How to Get Instagram Followers Without Following Others

default image

Instagram app icon

In today‘s social media landscape, Instagram followers equal influence. Whether you‘re an influencer, business, or personal brand, gaining a large and engaged following on Instagram is key to expanding your reach.

However, many users fall into the trap of using follow/unfollow or follow-for-follow techniques to grow their audiences quickly. While these tactics may work in the short-term, they can damage your account‘s credibility and get you shadowbanned by Instagram.

The good news is that there are safer, more effective ways to get Instagram followers without resorting to shady growth hacking strategies. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore 10 legit methods for gaining real, targeted followers on Instagram without following others.

Why Instagram Followers Matter

Let‘s start by understanding why building your Instagram following should be a priority:

  • Reach more people. Every follower is a new person exposed to your brand and content. More eyes on your profile means more website traffic, engagement, and sales.

  • Improve credibility. Accounts with higher followings tend to be perceived as more popular, influential, and trustworthy.

  • Grow branded hashtag usage. Your followers will engage with and share branded hashtags, expanding their reach.

  • Attract collaborations. Influencers and brands look for accounts with engaged followings to partner with.

  • Monetize your influence. A large, targeted following enables you to earn money through sponsorships, affiliates, etc.

But buying followers or using shady tactics won‘t get you real results. Let‘s look at better ways to grow your reach the right way.

Dangers of Follow/Unfollow and Follow-for-Follow

Before we dive into the good methods, it‘s important to understand why you should avoid follow/unfollow or follow-for-follow strategies:

  • You attract the wrong followers. Those who follow back or follow-for-follow are often bots, inactive users, or non-target audiences.

  • Your engagement rate tanks. Your content reaches followers less interested in your brand, lowering likes and comments.

  • You risk being shadowbanned. Instagram cracks down on accounts using these tactics by restricting reach and visibility.

  • It‘s time-consuming. Having to constantly follow and unfollow users is extremely labor-intensive.

  • You hit Instagram‘s follow limits. Accounts can only follow/unfollow a certain number of users per hour.

Now let‘s explore smarter ways to get Instagram followers the right way!

1. Improve Your Visual Branding

The first step is optimizing your visual branding. A cohesive, appealing aesthetic ensures every post catches the eye and looks instantly recognizable as your brand.

Some branding tactics to try:

  • Pick a visual theme – Filter, color scheme, etc. Apply to all photos consistently.

  • Add branded elements – Logo, graphics, overlays, frames, etc. Make them appear in all posts.

  • Maintain ideal brightness/contrast – Don‘t let images be too dark or blurry.

  • Use high-quality photos/video – Invest in professional equipment if possible.

  • Credit creators – Photographer tags build goodwill and expand reach.

Remember, Instagram is a visual platform, so strong branding is key to making your content stand out in the feed.

2. Research and Use Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are essential for discovery on Instagram. Followers can find your posts by browsing related hashtags and vice versa.

But simply cramming in popular tags won‘t cut it. You need a researched strategy:

  • Find niche hashtags – Search for targeted tags in your industry with moderate usage. Avoid huge, generic ones.

  • Use a mix of reach and specificity – Combine niche tags with a few general ones where appropriate.

  • Check related hashtags – Instagram suggests similar ones – great for finding new options.

  • Rotate hashtags – Use different relevant tags for each post to reach new users.

  • Put tags in captions and comments – Both areas count for discovery.

  • Monitor performance – See which hashtags drive the most followers and double down on those.

With this hashtag strategy, you can continually put your content in front of new, targeted audiences.

3. Engage With Your Target Audience

Once you‘ve used hashtags to get your posts in front of your ideal audience, the next step is engaging with them. Here are some ways to connect:

  • Like and comment on their posts – Become part of their community, not just expecting follows.

  • Respond to all comments – Answer questions, acknowledge compliments, etc.

  • Check follower lists of competitors – Engage with those who follow similar accounts.

  • Host giveaways/contests – Incentivize target users to follow you to enter and spread the word.

  • Send targeted DMs – Message users who engage with you appreciating them.

Remember that Instagram is a social network – you have to be social! Connect authentically with others in your niche.

4. Post Consistently and at Optimal Times

You can have the most beautiful branding and engagement strategy, but it won‘t matter if you don‘t post consistently.

Follow this advice for optimal feed presence:

  • Post 1-3 times per day – Posting frequency depends on your niche, but 1-3 times daily is a solid goal.

  • Maintain a predictable schedule – Your audience will remember when to check for new content.

  • Use Instagram Insights to find your top hours – When your followers are most active and likely to engage.

  • Schedule posts in advance – Use tools like Hootsuite to queue content for optimal times.

  • Don‘t let engagement discourage you – Focus on consistency regardless of likes and comments.

With regular posting optimized around your audience‘s habits, you‘ll maximize the eyes on your brand.

5. Go Live and Use Stories

Instagram Stories and Live give you yet another way to get in front of potential new followers.

To use them effectively:

  • Go Live consistently – At least once per week, ideally when your audience is active.

  • Tease Live streams in Feed posts – Drive viewers by promoting upcoming broadcasts.

  • Engage with viewers during Live – Answer questions, give shoutouts, etc.

  • Post 3-5 Stories per day – Show quick behind-the-scenes, announcements, etc.

  • Use interactive Stickers – Encourage viewers to engage with polls, Q&As, etc.

  • Link to your bio – Make it easy for interested viewers to follow you.

Live video and Stories give followers a unique, raw look at your brand on Instagram.

6. Collaborate With Micro-Influencers

Collaborating with micro-influencers in your niche is a great way to get exposure to their engaged, targeted audiences.

Some effective collaboration tactics:

  • Find micro-influencers in your industry – Look for accounts with 5K-100K very engaged followers.

  • Offer value to potential partners – Give them discounts, free products, cross-promotion, etc.

  • Do giveaways on their account – Incentivize their audience to follow you to enter.

  • Guest post on each other‘s accounts – Showcase each other‘s products/services.

  • Ask micro-influencers for a follow/post shoutout – Most will oblige in return for value.

Even a small boost from the right influencer can lead to long-term, loyal followers.

7. Promote Your Account Off Instagram

Don‘t forget that you can drive Instagram followers by promoting your account elsewhere:

  • Link Instagram on your website/blog – Have a "Follow on Instagram" call-to-action.

  • Promote it in your email newsletters – Dedicate a section driving readers to your Instagram.

  • Link Instagram in your YouTube descriptions – If you have a YouTube channel.

  • Promote Instagram on other social accounts – Like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc.

  • Add an Instagram link in your email signature – Include your handle in all outbound emails.

  • Add an Instagram handle on business cards – Print social media links on any physical materials.

These cross-promotions get your Instagram in front of qualified audiences primed to follow you.

8. Run Targeted Instagram Ads

You can quickly scale up your Instagram follower growth through targeted Instagram Story and Feed ads. Some tips:

  • Target ideal demographics/interests – Ex: Your city, females 20-30 interested in yoga.

  • Use attractive visuals/video – Showcase your best branded content.

  • Keep text simple and clear – Communicate your value proposition concisely.

  • Drive to a strong call-to-action – "Follow @YourHandle" or to your link in bio.

  • Retarget engaged visitors – Remarket to users who visited your profile or website.

  • Monitor and optimize performance – Double down on best performing targets.

Instagram ads offer highly customizable targeting and precise measurement.

9. Post User-Generated Content

User-generated content from happy customers, clients, and fans is hugely influential for new followers.

Some ways to gain and share UGC:

  • Run regular UGC campaigns – Ex: "Share pics of how you use our product for a repost!"

  • Repost great organic content – Keep tags and always ask permission first.

  • Use UGC in ads – More authentic than branded photos.

  • Give shoutouts to UGC posters – Tag them in your reposts. People love the exposure.

  • Showcase a variety of creators – Don‘t just repost one power user over and over.

When done right, UGC makes your brand feel more trusted, customer-centric, and communal.

10. Stay Patient and Persistent

At the end of the day, organically growing your Instagram following takes time and commitment. But it‘s worth it.

Here are some final tips for keeping up momentum:

  • Commit to regular posting – Consistency compounds over time.

  • Have reasonable expectations – Steady growth of 10-20% MoM is good.

  • Don‘t get discouraged by low early engagement – Focus on building your community.

  • Analyze your metrics – Use Instagram Insights to inform your strategy.

  • Learn and optimize as you go – Continually refine what works.

If you stay focused, keep experimenting, and use the right growth tactics, your Instagram followers will gradually but steadily grow.

So be patient, stick with it, and use these tips to build your audience the right way – no shady follows or bots! What growth tactics have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.