With plenty of information on the Internet on how to grow your Instagram account, it is not often easy to understand which advice is credible. In this article bought to your with Hypeauditor, you will find accurate tips largely based on the Instagram community guidelines. We list common mistakes of Instagram growth, explain why exactly you should avoid them and offer you a solution which is safe from the standpoint of the Instagram rules.
Don’t use follow/unfollow
Follow/unfollow or mas-following is a widespread method of growing one’s audience on Instagram. The main reason why a mass follower follows someone is to be followed back.
If the latter does not follow back after a couple of days, a mass follower unfollows this profile.
This is not a viable strategy since mass following lacks genuine engagement with the profile’s content and consequently gives you loads of passive followers which has a major downside. Why a downside? The more passive users you get, the increasingly lower reach you have. Instagram prioritizes those posts which receive higher engagement and puts them higher in the feed.
Instead: Do monitor your followers and engage with them
As you may understand, the less unengaged followers you have, the better it is for your account. Thus, monitoring your account’s health should become your regular routine.
HypeAuditor allows you to see the percentage of mass followers among your subscribers as well as the percentage of bot accounts. Together with the analytics of your profile, you need also to focus on maintaining the relationship with the audience – the two will ensure engagement with your account.
Don’t participate in loop giveaways
A loop giveaway normally comprises 15+ Instagram creators who join their resources to buy a prize for the giveaway participants. They also prepare several requirements for participants which they need to fulfil in order to enter the giveaway.
Usually, users who are willing to take part in a giveaway are required to follow every account in the loop in order to enter, which implies that an influencer may theoretically gain hundreds or thousands of new followers.
However, the new followers you get during the loop giveaway are temporary: most likely they followed you because they were tempted to win and not because they like your content. In case of giveaways, be prepared that these accounts will unfollow you shortly or will turn into inactive followers once the giveaway is over.
Instead: Do marathons or very tailored giveaways with creators of the same niche as yours
It is hard to dispute that giveaways attract a big number of new potential followers to your profile. To retain them, you need to remember that marathons and tailored giveaways with creators from the same niche as you can help you with that.
Marathons are prolonged in time and allow to create a true community, whereas by doing a giveaway with like-minded creators you will attract a truly relevant audience due to the similarity between the content in your account and the one of creators you work with during the contest.
Don’t participate in engagement pods
Engagement or comment pods are private groups of 10+ creators that aspire to increase their engagement by leaving comments under publications of one another. Such groups are created in messengers, usually Telegram, and once the pod member publishes a new post and shares it in the group, others are obliged to comment on it. Thus, pods function on the basis of mutual benefit.
It seems to be an infallible strategy ensuring high engagement, however, as any shadow method of growth, it has a downside. Once you leave the pod, you will no longer see new comments automatically appearing under your publication, and you definitely will leave the pod one day, since participation in it is very time-consuming.
Instead: Improve your photos and captions
Constantly improve and experiment with your Instagram content and do not focus only on pictures and their editing. Captions should not be disregarded because they are the key to having a bigger reach.
A good Instagram caption will demonstrate your personality, entertain, motivate or educate the audience – depending on the goal of your content. You should find a way to differentiate yourself from other creators and offer something valuable to your audience.
Don’t do shoutouts in accounts not matching with your content
Generally, a shoutout is a good practice allowing you to present your profile in another creator’s account and attract new followers. However, most creators use it incorrectly and don’t prepare their own account for new followers. Often they choose wrongly creators to partner with because the content of the latter is different and thus the audience also differs.
The second trap you may get into is accounts with bought followers. You should know that some unscrupulous creators buy bots in order to justify the cost of a shoutout. So you expect to get a bunch of new followers, but if the account in which you advertise has a distinctive number of inactive and bots accounts, this shoutout will not bring you the quality following.
Instead: Do shoutouts with relevant creators
Just as in case of tailored giveaways with creators from your niche, you should do shoutouts in the accounts which contain content which is similar or complementary to yours. Secondly, check the authenticity of the creators you want to partner with. Don’t be fooled by a big follower count: check them by using special tools to see their real engagement, the percent of the quality audience, etc.
Don’t use broad hashtags
Those Instagram users who practice follow/unfollow usually do it with the help of a special automation tool which is set to follow accounts on the basis of some criteria. Hashtags are often used as such a criterion.
All Instagram creators constantly try to find ways to reach a bigger audience, and thus many of them use popular hashtags like #sport, #fashion, #happy, etc. Such hashtags are not precise and under each, you will find a countless number of posts and thousands of profiles that use them.
The problem with broad hashtags is that if you use them, you attract mass followers. These users normally have more than 1500 followings – the number which is obviously too big to see posts of all the accounts in their newsfeed. What’s more, it is very likely that they will unfollow you shortly or will turn into ghost followers which, in its turn, will lower you reach.
Instead: Do use narrow hashtags
To protect your account from users resorting to the follow/unfollow method and to gain quality followers and Instagram growth, give priority to narrow hashtags that are relevant to your particular niche and a given post.
Don’t you agree that people don’t use hashtags like #sky, #free, #instagram and so on to discover new creator profiles? They use more precise hashtags like #cleaneating, #zerowaste, #handmadefurniture, etc.
Don’t buy followers
Many Instagrammers think that the easiest way to grow the audience is by buying followers. Many even think that they buy real followers since the advertisement on the website claims so. The truth is that these followers are always not real people – you buy either bots, or inactive, or stolen accounts that will even in the short-term perspective lower your reach and thus engagement.
Having fake followers destroys your credibility and, which no less important, it goes against the Instagram community guidelines. This implies that you may lose all followers that you have bought and even lose your account.
Instead: Do use official Instagram ads
Instagram advertisement is a good and secure way to grow your follower count. Remember that results completely depend on your creativity and targeting.
First of all, you should study who your most engaged audience is (their interests, location, age, gender, etc) and target a similar audience. Second, the post you intend to use as an ad should be relevant to your audience. If you create content about style and fashion, share some style tips, and together with a remarkable photo, it will produce the desired result.
To sum up
Instagram growth requires time, effort and determination. Many people get discouraged if they invest themselves and do not see meaningful results. However, using shadow methods will not bring them either.
What it will bring in most cases is loads of bot or inactive accounts which will damage your reach and engagement, and in worst cases – will lead to blocking of your account. So make sure you focus on organic growth, mindful content creation, and consistent analytics – while you keep following this way, your account will keep growing.
Read more about why we love Hypeauditor on previous articles and experience long-term Instagram growth.
Kate is HypeAuditor blog editor and community manager. She is also an avid cinema and travel lover.