You may have heard people talking about ‘growing your Instagram account organically’ or how to ‘get real followers on Instagram’, and thought, what on earth are they talking about? A follower is a follower, a like is a like.

Unfortunately, not all followers and likes are created equally.

Some users and businesses are so hasty to get followers on Instagram fast that they forget the reason it was founded.

To connect with people around the world and share meaningful experiences.

As it turns out, if you do forge meaningful connections with your followers, they are more likely to stick around.

Other methods of gaining popularity on Instagram, such as bots, pods or paid tools, are not only in violation of Instagram’s terms and conditions, but don’t equate to continued popularity – they are just for that one moment in time.

Why be a one-hit wonder when you can be a Madonna?

Being Proactive

The real question is, how to engage your followers in order to get more likes and follows on Instagram? This is really a case of being proactive and getting deeply involved in the Instagram community.

First and foremost, like and comment on your followers’ posts.

Be as involved as your time allows, but also be genuine.

Don’t like a photo you actually think is terrible, or comment with a generic message or an emoji – these are typical spambot actions.

Write a comment that is personal and adds value.

This is going to make your followers more likely to engage in your content, and engagement only leads to more engagement.

That one comment could lead to a whole discussion among all your fans – leading to your post becoming more visible as Instagram’s algorithm bumps up posts high in engagement on users’ feeds.

Instagram Takeovers

Another way to engage with your followers is to do takeovers.

Either with you taking over someone’s account and letting someone take over yours.

This will give your Instagram account a whole new potential audience, as you’ll be featured on someone else’s account and being seen by all their followers; or you could let someone else take over your account, and they will likely be directing their audience to your account.

It’s a great platform for collaboration and cross-promotion.

These can be anyone from a well-known Influencer, to a colleague, customer or community member.

Polling on Instagram Stories

Use Instagram Stories to help boost engagement.

One effective way to get your followers involved is to create a poll within your Stories post.

It’s an easy and convenient, yet fun way for them to interact with your content and it has the bonus of making them feel included in your brand.

There are a couple of fun ways to use the poll function in Stories – either give an A or B answer or use an interactive slider emoji.

You can also gain some insights into your target audience’s opinions here, another valuable outcome of using the poll function.

If voters get really invested in the poll, they can choose to follow it so they can follow the latest results and this will boost their engagement even more.

Of course, everything disappears of Stories in 24 hours, so make sure you check back before it vanishes to reap the rewards.

Building A Community

You don’t have to wait for your followers to engage with your posts in order to initiate any action on your part.

Follow any hashtags relevant to your niche, and when you see posts you enjoy, be sure to comment and/or like them, even if those users don’t follow you.

It gets your username out there, giving more people the opportunity to click through to your profile and see who you are.

People will stop and take notice when you engage with their posts – if they see you are a similar account and enjoy your content, they are likely to follow you back.

All of this proactive behavior will help you to build a larger and more organic network on Instagram, one that will be loyal and continue following you and carry on engaging with your material.

Befriend Influencers

Look for Influencers who have a similar number of followers to yourself, because if they are way out of your league then it’s less likely you’ll be taken seriously.

Try and strike up a casual relationship by commenting on their posts or responding to any comments posted.

Keep it authentic and don’t say anything you don’t mean, forming a genuine relationship with them could help get more followers on Instagram by association.

Research Your Audience

The best way to do this is by using Instagram Insights to get the main demographic information and find out when your followers are the most active.

Once you have your target audience nailed, you’ll see a higher engagement rate and your posts will appear higher on your followers’ feeds.

You can also take a more personal approach by asking your followers for help.

It’s a great way to touch base with them and find out what they like, and what they don’t.

Even Kim Kardashian asked her fans for filter advice and how she could step up her Instagram game, so don’t be shy! Another move to gain some insight into the mind of your target audience is to check out what your competitors are posting and compare it to your own material.

For example, what types of pictures / videos are they posting, what type of captions accompany them, what tone are they setting? Once you’ve researched this, try and figure out the reasons why these posts are working so well for them.

Whatever you end up trying, you need to figure out a way to match your audience’s expectations to reality.

Location, Location, Location

If you’re a local business or brand, another way to be proactive in engaging with your followers or potential followers, is to comment on other local posts.

Search for local destinations in the location tag search and comment on any local events, local business posts or even posts from locals themselves.

It will boost your visibility and people around town will start to know who you are and you’ll be building your community even farther.

Making the effort to go one step further by engaging with not only your followers, but anyone who could potentially become a follower, really is worth the effort.

Not only will you get more followers on Instagram, but you’ll be growing your account the ‘real’ way and have a loyal audience who’ll be genuinely interested in what you have to say.