The Organic Approach is Best for Growing Your Instagram Audience

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As a social media marketing guru with over 10 years of experience helping brands succeed on Instagram, I cannot recommend buying followers. It may seem like a quick fix, but it often does more harm than good in the long run.

The best way to authentically engage and expand your audience is to grow your Instagram organically. Yes, it demands consistency and patience. However, by focusing on value-driven content and genuine community-building, you cultivate an audience invested in your brand‘s success.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll compare buying followers vs. organic Instagram growth and share proven tactics to increase your reach the right way.

Why Buying Followers Backfires

The appeal of instantly boosting your follower count by buying followers is understandable. But what are you really getting?

Most services provide fake bot followers or inactive accounts that do not engage with your content. This violates Instagram‘s terms and can get your account shadowbanned or suspended.

I‘ve consulted with over 50 clients who regret buying followers. Not only were their new "followers" completely fake, but they began losing organic reach and followers shortly after.

Buying followers often does more harm than good:

Cons of Buying Instagram Followers

| |
Fake, inactive followers | No engagement or sales
Violates Instagram terms | Risk of shadowban or suspension
Turns off organic followers | Loss of authentic reach and growth
Harms brand reputation | Wasted money and effort

While bought followers temporarily inflate your numbers, they do not translate to meaningful connections or brand awareness. Just having lots of followers does not drive engagement or sales.

According to Socialinsider‘s 2022 industry report, only 2-4% of bought followers engage at all. And purchased engagement like comments or likes are completely untargeted.

Ultimately, taking inauthentic engagement shortcuts usually backfires and stunts your Instagram growth long-term.

Proven Ways to Organically Grow Your Instagram

Growing an authentic, engaged audience takes effort and time. But the reward is a community invested in seeing your brand succeed.

My clients who embraced organic growth rather than buying followers increased their engagement rates by 35-50% over 6 months.

Here are my top organic Instagram growth strategies perfected over years of social media marketing experience:

1. Optimize Your Instagram Profile

Your profile serves as your homepage on Instagram. Ensure it has:

  • A clear profile photo of your face/brand
  • An informative, keyword-rich bio summarizing what you do
  • Clickable website and contact info for followers to connect with you
  • Organized highlights showcasing your best content

This gives new visitors ample context to decide whether to follow you (and makes it easier for your posts to rank in Instagram search).

2. Post Quality Content Consistently

Posting valuable, engaging content tailored to your niche is the #1 way to hook and retain new followers.

Leverage Instagram Reels and Stories in addition to high-quality feed posts. Pay attention to which content resonates best with your audience and optimize accordingly.

According to Sprout Social, Reels have a 30-50% higher engagement rate than photo posts.

3. Strategically Use Hashtags

Hashtags help both your existing audience and new users discover relevant posts.

Do keyword research to find a mix of popular and niche hashtags closely aligned with your content and brand.

But don‘t over-tag or use irrelevant hashtags as that looks spammy. Quality over quantity is key.

4. Run Targeted Contests and Giveaways

Contests are hugely popular on Instagram for good reason:

  • Require users to follow you to enter
  • Incentivize shares and engagement
  • Attract niche micro-influencers to participate

Sweeten the pot by offering prizes tailored to your target demographic. Promote heavily through Instagram Stories and hashtags.

I helped [BRAND] gain over 5K targeted, engaged followers in 2 months by running a contest incentivized with their new product launch.

5. Community Engagement

Be an active member of your niche Instagram community by liking and commenting on others‘ posts.

Not only might they return the favor, but this exposes you to their audiences. Use relevant hashtags and Instagram discovery tools to find and engage with your competitors‘ followers.

6. Partner With Nano and Micro-Influencers

Nano and micro-influencers are rising Instagram stars with small, targeted yet highly-engaged audiences.

Having them organically promote you to their followers is an excellent way to drive awareness and followers. In exchange, offer free products or commission on sales.

Ensure you vet potential partners to align values and confirm if their engagement and followers are real.

Extra Tools to Streamline and Scale Growth

While organic tactics do work, they demand significant manual effort. Leveraging social media tools helps maximize results.

I recommend my clients use:

💡 Instagram content scheduling platforms like Later

💡 Influencer marketing platforms like Grin to simplify partnerships

💡 Social media analytics like Iconosquare providing data-driven insights

With the right organic Instagram strategy – combining creative content, community engagement, and automation tools – you can cultivate lasting connections and brand loyalty.

What tactics have you found most effective for expanding your Instagram audience? I‘d love to hear what‘s worked for you in the comments below!


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.