7 Instagram Growth Hacks: How To Authentically Grow Your Following + Engagement on Instagram

Okay, hands up if you are sick of the 'follow/unfollow method', spam comments, and algorithm changes on Instagram? ๐Ÿ™‹

I know I'm not the only one here.

I feel like everyone is in sort of a love/hate relationship with Instagram at the moment. I've seen a lot of conversations on Twitter and in Facebook groups where fellow bloggers + creative entrepreneurs are losing followers, seeing engagement rates drop, and losing all hope of doing well on Instagram.

It's definitely disheartening when you start to see a decrease in numbers. I've spoken before about how social media unfollowers are actually GOOD for you, but drops in engagement rates are something that shouldn't be ignored.

Instead of losing faith in Instagram, there are 7 things you can easily do to help boost your presence and connect with your audience on Instagram. Let's hack the system, pals! โœŠ

7 Instagram Growth Hacks: How To Authentically Grow Your Following And Engagement On Instagram | Sick of spam comments and the follow/unfollow method on Instagram? You're not the only one! Instead of losing faith in Instagram, there are 7 things you can easily do to help boost your presence and connect with your audience on Instagram. Click here to read my guide and grab your FREE checklist! Perfect for bloggers, creative entrepreneurs, and small business owners!

1 | ADD KEYWORDS INTO YOUR HEADLINE

You might be thinking "what the eff is a headline?!" 

Your username is what shows up in someone's notifications when you follow someone else, or if you comment or like their post in some way. 

Your headline is what shows up at the top of your Instagram profile above your bio.

Your headline is only available on your profile BUT it is an essential feature to optimise as it is included in Instagram's search function.

You want to make sure your headline includes keywords + phrases related to what you offer so that your account can pop up when your audience are searching for relevant keywords.

For example, my headline is 'Social Media Tips w/ Zoe Linda' - so if someone searches 'social media' or 'social media tips', my account could pop up as an option.


2 | FOCUS YOUR BIO ON YOUR IDEAL AUDIENCE

I'm all for the 'Hi - I'm Zoe. I like hot chocolate, Jennifer Lawrence, and crunchy leaves.' kinda bio. (I mean, this basically WAS my old Instagram bio ๐Ÿ™ˆ)

But it's just not professional and it leaves your potential followers thinking "so what?"

Why should they follow you if they don't even know how you can help them as an individual?

You need to be telling your ideal blog readers, customers & clients what you do, how you can help them, and what you typically post to Instagram. Basically, tell them what's in it for them when they hit that 'follow' button on Instagram.

Try to write your bio as if you are talking to one individual within your ideal audience. If you try to talk to everyone, you'll end up speaking to no one.

Here are some examples of great Instagram bios that tell their audience what they do and in a personable way that make me want to hit that follow button!

P.S. @luxundpoppy is actually one of my Instagrowth students and her account has been growing like crazy! Learn more about Instagrowth here!

Believe it or not, I just spent a good half an hour trying to find good examples of bios within many other niches. I looked through fitness accounts, photographer's feeds, foodstagrammers, and more - but came up short. Most people just list their name and where they are from.

Most bloggers just say they are a blogger without going into what exactly makes them different or being at all personable.

Most photographers just say they are a photographer without touching on their style or if they are even available to hire.

Most people focus their bios on themselves. 

You, my friend, are going to focus it on your audience!



3 | UTILISE YOUR INSTAGRAM LINK

To this day, I still see bloggers and business owners that don't link to their website on their Instagram page. SUCH a rookie mistake!

You want to be funnelling your Instagram followers back to your website so you can grow your blog readership, book clients, and sell your products, right?

So, use your #linkinbio! It's the one place you can get your audience out of Instagram and onto your website, landing page, Facebook group, or elsewhere! You've got one chance, so you can't mess it up.

Here are three ways you can use your Instagram link to get your followers engaging with your brand off the Instagram platform:

A) Use it to feature your latest blog post

This is a great way to get your Instagram audience over to your latest blog post. You can easily promo your latest post and use your caption or Instagram story to let your audience know that a link to the post is in your bio.

In my opinion, this option is a short-term win but a long-term loss.

It's not a favourite of mine because it means:

  • you have to keep swapping your link whenever you publish a new post
  • you'll have old posts still circulating the 'gram saying to check out your #linkinbio that leads your audience to another, newer post
  • you can only point them to one thing at a time, which sucks when you have a blog, mailing list, Facebook group, and more you're trying to grow 

If you DO go ahead with this, I'd definitely recommend using a link shortener like Bit.ly to shorten your blog post link, especially if it's a long URL. It just tidies up your profile a little!

B) Create an Instagram landing page on your website

Instead of swapping your link out all the time, you can create one page on your blog or website where the URL stays the same but the content changes to fit your current needs.

Here's an example of Lauren's (from Elle & Company) Instagram landing page:

This page features her four most recent blog posts and, if you scroll further down, you can sign up for her latest webinar and get yourself on her mailing list. 

This is super easy to create! Just make a new page on your blog or website but make sure it's not in your navigation or footer. Make the URL something like www.yourblog.com/instagram so it's easy to share in your bio.

C) Use Linktr.ee to showcase multiple links within one link and basically kick-ass at Instagram

Can you tell how much I love this already?

Linktr.ee allows you to use one link in your bio that drives your followers to a 'menu' of sorts with multiple links. It's basically amazing.

You can see how this looks in reality with my profile below. You can see I have my linktr.ee URL in my bio; linktr.ee/zoelinda_ 

If you click that link, you'll be taken to my menu of links (below)! This screengrab was taken on desktop, but it is super mobile friendly and adapts perfectly to fit a smartphone screen.

Linktr.ee is great because:

  • you can easily add new links
  • there doesn't seem to be a maximum link limit
  • you can easily rearrange your links
  • you can track the number of clicks per link
  • you can customise your menu colours

What option are you going to go ahead with?

For options 2 + 3, I've created a simple checklist for you on what sort of content you might want to feature on the landing page or in your Linktr.ee!

Get your FREE Instagram link checklist!

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Make sure your Instagram landing page or Linktr.ee menu kicks ass with this simple checklist!

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P.S. This checklist is taken straight from my upcoming e-course, Instagrowth! If you're interested, click here to join the VIP waiting list!


4 | BALANCE YOUR FOLLOWER:FOLLOWING RATIO

I know this is cosmetic but if you are following more people than people are following you, your Instagram can seem unprofessional.

It can appear as if you have been implementing the 'follow/unfollow' method - yes, THAT method - which, gives off a bad first impression.

Take some time to sift through your 'following' list to see if there are any accounts you haven't interacted with for a while or that you are no longer interested in. Maybe you followed a brand account that you're not interested in anymore, or you find yourself following a group of celebs that you haven't seen post on Instagram for a while.

Top tip: Try to avoid using apps that track your followers and unfollowers. This shifts the focus from your personal interests to a fear that you may unfollow someone who follows you.

My rule for following a new account or unfollowing an account is to ask myself 3 simple questions:

  • Do I know them personally?
  • Are they in my ideal audience?
  • Are they a resource or an inspiration to me?

If the answer to all of these questions is "no", then I know they're not worth following.


5 | CREATE A STRONG + CONSISTENT THEME

With Instagram being such a visual platform, itโ€™s no surprise that accounts with eye-catching, engaging themes perform so well. Not only does it give new followers a great first impression, but it also makes sure that your branding is recognisable in every photo of your Instagram feed. 

It takes time and effort, but Iโ€™ve got 5 reasons you need an Instagram theme to help grow your blogโ€™s visual brand:

You can give a great first impression

On Instagram, first impressions are everything. You want someone to click on your profile for the first time and think to themselves โ€œwow, this looks awesome!โ€

You want new visitors to hit that follow button instantaneously. You want followers to know exactly what youโ€™re all about within a split second of viewing your profile. Having a well-thought out Instagram theme can do all of this for you.

If youโ€™ve defined your purpose and honed in your target audience, youโ€™ll start to deeply understand what types of content you should post on your Instagram account to create a great first impression.

Your audience will know what to expect

People like to know what they are signing up for. I rarely follow an Instagram account without a strong theme because I donโ€™t know what will end up on my feed.

If Iโ€™m looking to fill my feed with food snaps, I would find and follow accounts that focus on those specific things. I wouldnโ€™t follow somebody who has posted a lot of random photos and pray that they will one day post some foodtography. Would you?

Having a specific niche builds trust with your audience, which comes in handy when you start your business or monetise your blog.

Your account will be on-brand

A great first impression is important, but it means nothing if the impression doesnโ€™t reflect your blogโ€™s visual branding. Thereโ€™s no point creating a theme with a calm vibe if your account is for an excitable and upbeat events blog! You need to make sure your blogโ€™s visual branding is obvious from your Instagram theme.

Keep your photos on brand by using the same:

  • Colours - stick to 3 or 4 colours maximum

  • Fonts - if you use text on your images, use the same 2 or 3 fonts

  • Backgrounds - all white? Patterned? Colourful? Keep your backgrounds coherent to stay on-brand

  • Props - if you use a set number of props in different ways, your followers will be able to hand pick your photos from everyone elseโ€™s in their feed

Your photos will really stand out in your followerโ€™s Instagram home feeds. They will be able to instantly recognise your posts and branding without even having to look at your username! Now thatโ€™s good branding.

Related Post: The Best Apps for Editing + Scheduling Your Instagram Posts

You will have a consistent account

Once youโ€™ve sorted out your branding and first impression, you need to be consistent. The hardest part of finding a theme is sticking with it - believe me, I know how hard it is!

It may be tempting to post something that doesnโ€™t quite fit into your theme but donโ€™t. You know the little song โ€œone of these things just doesnโ€™t belongโ€? Your followers will start thinking that while scroll through your Instagram feed.

This one post will stick out like a sore thumb and may even lose you followers. If you go to a rock concert, you wouldnโ€™t expect to hear a church choir sing - give your followers what they signed up for!

Consistency often goes hand-in-hand with having a strategic plan for your InstagramStock photos are also a great way to achieve this consistency without the big time investment.

If you take the time and effort to keep your theme consistent, the payoff will be invaluable.

Related Posts: Why I Use Planoly to Plan My Instagram Feed

Your visual aesthetic will attract new followers

Along with being on-brand, youโ€™ll want to be consistent not only in the types of content you post but also in the way they look together. A visual aesthetic sets the tone for your Instagram feed. Itโ€™s best to post photos that have similar exposure, contrast, brightness, and colours.

Your visual aesthetic is often nicknamed โ€œthe vibeโ€ of your Instagram feed. So whatโ€™s your vibe? Maybe it matches one of the examples below:

  • Feminine and frilly: usually lots of pink, gold, and anything that sparkles

  • Dark and moody: great use of light and dark in high contrast, shadowed photos

  • Earthy and organic: all shades of green and brown can be found on these feeds

  • Modern and clean: minimalistic in nature with a lot of white space

These accounts all have their themes down to a T. You know exactly what youโ€™re getting from their grid of 12 pictures and canโ€™t help but love it!

How do you find your theme on Instagram? Well, I have a handy FREE mini-course just for you! 

With #FindYourTheme, you will:

  • determine your audience + where they hang out on Instagram
  • define the purpose of your Instagram account
  • brainstorm new content for your feed
  • choose a bespoke colour palette for your profile
  • decide on props + backgrounds for your photos
  • set a tone of voice for your Instagram captions

I'm really proud of this free e-course so I hope it will be helpful for you too! Click here to sign up or use the form below!

Want an envy-inducing theme?

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Sign up to #FindYourTheme in 5 days with my FREE email course!

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6 | WRITE KILLER CAPTIONS

I feel like so many bloggers and entrepreneurs struggle with their captions on Instagram. 

Much like you set a theme to your Instagram content, you need to set a brand voice in your Instagram captions. 

I recommend creating a sort of 'lexicon' for your account, which includes a set of 10 to 15 words, phrases, and emojis that you use on a regular basis to keep your captions branded and consistent.

There are many different ways to utilise your caption on each of your Instagram posts. Let's talk about some of the things you can include in your caption:

  • Inspirational quotes
  • Personal updates
  • Blog/business updates
  • Asking a question
  • Product/outfit breakdown
  • Tips + tricks
  • Provide instructions
  • Talk about someone you're inspired by
  • Introduce yourself

You also want to make sure each of your captions includes a strong Call To Action (CTA) that drives conversation and encourages your followers to engage with your post or your profile in some way.


7 | UTILISE YOUR HASHTAGS

Hashtags. Hashtags. Hashtags.

I literally cannot emphasise the importance of hashtags on Instagram.

You probably know this, right? Everyone has told you that hashtags will help, but maybe you're not convinced or you haven't found the right hashtags yet.

An Instagram post without hashtags is like trying to shout over a crowd without a megaphone. 

Are you someone who #writes their #hashtags within their #caption like this?

Or someone who uses tags like #Tag4Likes, #InstaGood, and #PicOfTheDay to drive engagement to their posts?

Or maybe you don't even use hashtags at all?

Then, I hate to burst your bubble but you are missing out on SO much engagement. 

A couple of stats for ya:

  • Instagram posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement [source]
  • Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with more than 11 hashtags [source]
  • Personally, my engagement increased by 1275% when I started to use hashtags - that's cray!

Unless you have a huge following on Instagram (and I'm talking in the hundreds of thousands), you should always be hashtagging your photos.

How do you expect to grow your following if you're only posting for the people that already follow you?

Instagram doesn't make it easy for your followers to share your content so how else do you expect new people to find you? I'm fed up of hearing that it's 'wrong' or 'uncool' to hashtag your posts on Instagram (and who the heck decided that anyway?).

How do you find new hashtags on Instagram?

Research! If you have a tag you already like and use, you can use it to find ever more hashtags to increase your Instagram followers.

Whilst in the Instagram app, click your chosen tag and you can find a whole bunch of related tags at the top of the screen.

Click through to these and see how many uses they have, what kind of people use the tag, what other tags they relate to, etc.

Also take a look at photos in the 'top posts' section of each tag, and see what other hashtags these Instagrammers have tagged their posts with. For example, if you search for #BlogSociety, you might spot that some of the top posts include the tag #BlogBFFs.

It's a bit of trial and error but once you have your hashtags pinned down, you'll see a great increase in engagement with the right audience for you.

Related: Ultimate Instagram Hashtag Database

Want access to my personal Instagram Hashtag list?

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Sign up here and download it for free now!

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Did this post help you up your game on Instagram? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about Instagram or hop into my FREE Facebook group to ask there!


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Zoe Linda

United Kingdom

Zoe is a sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary book nerd that happens to own and run Bookshelf Journey. Her favourite books of all time are the Harry Potter series (duh) along with The Catcher In The Rye and Gone Girl. John Green is her spirit animal and Hogwarts is her home.