Oh Instagram, you saucy little minx. You seem to be the topic of so many conversations. From the right strategies to grow, the rumors of Instagram banning accounts (shadowbanning), to the tips and tricks on how to use Instagram as a tool to drive traffic and even make money, it seems there is so much to grasp. One thing I've learned: a lot of followers doesn't matter. An engaged following matters. I've gone from just over 30,000 Instagram followers, to now almost 60,000 on my Instagram account. I want to show you how I doubled my Instagram followers in 5 months and kept up the engagement.

There is currently a class that is wildly popular making its way around the interwebs about doubling your Instagram following. While interesting, if not a bit click bait, the presenter has well over 100,000 followers, yet can't manage to get 1,000 likes on a post. That's .01% engagement. And while I am interested in gaining more followers on Instagram, I'd rather have ones that care about what I have to say.

Because of the Instagram algorithm, I know not everyone will see what I post. But if I can get people to truly engage and follow my calls to action, then I'm doing my job. See, the thing is with Instagram, that many people miss the point, Instagram not a popularity contest. I KNOW that it can often feel like that. But really, if you can look past that and find what you are trying to gain out of Instagram, then you can master it. For me, I want people to go read my blog and then maybe buy a product. That's it. And I also think my strategy is working. The proof? I doubled my pageviews. And that is largely due to Instagram.

Any time I post on my blog (2-3 times per week) I strategize on what I'll be sharing on Instagram. Because that's my goal. I want my followers to read my blog.

6 strategies to double your Instagram following

1. I changed up hashtags

So many people are under-utilizing hashtags. The thing is, hashtags are one of the best organic ways to be discovered and gain engagement on Instagram. I already knew that if I shared a photo of my coffee, to include coffee hashtags. But I didn't stop there. I researched and changed up hashtags often. This way, I wasn't reaching the same group of people using that hashtag every time I posted. The stats show that using hashtags increases engagement by 11% (and yes, you should use all 30), but using the same hashtags over and over again isn't going to help you grow.

So I researched and scoured Instagram to continue to build up my hashtags and play around with ones that suited my images. I now use a new set to keep it fresh. I made sure I was using hashtags that are targeted to my ideal audience. I do not care about #luxurytraveler, because I'm NOT a luxury traveler, and neither is my audience. So instead, I focused on hashtags that I knew they'd be using. Such as, #dametraveler and #travelwithfathom.

I also didn't focus on hashtags that were over used or too generic, such as #follow #like #cool. These aren't going to be doing me any favors because they will be flooded with others using them.

Grab my ultimate hashtag library below:


The ULTIMATE Hashtag Guide

Literally 1,000s of hashtags broken down into categories!! One of the best ways to grow on Instagram is to use strategic hashtags to be discovered and gain likes and interaction. This ultimate list will help you gain followers and interaction, immediately!

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2. I perfected my theme and photo taking

Content counts on Instagram. Even if you follow all of these strategies and then post a grainy or blurry image, you aren't going to grow. I have always loved taking pictures, but I worked hard to edit my photos in a similar manner. I believe that there should be a flow or story aspect to your Instagram photos. You can see how I break down how to create a theme  or aesthetic for your Instagram here.

I shoot almost everything with my DSLR camera, but I do occasionally use my iPhone. Regardless of what I use, I check, then double check, to make sure the image would be something that I love and that my audience can relate to. I believe in sharing my life and so the caption I post goes along with that. I know you know you should post beautiful images, but it bears repeating. Posting images that relate to your audience is really the key. Understanding your audience, then delivering an image that relates or inspires them is the secret for success.

3. I was featured by much larger accounts


Why does this matter? Well, when you're featured by other accounts, you're seen by a completely new audience. Whether the account is big or small, it helps you grow because it's a different audience. How can you get reposted? Use their hashtags, tag them in your image (if it makes sense, for instance, I wouldn't tag @starbucks on a picture if I wasn't drinking coffee), and interact with their account. I was recently featured by Globelle traveler (see my favorite travel Instagram accounts here) and they only featured my image after following me. I interacted regularly on their account, commenting and liking images as well.

4. I posted consistently

Posting consistently is going to differ for each and every person. Some people should post 3-5 times a day, others can post every few days. It really depends on YOUR stats, what you can actually commit to, and whether or not your audience will interact. The basic idea here with the Instagram algorithm (here's a full fledged breakdown on how the Instagram algorithm works) is to post so that your followers will see and interact with your account. In order for them to “see” what you post, you have to post consistently.

I typically post 1-3 times daily on Instagram. This works best for me. And of course, I only post quality images. I would never ever post just to post. So if I need to skip a day, I don't sweat it. But I know that in order to stay relevant, gain interaction, and be seen organically, I need to post consistently. When you post consistently + use hashtags, you're more likely to be seen, show up in the “explore” tab, and be featured by the hashtags you use.

5. I engaged authentically

If someone comments on your photo and you just never respond, you're leaving interaction on the table. I know sometimes you might get too many comments to respond to them all, fine, at the very least “heart” their comment. But I really think it's essential to engage with those that comment on your photos. Answer their questions, keep the conversation going. If they took time out of their day to stop and comment on your Instagram, do them a favor and respond.

Instagram, after all, is a social platform, so utilize that. That means engaging and interacting with your followers, who you follow, and people who could be potential followers. Engage with authentic comments that lead to conversations and hopefully, a new follower. Chances are if someone leaves a heartfelt comment on one of my posts, I then go check out their Instagram. But if they leave a spammy comment like “nice” or simply an emoji, I probably wont' bother.

6. I cut out the noise

There is a lot of talk lately from people that claim to know what works. I'd really like to know why they think they know. I know it's hard sometimes, but try to ignore what you can. Most people are in the same boat. Having forked for 6 years in digital advertising, social media, and brand management, there is always going to be someone claiming they know what's what, but unless they can show you some credentials, expertise, or real proof… it's a stab in the dark.

Admittedly, I clicked on an article proving to explain the shadowban. I fell into the trap, thinking that she was right. But in reality, it was just a marketing ploy. So, focus on some concrete strategies and you will be okay.

I hope these tips will help you grow!

This is the most comprehensive library I've EVER put together. I'm not sure how long I'll be making this free because it's… huge! Literally, 1,000s of hashtags broken down into categories. EEK. Oh, and it's editable, so I (or you!) can edit it and add more hashtags as needed! Hashtags broken down into sections for you, so it's easy to find what you need: blogging, creative, travel, food, outdoors, mom, makeup, DIY, home decor, coffee, vegan, photography, small business, events, fitness… the list continues!

The ULTIMATE Hashtag Library!

Literally 1,000s of hashtags broken down into categories!! One of the best ways to grow on Instagram is to use strategic hashtags to be discovered and gain likes and interaction. This ultimate list will help you gain followers and interaction, immediately!

Powered by ConvertKit