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The Ultimate Guide to Grow Your Instagram Account

best practise to grow your Instagram account in 2018

Have you already read through a dozen of articles telling you how to grow your Instagram account, reading through the same ‘tips’ on how to grow your Instagram followers or the ones that tell you things like ‘post at 2 am and 5 pm’ or ‘use the correct hashtags’? Only to realise that they all have the same information to share, which is probably not even relevant in 2021 anymore.

It isn’t that these tips aren’t useful, but at best they are giving you last year’s knowledge.

Instagram has seen a number of changes this past year – what with the updated algorithm and the new features rolling out every other month.

And to regular users it is becoming increasingly evident that Instagram’s algorithm is anything but constant, continuously evolving and improving.

You must have noticed that it is getting harder to earn followers. Sleazy hacks like using #like4like was never a good idea to begin with and certainly is not going to work anymore.

Which is exactly where we’re coming to your rescue! We are giving you the latest knowledge and tips that you should have started implementing weeks ago.

What you need to know: Instagram’s algorithm and how it works

Know the game before you play it. If you want to stay on top of your Instagram marketing game, you need to know how Instagram works. Intricately.

Things were far simpler before March 2016, when Instagram showed you everything in chronological order. But the Instagram algorithm is now way more complex in terms of what content you get to see.

It is confusing and it takes time, yes, but once you know how Instagram’s algorithm works, you’ll know how to optimize your posts for visibility. To understand the algorithm you need to know what Instagram’s major motive is. Instagram needs people to spend more time in the app so that it can sell more ads.

The algorithm is designed to make sure users spend maximum time in the app.

A few factors that decide it are: the number of likes, comments, views; how recent the post is, if the post is similar to the content you interact with regularly, if it is posted by someone you interact with the most.

Reverse engineer this knowledge to make sure your content strategy remains strong.

(A) Make the most out of your profile

1. Switch to Business Profile

If you haven’t switched to an Instagram Business Account, now is the time to consider doing it. It equips you with analytics and insights so that you can study what kind of content works best for you.

If you have a business account with more than 10,000 followers, you can use the ‘See More’ feature on Instagram Stories that lets you add a link in the Story. No more redirecting your followers to your bio for a link (which doesn’t really work)!

Just go to your setting and look for ‘Switch to Business Profile’ option! If you want to learn more about how to convert to a business account, we have a more elaborated guide on the process!

Instagram Business profile conversion benefits
Instagram business Profile

2. Update your Bio

Your Instagram Bio is your greatest asset for driving leads from Instagram to your website and shop. It is time to update your bio if you haven’t done it in a while.

Your Bio should be easy to read and should give the reader a quick understanding of what your brand is all about. Provide all the important details about your brand in this space, but be precise.

Add brand hashtags and ongoing campaign hashtags in your bio. This will help your followers stay informed about your ongoing projects.

3. Add contact details

If you haven’t done it already, add your contact and a link to direct your audience to your brand website. If you have a physical store, make it a point to mention your location.

Switching to a business profile will allow you to add your email and website links to your bio, which can help you drive leads from Instagram. As soon as you add these details, it will be visible below your bio.

4. Use Story Highlights

It is a good idea to add a quick ‘About’ in your story highlights. New followers can go through it and gain more information about you/your brand at a glance.

(B) Engage with your audience

If you have taken out time to understand the Instagram’s Algorithm, you’ve probably figured out that engagement = visibility = growth. Start thinking about building engagement, since that is the thing that will help you grow your Instagram account.

Here are some ideas to help you increase your engagement:

1. Ask questions in your captions

Invite your followers to engage in your captions. An engaging question will get people to comment on your post. A clear CTA (call to action) helps too! A study has shown that using ‘Like’ or ‘Commentresults in more likes and comments.

The Instagram algorithm also takes into account how much time people spend looking at your post. More engaging captions can attract people’s attention. The more time they spend reading your caption, the closer you are to growing your Instagram account.

Here is an example of how Hypebeast asked an engaging question in their Instagram caption, resulting in more people taking time to answer it in the comments.

Best way to increase Instagram Engagement by asking questions
Ask questions from Instagram followers to increase audience engagement

2. Smart comments

Interact with your followers in the comments. Don’t let it be a one-way communication and don’t be boring. Your goal is to leave a comment that will encourage the person to respond to you.

Also interact with posts of other influencers/brands in your niche community. They are more than likely to return the favor. Again, be more creative than leaving a simple ‘Nice pic!’

3. Collaborations & Takeovers

Collaborations can be a great help to grow your Instagram account and they can help you create unique content.

If you’re a brand, having an influencer do an ‘Instagram Takeover’ is a great idea. Instagram Takeover is when someone apart from the account owner takes control of the account for a day. An influencer with an already established fanbase can help you build engagement for your account.

4. Loop Giveaway

You probably already know that contests help your followers engage with you. You’ve probably also seen a loop giveaway around once or twice. So how does it work?

A loop giveaway is more than just a normal giveaway. To put it simply, it is a giveaway with a few extra steps conducted by a group of people. They post the same image, give their followers a bunch of things to do and send them to the next person in the loop. That person will, in turn, ask the contestants to do a bunch of things, and send them to the next person. This continues until the loop is complete.

Here is one that @nznailboutique ran on Instagram:

Example to grow your Instagram Engagement and reach by giveaway
$10K giveaway by NZ Nail Boutique Instagram

It works because it gives you a chance to connect with other influencers in your niche and attract their followers. Another great advantage is that the group of people can contribute to buying the reward.

If you want to know how to grow your Instagram followers fast, try hosting a loop giveaway and you will be gaining new followers in no time.

5. Repost your followers

Reposting other influencers when you’ve worked with them is great, but reposting your followers is even greater.

If people have mentioned you/your products in their posts, it is a good idea to repost them and say something nice in return. Seeing you actively seeking out to ensure that your customers are happy using your products can go a long way in terms of establishing trust.

It also means that more and more people will want to post about you to get featured on your page!

Here’s how Coconut Bowls did it:

Ultimate guide to increase Instagram Engagement by reposting followers post
Coconut Bowl Instagram page reposts followers post to increase Instagram engagement

(C) Influencer Marketing

More and more brands have been seeking social media influencers to help sell their products and services.

Why it works:

1. You can reach a new, wider audience

Working with an established influencer in your niche can help you reach a wider audience. Since influencers tend to have a wide range of followers, they may even include some that haven’t heard of your brand before.

Through the campaign with an influencer, you can not only raise brand awareness but also find potential customers. It works as a cross-promotion. They like the influencer, so they may like your brand as well.

2. It can help raise brand credibility

A well-reputed influencer can help give your brand more credibility. Since influencers are on the top because people often look up to them as experts in the field, they are most likely to trust their opinions. When such influencers promote your brand, it gives your brand an automatic boost in credibility.

3. It can help establish/improve trust with current customers

Your current customers will also get a renewed sense of respect for your brand if you work with an established influencer that they also seem to adore. This is why it is important to find an influencer from your niche.

88% of marketing professionals find influencer marketing to be effective or extremely effective in raising brand awareness.

(D) Have a great content strategy

It goes without saying that if you want your Instagram account to grow, you need to have quality content. You know what works – brighter images, high-resolution photos, a good theme for the feed, consistency. But we’re not here to tell you what you already know. We are here to help you find a content style that builds engagement.

1. Plan your feed

Scheduling and planning your feed before publishing your posts is super important. Leaving it to last minute can result in a chaotic, disorganised look to your feed, which is something you want to avoid.

Draft your posts weeks before publishing them so that you can always revisit them to make edits. Instead of constantly worrying about posting to Instagram at the correct time, you can schedule your posts using third-party scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Later, Buffer, etc.

Planning your feed means also making sure that your posts collectively look good together on your feed. You can follow a certain colour theme or post multiple images to make a series. Use tools like Iconosquare to make sure your layout looks aesthetic and neat!

The best thing you can do if you don’t have a planned feed just yet, is take a look at the feeds of other industry leaders. Tools like Unbox Social make it easier for you to follow the industry leaders and draw inspiration from them!

2. Make the most of the features that Instagram has to offer

If you aren’t using the features Instagram keeps rolling out, you’re not doing everything to help yourself grow.

70% of posts on Instagram do not get seen at all, which is why you need to be using every feature at your disposal to ensure you have a content style that builds engagement. Lucky for you, Instagram’s new features not only make the user experience easier but also give you a better opportunity to engage with your audience.

Before, brands have shied away from using features such as Stories, with only 24% businesses ranking Story engagement as a measure of success. They have realised now, however, how important it is to start taking advantage of this amazing feature that brings your brand a step closer to your audience.

Instagram is also constantly adding new features to Stories. Just in the beginning of 2020, we have seen new features like GIF Stickers, Emoji Sliders and Type Mode, which are all very exciting in their own ways.

Instagram also recently introduced IGTV, which allows you to post hour-long, full screen and vertical videos. The long-form videos pose a unique opportunity to engage with your audience on a deeper level.

The only way to find out which features are working for you and which aren’t is to test them out and experiment with them!

Tips & Tricks to get the most engagement on Instagram

For now, we have a few ways to get you started with some of them and tips on getting the most engagement out them as well:

1. Post to Stories more often

Instagram Stories reached more than 300 million daily active users in 2017, so you can only guess how much bigger it could grow in 2021.

Don’t forget that the algorithm takes Instagram Stories into account as well, such as the responses received on a Story. The more a person interacts with your story, the more are your chances of showing up on their feed.

Influencers often tell their followers to ‘DM them for a link’ or something similar to get them to reply to their story. This is a great hack around the algorithm and also a great way of building a direct relationship with the follower.

2. Add Geotags and Hashtags in Stories

Keeping a habit of adding geotags and hashtags wherever possible can help you become more visible. And yes, hashtags are still powerful and effective in 2021, but only if you use a correct strategy.

What will help you get discovered on Instagram is adding location stickers and hashtags to your stories, which Instagram now allows you to do. Location Stories and Hashtag Stories also now have their own place on the top of your explore feed. This means your story could show up on a potential follower’s feed if you use the right tags! This greatly increases your chances of gaining local and niche audience.

What you possibly don’t know is that you can add up to 10 hashtags in normal text in your story. This may make your story look spammy, but you can always hide these hashtags behind an enlarged emoji or sticker. Try it!

A quick way how you can grow your Instagram followers is to add 10 very niche-specific hashtags, 10 popular hashtags, and 10 hashtags that are just popular enough (with about 100k posts). Why? You will be making the maximum use of hashtags this way, and reaching all kinds of audience.

You don’t need to do this all the time – remember that Instagram algorithm favors relevant hashtags -, just till you figure out what kind of hashtags are working for you.

We’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind when using hashtags that you can check out if you want to develop your hashtag strategy further.

3. Use Polls, GIFs and Stickers in Stories

Instagram recently introduced a new slider poll feature. It is great because it allows you to understand your audience better. Once you do that, you can create content best suited to your audience’s interests, which is likely to increase your engagement rates.

To make your Stories even more enticing, make sure you also use the Instagram Stickers. If you’re not sure how, here’s a few exciting ways in which you can use Instagram GIF Stickers.

They may look tacky if overdone, but incorporating them into your content style can help build engagement. Stories when used creatively, hold great value. Click here to see how you can use Instagram stories creatively for your business.

4. Use Instagram Live

Going Live breaks the wall between you and your followers. People love to see video content and live videos are especially great because it gives them a chance to interact and connect with you in real time. And it makes sense. We would want to participate in the lives of our favorite celebrities and influencers too.

If you’re a brand, live streaming can make you seem more authentic and human.

Using live streaming for events like product launches is fine, but have you tried going live with your employees to show behind-the-scenes or your workplace environment? It dissolves the line between your commercial front and your human side. And everyone can relate to your brand a bit better if they are let in on the process.

Taking full advantage of this feature also increases your chances of landing among the Top Live in the explore feed. This is your golden ticket to growing your Instagram account!

Other things you can do:

1. Take a stand

Brands and influencers alike often avoid voicing their opinions on time relevant topics. While it is understandable why they wouldn’t risk taking a stand on current issues in order to avoid controversy, there is also a huge advantage in doing so.

It makes you stay relevant. It also makes your audience know that you care.

Sprout Social did an extensive study and found out that majority of consumers want brands to take a public stance on social and political issues. They also found out that people are more likely to reward than punish brands for taking a stand.

We’re not saying you have to take a stand on every leading social and political issue for the sake of social media growth, we’re saying you need to take risks every now and then, wherever you see fit.

2. Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads are a great way to raise awareness about your brand. The team is continuously making updates so that Instagram ads can be better for brands. Such as changing the colours of the CTA button or promoting ads through stories. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of these changes.

3. Promote posts

If you already have a post gaining considerable engagement, you might want to promote it across all your other social media platforms. This way, you increase the chances of landing yourself on the explore feed.

Instagram now lets you promote already published posts as Instagram Ads, so you might want to take full advantage of that as well. The best part is, you get to keep all the previous engagement that the popular post has received when you convert it into an ad!

4. Ad Campaign

If you can invest in an Instagram ad campaign, do it now!

You may have noticed that Instagram ads now show up on your normal feed and also in your stories feed. They are very hard to miss. If you really want to go all out and you can afford it, you should definitely consider it.


Social media growth is difficult and these ideas are probably not going to give you immediate results. Which is not what you should be aiming for, anyway. In the long run, organic growth is the best when it comes to it and these ideas are going to help you get there.

Here’s a rundown of every key point mentioned in this post that will help you grow your Instagram account in 2021:

  1. Make the most out of your profile by taking the advantage of a Business Profile, updating your Bio with precise information about your brand and posting Story Highlights to give your customers a quick glance at what your brand is all about.
  2. Engage with your audience in the comments and by using engaging captions. You can even repost your followers or host loop giveaways.
  3. Influencer marketing is a great way to get your brand noticed. You can do a collab/takeover with an influencer in your niche.
  4. Plan and schedule your feed and use Instagram’s features to the most to strengthen your content strategy.
  5. Get involved in relevant conversation topics.
  6. Invest in Instagram Ad Campaigns.

Remember: Engagement is everything. Once you’ve got that down, you’ll grow your Instagram account in no time.

Let us know what your secrets to growing your Instagram account are in the comments below!


What is Unbox Social?

Unbox Social is a powerful tool that offers solutions for influencer search, social media analytics, and competition tracking. The platform helps you get in-depth social media performance data of your brands, campaigns, and competitors. Get detailed reports and implement the findings in your strategies to get the most out of your campaigns!

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Use our brand scan to find who competition works with!


Working with influencers?

Use our brand scan to find who competition works with!