4 Tips to use Instagram with Intention and Grow your Following in 2021

Patrick Farrell
5 min readFeb 6, 2021

As the world has changed over the past year, our online presence is more important now than ever; in fact, if you want to build a business online or become a remote worker, a strong online brand is essential. Since I left my corporate job in 2016, I have been heavily invested in using Instagram to connect with my audience, grow my following, and build my community. Posting on my stories has become a part of my daily routine and I attribute a lot of my own personal growth to learning how to show up more authentically online.

It’s a bit hard to quantify but a large portion of my life is actually a result of using Instagram in an intentional way. Like any tool, we can use Instagram for good in a way that makes our lives better, or we can sucked into an endless vortex that consumes our time and attention. Therefore, I’ve decided to focus on using Instagram to build up a life for myself that I truly love. I’ve been able to connect with incredible like-hearted people and overcome many fears of judgement around sharing my voice through this platform.

The reason that Instagram is so powerful if you use it in an intentional way is that people are out there showcasing who they are, what they care about, and WHY they want to share their voice with the world. And this platform makes it easy to discover others on a similar path and provide value to our to those who are interested in listening.

In this article, I’m going to detail a few of the ways to grow your Instagram this year and raise awareness around the important features and elements on Instagram.

Understand the Algorithm

This is an important topic to discuss and one that largely we don’t have all of the info around, but there is a lot of tips that we do know that you can leverage to grow your following on the platform.

Instagram was originally created to link friends together, therefore who you are following and how you interact with them is going to influence what instagram shows you on your feed.

When you like or comment on someone’s post, and they respond back to you, that is telling the algorithm that there is a human connection between your two accounts. This means that Instagram will show you more of their content. This works for stories too. If you are watching someone’s stories, and they watch yours back, most likely Instagram will put their account at the top of your screen for you to click on when they post a new story.

How you interact with Instagram using likes, comments, saves and shares also influences the algorithm and indicates how valuable your content is to your audience. Likes hold the least weight because it’s very easy to like a post; saving posts and shares hold more weight. If someone wants to see this post again in the future or believes it is valuable enough to share with someone else, then that action is going to hold more weight in the eyes of the algorithm.

So the more you can create valuable content that your audience adds to their saves and then shares with others, the more you are going to increase your reach and the faster you are going to grow.

Use Carousels

Instagram wants to keep you on Instagram, and they want you to interact with people’s content because that’s how they make money. So one of the best ways to get people to spend more time on your content is to use carousels. This is where you post multiple pictures or graphics on an individual post in your feed.

Then when someone starts swiping through these posts, they end up spending more time because they had to swipe through to see all of the content. If you can get someone to swipe through your entire carousel, it tells Instagram that your content is valuable. Instagram tracks all of these statistics and if enough people are scrolling through the content, Instagram will reward you with sharing it with more people.

Canva is an easy tool you can use to create carousels. I’ve been using canva to create thumbnails and other marketing material but have yet to build a any carousels myself, so this tip will be one of my growth strategies soon in 2021.

Use Reels

Instagrams new feature that competes with TikTok is called Reels. Since it’s a relatively new feature to Instagram, they are currently rewarding people with engagement for uploading reels.

One of the key elements in the value of your reel is retention rate. You want your audience to be watching all of your reel and not clicking away in the middle of it. This means that it is more valuable to upload a 15 second reel that someone is going to watch the entire video than upload a 60 second reel that someone clicks away from after 20 seconds.

I highly recommend playing with this new feature in 2021 as I believe there will be a lot of growth for any creators and influencers that are creating valuable content through reels.

Educate, Entertain and Inspire your Audience

The people that are following you are following you for a reason. Either they want to learn something from you, connect with you, or be inspired by you.

And the more that we learn how to create valuable and engaging content that adds value to their life, the more that we will see our audience grow. This isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do to continually create content that is valuable and entertaining for our audience, it takes a lot of work!

But nothing in life worth any valuable is truly easy to obtain. If you continue to believe in your message and what you have to share, continue to create content, and continue to hit that post button, I truly believe anyone can grow on Instagram.

I hope this was valuable and gave you some insights into how to grow your audience on Instagram this year. If you want to dive deeper, the next round of my Re-Invent Your Instagram Program is launching on Monday February 8th. I’d love to help you understand more about the platform and help you grow an audience this year that is excited to hear your message and what you have to share with the world.

Originally published at https://patrickfarrell.life on February 6, 2021.



Patrick Farrell

Founder and Business Coach for Online Entrepreneurs and Coaches. I help people create more freedom in their life and connect to their purpose.