of hashtags: Find out what your peers are doing. Who are the most successful among them? When you figure that out, see which specific hashtags they use. Apply the most popular and the most specific hashtags in your posts. For instance, you can put those hashtags directly onto images and link them to your website.”


Sean Pour

Sean Pour

@sellmaxusa

Sean Pour is the co-founder of SellMax a nationwide car buying service. He got his start in marketing at the young age of 14, now 24 he has scaled SellMax into a nationwide car buying service.

“The most creative tactic I’ve seen to boost Instagram growth was surprisingly offline. We are based in San Diego, and the famous San Diego Comic-Con was taking place. I noticed that a company had 10 employees standing on one street with a sign that said to follow them on Instagram. It was a huge sign that got your attention. Of course, they were targeting individuals that were movie and comic fans.

“But, I learned a lot from watching them.  With everything going on online, you never really stop and think to promote your online assets offline. So, a good lesson to learn is look for events on sites like EventBrite and Meetup.com and find people that would be interested in your brand, and get their attention offline.”


Clare Bittourna

Clare Bittourna

@gocodal

Clare Bittourna is on the marketing team at Codal, a UX design & development agency.

One thing we’ve done to get more followers to our company Instagram (Codal) is to look up hashtags for events/conferences we’ve attended and engage with other attendees. This includes comments telling people to stop by our trade show booth and chat, leaving emojis on people’s posts (clapping, thumbs up, smiley face), and liking other people’s posts. It seems small but this has really generated a lot of traffic to our Instagram and we’ve gotten way more followers from doing this. In addition to this tactic, we like and comment supportive things on industry-related pages, by searching hashtags in the areas we work.”


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