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10 Guaranteed Ways to Grow on Instagram

10 Guaranteed Ways to Grow on Instagram

Alisha Kumar
Alisha Kumar is the founder and Creative Director of The Social Project, a social media agency in Seattle, Washington helping lifestyle brands with strategy, management, content, and experiential events.

There’s no doubt that Instagram is a powerful platform for entrepreneurs and creatives, but with never-ending algorithm updates and “rules” about how best to use Instagram for your business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! Here are 10 guaranteed ways to grow on Instagram, no matter how many times the algorithm changes:

It’s a storytelling platform, not a photo sharing platform!

People want to hear stories! Instagram is the king of storytelling content, so be sure to leverage that. The brands who focus on storytelling are the ones who build trust with their audience and grow the fastest. Make sure to tell stories that tie into your mission, values, and purpose.

Figure out what your goal is with Instagram

Are you creating brand awareness, driving sales or building a community? Once you’ve narrowed down your goal, map out relevant content so that each post leads in some way to that endgame.

Provide value and don’t sell in every single post

Who is your audience and how can you help them? Ask your audience through polls or questions and figure out what type of content they enjoy. Use the 80/20 rule, 80% percent valuable content and 20% sales. Remember, it’s about your audience, not about you. It’s still OK to sell on Instagram, so long as it’s done in a tasteful way.

Work With What You Have

You don’t need fancy software or apps. Being authentic will take you farther than you think. There’s a debate as to whether to or not to make your feed perfectly curated and filtered. I personally believe that we’re stepping away from that and becoming much more real, showing up through photo and video in an unfiltered way to really connect with our communities. Include videos from your iPhone if that’s what you have! Some of the best ads and content have converted from iPhone photos and videos.

Stories, Stories, Stories!

This is where it’s at and where you want to be daily. Start off small. Most people don’t like being in front of the camera which is totally understandable, but even if you don’t post videos of yourself, remember that the aim is provide value through your stories. Add different stickers to your stories to encourage engagement, whether through polls, questions or even gifs!

Have a CTA (call to action)

Invite your audience to participate in your post! Ask them a question, invite them to tag a friend who might resonate with your message, have them check out the link in your bio or invite them to other spaces you’re in, etc. The options are endless. You’ll have to do a bit of testing to see what works best for your audience.

I recommend you do your best to get them to your email list. You don’t own your social media accounts, but you do own your website and email lists, so the more people you send there, the more you can grow an audience and customer-base that will stay with you no matter what happens to Instagram tomorrow.


Your analytics will tell you what type of content is popular with your audience. Pay attention to this. What types of posts are people liking, commenting on, visiting the links to, saving? Analyzing these trends and planning content around these popular posts will help your brand grow exponentially.


I cannot stress this enough. If you want people to engage with your content, you have to go engage with theirs. Don’t just leave emojis or “cute skirt!”! Take the time to actually read their copy and leave a meaningful comment. Show that you care!


Go through relevant hashtags and engage with accounts that use them! Hashtags are a great way for people to find your posts and for you to find new people to follow that may be in your target market.

For hashtags, it’s all about testing. Some accounts use all 30 hashtags, others use 10-12, and larger accounts may only use 2 to 4, if any at all. Find what works best for your through experimentation and analytics. There’s a lot of trial and error involved here, so don’t worry if one strategy doesn’t work! That just means it’s time to move on to the next.

Stop Listening to People About Algorithm Myths

Things like posts being “hidden” or shadow-banning, aren’t a real thing. Sure, the algorithm works differently than it used to because the amount of content being posted every second to the app. We follow hundreds, sometimes, thousands of people, it wouldn’t make sense for the algorithm to show content in chronological order. Instead it shows you posts you typically engage with and what it believes you want to see from what you typically engage with.

Bonus – Instagram isn’t an end all, be all. It’s only one small part of running a successful business. My biggest tip is, ask yourself, “If Instagram and Facebook shutdown tomorrow, would I still have a business?”. Give yourself grace and know that everything takes time and consistency. Keep at it and believe in your purpose, the right audience will too!

Connect With Alisha:
Instagram: @thesocialprojectinc

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