Illustration by Tara Jacoby:

How to Grow Your Instagram in 5 Easy Steps

Instagram is the museum of the internet. Aesthetics reign supreme on this platform, followed by the communities who appreciate each aesthetic. If you want to utilize Instagram to its maximum extent, then you have to constantly ask yourself “will this image beautify my followers feeds?”

Before we take a dive into the depths of Instagram, we need to be clear about our goals.

What should you expect from Instagram?

  1. Get more people to follow your account. Bigger audience equals more opportunity to spread your word.
  2. Increase engagement: more likes, comments, and DMs (especially for Instagram stories).
  3. Increase influence: strengthening your connection with influential Instagram communities.

If you’ve read my other articles, you already know that each platform has its unique strengths. While there are a few fundamental strategies you can apply to all platforms, there are specific strategies you can apply to Instagram. But, how does Instagram work?

What makes Instagram different from other platforms?

On the spectrum between being a mostly entertainment platform (ex: Youtube, Vimeo, GIPHY) and a mostly social platform (Facebook), Instagram is right in the middle. Instagram has 400 million active users with more than 60% of its users logging in daily and using the app for an average of 21 minutes, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook. Here are some of the reason the majority of users are engaged:

  1. A large portion of the content is aspirational which hooks it users to keep on scrolling. May it be for travel, food, fashion, makeup, or fitness.
  2. The communities centered around hashtags have a passionate following that transcend the platform and have led to real-life communities. Such as #streetdreamsmag, #thatsdarling, and #pugsofinstagram.

Best Practices for Instagram

Now let’s get to the actionable steps you can take in order to grow your Instagram presence. These are the fundamentals that you can apply to an account of any business, organization, or individual.


Discoverability on Instagram is centered around hashtags. To make sure that people can see your content, add hashtags in a separate comment (in order to keep things neatly and not looking too thirsty). Seek out what hashtags have the communities that are most relevant to your brand. Be prepared, this may take a lot of research! There are countless hashtags and finding the right one takes plenty of user interaction.

Tagging in Photos

In addition to hashtags, also tag the photos themselves with any relevant pages such as any brands, artists, or businesses you’re referencing. Just like hashtags there are also large communities that require you to tag them in photo in order so they can share that photo.

2–4 Posts/Day

The sweet spot right now for the instagram algorithm seems to be 2–4 posts, more than that then posts will start losing reach. Of course, I encourage to consistently play around with it.

Ask Questions

In the description consider adding open-ended questions that your followers can comment on. This will also increase our chances to benefit from the algorithm.

Ask for Submissions

Another great way to incentivize user-generated content is by asking people to submit their photos by using #YourBrand and saying that you’ll share your favorites. This works great for many major instagram accounts which are entirely user-generated.

Moving Forward

Now that you know the fundamentals of building your Instagram presence, here’s what I encourage you to consider moving forward:

  1. Experiment and test. Running small experiments with timing, copy, and hashtags is great way to see what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Engaged with the communities. By all means dive deep into the hashtag communities, like their photos, and have real conversation with their content creators.
  3. A strong community will automate the process of increasing engagement in the long-term. By interacting with each and every person who comments for the first few months will create a community that increases engagement on its own.
  4. Keep improving your aesthetics. First find your aesthetic then master that aesthetic! It’ll take time and plenty of experimentation, but you already know what people say: practice makes perfect.

Now, go forth and become #instafamous!

More articles on social media:
How I Gained 10,000 Facebook Followers in Only 4 Months
How To Crush It on Social Media
How to Grow Your Facebook Page the Right Way

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