Use These 6 Tips to Grow Your Instagram Following for Free

08/17/2016 05:01 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2017

Are you currently marketing your business on Instagram and want to attract more followers?

Do you want to increase your following without spending any money?

If so, implement these six tips and attract some of Instagram's 500 million users to your brand.

These strategies will work for business accounts and individuals alike, so dive in and learn how you can attract more Instagram followers without spending a dime.

1. Focus on creating an authentic Instagram image.

Nobody is going to follow your account if it appears that every post you make is a direct advertisement. There are ways to incorporate your brand into each post without being overly promotional. Take a look at this post by FedEx:

The main focus is the Boston harbor, complete with sailboats. In the background you see a FedEx plane landing. While there is branding present, it isn't the dominant focus of the image. Instagram is a photo sharing app, so creative images will always pull a much higher engagement rate and get people to take notice of your brand, which will naturally attract new followers.

2. Post consistently, though not too often.

Don't post so often that you annoy your followers -- that will not only cause them to drop off, but anyone checking out your profile for the first time might notice your post frequency and be turned off. When you are just starting out and have a small following, once or twice will do the trick. As your following increases, your post frequency needs to increase as well.

You are going to need to experiment with different frequencies and times to see how your particular audience responds. For example, an account with millions of followers in the "funny memes" niche will be able to get away with posting almost hourly, where a business account might only want to post once in the morning and once in the evening.

If you are struggling to come up with enough content, re-purpose content from other relevant accounts. There are several apps that allow you to save Instagram photos to your camera roll so you can easily re-post them to your own account. Make sure to credit and tag the original source. Target accounts that have followers that you would like to attract, because if you show them enough love they are likely to return the favor and re-post some of your content, placing your brand in front of a new relevant audience.

3. Use relevant hashtags.

Check to see what hashtags are popular within your industry and incorporate them into your posts. You don't want to go overboard with hashtags -- learn how to use them correctly. But, strategically using three to four per post can help users find your content and then ultimately follow your account.

Too many people spam their posts with as many hashtags as they can fit, which just pushes people away. Use them as they were intended to be used -- as a discovery tool.

4. Interact with your current followers.

There are three simple tasks you can do that creates loyal followers you can leverage to attract additional followers:

  • Anytime someone follows your Instagram account take a second or two to visit their profile and like their most recent post and drop a comment. This type of engagement creates a solid relationship in the beginning.
  • When one of your followers leaves a comment on your content, make sure you reply to them. This shows you appreciate them and they will be more likely to engage more with your future content.
  • Encourage engagement by asking your followers to tag friends in your posts. If you are an e-commerce business and you post an image of a hot new product include something along the lines of, "Tag three friends that you think would love this!" Since these people are being introduced to your Instagram profile through a friend, they are more likely to follow you.

5. Take time to create beautiful images.

Instagram is a photo app above and beyond anything else. There is a huge user base percentage that focuses on the art, so anytime you can create stunning images you are going to stand a much better chance of attracting new followers.

Experiment with creative lighting and angles to give your images more of an artistic feel, rather than a commercial feel. Creativity is often rewarded on Instagram. Take a look at the posts featured on Instagram's Search & Explore option to spark your creativity.

6. Keep your account niche-focused.

You need to make sure your account remains niche-focused and doesn't wander off into multiple directions. For example, a humor page isn't going to start posting motivational quotes, because that's not why their followers connected with them in the first place -- they are following them for funny memes, not motivation.

Posting consistently and staying on topic is going to benefit your account over time. You can't expect instant success with Instagram. It takes time to build up a popular account and attract followers that will routinely engage with your content. Once you identify the topic of your page, stick with it, and remain laser focused.

Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO coaching and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC.co (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter.