6 ways to grow your Instagram followers

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, not 1000 but 60,000 words to be precise. That is because our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.


This is exactly the premise on which Instagram has been created. The seamless combination of technology with visual content has made Instagram, a very popular platform. With 700 million followers worldwide, Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform.  That people like to spend time on Instagram is apparent from the fact that Instagram is now twice the size of Twitter and has surpassed Snapchat.

Though I had an Instagram account, I had hardly ever engaged on it for 2 years or so, as I never really understood the platform. Once in a while, I would post at random, and naturally, I had only a handful of followers. It was only in December 2016 after I started uploading the pictures from my trip to Jaipur that I started paying attention and figured out how to the engage on Instagram.

Within 8 months, I gathered 6000 followers organically, plus an average engagement rate that is more than 10%. By no means, I can claim that this is a great number as there are several accounts that have millions of followers. Yet, having discovered the power of Instagram in the high traction it garners, I can categorically say that Instagram is a platform that a digital influencer should not ignore.

So, how do you build and grow your Instagram account?

Of course, the easiest is to buy followers, but when people buy followers, they do not necessarily engage with the account. So, when you come across accounts with ten thousand or more followers and a very low engagement rate (1- 2% of the followers), you know that the followers are most likely fake.

Engagement Rate = [(Likes+Comments)/ No. of followers] as %

Engagements (likes, comments) can also be purchased. But again, if you go on purchasing interactions for all your pictures, you’ll most likely end up spending much more than the benefits that accrue from your account.


Here’s how you can boost your Instagram presence in an organic manner

1. Post consistently on Instagram

The thing that attracts me (maybe others too) about Instagram is that it encourages quality over quantity. Posting only one to two pictures in a day is sufficient to start building your follower base, provided you post on a regular basis.

When you post regularly, the Instagram algorithm that detects your posting and engagements (likes, comments, shares) rewards you by making your post appear in the feed of your followers or in the feed of those you engage with. If your pictures have a rich visual appeal, it increases the chance of people liking your pictures while scrolling through their feed.

Pay attention to the timing of your posts. Posts on times when the traction tends to be the highest.

In my experience, I can say that Instagram rewards consistency more than any other platform.


2. Improve the aesthetics of your feed

On Instagram, many people generally tend to like pictures that stand out while scrolling through the feed.  Pictures with higher exposure, warm temperatures and higher contrast have been found to have higher engagement levels.  Use of certain filters that create these effects is thus likely to increase the engagement level.  Apart from the filters that Instagram provides while posting, filters can also be applied using filter apps. My favourite filter app is Aviary. Some other good filter apps are Snapseed, VSCO, and Instasize.

Pay attention to the overall look of your Instagram gallery

Besides paying attention to the individual image, also pay attention to the overall look of your gallery.  A well-arranged Grid visual results in higher engagement as people like to scroll through interesting feeds. Nobody likes to see a tacky feed. Before uploading, see each picture in the context of the last 3 pictures in the feed to get an idea of how it looks along with the picture that is next to it, and with the one that is directly below it.

Instagram grid

The above grid is from my Instagram gallery.

Some of the ways that I keep in mind while posting are as follows:

  • I decide upon a theme for at least 3 pictures in a row and post pictures pertaining to the theme. The predominant theme for thie above grid is nature and landscape. The images in the lower row are of monsoon in Mumbai, while the images on the top row are from Nepal. The middle row buffers the two.
  • I select a colour scheme or use complementary colours in adjacent pictures
  • I use some images with soft colours and white spaces to give an uncluttered feel to the feed
  • I generally space out close-ups with long shots or with opposite patterns to break the monotony and create a neat look for my feed.

3. Be creative with captions, comments and your bio

Posting a picture on Instagram is easy but the challenge lies in crafting a caption that adds value to the picture and conveys your story along with the picture. A brief well-written caption draws the attention of people while they are scrolling through the feed and prompts a reply. Genuine comments initiate genuine conversations. A well-written bio sets the viewers expectation for your feed. Emojis in comments, caption and bio add expressions to your words. :-)


4. Use the most relevant hashtags

Hashtags are used for performing Instagram searches, just like in Twitter.

Instagram allows the use of 30 hashtags for a post. Identify the most popular hashtags for your theme and use the most relevant hashtags for your posts. The opinions about the optimum number of hashtags vary and often remain divided. Yet, it does not harm if you use more hashtags. For any particular hashtag if your post appears in the top 9 posts, the visibility of the post increases, thus increasing the likelihood of interactions.

However, many Instagrammers do not refer to use hashtags in the caption. If you are one of them, then you can still use the hashtags in a comment.

Personally, I think hashtags are more important at the initial stages. My engagement started improving a lot after I made use of hashtags. However, recently when I experimented posting with hashtags and without a single hashtag, the post without hashtags drew more engagements, as you can see in the screenshots below.

Hashtags on Instagram5. Engage actively on Instagram for at least half an hour after posting

After you post on Instagram, engage actively for at least for half an hour up to an hour.

When you post a photo on Instagram, it starts accruing engagement (likes, comments, saves & shares). If you get a lot of engagement (particularly within the first hour), the algorithm will favour your post and make it appear higher up in a greater number of feeds and on the users explore pages. The rate engagement tapers off after 4-5 hours. That is why your own engagement on Instagram immediately after you post matters a lot as it helps a lot in increasing the visibility of the post.


6. Use the explore tab of Instagram and features such as stories and videos 

Based on the kind of images you like and interact with and the people you follow, the explore tab of Instagram shows you posts and Stories that Instagram thinks you may like. When you engage with posts shown on the Explore tab, there is a possibility that those people will also visit your gallery and engage with your posts too if they like your posts.  Thus, engaging with the posts on the Explore tab can help you to get new viewers for your gallery.

Use Instagram Stories to create engaging content and also share a live video to connect with your followers in real time. Instagram sends a notification to your followers when you add a story. When you broadcast a live video, your profile picture will appear at the top of your followers’ feed with a colourful ring around it and the word Live. 

If you step up your effort on all these fronts, your visibility on Instagram will certainly grow much faster. As your Instagram presence grows, so does your digital influence, which is always a plus for every blogger.

The next thing that comes to my mind is how to use Instagram with your blog. But that’s for another time.

Which of these ways do you follow? What are some other ways that have worked for you?

You can join me here on Instagram


Reference:  : http://www.t-sciences.com/news/humans-process-visual-data-better

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  • author's avatar

    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle – from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • author's avatar

Somali K Chakrabarti

Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle - from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • I have recently taken to Instagram after a period of minimum to zero activity. And yea I’m loving it now. You are spot on with the tips.

  • Nice post. Every day I learn so little I know.

  • Such an informative post, Somali. I’ve always been astounded by the engagement you have with your audience. It’s quite remarkable really. I have two IGs, one personal and one public. The private one is private but the public one I like to share my photography. Agree with your tip on engaging with others right after you post, be it checking out what others are posting and liking and commenting on posts. I did that a lot last year, engaging with others and it was interesting to see how different people approach making an image – be it for recreational purposes or a passion like photography.

    This year life has been busy for me so I am spending less and less time on IG, and so less engagement with others on the public account. I have certainly noticed a difference in others engaging with my photos (less this year by a long shot) and I suppose with a platform like this, you get what you give. I also agree having consisten images and themes are important – they help give other IGs a snapshot of who you are and what they may be interested in.

  • Thank you Mabel . You’ve rightly observed that as with any other platform, with Instagram too what you get is what you give. I agree with you that we always may not be able to engage on social media platforms and that affects the interactions with our posts too.
    My observation has been that off all social media platforms, Instagram draws higher traction than other platforms for a similar level of effort. As a result, I spend very little time on other platforms.
    The good thing about IG is that based on your interactions, the IG algorithm shows you the kind of pictures that you really like to see, If you do not want to see certain types of pictures ( either boring or inappropriate ) you can feed that to IG and it will show you less of such posts. Also, since the focus here is more (or rather entirely) on visuals, the noise that we see on other platforms is cut out on IG.
    No wonder it is getting more & more popular among people all over the world. :-)

  • This is a great post, Somali. I think your post has given me some clues to the mystery of IG. Even I haven’t been very active on social media for many reasons- time being the most foremost. I haven’t been able to solve this IG mystery even though my blog has grown phenomenally over the one and half year. Any clues on what themes works well? some say it is nature some say Himalayas are all time favorite….I find it confusing!! Probably, you are best person to talk about it! :)

    • Thank you Arv. I have observed that nature, beach and mountains draw larger traction but ultimately the kind of pictures you post should depend on the kind of audience that you want on IG. Say, if you want to want to show mainly interior decorations then you must post pictures pertaining to interior decor. Maybe you can use nature images along with decor inspired by nature to make the gallery look interesting,

      • That’s a valid point. I guess ultimately it is also about what interests you. I have taken lot of time to actually understand what kind of pictures you need to snap since it is a square format and not every picture looks good in this format. I guess till now I haven’t been able to break “like” barrier…it is sticky at certain number…

        • True that. Also, it is as much about the look of the grid (3X3) as it is about the individual pic. I sometimes delete pics after a few days of posting, when I feel that those don’t gel well in the grid even though those might have individually drawn good traction.

  • You seems to be a pro at Insta and it’s quite interesting on how to present a picture patterns as well as engagement. Personally, I don’t know how it works.

    • Thank you Vishal. I guess I like IG mainly because it gives me a higher traction than the other platforms and secondly, the look & feel of IG is very slick and lots of people post quite impressive stuff there, so one has a lot of choice. :-)

  • Loved the post. Thanks a lot for all tips :)

  • Somali very very informative and insightful post…anybody looking for enhancing their understanding and engagement with this platform, this post of yours present a wonderful perspective.

    The initial stats on the picture vs. text, and the way our mind process images is indeed revealing and that is so true why such social medias are gaining such radical shift in their growth trajectory, 700 million stunning number and the more we think of these social media reach and the power it carries we are awe stuck and many times are lost in the ever expanding world of social media, when one gets the speed and overtakes other is just a matter of time, Instagram twice that of Twitter.

    6000 followers no mean achievement and you have so much quality in your picture and presentation of thoughts, it is bound to get hooked and yes I agree those little things from filter to explore tab to the composition of grid and gallery makes such huge difference in the level of engagement, finally it boils down to how many are spending time with us and how is that time spent, is there a quality and is there is genuine engagement.

    Thanks so much Somali for sharing this post on Instagram, I will be referring anybody asking me on Instagram to this post of yours. Hope you had a great Sunday.

    • Thank you Nihar. With so many social media platforms it sometimes becomes difficult to figure out which one might yield the best result for a person and how to use the platform. I remained blissfully unaware of the use of Instagram for about 2 years, but after I figured out the use I found it to be very effective.
      Earlier I liked the concept of Pinterest and used to pin pictures to my boards. Other than that I did not engage on the platform. What I like about Instagram is that pictures are mostly original and most people maintain quality. Unlike on the other platform, on Instagram the visuals are not obstructed by text so the overall visual appeal is enhanced.
      Needless to say several brands are now flocking to Instagram, where the crowd now hangs.

  • Superb post, Somali! I actually was unawares about so many of the things here, like to be active for about half an hour or so after posting or the usage of filter apps! It certainly calls me to take this medium seriously , to add some planning and sense to the entertainment. Thank-YOU for this post, dear!

  • I had no idea about these things. I sincerely need to work with my Insta account. I’m behaving in a step-motherly way with it! Posting after months and not acknowledging the comments :-( Thanks so much, Somali, for this post. Learnt a lot and hopefully I’ll try to be regular on Instagram… :-)

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