When David Attenborough debuted on Instagram, a lot of brands and influencers were burning with jealousy. Without doing anything in particular, he got the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to reach 1 million followers. It didn’t take him long to reach 6 million, either.
Now he’s off the platform, clearly not impressed by the large following he built. But it raised a great topic: how can you create a big, meaningful following—without any stunts or tricks?
This article is for brands and influencers alike—because, at the end of the day, your followers are the same: people who think your content is insightful, beautiful, important, helpful or funny.
There are countless tips out there. There are even entire Instagram accounts dedicated to the art of growing your following. So, we won’t bore you with advice like “post regularly” or “use the right hashtags”.
Instagram has over 1 billion monthly users and an algorithm smarter than the average person. There are countless accounts that seem to effortlessly grow their audience, day by day. You can, too.
From keeping it real to posting reels: here are our 7 tips on how to get more Instagram followers.
1. Don’t target followers, target people
The first thing you need is a shift in mindset. Whenever you think of your followers as just that, it will be a lot harder to create content that they will love and share. So let’s think of them as humans, made of flesh, blood, hopes, and wishes.
It can also be helpful to approach growing your following as growing a community. It becomes easier to see how you add value, and you can grow it in a more natural way: people will be happy to invite their friends into a community they themselves have found to be helpful or fun to join in any way.
Think about accounts like Kayla Itsines’s. Sure, that’s just one person—or a team—posting fitness content, but to her followers, that account is a place where they connect with like-minded people who want to get healthier. It offers support, and even a sense of ‘’togetherness’’.
2. Post (more) reels
A more practical tip is to double-down on reels. If you’re still stuck in the ‘’traditional’’ tools Instagram offered years ago, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and the regular timeline.
Reels are gaining popularity quickly. Anyone who’s ever opened them on their Explore page knows how easy it is to get caught up in them. Before you know it, 20 minutes have passed, and you missed your bus stop big time.
Reels are not incredibly hard to make. They’re 30-second video clips, and they can be about literally anything. TikTok-like content performs well on Instagram, but you can keep it separate as well.
The great thing for reels when it comes to growing your follower count is that they often get shown to people who don’t necessarily follow you yet. When people start watching reels and scroll down, they keep seeing reels from other accounts, even ones they don’t follow. That makes it a great way to introduce yourself to a new audience that would not see you on their timeline.
3. Be authentic—but really
There’s plenty of tools out there that will help you create a lot of content. And while quantity still matters, it doesn’t beat quality.
Create content worth sharing. Often people share posts on IG that creators made because it resonates with them—they just don’t have the words or content creation skills to put it out there themselves.
So, when creating content, try to tell your story in a way that other people can connect to. Then, when you’re being scared all over, you’ll notice that more people will start following you. Followers from followers are the best people to target.
Dedicate some extra time to write longer captions with a real message in them. A great way to do that is by making things personal. Speak about real experiences, feelings, things that matter that day. Even if you’re a brand, you can do this, by speaking out on important topics.
Content that is too polished will look good, but not necessarily perform great. People can spot a filter from miles away, and just a pretty picture is not a reason to follow any account.
If you want to build real authenticity and a following that loves you for the value you provide, don’t forget to also engage in conversations in the comments.
4. Collaborate with brands and people that match your message
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: you will need to reach people who haven’t followed you yet. By posting on your own timeline, you won’t get very far. That’s why you should also team up with other accounts that have some sort of overlap in the audience, to find uncharted territory.
You can team up with brands, or even with popular accounts that are meme pages. They often have a huge following and some exposure to that could work wonders for your own account—if you create good content, that is.
Working with influencers is also still a great way to get more followers, and you don’t even have to aim for the big names with a blue checkmark behind their names. If you pick the right micro-influencers, you can grow your account just as well. Their followers are often even more engaged with their accounts, so they’ll make recommendations even more to heart.
To find the right micro-influencers, search the hashtags you want to be found on and see who’s posting regularly under those hashtags, and check out how they’re doing engagement-wise. Don’t shy away from accounts that don’t have a K in their follower count just yet—their followers could still be a great addition to your community.
5. Share memes (but run them by a young person before you do)
Everyone loves a good meme, and most Instagram users share them constantly. In fact, 55% of 13-35-year-olds share them with others every week. Instagram itself said that 1 million users share memes on Instagram on a daily basis.
Don’t think: my brand is too serious for memes. If you’re not willing to adapt to the platform, Instagram might not be for you. People don’t come to the platform to read boring captions and see ads—they want to be entertained.
The type of content you need if you want to grow your channel is either incredibly beautiful or incredibly shareable. Now, if you’re not a painter or photographer, or your channel is simply not focused on something visual, focus on creating shareable content.
Apart from authentic, heartfelt content, people also like to laugh. There are plenty of meme formats you can use and tweak to match your brand. If your target group is Gen Z or millennials, do run the content by one of their own to see if you’ve got the meme right.
6. Make sure people can find your profile
We promised we wouldn’t talk about hashtags, and we’re sticking to that promise. Instagram recently revealed that it’s no longer just hashtags that will help you find relevant content.
People who search for keywords will also be presented content that doesn’t necessarily have that hashtag but has a relevant account name attached to it or a caption that talks about the topic.
This is why it’s important to put just as much thought into the caption as in the visual part of the post. Instagram will keep developing this feature, so you better be ready for it.
7. Be accessible and inclusive
A little goes a long way. Using subtitles and inclusive language will make your account accessible to many more people. Instagram has made automatic captions available in 16 languages for IGTV already, which you should see as a sign: get on board!
The same goes for making your account inclusive. Now, this should come from a place of empathy and understanding, and not just a way how to grow your Instagram following, but many brands and influencers overlook the importance of this. If you spread positive vibes, people will be more likely to spread it with you—making Instagram a better place to share by share.
Now, go forth and grow
Remember that growing your Instagram is a process, and it will take time. Enjoy that process, though because it will reflect in your content and the way you communicate with your followers. Try to keep up with the new technologies Instagram is introducing as much as you can, and feel free to experiment with new forms of content.