5 ultimate rules to grow your audience on Instagram in 2021

David Brami
July 31, 2020

Instagram's algorithm is a well-kept secret sauce, but we do know precisely what works to gain new followers. Here are the essentials of best practices in 2021 to grow your audience consistently and regularly on Instagram.

General

#1. Your Bio 📜

Have a bio that perfectly defines your account. No Instagram algorithm here, just common sense: visitors should immediately understand the purpose of your page or its interest.

#2. Hashtags #️⃣

Pay attention to the selection of your hashtags. Hashtags are part of the parameters that allow Instagram to understand what you are doing in order to present them to the most relevant people. That's why it's important to use the same hashtag base for each post as well as a hashtag that bears your account name. You will then add the custom hashtags based on the post.

The Kicksta Instagram Hashtag Generator is a very good and easy to use tool to automatically generate relevant hashtags based on your needs.

Check that all the hashtags you use are not banned with a tool like this.

#3. Interaction 🤝

According to Instagram, we know that our interactions with others will greatly impact how the algorithm understand us. Among various criteria, interest (notably characterized by Likes) is obviously crucial. Either way, never miss an opportunity to reply to a comment or DM, Instagram loves it!

Say thank you 🙏

Think of Instagram and its algorithm as a friend who knows you well enough to connect with others. When you meet someone you don't know at a party, you introduce yourself, especially when that person has given you a compliment. This is what happens when someone likes one of your post or Reel, and even more so when they comment on it positively. Send them a thank you message inviting them to follow you if they like your content. Of course, the more personalized your message is, the more likely you will be to seduce your interlocutor, as you would for a real meeting. To be effective and without spending too much time on it, you can save several responses. To do this, send them a DM with the Saved Replies feature in: Profile > Settings > Business/Creator > Saved Replies

Give some love 😍

In the same idea, since a Like is a compliment, you will Like posts of people who Like yours.

Even unconditionally 💔

As we've seen, Instagram uses hashtags to get your content discovered. These are affinity criteria, like the affinities that create bonds between friends. Like posts of people who use the same hashtags as you, it is a signal you send, a way to attract people who will like yours and subscribe to your profile.

#4. Regularity 🥷

Even if it's time consuming, you have to be regular and consistent on Instagram as these are two key factors you can rely on to automatically grow. Posting content regularly is definitely the basis for your growth, but not too often (it's useless): one post per day + your Stories. The engagement rate is still slightly higher for carousel and photo formats, but the engagement growth rate for video is now exceeding them. You can no longer base your strategy on photo posts only, video posts and Reels become essential to get known and Stories to go further in the relationship and engagement. This is already a lot of work, especially for the video part, which is essential to have a strong presence. Pictalio helps you save time: find the right vertical video for your Reels or your next Stories and focus on the message you want to convey. When you know your audience, post when your followers are online and turn on post notifications.

#5. Timing ⏳

As we'll see in more detail, anything that can be done to keep your followers on your content as long as possible will be highly valued by Instagram (so very good for you). Prefer a professional account, it will allow you to have more data on your followers and know them better so you can post content when they are connected. It's easier to keep your followers longer if you know when they're most available to do so.

General Instagram Key Factors in 2021

  • Be clear on your mission in your bio
  • Use the right hashtags consistently
  • Engage with your followers and take the first step
  • Post regularly
  • Post when your followers are online

Focus by content type

Posts or Stories, Reels or IGTV, there are only two ways to get attention to increase your audience: being re-shared by third-party accounts or highlighted in the Explore Tab. You can make your vertical videos go viral by sharing them on Pictalio.

Let's go through each format to get there.

#1. Posts

As mentioned earlier, consistency is key: one post a day is ideal. If you can't try to keep up with 3 posts a week. Either way, trying to be regular is a great way to keep your audience on their toes. Microblogging is a way to get more engagement. It's about writing a more specific and detailed caption; it can recommend places to visit, restaurants, or more personal advice related to your business. The carousel (several photos/videos in the same post) is the most efficient format, use it! Like microblogging, it will force your followers to stay longer on your content, which is a determining factor for Instagram's algorithm. Finding or producing visuals to post every day can sometimes be difficult, so consider recycling old content to make them say something else or to make a best of.

Posts Key Factors in 2021

  • Be regular: 1 post/day or 3/week at least
  • Use carousel to keep your followers engaged longer on your posts
  • Use microblogging
  • Repost old content

#2. Reels

Reels are definitely the go-to format for your communication in 2021 on Instagram, as with any new feature. The success of short-form videos prompts Instagram to highlight them, whether for creation by displaying the Reel button creation in the center of the app or by promoting them in the Explore Page. Reels are the most impactful format for sharing your videos: the Reels editor makes creating more sophisticated videos very easy while offering the same captioning and hashtagging benefits as a classic post. The Explore Page allows for keyword searching - a video with the proper caption and hashtags has every chance of making a thousand views and sharing. Think vertical by posting Reels and if you lack time to create them, come and get free ready-made Reels on Pictalio. As we will see later, Reels will allow you to grow your audience and stories to convert it. If you want to know everything about the differences between Reels and Stories, it's here.

Reels Key Factors in 2021

  • Think vertical and be creative with Reels tools
  • Posts or Reels: be regular (1 Post or Reel/day or 3/week at least)
  • Use caption & right hashtags
  • Find free Reels to reuse and customize here

#3. Stories

If Posts and Reels allow you to reach your audience, Stories have an equally important role: engaging your community and building loyalty. Think of Stories as a way to create a more intimate relationship with your followers. Photos and videos in your stories will allow you to keep in touch and poll your audience to stay close to their expectations. Polls and quizzes are great ways to engage your followers daily; use video in your stories too, if you're not too shy, speaking up is one of the most potent ways to keep your audience engaged. Use Stories daily by posting between 7 and 10 contents per day (photo and video). Feel free to use the Reels tool to create your video Stories: when you share your video, Instagram allows you to post it as a Story. The Reels tool is also more precise for editing and managing music tracks on your videos. You can also save your work as a draft in the Reels tab of your profile for later editing or publication.

Stories Key Factors in 2021

  • Post Stories daily ≈ 7 and 10 contents per day (photo and video)
  • Use polls and quizzes
  • Don't be shy and show yourself
  • Use the Reels tool for more polished stories and to save as a draft

#4. IGTV

Keeping followers on your content as long as possible is crucial to increasing your audience and its engagement. IGTVs offers the chance to express in more detail what you do while keeping your followers on your content longer. Take advantage of IGTVs to present tutorials or anything that requires more time and bring even more intimacy between you and your followers. One IGTV per month is a good pace.

IGTV Key Factors in 2021

  • Use IGTVs to maximize attention time on your content
  • Use them to deepen your relationship
  • Create tutorials to explain in detail what you are doing

Make your Stories and Reels go Viral

Creating vertical video content takes time. Once your video is on Instagram, maximize your visibility by sharing it on Pictalio. Then, blow up your audience by letting your videos be reused by thousands of people on different social media.