How to Grow Your Instagram Following

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform. And now that it is owned by Facebook we can expect some changes to our beloved feeds (think, predicting what you want to see, hiding poor posts based on engagement, more ads). But these changes haven’t been confirmed so until we know exactly what Instagram plans to do we’ve put together this list of tried and true methods for how to grow your Instagram following.

A Good Photo Gets Likes, a Curated Feed Gets Followers

There are several ways to curate your Instagram feed but the thing to keep in mind is that there should be some sort of unifying theme. That could be a similar color, a similar photo composition or a “set of threes” layout where every photo is part of a series so your profile page has a uniform look.

More ideas? Okay:

  • Color – pick a color scheme that aligns with your brand or pick an Instagram color scheme for each season
  • Background – will all your photos have a white background? A textured one? Make sure this is something you can stick to before you commit!
  • Editing – find your favorite app and stick with it (we’re talking editing and apps later in this article)
  • Content – every photo features a hand, or are a collection of three things
  • Voice – how you speak to your followers. Instagram recently added the “read more” feature so you could come up with a consistent message to include before the break (at about 115 characters)

How does a curated feed help grow your Instagram following? Easy, first a user finds your photo via hashtags and double taps to like it. Then they may be curious to see what other content you publish so they visit your profile. They then get to decide if the photos they see in your feed are the kind they want to see in their feed when they log in (and most log in daily, multiple times a day if they’re a lady under 40).

Having content that followers enjoy and that they can expect from you will compel them to hit follow, not just like.

Editing is Your BFF

Whether you upload photos from your DSLR to your feed or if they’re all taken with your phone it is important to edit them. We’ll get into DSLR photo editing down the road (to summarize, get Lightroom) but today we’ll focus on phone editing apps.

Every blogger has their favorite but the five we hear about most often are VSCO Cam, Snapseed, ColorStory, Afterlight and Lightroom Mobile. Each has it’s own process but they will all allow you to improve your photos before posting.

Our favorite editing steps:

  • Make sure whites are crisp/brighten the photo
  • Increase blue tones
  • Sharpen the image

Filters are a matter of personal preference but our stance is they’re fine as long as you use them on EVERY photo! You don’t want some of your photos to look super edited and others to look more natural.

Get Found with Hashtags

Instagram users, and brands, are always looking for new content and many of them will find it via hashtags. The most popular hashtags on Instagram get used multiple times a second so you have to catch a new person instantly in order to potentially get a new follower.

What we recommend instead is a list of hashtags based on your photo’s content. Most of our bloggers keep a note on their phones that they can copy and paste into the first comment after a photo is posted. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags – at a minimum we recommend a sweet spot between 7 and 11.

So what hashtags should you be using? Here are some ideas:
#WCBCSTYLE #currentlywearing #ootd #wiwt #colorsplash #lookoftheday #whatiwore #fashionbook #instafashion #fashiondaily #streetstyle #styleblogger #abmstyle #matchesfashion #stilkolik #streetstyleluxe #realoutfitgram #stilkolik

#WCBCFIT #fitness #chicagofitness #workoutgear #workitgirl #workout #instafit #fitfluential #sweatcrew #sweatpink #classpass #nikewomen #fitnessblogger

#WCBCEATS #312food #chicagoeats #eeeeeats #chicagofoodauthority #foodgram #foodie #instafood #vscofood #forkyeah #yum #alwayshungry #buzzfeast #huffposttaste #likefoodchicago #myfab5 #dailyfoodfeed #foodbeast #chicagofoodmag #beautifulcuisines #BHGfood #foodandwine #fabfoodchicago #thrillist #feedfeed #food52 #yahoofood #eater #foodies#dishroulette

#WCBCBEAUTY #itcosmetics #dscolor #wakeupandmakeup #beauty #bbloggers #makeupmadeeasy #beautycommunity #makeupenthusiast #fotd #makeupaddict #beautyjunkie #chicagomakeup #beautyblogger #dressyourface

#butfirstcoffee #coffee #acupabove #vscocoffee #coffeevibes #coffeelover #coffeegram

General Lifestyle
#windycitybloggers #iamtheeverygirl #wandeleurspark #acolorstory #abmlifeiscolorful #flashesofdelight #bandofun #vsco #petitejoys #pursuepretty #livethelittlethings #stylemacarons #lovelysquares

Other Hashtags to Remember:

  • Use a brand’s hashtag (#anthropologie #mywestelm) so the brands can find your content and if it is high quality there is a chance they’ll share it on their feeds. Tagging brands is another way for your content to be discovered.
  • Emojis can be hashtags
  • Add other descriptors based on what is in the image (#flatlay #brunch #wineoclock)

Saving these in a note on your phone is super helpful but you kick it up a notch with iPhone Text Replacement! For your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > Text Replacement > Add New

Save a shortcut for each of your “Instagram themes” and one for general lifestyle hashtags then all you need to do for each upload is type those two shortcuts in and add a couple descriptions for that specific image.

So these tips all focus on how high quality content can help you grow your Instagram following but what is the most important tactic for how to grow your Instagram following?


Follow accounts that inspire you and have similar followings to your target audience and simply put, BE SOCIAL. Like their photos yes but more importantly leave thoughtful comments on their posts. Ask questions, share a similar story, compliment them with more than just a “love it” or an emoji comment.

Many times those users will reply to your comments and other users on Instagram will see that you’ve engaged in a conversation and will check out who you are! And, if they find a feed that inspires them – boom, new follower!

Now, keeping those followers is important. Here are our tips for maintaining your Instagram following:

  • Be Consistent – post at least once a day around a similar time
  • Respond to Comments – and be thoughtful
  • Identify Super Fans – do you have someone who always likes your photos or leaves a thoughtful comment? Shout out to them and acknowledge that they’re a super fan! If you’ve got something to sell, send them a private message with a discount code. They’ll feel appreciated and chances are they’ll continue to show the love.