Instagram is one of the most popular social networks today, with a 40 percent usage reach among US adults. This makes it a platform worth investing your time and efforts in, but growing an audience can be tough. Here are 16 tips on how to get your first 1,000 followers on Instagram.
Instagram continues to be one of the best platforms for growing an audience. It has more than 1 billion users worldwide, and 71% of US businesses use the social media platform. And did you know that Instagram can generate more than four times the number of interactions compared to Facebook? It goes without saying: Instagram is the place to be for aspiring entrepreneurs and content creators.
It’s easy to come across tips when Googling how to grow your Instagram followers. However, most of these tricks mainly work with bigger accounts – they're tougher if you only have a couple hundred followers. Reaching those first 1,000 followers on any social media platform is usually the hardest part, since people pay less attention to small accounts.
Getting your first 1,000 followers on Instagram: 16 tips
We've curated 16 tips on how to build followers on Instagram and reach that milestone 1,000, for free. Let's get into it!
- Make your Instagram bio count
- Connect with your network
- Find your audience
- Live by the '5 likes, comment & follow' rule
- Find your voice as a 'brand'
- Write catchy, shareable captions!
- Post engaging content
- Optimize your imagery for Instagram
- Post consistently
- Experiment, test, and analyze your content
- Get to the top search results
- Learn how the Instagram algorithm works
- Use video content
- Educate people!
- Stay informed on content and platform trends
- Don't waste your time
1. Make your Instagram bio count
Your bio will be the first introduction to new followers, and if you fine-tune it, you can target your ideal audience. If they like what they see, they’ll probably hit that follow button.
What are the main things you want to highlight here? Think of it as your 150-character pitch. And remember: your username and name are searchable, but the rest of the bio isn't.
Here are some bio elements that can help attract followers:
- A sleek, high-quality profile image.
- A call-to-action (a #hashtag to click and share, a link to follow, or contact info.)
- Snappy copy that feels like it was written by a real person (not a robot.)
2. Connect with your network
As mentioned earlier, reaching those first few hundred followers is often the trickiest part of growing a social media audience. So, why not start by following friends, family, coworkers, and basically everyone you know? They'll most likely follow you back, and hopefully recommend you to their friends. Go through your Facebook and contact list too, ensuring you’ve utilized all your connections.
Depending on what kind of Instagram channel you’re running, it might be worth connecting with local or similar businesses, too. Of course, this article isn’t solely about ‘how to get followers on Instagram for your business,’ but it’s worth keeping in mind. Tagging them, commenting on their posts and sharing their content will encourage them to do the same!
3. Find your audience
When you start your account, try to describe your ideal audience to yourself. Write it down – what does your ideal customer avatar look like? Who do they follow, what do they comment on, and what makes them tick? Then, look for other accounts that gear themselves toward the audience you just described.
For example, if you're a travel vlogger, look for traveling accounts and travel vloggers that fit your audience criteria. Find the accounts and creators that post regularly and get high engagement with their content.
Now, the idea is for you to utilize their profiles and audiences. Comment on their posts. Follow their followers and interact with them. Engage! You need to get your audience's attention and establish a connection before they willingly follow you and engage with your content.
4. Live and breathe the ‘5 likes, comment and follow’ rule
This doesn’t always work, but the ‘5 likes, comment and follow’ rule can increase your chances of getting Instagram followers. The idea’s pretty simple: find an account that you’d be proud to count as a follower – and, ideally, an account you’d want to follow – and like at least five of their posts. Drop a comment on your favorite post, then give them a follow.
Put time and effort into your likes and comments, because it helps show that you’re a real person. Fake accounts often follow without interacting. By liking posts and opening a dialogue – even if you’re just commenting on a dog video with the fire emoji – before following, you’re showing that you’re a genuine account that’s interested in their content. And, if it doesn’t work the first time around, keep at it! As long as you’re adding to the conversation and not spamming them, it’s worth being persistent and letting them know you’re worth following back.
5. Find your voice as a ‘brand’
Perhaps it sounds a bit corporate, but if you want to get Instagram followers, you have to think of yourself as a brand. That doesn’t mean you need to be super serious – it just requires you to think about your profile as a shop front, landing page, or customer service helpline for your favorite brand.
‘Tone’ is the word people might use, but overall, it’s about your brand identity. The way you write captions and comments should ladder up, so you’re not talking in text lingo on one post and ye olde English the next. Every brand’s voice is different, but a simple, semi-casual tone is a good starting point to get more Instagram followers.
This extends to your visual cues, too. Stylistically, it helps if you have a consistent ‘thing’ that’s yours. It's OK to have a personal Instagram account with random pictures and videos. But, if you’re looking to gain Instagram followers outside your friends, family, and colleagues, you need to curate your content so it looks uniquely yours.
6. Write catchy, shareable captions
Being able to write a catchy caption is an art form. From questions to humor to fun facts, using captions effectively is a quick way to encourage activity on your posts and let your followers get to know you. Calls to action, emojis, and funny descriptions are all tried-and-tested caption options that can help you gain Instagram followers.
Engaging with your existing audience is crucial to getting more Instagram followers. Write a simple, open-ended question in a post; use a poll or question sticker to spark conversation in your Stories.
Remember that every comment is an opportunity to gain a new follower – or keep a current one – so respond to every comment you receive. Make your followers your friends, and it’ll be worth your while.
7. Post content that’s geared towards engagement
You not only need to write strong captions, but the content itself is equally important. Instagram is for viewing things, sure. But when people try to reach 1,000 followers, encouraging existing – and potential – fans to like, share, comment, and vote on things builds a sense of community, no matter how small the actual following might be.
Here are some different types of content and captions you can use to get more Instagram followers:
- Question-based posts
- Recommendation requests or tips
- Personal or funny stories
- Tag-a-friend posts
- AMA (ask me anything) posts
- Jump on a trend
- Post a 'before and after'
- Share behind-the-scenes material
- Host a contest
8. Optimize your imagery for Instagram
You wouldn’t try to play an old cassette tape on a PS4, so why would you post a photo on Instagram that just doesn’t look like it belongs there? You don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap top-tier photos, but you can’t just post random, blurry selfies. Well, you can, but that’s not how to get 1,000 Instagram followers!
Using professional cameras and editing software is perfect if you have the time and money, but your smartphone will do fine. Ultimately, you need to make memorable, striking content that aligns with your brand voice, as we mentioned earlier.
Think about things like symmetry, small details, different perspectives, negative space, and only focusing on one subject at a time. Lighting is also essential for quality content, and if that’s something you want to edit before uploading your content to Instagram, check out our guide to key lighting here.
9. Post consistently
A common theme among successful content creators and social media Jedis is that they post frequently. And, not to forget, at the right time. Use your Instagram Insights to determine when your audience is most likely to be active.
By posting the right content at the right time, you increase your chances of scoring engagement with your audience. Making a point to publish something every day makes a statement: it’s worth coming back for more!
It’s also a smart way to let your audience know you better. The more people engage with your post, the higher it appears in their feed. This helps to expand your reach, helping you get more Instagram followers.
By scheduling your content in advance, you can pinpoint holidays and generate buzz for upcoming events. A structured content calendar will also bring you peace of mind, since you don’t have to stress-post something random on days when inspiration is lacking.
The Instagram algorithm dictates the order of the posts that users see when they're scrolling through their feed. This is based on specific signals, and it prioritizes the best-performing posts, pushing the most relevant ones toward the top and giving them the most visibility. So, the more people interact with your content, the higher it will end up.
10. Experiment, test, and analyze your content
To determine what works among your audience – and what doesn't – it’s crucial to experiment with the content you post and analyze the results. If you don’t test your content, how will you know what works best?
It’s a good idea to set up a content strategy for these three Instagram features:
Your chances of discovery and engagement increase remarkably if you make a habit of using all of these features, and using them well. It's important you utilize all of them and test the content. Then, look at the metrics and find out which your top three – or even top five – posts are. This is your audience telling you what content they like best; if a certain type of content is performing poorly over a long time period, it's not worth doing in your followers' eyes.
On top of this, try to track weekly profile visits, assess follows from individual posts – analyzing this information will help you create content specifically for earning followers – and track bio link clicks. Any information you can gather is useful, as it helps build a clearer picture of what content to keep creating. Instagram Insights is a nifty tool to use to track these crucial metrics.
11. Get to the top search results
The jackpot for more exposure is the Instagram top search results. While the ins and outs of Instagram’s algorithm aren't set out in stone, there are a few ways to boost your chances of ending up there.
- Post at the time when most of your followers are online. If you have a business account, check your statistics to see when that is. If you don't have a business account, look at your posts to see which ones got the most engagement and make a note of the time you posted them. Notice a trend? If so, that's likely when most of your followers are online.
- Always create high-quality images that fit your niche.
- Use hashtags relevant to your niche. They shouldn't be too popular. The more popular they are, the harder it is to get to the top of the discover page.
- If your images include other people or brands, tag them. They then get the notification about your post, and there is a possibility that they will engage with or reshare it, too.
- It's always good to have relationships with the bigger accounts within your niche. If you don't have that, start interacting with them. When the accounts with a large number of followers engage with your content, then you get more chances to get to the top.
12. Learn how the Instagram algorithm works
To wrap your head around how Instagram's algorithm works, here’s a quick rundown of the three key factors:
- A creator’s relationship with their followers
- The relevance of the content
- How new the content is
This is by no means a complete summary, as the algorithm is a bit of a beast. In fact, calling it ‘the algorithm’ isn’t even 100% true – there’s so much going on under the hood, and it requires time and patience to figure it all out. If you want to learn how to get 1,000 Instagram followers, you need to understand what the Instagram algorithm is and how it works. Read our guide here.
13. Use video content
Video content generally receives 34% more interactions than static image content. That tells us that video content is something you’d want to at least include in your content strategy.
These days, you’ve got plenty of video options to choose from on Instagram. They include:
- Instagram Reels: Reels are short snippets of content up to 90 seconds, sort of like TikTok videos. They're a great way for creators to engage their audience.
- Instagram Stories: These are viewable for 24 hours, and can be either video or photo-based. If you choose video, then each of your Story posts can be up to 60 seconds long.
- Instagram Live: The best time to use Instagram Live is when you want to be more open and personal. It's an effective way to show your audience what's happening behind the scenes, and can stretch to four hours, which can benefit educational and 'how-to' content.
14. Educate people with your content!
People love to learn stuff. Using carousel posts to unpack a question, theory or process can pique viewers’ interest. In fact, carousel posts have the highest engagement rate across Instagram – they're intriguing! Use carousels to solve problems, educate people, or just make your viewers laugh with a fun ‘before and after’ post.
15. Stay informed on content and platform trends
Social media moves lightning fast. When TikTok came along and started ruffling feathers, Instagram responded with Reels. When Reels became widely available, Instagram’s various algorithms and processes started favoring Reels content more favorably than regular Stories and Feed posts – after all, it needed to convince people that Reels were worth using instead of migrating to TikTok.
For that reason, it’s important to keep up to date with platform and content trends. If a new feature is released on Instagram, it will likely receive an initial push, as Instagram wants these things to succeed. Likewise, users will be excited to try out these features, so if your content’s out there from day one, you have a better chance of picking up some more Instagram followers.
16. Don’t waste your time
If you want to know how to increase followers on Instagram and get to 1,000, you need to know (and grow!) your existing audience. Your first Instagram like is a milestone, and as those likes multiply, it can become difficult to separate truth from fiction.
Why does this matter? Well, it’s crucial your followers actually engage with you and your content. Not only does that show they’re into what you’re posting, it also bumps your posts higher up in the feed for more exposure.
Therefore, fake accounts aren't worth having in your followers. If these accounts do follow you, take time out to give your following a cleanse – perhaps once every week or month. Simply remove the fake accounts and bots that are following you. These accounts tell the algorithm that your content isn’t valuable, meaning it won’t get shown to as many people.
Fake accounts are usually obvious to discover purely based on their usernames, and you can also take a look at their feed to double-check. Fake accounts often have just a few post, and what's there is often pretty spammy.
Another thing to cut out of your schedule is the follow-unfollow game. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t focus too much on following and unfollowing other accounts just for the sake of it.
How to get 10,000 followers on Instagram
If you’ve already got those first 1,000 Instagram followers, you could take the next step and aim for 10,000. It’s no piece of cake, though. Just over 15% of users manage to get between 10,000 and 50,000 Instagram followers.
Getting 10,000 followers on Instagram is similar to getting your first 1,000 – you need to play the long game. Think about using evergreen content, and how often you can realistically repackage posts without them being spammy. How can you spice it up to offer something different to your existing followers, while reeling new people in?
It’s also worth switching up what kind of content you deliver on the road to 10,000 Instagram followers. You’ll need to hook more people than you ever have before, which is why you should consider broadening your scope. A healthy mixture of inspirational, aspirational, and educational content could open up your account to more viewers. And, of course, there’s no harm in just posting fun stuff – if it works for your account and brand, go for it!
Reaching 1,000 Instagram followers is an achievement. Reaching10,000 is something else entirely, so don’t be disheartened if you struggle to hit those numbers. There are so many other ways you can hustle on social media to make money, gain followers, and inspire people with your content – Instagram is one of many. Good luck!
If you want to learn about getting Instagram followers in a more visual format, check out our video with Epidemic Sound ambassador Laura Reid below.
Interested in more Instagram content? Check out our other blog posts and learn how to nail your content on the ‘gram.