Over the last couple of years, Instagram has grown as a place where brands need to stand out. As a cornerstone of many top brand’s social media presence, IG has become a must-have to drive profitable traffic towards your landing page, as well as growing conversations and developing/building engagement with your specific audience.

If you have been trying to bolster your Instagram game, but are finding that your presence on the app is not nearly as robust as you had hoped it would be, you are in luck! It is never too late to learn how to sharpen your social media strategies to get real, organic engagements on Instagram and other social media sites.

While you could take the easy way out of this jam and pay for followers from one of the many apps or websites out there offering the services, there is a good chance that the algorithm will update and end up weeding out the inactive, or low-quality accounts that these services deliver. Instead, it is best to look for organic growth. Following these top-10 tips, you will be able to start organically growing your Instagram following right away:

Optimize your account

Before you begin worrying about getting more instagram followers, you should start by making sure your IG account is properly set up and optimized. The first place for your brand to start is with the Instagram bio image. This needs to be instantly linked to your brand and recognizable. As well, your username needs to be search-friendy. So, try and keep it as close to your brand name as you can. This will help your IG be discovered when people are looking for you online.

Consistent content calendar

One of the worst things you can do when trying to grow your Instagram following is to post at random intervals. Doing so can make those who are following you already lose track of who you are and it can make it a lot harder for new followers to find you. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should develop a content calendar and stick to it. Typically, you will want to avoid posting more than a few times a day, but the most important thing to do is stick to a schedule. This will help give your followers a consistent experience that they can come to expect from you.

Schedule Instagram posts

One of the best ways to stick to a content calendar is to have your posts scheduled. This is also good because posting at the right time is a great way to increase your Instagram engagement. Using apps like Sprout Social, you can schedule posts in advance, which means you do not have to worry about being free at the exact right moment to make your posts to garner the most interactions possible.

Get partners and brand advocates

One of the best ways to get your brand in front of a large audience is to be present. This means being present on your account, but also other IG accounts. Sponsoring user-generated content is a great way to get your brand out there and on the feeds of other people and potential customers. Whether it is IG contests or another type of social media campaign, getting partners or brand advocates to post your brand on their accounts is key.

Avoid fake followers

It may be easy to think that a follower is a follower, but there is a major difference between real, organic followers and fake followers. So, while it can be very tempting to reach out and buy some followers, it may not be best for business. The backlash that can come from this is not worth the little you gain from it. Fake followers not only put you at risk of being banned, it deceives your organic audience and reduces your actual ability to get any return on investment when it comes to the time and effort spent on Instagram.

Showcase your Instagram 

If you want to be discovered and have your following grow, you need to make sure your Instagram is promoted everywhere it possibly can be. This means linking your IG account to your business or brand’s website, as well as all of your other social media pipelines such as Facebook or Twitter.

Post content followers want

This is much easier said than done, but you need to find out what kind of content the followers you want to gain like. When experimenting with different types of content posts, you will quickly find out that your audience has preferences in what they will interact with and what they leave alone. You can slowly tailor your content to these trends over time, or you can invest in some online tools that can give you more analytical data to help you decipher what kind of content your followers want.

Start the conversation

The conversation is one of the absolute best ways to make sure people are aware of your brand on Instagram. There have been many studies done that show that people love to engage with visual-first content, in fact, nearly 70% of users interact with photos first, 50% videos, and only 30% with text-only posts. This means that IG is one of the best places online to pair eye-grabbing visuals with captions that start a conversation. Whether this is through off-the-cuff questions or more serious conversations, leading with a great visual and following up with a convo-starting caption is the best way to grow your audience and earn organic interactions.

Find the right hashtags

One of the best methods for gaining followers on Instagram is through the old, time-tested method of using hashtags. These have been one of the most essential tools for IG users for years, and they are still powerful when it comes to being discovered and growing your social reach. To get the most out of hashtags, you will want to find some that are not too populated, because hashtags that have massive use will also mean your content will be one of roughly 190 million photos with that hashtag. Spend some time looking for hashtags that are relevant to your specific target audience.

Make your followers happy

One of the last things you need to keep in mind (but far from least) is to keep your followers happy. When you start to see the payoff of these strategies and tips and your audience begins to grow, you must keep them happy to maintain this growth. It is crucial to not come across as robotic or sales-driven. You should be providing content that is also user-friendly and feels like you are in a friendship with your followers, not just building a potential client list. This could be as simple as posting memes or re-sharing artwork.