How To Grow Your Instagram Account In 2021

how to grow your Instagram account organically and strategically
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How To Grow Your Instagram Account In 2021

This post contains affiliate links.  If you use my links to make a purchase, I may receive a commission.  Thank you for supporting the free content on Next Level Blogging!

It’s no secret that Instagram is quickly becoming the favorite social media choice for bloggers of all niches to find and connect with their audience.  If you’re ready to learn how to grow your Instagram strategically and organically, then you’re going to love this guest post from Natasha Funderburk! 

With over 10K Instagram followers of her own, it’s obvious she knows her stuff.  In this post, she graciously shares what she’s learned about the best ways to grow your Instagram account.  Be sure to show her some love by leaving a comment and sharing this post. 


How To Grow Your Instagram Account

If you don’t have an Instagram account, then you’re missing out.

With over 1 billion users on the ‘gram, IG has officially become one of the leading social media platforms there is.  And, with its growing popularity, Instagram has become one of the major online marketing hubs used for brand growth.

But, getting yourself noticed on Instagram is sometimes easier said than done. With an algorithm that is frequently changing, users often find it difficult to authentically grow their Instagram following and ultimately grow their personal or professional brand. With a newsfeed that is no longer chronological, it’s more important now than ever for users to find meaningful ways to connect with their current and potential followers, in ways that will ensure post visibility and account growth.

While the changing algorithm causes the occasional headaches, it’s definitely possible to find your way around them and still grow a successful account.  I’m sharing my best tips and advice for how to grow your Instagram account strategically and organically!

1. Post Quality Content

This may seem like a no-brainer, but content is key.

One of the biggest ways you can ensure that your account stands out is to post compelling content on a consistent basis.  Being an authority in your field and posting valuable content that your audience will find useful is a surefire way to keep your followers coming back time and time again.

Related Post:  How To Write An Epic Blog Post

2. Get Personal With Your Audience

Another tip? Don’t be afraid to get personal and share posts about something other than your blog or niche.  Switch it up.

Some of the best salespeople are those who can sell without selling.  Instead, focus on making a connection with your audience, let them get to know you a little bit.  If they’re able to feel a personal connection with you, they’ll be that much more likely to stick around.

3. Plan Your Content

One of the most helpful pieces of advice I can give when it comes to your Instagram content is to plan it in advance.  I like to sit down every Sunday and create a social media content schedule for the upcoming week for all of my social media platforms.

Use the Tailwind scheduling tool to automatically drip your Instagram posts at the optimal times for your audience.  Click here to try Tailwind for Instagram free for 30 days.

Instagram Strategies | How To Use Instagram | Instagram Marketing Strategies | Tailwind for Instagram lets you schedule your content to post automatically when your audience is most engaged. Using Tailwind will skyrocket your growth on Instagram and get you more website traffic. Click thru the pin to read about typical results of Tailwind users on Instagram. #instagram #instagrammarketing #instagramtips #tailwind #tailwindforInstagram #afflink

4. Share Instagram-Exclusive Content

If you’re really trying to focus on growing your Instagram, be sure to post exclusive content not found on your other social media platforms.

Give your followers from Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest a reason to want to follow you on Instagram too.  Post exclusive content that they won’t be able to find anywhere else.

5. Ask Your Audience For Input

Strike up a conversation with your audience and ask questions.

  • What times of day are they on Instagram?
  • What type of content would they like to see?
  • What would they like to learn?

Figure out what they want from you and do your best to fulfill those requests.  Just be sure that you’re staying true to your brand identity.

6. Figure Out Your Best Time To Post

Now that you have this stellar content all planned out, it’s time to figure out when you should be posting it.  Finding your optimal posting time does take a little research, so put on your detective hat and get ready to work.

Use Your Analytics

If your Instagram account is set to a business profile, you have a ton of analytics and insights all at your fingertips.  You just need to take some time and figure out what they mean.

You can see a breakdown in your analytics as to:

  • how many of your followers are men vs women
  • the typical age range of your followers
  • the top cities of where they’re from/of who views your account
  • the time for each day that your followers are the most active on Instagram
  • The behavior of your followers


I recommend taking your research a little further.

Just because your followers may be on the ‘gram and active at a specific time, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll see your post once it goes live, because of the algorithm and timeline change.

Instead, start posting different types of content at different times on different days.  Then, take notes on your engagement and what you notice.

Test & Track Results

For example, maybe you’ll post a video on Monday morning at 8 am, and compare it to a video you post Wednesday evening at 6 pm.    See which post had the most views and engagement overall.

You can do this same thing with regular posts, with your stories, etc.  Did a video post at 8 am on Monday get more engagement than a photo post the following Monday at 8 am?

Start paying attention to what gets more attention from your account.  Then you can start planning to include more of that type of content in your weekly schedule.

7. Post During “Off Hours”

I also recommend posting during off-hours.  What does this mean, exactly?

Post during hours where your followers actually aren’t on the ‘gram.

I like to make my posts first thing in the morning – usually between 5am and 7am.  For some reason, those posts get the most traction from my followers and from hashtag use.  This results in my posts being seen on my followers’ timelines more frequently throughout the day.

8. Research Hashtags

Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post – so utilize that!

Spend time researching hashtags relevant to your niche and the content you’ll be posting, and – most importantly – switch them up.

I like to keep notes in my phone of 30 grouped hashtags that are related to the type of content I post about.  Then I use those hashtags on different days.

So, if I post something on Sunday, I’m not going to use the same 30 hashtags I used on Sunday when I post on Monday.  Instead, I might use that same grouping later in the week when I post.

If you continue to use the same hashtags over and over again, Instagram may actually penalize you and your content will end up getting lost in virtual space.

Try to break up your 30 hashtags according to hashtag use.  If a particular hashtag has over a million posts associated with it, you’ll also want to find hashtags with smaller numbers.  That way you’re more likely to show up on the Explore page and not get lost among thousands of recent posts.

When doing your hashtag research, don’t forget to be on the lookout for banned or broken hashtags you may want to avoid.

9. Keep Your Account Personal Until You Reach Over 10k Followers

I always advise people to keep their accounts set to a personal account until they hit that 10k mark.

There’s not really any big benefit (besides the analytics) for switching to a business page.  In fact, oftentimes you’ll find your engagement rates are better when your account is set to personal.

If you can deal with not accessing analytics for a little while longer, hang on to that personal account as long as you can.


If you're looking for the best ways to uplevel your Instagram, check out this guest post by Natasha Funderburk! With over 10K followers on Instagram, she shares her strategies so you can grow your Instagram account organically. 13 Instagram marketing tips you need to try. #instagram #instagramstrategy #instagramtips #blog #bloggers #microinfluencers #socialmediamarketing #socialmedia #bloggingtips #blogtraffic

10. Engage, Engage, Engage

Don’t just engage with the people who like or comment on your photos, either.  Be sure to engage with other accounts as well.

Before creating a new Instagram post, spend the 30 minutes prior engaging with people who recently used some of the same hashtags you’ll be using in your post.  Then spend 30 minutes after your post goes live doing the same thing.

Ask questions, and strike up a conversation.  Do the same thing with people who engage with your account.  Go to their page and like/comment on their recent photos.

Just make sure you’re coming across as genuine and avoid any spam-like behavior.

Related Post:  How To Write Engaging Blog Content – 3 Proven Strategies

Methods to Quickly Grow Your Following

So you’ve been doing everything right but you still feel like your account is growing at a snail’s pace?

There are a few other methods you can try for fast short-term growth.  Just keep in mind that some of these can come across as spammy so use them with care.

While you’ve probably heard of the infamous Follow/Unfollow method, it’s definitely not one that I recommend trying.  Not only is it disingenuous, but it’s not worth the time and effort that goes into it.

Rather, try some of these methods instead:

11. Comment/Like Pods

Join like/comment pods to help keep engagement levels high.  Like/Comment Pods are groups of Instagram users in a similar niche that agree to like and comment on each other’s latest posts.

This helps “trick” Instagram into seeing how important your posts are, based on the amount of likes and comments they get soon after being posted.  One word of caution, though – Make sure you join a group that’s committed to making genuine comments, not just emojis or anything else that would look like a bot or spam.

12. Giveaway Groups

Find a group of bloggers or professionals in your niche that are interested in teaming up for a giveaway.   Usually, you’ll all decide on a big prize, then everyone pays a fee toward that final prize.

To enter the giveaway, people typically have to follow all the accounts in the giveaway group.

This is a great way to get new eyes on your account.  Plus, you’ll gain anywhere from fifty to hundreds, or even thousands, of new followers.

Just keep in mind that after the giveaway ends, some people will unfollow.

13. Utilize Stories + Shoutouts (hashtags and geotags)

Participate in Story Shoutouts with other accounts as often as you can.   Just find people in a similar niche as yours and agree to give each other a shoutout through stories.

Story Shoutouts are a great way to get more – and new – eyes on your account.  It’s also great for building relationships with other people in your niche, which could lead to further collaborations down the road.

Be sure to utilize geo-tags and hashtags in your stories (IG allows up to 10 hashtags in stories).

Bonus Tip

It’s easier said than done sometimes, but don’t get caught up in the numbers.  Growing an Instagram account takes time.

I would much rather have a smaller number of engaged followers, than a huge number of followers that don’t care about my content or aren’t interested in forming a great social media relationship with me.

Plus, big brands are starting to see the value in micro-influencers and are partnering with them more now, than ever!  Never feel like your account is “too small” to reach out to a brand and make that first pitch.

You can find more advice and tips on how to land that first dream collaboration here!

Related Post:  10 Easy Ways To Monetize Your Blog


Keep in mind, while all of these methods are great for growing your account, nothing works better than good old trial and error.

The amazing thing about Instagram is that no two accounts are alike (even if it does seem like it sometimes).  What works for one account may not work for yours.  It really all depends on your niche and your target demographic.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, or even take it a step further and ask your audience questions about their IG use.

Just whatever you do – avoid any activity that could come across spammy.

Don’t participate in mass follow/unfollow, or utilize third party apps to auto comment or respond to activity within your account.  Doing so comes across as less than genuine, plus it’s a great way to land your account in Instagram jail.

Now that you how to grow your Instagram account strategically and organically…

Be cool, be yourself, and have fun with your posts.

Spread The Love & Pin This Post!

If you want to learn how to grow your Instagram account, this post gives you 13 Instagram tips for growing your account strategically + organically! Natasha Funderburk shares her best Instagram strategies, used to grow her account to over 10K followers. Her Instagram marketing strategies can help you do the same. #Instagrammarketing #instagramstrategies #instagramtips #instadaily

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46 thoughts on “How To Grow Your Instagram Account In 2021”

    1. I can’t say with absolute certainty that you’d see anything change, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. You can always switch back to a business profile anytime you want, so it may be worth switching to a personal and seeing if you notice anything different after a couple weeks? If you do – let me know what you find!

  1. I’ve got over 10k on Instagram myself and I have utilized many of these same strategies to get there. The one I need to practice more is sharing something outside of my niche- it’s a good way to expand your reach

  2. alexandra cook

    this is really helpful, I got a lot of information that can help me a lot.

  3. Great post. Thanks for NOT recommending follow/unfollow. Instagram has been leaving a bad taste in my mouth because of too many people trying to get that shiny number of followers lately. I love Instagram for a lot of its features and easy connection to others. If everyone would stop focusing on their number of followers and rather the quality of their followers and authentic engagement it would be such a better place to hangout!

    1. I agree with everything you just said, and follow/unfollow drives me bonkers! I’ve started calling out a few accounts that continue to follow and unfollow me. Like come on. This is ridiculous!

  4. The key to IG is def. what you said above. Great job. I have found generally it harder to grow recently due to all the drama with IG. Most the time they are not showing our audience our content.

    1. I do agree with that. I sometimes get caught in this whole conspiracy-mindset where I feel like because my account is set to a business profile, IG purposely hides my content in an effort to get me to pay for ads and more views. Haha Another reason why I say wait to switch your profile! lol

  5. Lavern Moore

    This is a great approach to instagram. Tons of people will find this useful indeed!

  6. Great tips… Attracting new followers is such a struggle for me! The growth is very slow and just like you said, takes a lot of effort.

    1. It does but I’ve found that the more I have fun with it, the easier it is! Sometimes that’s hard to remember when we’re trying to build a business but just have fun with it when you can! Good luck!

    1. Ahh sometimes that 10k mark feels like it takes forever!!! Yes give some a try and let me know what you find works best for your account! Good luck, Kathy! You’ll get over that 10k hump in no time!!!

    1. You’ll have to try it and let me know what you find! Good luck and thanks for reading!! xo

  7. twinspirational

    This is such an interesting read..  Number 12 is such a great idea, I agree it was the best thing to do.

    1. Have you participated in a lot of giveaways?! I agree they’re so fun. It’s always nice to be able to gift your followers with something special, and if you can grow while doing so? Bonus! 😉

  8. Thanks for the post! So many great tips! I just started an Instagram page for my blog and I’m struggling with how to grow the page. I’m going to join a like/comment pod and set a posting schedule like you mentioned! Do you have any suggestions on pods? My account is travel based.

    Xx Jess

    1. If you do join a comment/like pod I’d say try and find one made up of other travel bloggers, especially ones you’d be interested in following anyway! Pods can be tricky – you don’t want to run the risk of being too spammy, or having IG view you as spammy, but you can also develop some really great relationships with pod members. If you find a pod of members you’d follow anyway, that helps the interaction be more genuine all across the board – and will help you avoid looking spammy or botty in IG’s eyes!

  9. My biggest concern is always getting personal. It’s like I want to use IG for business purposes but I know the most successful accounts have some amount of personal information. I guess I have to bite the bullet.

    1. It is a fine line for sure. I’d say just share what you’re comfortable with. You can definitely get personal without getting TOO personal, ya know? Only share the stuff you’re okay with your audience seeing!

  10. This is such a helpful post! Growing Instagram can sometimes be so difficult so thank you!

  11. This a great post Natasha! A lot of great tips especially for those just getting started with Instagram.

    As you know, I am not active on Instagram right now. I created an account for Next Level Blogging but wasn’t sure of how to promote my blog effectively.

    Do you think Instagram is a relevant platform for me?

    Since my blog is more business tips related, do you have any suggestions for the type of content/images would work best?

    After reading your post, I’m considering maybe creating a personal account and using it to offer a more personal approach and “behind-the-scenes” approach.

    The thought of taking on another platform though gives me anxiety – it’s so time consuming!! (It may be time to start delegating!! Lol)

    1. Hey Angel! Thank you so much! YES I do think IG would be a great platform for Next Level Blogging, especially because there are so many new bloggers entering this world and they’re always looking for amazing resources on how to be successful! I would do a mix of content and see what you feel appeals best to your audience. You could do photos with words – sharing tips for bloggers, you could do behind the scenes photos in your office, share stories of how you first got started, you could highlight other bloggers you know and do spotlight posts on how they’ve found success in blogging, etc. Don’t let it overwhelm you – although I definitely know that feeling! Haha! Start off slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You can build your content calendar as you go! Good luck!

      1. Thanks for the suggestions! I may just start off slow like you suggested and see how it goes. Officially on the to-do list!

  12. I only have Instagram for personal use, I haven’t put up anything blog related, yet. Great tips and something to think about. I like the tip on engaging with people using the same hashtags. That’s a good one. This post has inspired me:)

    1. Hey Jenny! Thanks for reading! Sometimes I miss my personal IG..haha! Things were way more simple back in those days! But I’m glad you found some inso with this post! Good luck if you do start using your IG for your blog!

  13. You have written some great advice. I’ve recently switched my Instagram from a personal account to my blog account. I’ve always wanted great engagement on Instagram, and after reading your post I might be able to get there. Thank you!

    1. Aw yay! You can for sure get there! Feel free to leave your IG handle and I’ll be sure to follow you!!

  14. Such great ideas. I had to share it with myself. Many of these tips I have to try and then others I need to do more often. Scheduling posts is one thing that I really need to do. I have heard great things about it.

    1. Thanks, Serena! It’s all about finding your own rhythm and what works for your account! I definitely think scheduling posts help. I use both Planoly and Later for my business accounts, and also Trello for scheduling pins on Pinterest! Once I got the hang of them they’ve helped me be more efficient for sure!

  15. Thank you so much for posting! These tips have helped me grow my account from the ground up, and I hope they help others find success with their IG pages as well!

    1. Hey Chris! Thanks for reading! I definitely feel you. It seems like IG changes ALL the time, but I think sometimes when we stop stressing and just get back to the basics and having fun with it – it definitely helps! I hope you find some of these tips and tricks help you grow your following! Feel free to leave your handle – I’d love to check out your IG page!

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