Do the secrets of growing your Instagram audience elude you?

Whether you’re new to Instagram or you’ve been at it for a while with no lucky breaks, we hear you. Budging your followers’ count is no easy feat.

Although some Instagrammers make it look like the most simple thing in the world, building a solid following means striking a fine balance between strategy and art. So gather your bearings, erase your disillusionment, and let’s get to work, patiently.

In this article, we’ll have an honest look at what tactics can help you grow an Instagram audience and build a community of real fans. By following our five-pronged approach, you’ll come closer and closer to achieving the following count you aspire to.

Use the right hashtags

The importance of hashtags can’t be exaggerated. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, hashtags are the gears that put Instagram in motion. Use them wisely, and you’ll expand your reach and engage a wider audience. Use them randomly, and you’ll end up frustrated, wondering what  you’re doing wrong.

Yes, hashtags are essential. But knowing what hashtags to use is key. Only the right hashtags are guaranteed to win you real followers and help you grow your Instagram audience. 

The natural question is “how to find the right hashtags”? Here are our two cents on the matter:

  1. Start with your ideal follower’s profile and choose a few real accounts that meet the criteria. What hashtags do they use?
  2. Monitor your competitors and analyse the hashtags they include in their captions. Pay close attention to the posts with the best engagement rates.
  3. Check on-the-rise Instagram trends and note down their hashtags. Can you associate with any of these?
  4. Make a hashtag shortlist and check how many followers each hashtag has. Don’t always go for the most generic ones — the competition for these is fierce!
  5. Experiment with the shortlisted hashtags; monitor how well each performs, and continue using the ones that bring you the most followers.

Pro tip: use an Instagram scheduler like Preppr to save your best performing hashtags. This way, you won’t have to manually add them each time you create a new post.

Preppr Desktop Hashtag to grow your Instagram Audience

Post at the best times

Instagram’s algorithm decides the order in which posts appear in news feeds. The prioritization is customized for each user, taking into account several factors such as interest, relationship, time, frequency, following, and usage.

What’s more interesting is that these factors also influence each other. Time affects engagement, and engagement influences following counts, and so on. However, the snowball effect starts with knowing when to post.

Posting at the best times — when most of your audience is online — will increase your chances of getting noticed. Once you gain the attention of prospect followers, you’re on your way to better engagement rates, and shortly you’ll rank higher in the virtual eyes of Instagram’s algorithm…which will steadily lead you to audience growth. 

If it sounds complicated, trust that it’s not rocket-science. To understand how to nail your  best times to post on Instagram, check out our in-depth article.

Organize your Stories into Highlights

Instagram stories are the most ah-mazing, powerful feature you could use to grow your Instagram audience. 

Unlike posts, stories are displayed in simple chronological order, meaning that with every new story you get a new chance to pop in the feeds (and minds) of your followers. If you want your stories to reach a wider audience, hashtags are the way. 

To unlock more opportunities, we recommend you also try Instagram Stickers and Instagram Nametags.

What about highlights? Highlights are the key to transforming your Instagram stories into ever-green content on your profile. By organizing stories into highlights’ categories, you have a better chance at convincing your profile visitors to do business with you.

Here’s how you can transform your highlights into efficient arguments;

  • break your stories into different themes; 
  • create custom thumbnails that are in-line with your visual identity;
  • dedicate one category to how your product/service works;
  • have highlights dedicated to customer reviews/mentions.

Use Instagram Live

Live stories break down the walls between brands and followers with real-time engagement. In 2020, during the long months of lockdowns, these provided real relief for Instagrammers aching for social contact — and became a new form of entertainment. 

Instagram Live

The best part of Instagram Live stories is that they are interactive. Those who watch can comment, and you, as the video’s initiator, can engage with them as well. During a live session you can:

  • add a catchy name to your Live session with the title feature;
  • start a fundraiser with the fundraiser feature;
  • use the Q&A sticker to address questions or host an ask me anything;
  • invite influencers/allow followers to join your Instagram Live (they have the option to request to join);
  • add multimedia materials while you’re streaming.

To grow your Instagram audience when live streaming, you can play with different story concepts:

  • product tutorials or product reviews
  • behind-the-scene business videos
  • Interviews
  • workshops
  • contests and giveaways
  • sneak peak scenes from exclusive locations
  • and even concerts

Share user-generated content

Here’s what not many get: growing your Instagram audience isn’t done over-night; it’s done in time, by building a community. If you want to gain more followers, the secret lies in how you engage with the ones you already have.

Authentic relationships are built through communication, not monologue. Answering comments, tagging followers, and especially sharing user-generated content are your biggest allies in growing your Instagram audience. 

User-generated content is a terrific way to show your brand in a real-life context and build authority through authenticity. Since consumers trust friends’ recommendations more than ads, give your followers the chance to see how your products look in the wilderness of day-to-day life.

To get user-generated content in the first place, encourage your audience to share posts or Stories with your products/services. How? Here are just a couple of ideas:

  • create contests or giveaways
  • use a branded hashtag in your profile
  • add call-to-actions in your stories
  • make daily challenges
  • collaborate with influencers

Once the user-generated content starts rolling in, share it, share it, share it. And don’t rule out content that’s not picture-perfect. Remember that the whole point of this tactic is authenticity, so embrace the flawed posts and stories. 

Ready to grow your Instagram audience

The road to a bigger Instagram audience starts with a long-term commitment. Be consistent, be authentic, and engage with your followers every chance you have. 

For more advanced tips on how to grow your audience, keep your eyes on our blog.

And if you need a helping hand with scheduling your posts, check out our 10-day free trial. 


Ilona Iftode is a copywriter with a taste for adventure. She lives to write, travel and explore new concepts in the realms of advertising, marketing, SEO and beyond.

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