Here's How to Grow On Instagram Today (& It Has Nothing to Do With Hashtags) | Guest Post by Manu Muraro of Your Social Team

The Instagram game has changed— and we have to change with it.

A few years ago, all an Instagram account needed was some curated images, a few hashtags and the followers would come. Now, with over 1 billion accounts posting content everyday (and people following more accounts than ever) that’s no longer enough.

Some say it’s impossible to grow organically today, and others use the silliest strategies to increase their followers. Follow/unfollow, bots, and my least favorite— the countless loop giveaways.

These strategies may give you numbers, but they’re what we call vanity metrics. You can brag all day about the number of followers you have, but if they don’t engage or buy from you (or your clients) they have no value in the long run. Plus doing these things can often disengage your true fans.

But all is not lost, I swear! It takes work and strategy, but it is very much possible to grow an Instagram account organically today. My 1-gal business account has grown +5k organic followers in 2019 alone!

The thing is that growing your account is now very intentional and has nothing to do with your daily posts and lists of hashtags. Sure, they can help, but to grow you need to go beyond that.

So let’s cut to the chase! Here are 4 of my favorite methods I’ve used to grow my account (and most are completely free!).

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1. Ask Others to Post About You in Their Stories

This is one of my favorite methods & it’s been the most effective. When people tag a friend in your comments, it’s 1 friend. But when they post about you in their stories, they are showing it to all of their friends. Multiply that by the amount of accounts that share you in their stories and you’re potentially getting thousands of new eyes on your account!

But how do I convince people to post about me? The most effective way I’ve found is to offer a freebie to everyone who shares my account in their stories. I’ve gained 400 followers in 24 hours using this method. Get creative & try a variety of offers to see what your followers respond to best.

2. Get Featured on Related Instagram Accounts

Great content on your account will most likely only be seen by your own followers. But getting your best content featured on other like-minded accounts will allow it to be seen by a brand new audience!

But how do you get featured? Opportunity may not always come knocking, but you can take action & ask! The worst thing that can happen is you will hear “no, thanks”. So why not go for it?! Reach out, have a plan, create a nice looking PDF with your idea. You don’t need to shoot for the stars. An account the same size as your own or even a bit smaller can be beneficial as well. Just make sure it’s a right fit & that everyone benefits!

3. Use Influencer Marketing

This is the only method I will list here that may cost you some money. Most people think that influencer marketing is only for consumer brands, fashion or beauty. Not true! I use influencer marketing often to promote my services, or hire influencers to partner in workshops and events (which includes promoting the event). It can be a hit or miss, but when you find the right influencer the results are amazing-- I’ve even had one event sell out with a single post!

4. Smart Community Engagement

At this point, we all understand that it’s important to engage. But not all engagement is created equal-- some are more equal than others (bonus if you get this reference!). What I call “smart” community engagement is to strategically pick accounts your target audience follows and engages with and be very present in those accounts. Add real comments in their posts (not just a “love this”), show your personality and put your clickable name out there. Just be mindful about being sales-y in your competitors’ accounts.

So there you have it. Try adding these 4 strategies to your amazing content, relevant hashtags and you will see growth. Now— go DM your 27 best blogger friends and tell them you’ll no longer be part of that giveaway!


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Manu Muraro is the founder of Instagram training business Your Social Team. Manu started her career as a creative at Cartoon Network right out of college, where she stayed for 15 years (at Cartoon, not in college). More recently, while heading marketing for King of Pops, a local startup, she was able to grow their Instagram account - completely organically - from 7 to 37k followers in less than 2 years. That growth not only was reflected in sales, but also lead to new opportunities, such as a partnership with Delta Airlines. She then saw the impact Instagram could have in growing a business, and how behind most brands were on understanding what the platform could do for them. Starting a training business seemed like a logical next step, so Your Social Team was born. Your Social Team offers in-person classes in Atlanta in the cutest pink office, corporate training, e-courses and a super affordable membership option. You can follow Manu on Instagram at @yoursocialteam.