Can you guess what it takes to grow your IG followers from a meager three-digit figure to a steep 100K within a year? You would say paid ads, I say no. You would then say purchasing followers online, I say hell no.

So, how is it done? You would ask, of course.

Instagram is a photo sharing app whose pure play aesthetic framework aligns with the core values of most creative businesses. Where Facebook is great for revealing a more intimate perspective or personality of a company, Instagram is perfect for validating how relevant the company’s brand is, and how it is perceived by popular culture.

We all know that it is highly unreal to churn out highly engaging images everyday based on your core business and clientele, so the key to success here is to adopt the curatorial approach. The approach used by most of the creative Instagram accounts of people as well as businesses. For example, if you notice a lot of high-end fashion designers post illustrations and modern art forms which inspired them for their new collection before they post their actual collection.

With this approach in mind, here is how you can create a visually engaging Instagram account while gaining a massive following in only a matter of a year:

  1. Imagery And Flow

Composition, subject matter and photography/image style are critical for making content look appealing and curating content in your feed. However, the most important factor in curating images is color. A great color story creates a visually delightful experience when scrolling through a feed for the first time. It also forces you, as the curator, to look at the feed as a whole, instead of judging image quality by single posts.

It doesn’t take more than a few hours a week to carefully design the flow of your feed. So it doesn’t become a daunting task, focus on blocks of 24 posts or eight rows of three images. By playing with different crops, compositions and image order, it’s easy to design the way an audience will view your images and videos.

In our case, we made sure that every block of 24 posts used a specific color story, which blends seamlessly from one block to the next. It also keeps you from posting random content and encourages you to post on a strict schedule.

  1. Captions

Captions give context and meaning to a post. When curating a feed where the images aren’t your own and are simply used for the purpose of driving a point across your community, it’s important to be informative.

Use a friendly tone for your caption to honor the artist you have sourced from while informing your community about it and what you think about it. Always give credits and tag the artists you source from while keeping the caption crisp. However, captions can run long. Once you have an active community following you, longer captions can produce a higher rate of engagement.

  1. Hashtags

Using hashtags is crucial to maximizing a post’s reach. When a post uses a hashtag, it becomes visible within the hashtag set. Better yet, if a single post is able to “own” a hashtag set, meaning it sits in the top eight images, engagement for that post, and subsequently the post’s account, can increase dramatically.

To use hashtags productively, it’s important to source between 50-100 different tags that vary in size — meaning the number of posts that are using the tag. Instagram makes this simple with its search feature. By typing “#” with a keyword, Instagram will automatically show tags and related tags that vary in size starting with the largest tags. A good range would be gathering different tags that have 1M, 500k, 250k, 10k, 2k, 900 posts, etc. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags for each post, which should be used in full.

Do not forget to create your unique hashtag. Creating a personalized hashtag allows people to see your posts and builds brand awareness. It also makes it easy for other accounts to repost and tag you.

  1. Posting Schedule

To amass new followers consistently, it’s important to post frequently. When a feed is dormant or has little activity, it could lose followers or have extremely low engagement. To create true fandom and become a visual resource and inspiration for clients and followers, etc., it’s important to be crème de la crème.

Additionally, the only way to get accurate data on what works is by posting often and with great discipline. Create a posting schedule to work around for the initial few months, once you hit 50% of your target goal, you can reduce the number of posts gradually.

Consistency is the key.