top of page

Instagram do's and don'ts for organic growth part 1

This is not a post about quick fix growth hacks for Instagram without putting in too much effort, this is all about real engagement and organic growth!

There are several agencies, apps and websites that can help you grow your account either by paying for it, or with free trial periods using computers to automate your comments, follows and other activities. Let me be clear about these things, I don’t use them, I don’t like them, and they will put your precious account at risk of being hacked or even blocked and banned from Instagram for good, as this is not the meaning of Instagram at all!

It’s been 14 months since I started my @authenticchica account and currently I have almost 25,000 followers. This is not little and also not a whole lot, but I am happy with it and proud to have reached so many like minded people without using any paid tricks or apps. Just with real engagement and effort, next to running this blog and having a day job.

The first few months I worked my ass off to get my first 1,000 followers and it was harder than I thought. It took me a little less than 3 months, and happily got easier. But for real organic growth you have to stay active and put in quite some effort.

After that I learnt that a few basics are very important to set up your account well and make it grow steadily…In the following 3 months my followers amount accelerated to 5K and then to 20K after being on IG little over a year. So in the past 6 months my account has grown with 15K, which is 2,500 followers per month on average.

This is steady growth with good engagement, many comments (93 per post on average lately) and loyal followers, which is the most important thing to me! Engagement is becoming more important to companies working with influencers and bloggers as well, as follower amounts can be bought and don’t say enough about your followers value.

Therefore I hope you can benefit from my tips, grow organically on Instagram, take it to the next level and more importantly, have lots of fun with your account.

Here are my learnings:



  • Choose a nice profile pic, which is clear, appealing and makes you and the style of your account recognizable

  • Preferably choose the same name as you have on other social media channels

  • Use key words in your title description, like mine: AUTHENTIC CHIC TRAVELER

  • Create a complete bio: describe who you are and what your account is about

  • Post at least 6-9 pictures before you start following, liking and inviting friends from Facebook, so they don’t see a blank account at first sight

  • Connect your other social media accounts so you can post pictures from IG also to Twitter, FB or other accounts at the same time for efficiency.


  • Make your account private

  • Choose a blurry or impersonal profile pic

  • Forget to connect your account to Facebook/Twitter

  • Forget to add a link in your bio if you have a blog or website, otherwise add the link to your Facebook page/account



  • Think about the story you want to tell on IG in general and stick to that. If you want to post pics of landscapes, sunsets and nature, that’s great, but party pictures in between that can look out of place and unprofessional. This can cause unfollows or not gaining followers at all..

  • Start a 2nd account for personal or different style pics, to keep both accounts clearer

  • Create your own style and something people can recognize your pictures with, more about this in my next Instagram tips post part 2 post, coming soon

  • Use the text space (caption) well, add value by sharing useful information, use a quote, showcase your character by telling a funny or personal story, engage with your followers by asking questions or promote your latest blog.


  • Post boring pictures and too many of the same kind. People want to be inspired and there is already so much competition on IG!

  • Make it too impersonal. In the beginning I didn’t want to post too many pics with me in it, but studies and my own experiences have shown that pictures with people in it generate 40% more likes…



  • Use a good (up to date) telephone camera or preferable a DSLR camera to ensure better quality

  • Enhance pictures with Instagram filters and standard editing tools to make them look even better. Adjust if necessary in Photoshop, PicMonkey or Lightroom first, or use some of the editing phone apps available, read more about that here

  • Make your editing consistent. To create a unity in your gallery try to use a few of the same filters or enhancement tweaks and tools on all the pics.


  • Post for the sake of posting, be picky and post only the best of the best if you want your pics to attract more likes and followers

  • Post unclear or even blurry pics! Be aware that sending pictures to each other via What’s app or adjusting the size and editing them first on the computer can cause them to lose quality and become blurry on Instagram. If so, delete it and post another one instead, as this bad one will ruin your gallery!

  • Overdo it with the filters and editing. In general people like fresh looking and life like pictures, not unreal colored pictures. This usually happens when you get over enthusiastic with the saturation button:)



  • Look at your last 9 pics, do they look nice together in color, style and theme? Be critical and delete pictures once in a while if it helps the total overview. If people like your picture and go to your account and see a cluttered gallery they will not likely follow you.


  • Post randomly, of course you can just post nice things directly when you see them, but if you want to build an appealing gallery as a whole, plan your pictures in advance. You can do this for the whole week or just pick a few at the end of the day and think about the order of posting first

  • Post too many similar pics directly after each other, try to variate. Example: instead of posting pictures of sunset, sunset, sunset, beach, landscape, landscape, it will be more interesting as a whole to post: sunset, landscape, beach, sunset, landscape, sunset.



  • Post every day or even twice a day on set times. Instagram is a computer system and people in general like to have structure. If you set up a rhythm in your posting schedule Instagram and your followers will know that you are active, reward you for it and hopefully even look forward to your daily pics

  • You can post once a day or just a few per week, but as the world has different time zones I choose to reach the whole world while they are awake either in the morning or evening, or both. This gives me more exposure and therefore more followers per day in general.


  • Post more than 3 times a day or directly after each other! This can come off spammy and will cause unfollows

  • Post a few pictures each day and then nothing for a longer period.



  • Hashtags are a marketing tool and should be used that way, so use more than 5, and the right ones! You can have the best pics in the world, but if no-one found them they would get no response and likes at all! Therefore especially in the beginning this is essential to grow. You can use maximum 30 #

  • The right # should be a mix of specific but also more popular ones. They should be relevant to the picture but also used enough for better exposure, so at least 50,000 times, but not more than a few million times

  • Use hashtags of big accounts to get your picture featured for more exposure, more about this, finding the right accounts and # for this, and tagging in my next post!

  • TIP: put your 20 best general #in your phone’s note pad, copy and paste them in your post’s comment, while adding 5 more relevant ones for the specific picture.


  • Use popular hashtags with several million postings, they will get buried and will generate no exposure at all

  • Post too many # directly in your caption, this looks cluttered and can cause people not to read your caption at all. Post them in your comment instead, this way they’ll get hidden after 3 comments, but will stay active.



  • Like, comment and follow, this is where the work part kicks in! Especially in the beginning you have to be really active to get people to notice you and visit your account, so comment and like your ass off!

  • Follow more people in your niche / theme, this is good for inspiration and they are more likely to follow you back

  • Keep your comments and replies personal and try to reply to every comment

  • Collaborate with others in a contest or do shout outs for each other’s accounts

  • Keep track of your likes and follower growth with an app, for example Instafollow or Instatrack, so you can follow back active followers or unfollow people that are trying to use you with the follow/unfollow method

  • More engagement tips in my earlier post The Positive Power of Instagram.


  • Spam or stalk others by being too active or randomly follow other accounts

  • Like single pictures, always like about 3-5 pics (or more) of new accounts you like, and leave 1 or 2 genuine comments. Especially bigger and more successful accounts will not notice otherwise

  • Post a picture and put away your phone immediately after. You have to attract people to your post, so be active for at least 30 minutes after posting. Like other pictures in your timeline and reply on all comments under your post immediately, this will help to get the top position in the IG # overview as well

  • Follow and unfollow just to get followers, you don’t like being used either, do you?

  • Unfollow all the (bigger) accounts that unfollow you, they may have nice pictures that are good for inspiration!



  • This can help people find your account, as this tool is often used to find trip- and destination inspiration

  • Studies have shown that pics with location generate 79% more engagement!



  • Look at your amount of likes and comments per picture and learn from it

  • A lower amount of likes doesn’t mean your picture is not good, it just shows you what your target audience prefers

  • You can analyze many more IG aspects on websites like Iconosquare. It’s a very good tool, just make sure to apply your learnings to your account as well to improve your results.


  • Overanalyze and lose fun..

  • Compare too much, every account is different and not everyone may play it fair…Always keep that in mind!

Are we Insta friends already? If not check out my account here below, press follow if you like what you see and make sure to leave a comment, I am always happy to connect!

What did you think of my IG tips, did you do all these things already or are you missing anything? In a following blog post I will share more tips and go deeper into some of these, but in the meanwhile I would love to hear your thoughts!

Just leave a reply below…

Most Popular Posts

bottom of page