How To Get Your First 1000 Engaged Followers on Instagram

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018 and has been completely revamped and updated with new strategies, techniques and best practices for how to get more followers on Instagram.

If you sit with your Instagram account and hope it will grow engaged Instagram followers by itself (without thinking about how to get more followers on Instagram), you will wait for a long time.

Looking at the statistics, about six-in-ten U.S. adults who use Instagram use it every day.. This platform has the highest level of engagement for brands, with 2-7% percent of users interacting with each post. It may seem like you just need to jump in and post beautiful brand photos, some quote graphics and a Reels or two. But building a truly engaged following that’s ready to buy your products and services still takes effort

There are plenty of tips on the Internet on how to grow an Instagram account. However, many of them work with bigger accounts and won’t work well with a couple hundred followers.

Getting your first thousand followers on any social media platform is usually the hardest number to hit because people are barely paying attention to small accounts.

Most people who follow you are usually your friends. That’s fine if it’s your personal account, but for growing your business or personal brand, that’s not enough.

You can buy followers, but those are just numbers, and they’re useless with the way the Instagram algorithm works. Actual engagement (that is, how many people like your posts, comment on them, save them, share them with others and bookmark them to look at again later) is way more important than a vanity metric (a number that makes you “look good” without actually impacting your success on the platform) like the number of followers you have.

But if you can increase your number of engaged followers, well that’s not vanity. That’s more people who really care about what you have to say = more people who engage with your content = more people who will see your content (reach) = more engaged followers (growth) = more people whom you can convert to an email subscriber or a sale.

In a nutshell, trying to increase your number of engaged followers (vs. number of total followers in general) makes complete sense. And if you’re just starting out with one to two hundred followers, learning how to get more followers on Instagram (who are engaged!) is a great goal to set.

In this article, we’ll go step-by-step to show you how to get your first 1000 engaged followers on Instagram.

1. Complete your bio

There are two parts that you can take advantage of when you create your profile:

  1. Your Username
  2. Your Name

They both can appear in Instagram search results.

Your Username

If you create a brand around your name, then your Username should be your name. If your business name is different from your name, then your Username should be the name of your business.

Your Name

For the Name field, include your keyword: something that briefly describes your business or your target audience.

There is no need to double-write your name in the Name field, but you can do it if you like and still add 1-2 keywords for your business.

Let’s look at my bio as an example. My Username, marinabarayeva, is my name. Since my name’s already in my bio, I don’t repeat it in the Name field and instead added my keywords, Photographer + Social Media.

The rest of your bio isn’t searchable. However, introduce yourself and what you do, so people will get to know you better.

2. Connect to your friends

Follow people whom you know. Search through your Facebook and Contact list. They will get the notification about your follow and may follow you back. They are your first followers.

3. Look for your audience

From the beginning, describe your potential ideal audience for yourself (create an avatar).

Then, look for other accounts that serve your audience. (Not your competitors, but those who focus their posts on people you want to attract, too.)

If you are a designer of kids’ clothes, then accounts for moms, kids’ training centers, kids’ events, or other kids’ fashion accounts may fit your audience criteria.

If you are a fitness trainer, then fitness centers, sports stores and healthy lifestyle accounts in your area may have the audience you need.

How do I find accounts to help me get followers on Instagram?

Find accounts that post on a regular basis and get good engagement with their content (since you can’t see saves and shares for other people’s content, look at comments and number of likes on posts).

The key is to find existing, established accounts where your ideal audience is already hanging out so you can leverage their audience. Using hashtags related to your business or your ideal clients’ problems or interests is a great way to find these accounts.

Create a list of such accounts for your brand and then start engaging. 

Go to their profiles. Comment on their posts. Follow their followers and interact with those new people. You need to get their attention and get connected before they will be willing to buy from you.

4. Consistency is key for how to get more followers on Instagram

Obviously, not every follower sees every one of your posts. As Later explains, “If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.”

So what can you do to get your content in front of more of your followers and actually stay top of mind?

Post consistently to your feed, your Stories and to Reels. The more high quality content you share, the more people will engage with it. The more people engage with your post, the higher it appears in their feed or at the beginning of their Stories feed on their homepage. All of this helps to expand your reach, helping you gain more followers.

Get your free guide: Instagram for Business

5. Post content that’s interesting to your audience

Testing the variety of posts on different small business accounts, I found that besides just posting product pictures or sales, there are several other types of posts that work well:

  • Before/after posts using your service or product.
  • Sharing your clients’ stories about using your service or product. Whenever you have a chance, share success stories that help your potential clients picture themselves in your clients’ shoes, experiencing that success.
  • Testimonials. Don’t be shy to ask past clients for a review or a testimonial. Or if they post something on social media about working with you or using your product, ask if you can share it on your Instagram, too. Every time you want to share someone’s experience, ask for their permission. Most of the time people won’t mind, but if they don’t want it to be shared, then you will avoid unnecessary problems.
  • Educational posts about your product or service. Sometimes people don’t know what they’ll be getting, what to expect or other ways they can use your products/services.
  • Including questions or CTAs (call-to-action) to the post can increase engagement.
  • Quotes that are relevant to your business message or your ideal clients’ desires or fears. Providing inspiration via a quote from time to time can help further engagement. Just be careful not to post too many too often since that can tend to look spammy.
  • Implement a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to use it in their captions and stories for a chance to get featured on your account.
  • Remind your followers and past clients to tag you when sharing about your services or products so you can re-share on your account, giving them free press and exposure.
  • Sharing behind the scene photos or videos showing the process of your work.

Hold your social media to the highest standards in terms of the content you produce. You can even think of it as an online magazine that represents your brand. Before you tap the ‘Post’ button, always ask yourself if it fits your social media ‘magazine’ and would you engage with this post? Is it worth sharing? If the answer is ‘No’ or you doubt if you would engage with the post, then the post is weak. Think about how you can improve the post and implement those edits before sharing it.

6. Be consistent

Be consistent in your posting even if it is just a few times per week. Pick the comfortable schedule for yourself. Don’t try to run a marathon from the first day or you will get burned out fast.

Once you get used to your optimal schedule, you can start to post more. When you post regularly, you consistently get on your follower’s radar, staying top of mind with your ideal clients.

When you don’t post for a while, you stop showing up on peoples’ feed and even if you start posting again, you may lose your connection with some followers (because remember: not everyone sees every post; they see posts from accounts they engage with the most).

Get your free guide: How to Create Social Content That Gets More Shares & Saves

7. Start a conversation

If you engage with your followers, start writing a simple open-ended question in the post. Ask them about something. In your stories, you can use a poll or a question sticker to ask a question.

In the beginning, they most likely won’t write anything. However, keep doing that even if it looks like you are talking to yourself for now. The important part is that you want people to start engaging on your feed and in your stories.

You can also go to your ideal clients’ profiles first, comment on their feed for a period of time, watch their stories and leave comments. Don’t forget to shoot them a DM to introduce yourself and let them know what you like about their content.

Yes, it’s time-consuming. But when you do that, you will see that people start replying to your questions and the interaction with your other posts will grow.

8. Use the right hashtags

Hashtags help you get discovered by other people. On Instagram, you can add up to 30 hashtags. Use many or all of them.

Search for relevant hashtags for the topic(s) you post. 

Then, create lists of them for each subject you post about. Pick ones with 500,000 or less existing posts. Those search results update slower. You can also add 1-3 top, bigger hashtags to get ‘quick’ engagement for the post for the first few minutes.

Save them in your phone app. When you publish the picture, just copy and paste them to the caption or the first comment.

Don’t forget to use hashtags in your Stories!

9. Get to the Instagram Search Top Results

You can get more exposure and followers when you get to the Instagram top posts for certain hashtags. This is the area at the top of Instagram search results.

While Instagram doesn’t tell you the algorithm of choosing pictures to feature, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of your content showing up.

The point is to get more engagement with your post within 1-2 hours after it’s published.

Here are some tips:

– Post at the time when more of your followers are online. If you have a business account, then check your statistics to see when that is.

If you don’t have a business account, you should consider getting one. But for now, look at your posts and see which posts got the most engagement and try remembering the time you posted them. Is there a trend? If so, that’s likely when most of your followers are online.

– Always create high-quality images that fit your niche.

– Pick hashtags relevant to your niche. Remember, they shouldn’t be too popular. The more popular it is, the harder to get to the top of the discover page if your account isn’t big yet.

– If your picture has other people or brands in it, tag them. They get the notification about your post, and there is a possibility that they will engage with or reshare it, too.

– It’s good to have relationships with the bigger accounts in your niche. If you don’t have any, start interacting with them. The perfect result is when they follow you and begin liking and commenting on your posts. When the accounts with a large number of followers engage with your content, then you get more chances to get to the top.

– Lastly, post your image, story or Reels and track the results. Check the search feed of the hashtags you used.

The post usually disappears from the top within 24 hours. 

Also, it’s possible that two of your posts get to the top, but then they will compete with each other. 

It seems complicated, and you won’t get to the top every time, but if you do it right, there is a big chance to get there quite often. 

coffee on a photographers desk engaged followers

10.  Post videos and use Instagram Stories

There are four ways of using videos on Instagram: on the main feed, Instagram Stories, IGTV and Reels. Video content can get 34% more interactions than static image content. Since engagement is the name of the game, adding video content into your mix is a great idea

Depending on the complexity of your product or services, tutorials can go a long way in making sure people know exactly how to use it.

In this step, we’ll focus on Stories and video in the main feed.

The main feed lets you host longer video, and they stay there (until you decide to remove it).

Each Instagram Story is 15 seconds. You can use it to show a quick tutorial or a step-by-step process with each video. For example, for fashion stylists, it could be how to add some stylish accessories to an outfit. Food bloggers can share each part of a recipe.

Share an update about a new blog post or a limited sale. Use the Instagram Stories Live feature to connect with your followers from everywhere. Vacation? Conference? Meeting? Stream it right from there.

If you aren’t selling a physical product, host a tutorial covering why your service is essential. Incorporate testimonials and success stories from previous clients. 

Show how your product or service is different from the rest. Set yourself apart from others with a little creativity. 

Also, if you go to the search feed, at the top you will see the most interesting stories from all over Instagram. They are personalized to users’ interests, so your story can be shown to entirely new people. Just make sure to use hashtags in your Stories, too!

11. Use Reels

Whether it’s been officially announced or not, it’s clear Instagram is putting a lot of algorithm weight to favor their latest content feature: Reels. Short and snappy, Reels videos are meant to be 15-seconds of educational, inspirational or entertaining fun. Lots of community members who are focused on creating Reels content right now are seeing a huge impact on their account reach. 

For brands, Reels are a great way to educate their ideal clients on how they can help solve a pain point. Think of it as a 15-second mini lesson. Teach on anything that could help your ideal customer but that still relates to your business in some way. Check out HoneyBook’s Reels and Rising Tide’s Reels for inspiration.

Don’t forget to caption your Reels as most Instagram users don’t watch videos with sound on. 

12. Create carousel content

Carousels are a type of post in your Instagram feed. Since you can include up to 10 images in a single post, carousels are a great way to tell a story or provide a mini-lesson on an educational topic. The advantage of creating content like this in a carousel vs. stories is that it’s easy for your followers (and potential followers) to save and share your carousels, whereas stories disappear after 24 hours. (And even if you saved your stories as a story highlight, they’re harder for people to find again since they can’t be bookmarked.) 

Whatever you create, make sure that as a small business owner, your carousel provides a ton of value to your ideal customers. So flex your expertise; get more shares and saves; and be on your way to getting 1000 followers on Instagram.

13. Remove fake accounts that follow you

Remember when we said that the more engagement your content gets, the more people will see the content, helping you grow your reach and get more followers? If a bunch of fake accounts follow you, they’re not engaging with your content (and even if they are through bots and the like, the Instagram algorithm knows and discounts it).

This signals to the algorithm that your content isn’t valuable and your content won’t get shown to many people. Which is the last thing anyone trying to figure out how to get more followers on Instagram wants.

Go through your followers every now and then (once a week or every other week) and clean out fake accounts. Just hit “Remove.” Fake accounts are usually pretty obvious from the username and name (some will call out they’re an affiliate marketing account). You can also take a peek at their feed. Fake accounts often don’t have more than a couple of posts that are usually pretty spammy.

14. Don’t waste time on the follow/unfollow game

The follow/unfollow game is exactly that: a game.

If someone is asking you to follow them and in return they’ll follow you, their main objective is to boost their vanity metric of followers. Which by now, you know should definitely NOT be your main objective. (Yours is to grow your followers by growing your engagement.) If this old trick sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

15. Maintain an aesthetically pleasing feed

Some people say a pretty feed is dead. Others take time to perfect their feed aesthetic with every post. Whether you’re in one camp or the other, having a consistent feed definitely helps attract your ideal customers. When they land on your feed, they should be able to quickly tell what you do, who you help and why they want to stick around for your content (hint: all the juicy value you offer!) You can maintain consistency through the use of consistent brand colors, imagery and fonts. 

Don’t forget part of an aesthetically pleasing feed is diversity. So make sure to mix things up! Vary educational carousel posts by alternating between your 2-3 main brand colors for the cover. If your feed is image heavy, alternate between a tight, zoomed in shot and a zoomed out shot with more breathing room. Sprinkle in a quote graphic now and again. Variety is the spice of your Instagram life.

Ready to get 1000 engaged followers on Instagram?

Getting your first thousand engaged followers may be a slow process. You may use one tip from above, decide that it almost doesn’t work and leave it. To maximize the impact and get better results, use a couple or all of them at the same time. Simply go step by step. If you do it right, it will take you a month to get from 0 to 1000.

Want to learn more about how to crack the Instagram code? Check out our Ultimate Guide on how to use instagram for business and our Ultimate Guide on Social Media Marketing.

Marina Barayeva

Marina Barayeva is a professional photographer and a founder of She writes about social media marketing, business and personal branding for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses. She helps people to be visible with their work. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MarinaBarayeva.