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How to Grow a Private Account on Instagram: A Step-By-Step Guide

Growing a private account on Instagram is more challenging than a public one.

If you’re growing a public account, you can use hashtags on your posts to increase your reach.

However, hashtags do not work on for private accounts, so you can’t use them on the caption or the comment section of your post.

This is because your posts will not be shown on the explore page or hashtag search result pages.

But don’t worry, there are lots of ways you can grow your private account on Instagram without relying on hashtags.

This article guides you on 5 different ways you can use to accomplish this.

By the end of the article, you should be able to utilize these steps to skyrocket your Instagram followers and engagement.

1. Write a compelling bio

Instagram bio ideas

The first step is to write a compelling bio for your Instagram profile.

A bio is important as it is one of the first things people look at when visiting your profile.

Since your posts are hidden, your Instagram bio is put on the spotlight.

As your account is a private one, your posts will be hidden from others until they follow you.

Hence, your Instagram bio is one of the first things others will look at since your posts are hidden. Contrary to a private account, a public account’s posts are visible to the public.

In order for a public account to stand out from the rest, it needs to have a consistent and beautiful feed.

Since your account is a private one, you don’t need to bother too much about beautifying your feed (you can care about it later).

That being said, someone’s first impression of your profile is not based on your posts (since they are hidden), but it’s evaluated based on other factors.

One of those factors is your Instagram bio. So, how do you write the perfect Instagram bio?

The perfect Instagram bio relies on these points:

  1. Describe your niche or interests
  2. Include a call to action
  3. Make use of emojis

For better understanding, here are each of these points in detail.

Describe your niche or interests

The very first thing you should do is to think about a description about yourself or your niche.

Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:

What are your interests? What type of content do you post the most frequently?

Your Instagram bio is a chance for people to get to know you better, so you shouldn’t waste it.

When you’re working on describing your interests or niche, make sure to explain in one sentence or in a few short lines.

Typically, people will glance through your bio, so you’ll have to make sure to keep it short and sweet.

Don’t have a long-winded bio as most people won’t bother to read everything.

Include a call to action

Secondly, make sure to include a call to action on your Instagram bio.

This is especially important if you have a website or blog that you want to promote. To accomplish this, make sure to add a link in your bio.

Do note that you can only add one link in your bio. However, you can make use of an all-in-one link tool like Linktree or AllMyLinks if you want to add multiple links.

However, you have to be very careful about using these tools as your link might get blocked by Instagram.

A great tip to drive more link clicks is to add an pointing downwards emoji to prompt users to click on your link.

There are lots of Instagram users who used this strategy to get more clicks to their website.

All in all, adding a call to action is important if you have a website or blog that you want to promote.

Make use of emojis

Using selective emojis on your Instagram bio can make your profile stand out from others.

For example, if you’re interested in fitness, you can add a “Flexed Biceps” emoji to exemplify it. Likewise, if you’re interested in art, you can add an “Artist Palette” emoji.

Adding emojis in your bio can help express your interests in the simplest way possible.

In addition, it helps save a lot of space in your bio as an emoji can be used to express an entire phrase.

Though emojis are a great addition to your bio, you have to make sure that you’re not overusing them.

Too many emojis can mess up your bio, so you’ll have to strike a balance between text and emojis.

2. Have a good profile picture

Secondly, you need to have a good profile picture to get people to follow you.

Other than having a compelling bio for a private account, you need to have a good profile picture to stand out from the rest.

This is because your profile picture is one of the first things someone will look at when they visit your profile.

As your account is a private one, your posts are hidden from people that are not following you, so your profile picture is put on the spotlight.

Here are a couple of guidelines to follow when you’re choosing a profile picture:

If your account is a personal one, use a picture of yourself so that people you know can easily identify you.

On the other hand, if your account is a business one, you should highly consider using a logo as your profile picture.

Having a good profile picture is the foundation to grow your private account on Instagram.

Profile picture for a personal account

If your account is a personal one, it’s best to use a picture of yourself as your profile picture. This will make it easier for your friends or family to find and follow you on Instagram.

Additionally, whenever you’re using a picture of yourself, you should either use a headshot or a selfie.

Remember, your profile picture is tiny on a mobile device and it cannot be enlarged on Instagram.

Hence, try not to use a full body picture as your profile picture. Otherwise, it’ll be shrunk down to fit, and people might not be able to identify you.

Profile picture for a business account

On the other hand, if your account is for a business, you should use a logo as your profile picture.

If you don’t have a logo, it’s highly recommended that you create one. This is because a logo helps people to recognize your business and branding.

If you’re using a random image as your profile picture, people won’t be able to associate it with your brand.

Moreover, an Instagram business profile without a logo is unprofessional.

You only have a couple of seconds to make a first impression, so having a professional logo is important if you want to grab people’s attention.

3. Follow everyone you know

Mutual followers

Next, you should follow everyone you know on Instagram. It could be friends, acquaintances, etc.

Each time you get to know someone, don’t be afraid to ask them for their Instagram handle.

A great way to grow a private account is to follow everyone you know in-person on Instagram.

People you know tend to follow back and engage as they want to stay updated about what’s happening in your life.

On the other hand, if you were to follow someone you don’t know in-person, they might not follow you back.

It’s important to connect with everyone you know on Instagram as it helps to expand your network.

However, if you’re hesitant about asking them for their Instagram handle, you can try finding their accounts via mutuals.

Instagram has a feature where mutuals are visible under a user’s bio.

Let’s say that you’re trying to find “James” who is someone you met in-person, and one of your friends, “John” is close friends with him.

There’s a high chance that you can find James on Instagram from the followers/following list of John.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can find someone (that you know in-person) on Instagram without knowing their username:

As a prerequisite, you’ll need to know the Instagram of one or more of the person’s friend(s).

  1. Visit the Instagram profile of one of the person’s friends.
  2. Check the followers/following list of that friend and search for the name of the person that you’re trying to find.
  3. In most cases, the person you’re trying to find will be following that friend.

Mutual followers are a great way you can find old friends that you haven’t met in a while.

Additionally, if you happen to stumble upon a user with a lot of mutual followers, you should follow them.

People are more likely to follow someone with a lot of mutuals as compared to someone who has zero mutuals. This is because mutual followers are a sign of trust.

If you’re following someone with zero mutuals, they are less inclined to follow you back because you’re a complete stranger.

Ultimately, people are more likely to follow you back and interact with your posts if you know them.

This will not only expand your follower-base, but it also increases your engagement rate.

4. Join follow for follow groups

Instagram follow for follow

Joining follow for follow groups is an unconventional yet highly effective way you can grow your private account on Instagram.

Growing your followers should be your main priority on Instagram, especially since your account is private.

If you don’t have any followers, your posts will get little to no engagement. At the end of the day, there’s no point in posting content that gets little to no likes.

Keep in mind that hashtags don’t work on a private account as your posts won’t be shown on the explore page or on the hashtag search results.

That being said, followers are your most important metric as a private account. No followers = no engagement.

Joining follow for follow groups is the most effective way you can grow your Instagram followers with no prior connections.

For a start, you can try joining Reddit’s r/Instagram and share your Instagram link there.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Share your Instagram link and a description of yourself or the content that you post.
  2. Follow others that are preferbly in your niche.
  3. Lastly, direct message them, “Hey, from Reddit” for a follow back.

You can potentially gain 10 to 20 engaged followers daily from r/Instagram alone.

The subreddit has benefitted hundreds of Instagram users for years now, and it’s not stopping any time soon.

The only restriction you’ll have to be aware of is the action block. If you follow and direct message too many people at one go, you might be action blocked.

To mitigate this, you have to follow and direct message others in intervals of 5 to 10 minutes.

In addition, you should mix up your direct messages as you will be action blocked from sending similar messages.

Joining follow for follow groups is a great way to hit your first 1,000 followers on Instagram.

Afterwards, you can rely on following mutuals or others you know to grow your followers as a private account.

5. Always engage

Instagram you're all caught up

Last but not least, you should always follow back (especially the people that you know) and like their posts.

Your engagement rate is one of the most important metrics on Instagram. In order to increase it, you have to interact with others’ posts.

Make sure to like every post on your feed, as you’d want others to do the same whenever you post something.

Always interact with others’ posts as you’d want them to do the same to yours.

Don’t expect someone to like your posts when you don’t reciprocate. Whenever you receive a follow, like, or a comment, try your best to reciprocate it.

This shows that you care about your followers and the people that are engaging on your posts.

Naturally, people will start noticing if you consistently interact with their posts. Conversely, people will know if you’re not interacting with their posts.

If you don’t interact with others’ posts, you will be regarded as a “ghost follower”.

Essentially, ghost followers are the worst kinds of people on Instagram as they’ll pull your engagement rate down.

Some people care a great deal about their engagement rate and will unfollow you if you don’t like any of their posts.

To mitigate this, you can like a few of someone’s posts before following them.

This will prevent your account from being detected as a ghost follower from a third-party app.

Nevertheless, you should aim to like every single post on your feed to stay updated. Liking every post will make it so that posts are sorted in chronological order in your feed.

This is really helpful if you only want the newest posts to show up on your feed.

General FAQ

Do private Instagram accounts get more followers?

Private Instagram accounts do not get more followers than a public account. This is because hashtags do not work on a private account as your posts will not show up on the explore page or hashtag search results.

On the other hand, public accounts can get more reach as they are able to utilize hashtags on their posts and stories

Is it better to have a private Instagram account?

It is not better to have a private Instagram account if you’re focusing on growth. A private Instagram account grows much slower than a public one because people are less inclined to follow it.

Moreover, if you’re using a follow for follow group, a private account tends to shun people from following you as it makes it harder for them to message you.

Although messaging a private account is pretty straightforward, many people have no idea how to do it.

Can you get a private Instagram account?

Yes, you can get a private Instagram account by switching it on in your settings.

To get a private Instagram account, go to your profile > menu > settings > privacy > account privacy > turn on private account

After you switch to a private account, people will now have to request to follow you. Additionally, your posts and stories will be hidden from non-followers.


Growing a private account on Instagram can be challenging as you can’t make use of hashtags.

However, with some simple steps, you can skyrocket your Instagram followers in no time.

Here’s a recap on the 5 steps you can use to grow your private account on Instagram:

  • Write a compelling bio.
  • Have a good profile picture.
  • Follow everyone you know (e.g. friends, acquaintances).
  • Join follow for follow groups (e.g. r/Instagram).
  • Always interact with others’ posts.

It’s over to you now to follow these steps and grow your private account!

Further Reading

> ? How to Delete Instagram Messages From Both Sides

> 4 Ways to Make Someone Unfollow You on Instagram

> How to Know if Someone is Stalking You on Instagram

Author: Lim How Wei is the founder of Followchain. Feel free to follow him on Instagram.


About the author

Lim How Wei

Lim How Wei is the founder of followchain.org, with 8+ years of experience in Social Media Marketing and 4+ years of experience as an active investor in stocks and cryptocurrencies. He has researched, tested, and written thousands of articles ranging from social media platforms to messaging apps.

Lim has been quoted and referenced by major publications and media companies like WikiHow, Fast Company, HuffPost, Vice, New York Post, The Conversation, and many others. One of his articles about the gig economy was quoted by Joe Rogan who hosts The Joe Rogan Experience (arguably the most popular podcast in the world), in the This Past Weekend podcast by Theo Von.

In his free time, Lim plays multiple games like Genshin Impact, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, RuneScape, and many others. He creates guides, walkthroughs, solutions, and more on games that he plays to help other players with their progression.