7 Best Instagram Growth Tips to Gain Followers in 2024

As a small business owner and entrepreneurship consultant focused on assisting startup founders, I‘ve helped dozens of entrepreneurs transform their fledgling business Instagram accounts into thriving communities.

These best practices stem from both academic research and hands-on lessons from the trenches of growth marketing. I‘ve distilled them into 7 concrete, actionable tips you can implement to expand your Instagram followers while staying true to your brand.

1. Discover Your Niche and Target It

Mass appeal marketing rarely succeeds on Instagram. The most effective approach is to identify a specific niche audience aligned with your products/services and create content tailored to them.

Be as narrow as possible in defining your niche. Common options for small businesses include:

  • Demographics (e.g. millennial parents)
  • Interest groups (e.g. fitness enthusiasts)
  • Customer archetypes (e.g. eco-friendly suburban families)
  • Geography (e.g. downtown professionals)

Tools like Facebook Audience Insights provide data to help research your niche. Surveying your existing customers is also insightful.

Pro Tip: Once you identify your niche, join related Facebook and Reddit communities to understand their interests and pain points. Creating content that speaks to those directly can really resonate.

2. Build an Emotional Brand Connection

While excellent products and services are obviously essential, having an emotional brand that people can relate to is key to growth on Instagram.

Humanize your brand by:

  • Showcasing your team members – Let customers get to know the real people behind your company.
  • Posting behind-the-scenes content – Provide an authentic look at your processes and workspace.
  • Sharing your brand origin story – Allow followers to connect to your inspirations and challenges.

Pro Tip: User-generated content from real customers can help establish emotional connections. Repost customer photos showcasing your product or testimonials about their experience.

Building an emotional connection causes followers to relate to your brand on a deeper level, driving higher engagement and retention.

3. Ensure Posting Consistency

While quality content is critical, consistency in posting is what keeps followers engaged long-term.

72% of marketers say posting consistently is the most effective tactic for growing a business Instagram account. Source

Creating and maintaining a consistent posting schedule – even if it‘s just 2-3 times per week – trains followers to continually check back and not miss updates.

Typical small business posting frequency:

  • Stories: Daily
  • Reels: 2-3x per week
  • Posts: 2-3x per week

Pro Tip: Use planning tools like Later or Planoly to organize and schedule content which simplifies being consistent.

Having new content daily or every other day sustains follower interest in your brand.

4. Curate a Distinct, Memorable Aesthetic

Your Instagram feed is often the first touchpoint between potential new customers and your brand. Ensuring it has a polished, consistent aesthetic makes a strong first impression.

Some tips for curating a memorable aesthetic:

  • Define a visual style – Vibrant and playful? Minimalist modern? Choose filter and editing style that matches your brand personality.
  • Use cohesive color schemes – Combine 3 colors maximum into branded palette.
  • Showcase products attractively – Invest in props and backdrops for gorgeous product photos.
  • Feature lifestyle imagery – Photos of your products being actively used resonate more than sterile studio shots.

Pro Tip: Utilize Canva‘s brand kit builder to easily create visual assets like custom logos, fonts, filters and more that give cohesion to your grid.

With a refined aesthetic, visitors instantly recognize if a post is from your brand without even reading your username. This helps trigger followership from newfound fans.

5. Collaborate with Nano and Micro-Influencers

Partnerships with nano (under 5k followers) and micro-influencers (5k-50k followers) in your industry can rapidly expand your brand‘s reach.

The benefit of nano/micro-influencers includes:

  • Higher engagement levels with niche audiences
  • More affordable vs mega influencers
  • Perceived as more authentic by followers

Example Campaign Structure:

  • 3 posts / stories promoting your product to their audience
  • Exclusive discount code for their followers
  • Incentivize user-generated content showcasing your brand

Pro Tip: Hashtag searches and Instagram analytics tools like HypeAuditor help identify potential nano/micro-influencer partners aligned to your niche.

Bringing on niche influencers expands your visibility with highly-targeted, warmer leads at lower costs.

6. Fuel Engagement with Captions and Questions

Beyond imagery, your caption content plays a crucial role in engaging followers on Instagram.

Effective tactics include:

  • Educate followers with tips, demonstrations, and insights related to your product/service
  • Share your brand‘s perspective on industry news and trends
  • Ask questions to spark meaningful conversations in comments
  • Invite people to take action like clicking your link or using your branded hashtag

Pro Tip: Use emoji power-words throughout captions to catch eyes as people quickly scroll. 👀 ❤️ NEW 💥 LIMITED 🎉 CALLING 🙌 ALL 💪

Driving comments and having back-and-forth exchanges with followers makes them more likely to return and check back on your brand.

7. Continuously Analyze Performance Metrics

Instagram provides excellent analytics within the app to help track your growth efforts.

Key metrics to routinely analyze:

  • Follower growth velocity week-over-week
  • Engagement rate per post
  • Website clicks from link in bio
  • Saves of your content into collections
  • Top performing posts by reach and engagement

Pro Tip: Use Instagram Insights to discover your highest traffic days/times. Schedule some posts during those windows to maximize visibility.

Continuously checking performance data lets you double down on what content resonates while switching up approaches that aren‘t working. This agility is what fuels lasting Instagram growth.

By focusing on these 7 tactics – from fine-tuning your niche to collaborating with influencers – you can set your business Instagram account on the path for steady, engagement-driven growth.

The key is consistency. Dedicate time weekly to intentionally implementing these best practices into your Instagram strategy. Stay patient with the process – growth can take time. But embracing these tips will transform even the smallest startup accounts into thriving communities.

Let me know in the comments what topics you need more Instagram tips on! I‘m happy to address any specific questions.