WARNING: This is a long, tedious, and time-consuming process.
There are so many YouTube videos, articles, and pricey online webinars claiming to provide people with Instagram success. Maybe all of these “go viral overnight” strategies are true, but I doubt it.
All the big accounts that I’ve studied on Instagram took a while to grow, unless they bought followers, went viral with one post, or have even follow-to-follower ratios.
Because my strategy is tedious, I haven’t tried it out on any other platform besides Instagram. I am an artist, so I also find this platform to be the best medium for my target audience, as it is visual.
However, I have repeated this process 3 times with different types of Instagram accounts. I have witnessed continued success.
How to generate 1,000 Instagram followers (organically) in about 2 months:
1. For 3 or 4 days, search for content that looks similar to what you want to post and engage with it through likes and comments. You should do this so that your explorer page accurately depicts what you want to show/see.
2. After a few days have passed, go to the explorer page and find someone who has similar content and a bigger following. It should be easy to find similar content now that you have told Instagram’s algorithm what interests you.
3. Examine the quality of the posts. What are they doing differently? Perhaps they use the same filter on every photo (I don’t think that matters as much as people think it does, but meh) or they post every day at the same time.
Perhaps they’re super creative. Do they do giveaways, which ask for emails or likes/comments (ahem, engagement)? Whatever they’re doing, make a note of it and use it as a reference when your account grows.
4. Find relevant Hashtags. Look at their hashtags and write down the ones they are using. Then, find another account like theirs, with a similar following and do the same thing. If it’s massive account, you might not see any hashtags. Check the first comment on the post, as some people put them there.
If you still don’t see any hashtags, scroll until you reach the beginning of their feed. If they grew organically, then they likely used them regularly at some point. Copy all of the hashtags, then paste them in a Google Doc or perhaps your e-mail notes.
5. Use the hashtags properly. Now you should have a pool of quality, relevant hashtags to pull from. When you curate your next post, you’re going to draw from these hashtags. The key to avoid shadowbanning on Instagram is to avoid using the same hashtags every day (even if larger accounts do it). Bigger accounts generally don’t need to use hashtags for engagement. For them, it’s mostly about promotion.
Instagram operates on an algorithm that favors quality content, engagement, and non-spammy practices. With the new updates in place, Insta is continually checking for “robotic behavior” and could dock you for posting the same hashtags every day.
When I say dock, I mean that you wouldn’t show up in the feed for specific hashtags. This practice is similar to a website getting dinged on Google for duplicate content, so beware!
6. Find followers with a genuine interest in your content. My advice is to look at slightly bigger accounts, perhaps with 1400–5000 followers. Follow all of the people that they are following, not their followers.
We want to keep your ratios at a reasonable place, but not while you grow. You’ve probably noticed that accounts which have more followers than they are following get a lot of praise, interaction, and brand deals. To get there, you need to find people who like the kind of content you’re producing.
7. When you interact with posts, leave thoughtful comments. Don’t try to cut corners by automating your responses through a third-party system. I told you that this would be a tedious task, and I meant it.
You’re going to get what you put into this. If you leave trash comments, don’t expect genuine engagement/interest in your content. Why should someone care about your posts, when you don’t care about theirs?
One time, I had a mutual friend post an unfortunate story about a deceased family member. Someone was using automated comments and commented “So cool 🥰👌” on a deeply personal post — don’t be that guy.
8. Repeat these steps every day for 30 days. On the 30th day, your engagement should be fantastic, but your follower-to-following ratios are going to look nuts. Your account will probably look something like this: