Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by Jason
Instagram is losing no traction in being the top platform for social-media based marketing— doesn’t matter your niche, you have access to huge levels of your target audience via Instagram, as most people use Instagram to discover new brands, businesses, and creative content that interests them.
In order to perform well on Instagram and drive marketing and business results, however, you’ve got to have a large following. While the best method on how to gain more followers has been heavily debated over the years, one of the most common strategies is follow/unfollow.
In this guide, we’ll talk about a few key things, and after reading, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:
- What is follow/unfollow on Instagram?
- Why is follow/unfollow a bad Instagram growth strategy?
- How can I grow my Instagram without following other users?
There are many better ways to gain Instagram followers than to use the follow/unfollow technique of the past, and through this guide you’ll get access to all of the step-by-step ways you can keep your Instagram followers growth around the clock through much more effective strategy implementation.
We’ve got the top 8 ways to get more Instagram followers without polluting your feed with a bunch of other users’ content through follow/unfollow. Let’s get started!
What is Follow/Unfollow on Instagram?
When you hear people refer to follow/unfollow on Instagram, it means that you are trying to generate interest in your profile through following other accounts, hoping for a follow back.
While getting yourself in the notifications of other users on Instagram is a good way to boost your profile’s visibility, follow/unfollow may not be the most effective way to do so. This method was popular for a while, but slowly people started to realize that it wasn’t doing much good.
In fact, it was actually doing more harm than good for a number of reasons.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why follow/unfollow has become an Instagram growth strategy of the past. If you’re still using this strategy, keep your eyes on this guide, as you’ll be very interested to see all of these strategies that can help you much more.
Why Follow/Unfollow is ineffective
Let’s use one of the top followed Instagram accounts on the platform to illustrate why follow/unfollow doesn’t work. Of course, most of the top followed accounts on Instagram are mega-celebrities, so we get that they don’t have the need to look for followers like the rest of us normal people do, but just for illustration’s sake.
Take Kylie Jenner for example; Kylie Jenner is the 5th most followed account on Instagram with a whopping 202 million followers. How many users is Kylie Jenner following? Only 160. That’s right— Kylie Jenner isn’t even following 1% of the amount of users that she has on Instagram; not even 0.5%!
Of course none of us are Kylie Jenner, and that’s fine. But we need a sustainable strategy that can help us to gain more followers consistently, and that’s exactly what we have for you in the following section.
Before we get into that though, let’s take a look at why follow/unfollow can hurt your account. Instagram has changed its algorithm in order to favor the true reflection of popularity— engagement. This means that the accounts that have the most engagements are the ones that rank higher against the algorithm and are going to get more natural discoverability.
Of course follower count is important so that users can consistently view your content, but if you don’t have high levels of engagement that balance out your follower ratio, you won’t perform well.
When you follow a lot of people, your ratio of followers to followed accounts also gets messed up; you shouldn’t be following more accounts than the number that follows you. This means that if you have 5k followers, you should be following less than 5k so that your account looks credible and naturally popular.
Let’s say you have 5k followers, but are following 8k people; this looks messy and also appears that you are spamming accounts in order to try and get them to follow you. This appearance is unfavorable, and when people see you appear as a new follower, they’ll notice this. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a follow back.
Not only that, you’ll have all of these people in your feed that you don’t know, which means your news feed is going to be weighed down with a bunch of random content that you probably don’t need to be seeing.
Let’s take a look at the more effective ways to grow Instagram followers without following so that you can avoid these problems.
8 Strategies to Grow your Instagram followers without Following Other Users
Here are the top proven ways to gain more Instagram followers without following. Enjoy!
Use a Manual Growth Service
Instagram automation is so 3 years ago, and now, you can have an optimized Instagram growth service that keeps your account growing at all times, without you having to do anything. That service is Growthoid, and they’ve changed up the Instagram follower growth game.
When you are a Growthoid client, you’ll have fully-managed, manual Instagram follower engagements done on the behalf of your dedicated account manager. You provide your targets to your account manager so they can engage with the right user base, and voila, you’ll generate more reach and interest in your profile, which leads to follower growth.
Growthoid uses only manual engagements, and they don’t employ follow/unfollow, so you can still get the benefits of engaging with new users without the problems that follow/unfollow creates.
The service that Growthoid provides is top notch, with expert account managers and responsive support teams. They have affordable monthly options, so you can save your own personal time and your marketing budget through using their service.
Pro Tip: Double the reach that you get from Growthoid by also using hashtags on your content. We’ll talk more about hashtag strategy below.
Optimize your Profile for Discoverability
Your main profile page is going to be the first thing that users see when they land on your account, so you want to make sure that it’s optimized for gaining followers with a complete and well-rounded, credible appearance.
If you don’t have a solid profile page, users are probably not going to follow you. Here are some things you should make sure to solidify on your main page:
- Profile picture: Make sure your profile picture identifies your brand, business, or content immediately, and make sure it’s professional.
- Username and Bio: Your username should also reflect your brand identity and be easy to remember. Your bio should clearly state information that’s necessary or attractive to the user so that they know what you’re all about.
- Link in Bio: If you have any external links that are important to your content, make sure you put it here, as this is the only place for clickable links on Instagram.
- Instagram Story Highlights: You can use previously posted stories to create albums below your Instagram Bio. Do this, and use album covers that reflect your brand and add to your profile’s aesthetic.
Pro Tip: Make sure your account is set up as a business or creator account so that you can have access to additional contact features available, as well as access to Instagram insights.
Create Unique and Attractive Content
Content is the meat and potatoes of Instagram, so if you don’t have attractive content that provides value to users in your niche, you’re not likely to grow your followers no matter which strategy you use.
If you use Growthoid, you can save time by reaching new people through their service and use that time you save in order to focus on your content creation. When you post content that your user base wants to see, you’re most likely to gain more followers. We’ll talk more about that in another section.
Use professional equipment if you can to shoot your content, and edit it so that it fits with your Instagram aesthetic. Try to shoot all of your content in one day so that you can plan it out over the week and stay connected to your content pillars.
Pro Tip: Use captions to tell your users more about your content and give insight into who you are as a brand, business, influencer, or creator. Make your messages clear and understandable.
Know your Best Posting Times and Create a Schedule
Do research into when your content gets the most traffic, and use Instagram insights or a third-party analytics tool to understand your account performance.
Create a posting schedule, and stick to it. When you have a good amount of content posted on a regular basis, your followers will be looking for your content. You’ll get more engagement, and therefore perform better against the algorithm, expanding your natural reach.
Pro Tip: You can use a scheduling tool like Later, which helps you not only to schedule your posts but can also auto-post single photo and video content as well as let you see all your content visually before going live.
Cross-Promote your Instagram Account
Social Media users have active accounts across an average of 8 different networks, so using your other social media accounts to promote and link back to your Instagram is a big driver to gain new followers who are already interested in you.
If you send out email communications or newsletters, always include a link to your Instagram. Also, if you have an external website, make sure your Instagram is linked to your website so that you can funnel traffic from there as well.
Pro Tip: TikTok is one of the biggest social media networks these days, so cross-promoting your Instagram from your TikTok is a good way to raise interest. If you use YouTube, you can also promote your Instagram at the end of your videos.
Listen and Learn about your Target Audience
If you don’t know about your Instagram followers and target audience, you’ll have a hard time creating content that they’ll be interested in and enjoy. You need to use listening strategies to understand what your target audience wants so that you can deliver.
Look at other influencers and competing accounts in your niche to see what kind of content they’re putting out. Also check out relevant hashtags so you can see what content appears under them.
You can also use a tool like Sprout Social that offers listening engagements, but you don’t necessarily need a third party— look at your own Instagram insights and see which posts perform better and get more engagements. It’s likely that’s the content your target audience really enjoys.
Pro Tip: You can ask your followers for feedback directly via Instagram stories— it’s a great way to gain engagement and get direct insight
Optimize Your Hashtag Strategy
Hashtags are the main way to get your content discovered on Instagram, so you should always use hashtags on your posts. While it’s debated how many hashtags is the right number, you can use up to 30, but the magic number usually falls between 3-11.
Observe your competitors and see what they’re doing. You can also use a hashtag generation tool, or check out hashtag feeds and see what other hashtags are on those posts.
Pro tip: Stay away from overly general hashtags like #instagood, #love, #nature, etc.; these hashtags are overused and will push your content down the hashtag feed too fast to get anyone to see them. Use niche-specific hashtags that your target audience is likely to follow or check out.
Engage Users on Instagram Stories
Instagram stories is the top feature on Instagram, adding about 28 minutes on average to the time that users spend on Instagram.
When you are active on Instagram stories, you show your audience that you are engaged and available, building a bond or connection. You can also boost engagement through polls and other interactive features that are only available on Instagram stories.
Pro Tip: When you have an active Instagram story, a colored ring will appear around your profile photo. New users will see that immediately when they visit your account, increasing the chances of them considering you an engaged Instagram presence. They will check that out and be more likely to follow you and view your content.
Top-rated Growth Tools for Instagram
As you can see, there are plenty of viable ways to infuse your Instagram with long-term strategies that far outweigh the simple follow/unfollow, gaining you more Instagram followers without following as well as increasing your overall performance on the platform.
When you use a service like Growthoid alongside all of these strategies, you’re likely to see exponential Instagram follower growth, giving you the competitive edge you need to make your Instagram marketing strategies work!