How to Grow Your Instagram & Build Your Brand

Everyone knows that Instagram is a huge platform that has grown well beyond a simple social media platform for interacting with friends. Like Facebook (which acquired the platform in 2012) it has become a global marketing giant for both celebrities, small businesses, and large corporations. Facebook took the initiative and helped grow Instagram into 77.6 million active users and allowing cross-posting with its own 1.74 billion users, thus tripling Instagram’s reach.  The platform is now a necessity for growing a brand and has even created its own set of celebrities that promote both their own- and third-party products.

Bearing all that in mind, one must jump on the platform to tap into a huge market and slew of potential customers, but how does one grow the following you need to sell your product or service?

Find a Niche

A niche is important to any Instagram Influencer. You want to be known for something, is it fitness/nutrition, entrepreneurship, small business, brand building, or even drama? All these categories are wide and diverse, but certainly not the end all. You must decide whether is a product, service, or even just yourself you are promoting. Once that decision is made, choose your category or niches and concentrate on it.

Follow Accounts Within Your Niche

This allows users to follow back and start seeing your content. This is the easiest way to get people to start following you, so follow more accounts! You can find people in your niche by searching related hashtags or just for the same type of or similar product or service that you offer or ones that promote the same ideas. For example, an aspiring drama comedian might follow Tania Mongeau, a motivational speaker might follow Tony Robbins, and an aspiring entrepreneur might follow Gary Vaynerchuk, Alex Beckman, Roberto Blake, or Barbara Corchran.

Unfollow Accounts

Unfollow any accounts that are inactive. Do not follow back profiles who do not follow back or are not actively posting or commenting on others. Dead accounts or those who do not replicate your support do not deserve your time or attention, so use an app like Cleaner to unfollow these people.

Post on a Consistent Schedule

At least once a week. Posting once a week will allow you to have consistency on your profile which is great for getting discovered and will help move you up on the complicated algorithm that all social media platforms use. Staying consistent, current, and relevant is key on all social media. In a recent study, it was found that the algorithm on YouTube (and probably all social media) favored accounts that post daily or several times a week, it is not recommended that you “spam” your followers but staying in their eye with quality content is important.

Post Quality Content

Quality content allows users to engage with more of your posts. Posting high-quality images will help your Instagram grow organically through more likes and follows. Do not post things like screenshots or random photos from your camera roll, but instead take relevant and pleasing photos that relate to your message or product. Think of Instagram as your “coffee table book”, where the pictures tell your story.

Engage with People

When people follow you, DM them and thank them! This shows you care and are willing to put the time in to thank them for something so simple. Comment and like people’s posts in your niche and watch your follower count skyrocket.  Remember when we said unfollow dead accounts that do not replicate your efforts, DON’T BE ONE OF THESE DEAD ACCOUNTS toward others. This is true not just on Instagram, but on all social media platforms. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, YouTube, and Reddit, find those related to your message and get active on their pages. Respond, make videos, answer questions (Quora) and all the while mentioning where they can find you. A disclaimer here, make sure your responses to other influencers are helpful and professional, showing respect to the other influencer, never hateful or aggressive.

Post More Stories

Become the product that people want and show people what you’re doing in your life.  Make Instagram your personal story time and use it to show how you progress over time in making yourself and your business better. Also, stay real in that you not only talk about success but your failures, as well. This makes you relatable to others and by showing how you fixed the issues validates you as an expert in your niche.

Meet People and Share Your Instagram

Talking to people in real life is one of the best ways to meet new people and get new followers. Always have a “conversational pitch” ready and talk about your product, brand, or service in every interaction possible. Whether you are in an elevator, in line for coffee, or playing sports be ready to share your message. In addition, take the time to visit your local area and get involved! Go to local trade shows, Chamber of Commerce Mixers, and even city and student council meetings, where you can meet the local movers and shakers that can help get the word out on and may even have a need for what you are promoting.  Another great method is to offer to speak at some of these events, even if you are not a great public speaker you can put together a few minutes on your niche. The key is to give accurate information that will be useful to those listening and you instantly become a sought-after expert in that area.

This is a non-exhaustive list of ways to grow your Instagram following and your brand in general. In the end, it takes consistency, time, and daily activity to stay in the public view and to catch the fickle eye of the public. Perception does equal reality in today’s social media world, so make sure your Instagram and your life as appealing as possible. For a video breakdown of these points visit my YouTube channel here!

Check out Finance Sectors Projected To Grow



When it comes to using hashtags for Instagram, there are many strategies. People have been researching what the most popular Instagram hashtags are to use, and how they can use them to increase their followers. The easiest way to get followers on Instagram is to get verified, but this is not easy for everyone.

To start, we must know what hashtags are and how they can help you grow your account. 

What are Instagram Hashtags?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications to identify messages on a specific topic.

Knowing this, a user can use a hashtag to increase their organic reach and attract new people to their Instagram accounts. By using a hashtag, accounts on Instagram are now connected with a common topic.

For example, if you search #food on Instagram, results will show up of food posts on Instagram that are marked with that same hashtag. Knowing this, you can reach a more select target audience.

#food on Instagram

Hashtags allow you to connect with other users using a relevant keyword. When trying to grow your social media, this is extremely valuable to growing your account.

Now that you know what hashtags are, we can move on to the next step. 

How to Use Hashtags for Instagram

The first thing you will need to do is have Instagram content. Content should not be taken lightly. When it comes to growing on Instagram, you will need to make sure your content is appealing and something people will enjoy. Without good content, hashtags are meaningless.

The key to having good content is something that has bright colors, a good caption, and a picture or video that draws the user’s attention. Also, I recommend using post sizes that are more vertical than horizontal. People will be more likely to double-tap the picture if you have a vertical post.

Next, you will want to pick a word that describes your content. For the purpose of this guide, I will be using #food as the root hashtag. Your root hashtag should be something generic and that can have variations on it easily. If you are having trouble finding hashtags, you can use a hashtag generator service like RiteTag to optimize your content with hashtags.

Step 1: Pick Out Hashtags

Instagram allows you have to have a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. However, it is probably more beneficial to not use all these tags. TrackMaven found the optimal amount of hashtags to use on Instagram is 9.

Using any more than 9 can actually hurt you in the Instagram algorithm, making it less beneficial to use more. Therefore, I recommend you stick with a maximum of 15 hashtags for your content.

When picking out hashtags, I recommend not using any spammy hashtags like #like4like or #follow4follow. These hashtags make you look spammy and will not result in you gaining engaging followers. You want niche specific followers.

First, search your generic hashtag on Instagram. Here, you will find a list of related hashtags.

#Food on Instagram

Above, you will see a list of related hashtags to #food.

Pick out the related hashtags and try to find a mix of low, medium, and high volume tags. You can also search for trending hashtags to maximize your engagement, but only use them if they make sense.

Low Volume Tags – 1000 – 10,000 posts.

Medium Volume Tags – 10,000 – 100,000 posts

High Volume Tags – 100,000 – 100,000,000 posts.

Using a mix is recommended to get the best results on your account. Low volume niche hashtags will give you more select followers, while high volume tags will get you more engagement.

Make sure to use specific hashtags that are relevant to your content to maximize results. If you do not use relevant hashtags, your photos or videos will not get any results. 

Step 2: Use Hashtags Within Your Caption

Now, it’s time to add hashtags to your Instagram posts. The goal is to use hashtags in a way that ranks your post in the top posts section of the hashtag. The way to do this is to use the hashtags in your caption in a way that makes sense.

A lot of people use hashtags at the end of their caption, however, this is not the way to use hashtags. Instagram’s algorithm wants it to make sense. The best way to use them is to write a sentence like this.

#Food is a great way to meet #people. It allows the conversation to flow in an enjoyable manner. I recommend using #spaghetti as the dish of choice!

Using the hashtags where they make sense can provide you with a favorability factor in the Instagram algorithm, allowing you to find more niche followers. When you are done with writing your caption, you may list the rest of your hashtags at the end of your post to fill them in.

Step 3: Post Your Content and Engage With Others

After creating your caption and optimizing it, it is important to post your content and engage with others. I recommend going to one of the hashtags and liking/commenting on other people’s posts in an attempt to get them to return the favor on your account.

You will want to get as much engagement as possible to rank your post on the hashtags.

What is the Best Hashtag Research Tool for Instagram?

The best tool to find the top hashtags to use is probably Instagram itself. Searching for a base hashtag and then using the app to find related ones are probably going to produce you the best results.

You can also search the App Store for a hashtag generator app, but I have not had the best results with these. I prefer to just use the Instagram app to find tags.

Can I Use Hashtags in the Comments?

On your own posts, you can comment hashtags instead of putting them in your caption. If you feel that it will look more professional to add hashtags in your comment section, you may do this.

Hashtag generator apps usually give you a premade comment to do this effectively.

What are the Best Hashtags to Use on Instagram?

The best hashtags to use on Instagram are ones that you can rank for on the top posts section. If you get about 300 likes on Instagram, try to find hashtags that have top posts with 300 likes.

Once your account grows, so does your ability to compete. Instagram users are constantly competing for the top post on a hashtag, so make sure you know what you can honestly compete in before you try.

How to Use a Brand Hashtag on Instagram?

A lot of people and businesses created branded hashtags for their posts. A brand hashtag is a hashtag that connects people to a brand.

For example, Temple University uses the hashtag #TempleMade in their bio. This incentivizes their followers to use that hashtag on their photos from campus to get featured on the University’s Instagram page.

Branded hashtags are a great way to increase engagement and create a community around your page. Using a call to action in your posts telling people to use the hashtag can create a highly engaging community.

Another great strategy is to use your brand hashtag for giveaways. People tend to love free things, so giveaways are a great way to grow your branded hashtag.

What Hashtag Strategies Work Best?

The best hashtag strategies are ones that are effective in getting your posts impressions. I am not here to endorse any other strategies besides the one that I have demonstrated in this guide.

The idea is to create a strategy that works for you and stick with it.

Should I Repeat Hashtags in My Posts?

Repeating the use of the same hashtags can result in a negative effect on your account. Ideally, you will not want to repeat the same hashtag on more than 2 posts.

Instagram does not like when users repeatedly use the same hashtag in an effort to own all the space on the hashtag page. It is wise to switch up your hashtags for each post.

Can I Use Hashtags on Instagram Stories?

Yes, Instagram allows you to use the hashtag sticker on your Instagram stories. This allows you to have your story featured on the hashtag’s page and reach more users. Make sure the hashtag makes sense before using it.


Using hashtags is an effective way to grow your followers. It allows you to reach more targeted users and build a community with people. Everyone should be using hashtags on Instagram if they are looking to grow your account.

Make sure to use hashtags that make sense within your content so people do not react negatively to your posts. Using a hashtag for the purpose of getting impressions is not the point. It is to build a community of niche followers.



In today’s digital circles, we hear a lot about ‘clout.’ It’s such a popular word that even Offset and Cardi B. wrote a song about it recently! At its core, clout comes down to importance, relevance, and influence, all of which drive traffic to your website. So, how to indisputably prove your clout on your Instagram account? Easy: with the coveted blue checkmark next to your name that signifies Instagram verification.

According to Instagram’s guidelines, the verified badge “means Instagram has confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents.” Since social media is full of impersonators and fake profiles, the badge garners trust, confidence, and reassurance that yes, you’re following the right account.


There are three big reasons why getting verified on Instagram is important for growing your business or personal brand:

It Creates Authenticity

By getting verified, you’ve proved you’re, well, you! Celebrity impersonation is nothing new; verification adds an extra layer of security against fraudulent accounts. For online retailers and e-commerce, this is very important as it shows customers that they’re in the right place and can shop through Instagram with confidence. It’s equally important for bloggers and influencers as a way to both build and protects their brand.

It Shows Your Clout

There’s that word again! That little blue checkmark declares your significance to everyone who sees it. Even if you only have a small amount of internet clout compared to, say, Lionel Messi or a Kardashian, there’s a good chance at least one fake account claiming to be you already exists. The Instagram verified badge separates the real thing from the fakes.

It Boosts Your Instagram SEO

Verification boosts your account to the top of Instagram’s search results. That is, when a user searches for a keyword related to your page, verification means your account will show up before non-verified accounts. Higher search rankings mean more exposure, more exposure means more business, and more business means more opportunity. It’s a butterfly effect of SEO benefits.


This all depends on what you use Instagram for. If it’s just a personal account to share photos of things you find interesting, then there’s no reason for you to need verification. However, if you’re an influencer or if your account is at all related to your business, blog, or personal brand, it may be worth it to apply.


The verification process and criteria used to be shrouded in secrecy, but recent increased transparency and insight into the brand’s thinking helps us mere mortals boost our chances of getting that coveted Instagram verified badge. It may go without saying, but in order to be verified, an account must abide by the Instagram Terms of Use and Community Guidelines. We know the legalese fine print doesn’t exactly make for captivating reading, but it’s critical to have your account in full compliance if you want to get verified on Instagram.

Although Instagram is owned by Facebook as of 2012, their verification guidelines and procedures operate independently of one another Getting verified on Facebook does not guarantee you’ll be able to get verified on Instagram.

Instagram sets out four criteria they look at when deliberating on a verification request. Every verified account must be:


This means you’re a real, live human person and not a bot. No fakes, frauds, or phonies allowed. If you find an account impersonating you, be sure to report them.


Instagram only verifies one account per person, entity, or business. The account must be a ‘unique presence,’ as opposed to the general interest. That means no meme pages, inspirational quote accounts, pet breed fan pages, etc.


The verification guidelines dictate an account must be public with a biography, a profile picture, and a minimum of one post. ‘Add me’ links to other social media platforms are forbidden.


Verification is reserved for a “well-known, highly searched for person, brand or entity,” per the guidelines. They’re interested in people and brands that have established themselves elsewhere and created a buzz in the process. While some influencers do begin their careers on Instagram and use it as their main platform, their presence (one could even say their clout!) must be large enough to have generated interest elsewhere.

Be sure to review your account to make sure it meets these four requirements prior to requesting a verification! If you’re curious about how much buzz you attract, try putting your name or brand into Google and seeing what pops up. Set up a Google Alert to get notified when a new search result appears for it. That way, you’ll stay on top of what the web has to say about you.


Let’s break it down step by step:

1. Start by making sure you’re logged into the account you want to verify. Next, go to your Instagram profile. Tap the hamburger icon (yes, that three-line menu button is called a hamburger, and no, we’re not making that up) on the top right of your page to open up your account menu.

2. At the very bottom of this menu, you’ll see a gear icon next to the word ‘Settings.’ This is your account’s control panel, where you can do all sorts of things. Tap that to open it.

3. Scroll down the Settings menu until you reach ‘Account.’ Tap to open. Scroll down to ‘Request Verification’ and tap to open.

4. You’ll be taken to an application form. Fill in your full name or the full name of the person running the account and the name they’re known as, then select a category for your account. The categories available are:

· News/Media
· Sports
· Government/Politics
· Music
· Fashion
· Entertainment
· Blogger/Influencer
· Business/Brand/Organization
· Other

5. Once that’s done, tap the Choose File button and upload a photo of a document that proves your identity. For individuals, Instagram accepts government-issued photo IDs like driver’s licenses and passports. Be sure the photo clearly shows both your full name and date of birth on the document. If you’re requesting verification for a business, you’ll need an official business document like the articles of incorporation or a tax return. Instagram also accepts a recent utility bill, like an electricity bill, for your place of business.
Submit all that information, and voila! You’ve completed the verification application process.


And now the worst part: the waiting. Every verification request is reviewed by a human moderator who decides whether or not an account meets the criteria and receives the blue checkmark. Recently Instagram has started informing applicants of an approximate timeframe for processing, which should make the waiting period easier.

You’ll be notified on the app platform within a few weeks about the results of your application.


Don’t Try to Rush the Process

When you apply to get verified on Instagram, it can take several weeks to hear back. Requesting verification more than once won’t do any good. Stay patient and wait for your response.

Don’t Try to Game the System.

While it might be tempting to try and buy Instagram verification, don’t do it! It’s frowned upon just like buying followers is, and will only damage your reputation. There’s also an excellent chance anyone claiming to ‘sell’ verification is a scammer, a spammer, or both. You’re much better off following protocol; save your money and save your credibility. In addition, if you’re verified and get caught trying to sell that status to others, Instagram will revoke your own verification and you’ll be right back at square one.

Don’t Fall Victim to a Verification Scam

Just like you do on the rest of the internet, practice safe browsing and clicking habits on Instagram. If a link on someone’s profile looks suspicious or claims to be a verification application, don’t click it. Phishing schemes regularly trawl the social media waters looking for victims; all it takes is one click and your whole account could be compromised. Identity theft is a giant headache with implications extending offline and into your daily life. Use your best common sense and don’t risk it.

A good rule of thumb on what not to do is, don’t get cute with it. Like it or not, you have to play by Instagram’s rules if you want to get your profile verified.


Don’t get discouraged if you get turned down. It’s not a proclamation that you’ll be denied the glorious verification badge forever. As a matter of fact, you can reapply again after 30 days from the date you’re denied.

Focus Elsewhere

If Instagram turns down your request to get verified, don’t lose hope or take it personally. Instead, redirect that energy into building your brand across different platforms. Link to your Instagram profile on your other social media accounts and do some cross-promotion, and make sure to link the accounts together. That way you can share content directly from Instagram onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. without having to copy or retype everything. It’ll save you some time and effort while keeping your content consistent across the web.

Take Your Content To The Next Level

Work on making your posts more visible. If you’re not using hashtags, now is the perfect time to start. Develop a consistent voice, posting schedule, and style. Favor some certain Instagram filters over others for your photos? Keep using them! Paying attention to details like that will help your content build a distinct look and feel your followers will be able to instantly recognize. Make your profile pleasant to look at. Make it memorable.

Get Interactive With Your Audience

Speaking of your followers, don’t forget to get engaged with them! Respond to their comments, answer their questions if it’s information you’re comfortable sharing publicly, like their photos if they tag you, even repost them if you’re really impressed. Above all, show that yes, there’s a real human being behind your account. Instagram favors engagement, and being consistently interactive with your audience boosts your chances of getting verified the next time you apply.

Look For Like-Minded Partners

In addition, look for collaborations with brands or other influencers to help boost your public profile. Part of what Instagram checks for is a noteworthy and newsworthy persona; the cross-promotion earned from a solid collaboration will boost your SEO and raise your profile in search results. You become more newsworthy by association, which increases your chances of getting verified the next time you apply. It’s important to make sure the collaborations match the personal brand you’re building: for example, don’t accept a steakhouse deal if you’re a vegan food blogger. Followers value authenticity and won’t hesitate to speak up if they find a collaboration inappropriate.

Seek Verification Elsewhere

Remember, even if you can’t get verified on Instagram, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get verified on other platforms. Look at the other social media networks you’re active on, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, and apply for verification on your profiles there. Be sure to check out this post to learn how to get verified on Twitter!
If you’re still feeling down about not getting verified, use it as motivation to work harder and take your brand to the next level. Hard work pays off!

While trying to get verified on Instagram may seem like a lot of unnecessary effort, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Part of building a successful and noteworthy online presence comes from shoring up your foundations and putting in the hard work to gain traction elsewhere. Each step benefits each other, strengthens your brand, and contributes to your business.

Make yourself notable, get your work and persona out there, find joy in the journey, and see where it takes you. Just because the grind doesn’t pay instant dividends doesn’t mean it will never pay at all: belief in your vision and others will, too.

Instagram content

How to Create Content for Instagram?

When it comes to running an Instagram account, content is key. Content is what your users will view to make the ultimate decision if your account is worth following. A lot of people find themselves asking, how exactly do I create content for Instagram?

Content should not be taken lightly. You should first develop a plan on how you will create your content before starting your Instagram page. You will want to have a consistent Instagram feed that is engaging, hopefully leading to more followers.

On my personal Instagram that I use for personal branding, I have a content strategy that involves posting a photo of myself with a mini blog post as the description. I have found that since I am a blogger, I need to try to find niche followers that will engage with my content. Therefore, it makes sense to provide them with a blog post in the caption of my Instagram posts.

An example is shown below:


Instagram Blog Instagram blog

Where to Get Content For Instagram?

Every Instagram is different in that we all have a different niche. We are all targeting different types of followers, so it makes it hard to have a one size fits all content strategy. Therefore, here are a few options to create content:

Hire a Freelancer

Freelancers are a great way to optimize your Instagram feed professionally. I would suggest using Fiverr or UpWork to hire a professional graphics designer to optimize your images for engagement.

The key is to find someone with great reviews to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Use Photoshop or Canva

When it comes to creating great content, creating high-quality Instagram posts can be accomplished by using applications like Photoshop or Canva. Both are great options, but I would recommend using Canva because it is free and gives you templates that are easy to work with.

Creating Instagram stories and posts will be extremely easy through Canva because it is meant for people with not a lot of graphics design experience. It is a great way to add text overlays, filters, and other elements to make your content pop.

Have a Photoshoot Day

My favorite way to create user-generated content is to find a day during the week where you can have a photoshoot. If you do not have the money to pay a photographer, ask one of your friends or family members to come out and take pictures for you! It is a fun bonding experience and can be a great way to explore new places.

I suggest going to your local city, parks, or other attractions to get good photos. Doing this provides a way to use different location tags on your content to drive even more traffic to your content.

Post Pictures of Your Products

If you are a small business, the type of content you post is very critical to your success in growing your business. Since you are not a typical Instagram user, your Instagram strategy needs to be a little different. You must uniquely provide value to attract followers.

The easiest way is to take pictures of your products or services, edit them on Photoshop or Canva, and post them with discount codes. This provides value and gives a reason for people to follow your account.

Create Instagram Blogs

A fun thing I have been exploring with recently is making my Instagram account into a mini blog that drives traffic to my main blog. I do this by posting an image of myself, a motivational or unique caption, and then providing a blog post optimized with hashtags.

These types of posts tend to drive a lot of engagement to a target audience of my choice and are a great way to continue to create content. Since Instagram allows up to 2000 characters in the caption, you should have no issue with space!

Post Videos on Instagram Stories

A lot of people dream of being a vlogger, yet never take the steps to post any. Luckily, Instagram stories can be an interesting and fun way to vlog your life. You can add gifs, hashtags, and other elements to your stories to make them as engaging as possible.

Using Instagram stories is a great way to keep your followers engaged with your account and drive traffic. Make sure to consistently post quality content, or this will not be successful.

Repost Other Users Content

Of course, you will want to make sure to give other users credit for their posts, so make sure to tag them and give them a shoutout when reposting. Collaborating is one of the easiest ways to grow an Instagram account and is an easy way to get more followers.


Creating content is not easy. Everyone has been in a situation where they want to post, but do not have anything they find worthy of posting. Hopefully, this article provides you with some ideas to get ahead of your posting schedule.

Make sure to have a social media strategy, or even a social media manager if you are a business whos focus is to consistently post high-quality engaging content on your feed. It is vital to your success on Instagram, and should not be taken lightly.

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