*Check out the original version of this article on Medium right here!
How My Brother and I Took an Instagram Account from 0 to 3000+ Followers in 29 Days — And You Can Too
My brother and I had a client a few months back in the Health & Fitness industry. Based on the demographic we’d would be serving, as well as the heavy aesthetics associated with the fitness industry, we decided Instagram would be an optimal traffic channel.
So we tried to kick some ass on it. We didn’t end up going Bruce Lee on the project, but I’d be pretty confident to say we went Jet Li on it. And even more confident to say it was a success.
With Instagram now at 400 million monthly users, it’s fair to say it’s worth your time to build up brand awareness on the platform.
Here are 14 takeaways that summarize all we learned…
1.) Use third-party tools
There are a ton of useful third party tools to integrate into your Instagram marketing strategy. They will save you time and energy during the arduous process:
Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts for across most of social media platforms. After the posts are scheduled, Hootsuite will publish the specified photos automatically for you.
There is a free 30 day trial and after that it’ll run you $10 per month for Pro. The Free version offers 3 connected accounts and limited analytics, but it’s a good start.
I ended up picking one day per week to create the wordart posts for the following several days.
After that, you can solely focus on real-time responses, direct messages, and comments.
Crowdfire is another tool similar to Hootsuite that is very mobile-friendly. Try it out.
This tool allows you to see who isn’t following you back, and unfollow those people in a convenient way. This will help you tremendously with Follow Frenzies (next bullet point).
There is a limit as to how many people you can unfollow during a 24 hour period (at least with the freemium model).
Unfollowgram is another app that is similar to Justunfollow. There are a ton out there. Test them out and see which one you like best.
Wordswag & PicLab
These are amazing tools for creating beautiful wordart for Instagram. Unfortunately, Wordswag is only available for iOS.
As an Android user, I was reluctant to admit this, but Android has way shittier selection when it comes to wordart apps for Instagram. The best I could find was PicLab.
Canva.com could also work in these cases.
Please let me know if you all know any other options! I’d love to hear them.
Simply Measured is awesome! It provides you with detailed analytics with anything and everything you need to know. Use it to see where your following is mostly from, then take that information to find out when the best time for you to post is.
2.) Put your pride aside, and conduct Follow Frenzies
Follow Frenzies are extremely important and efficient in fast-growth Instagram marketing, as well as other forms of social media marketing.
Follow Frenzies are when you go to Instagram accounts with similar demographics as yours, and begin following the followers of those accounts. Then, wait 2 to 3 days, and if they don’t follow you back, unfollow them.
I don’t have ethical issues with Follow Frenzies at all. Some people say it’s cheating. I think it’s more common sense than anything. What I do have a problem with is conducting them with irrelevant audiences. If you are running an account focused on sports reporting, you wouldn’t want to perform a Frenzy with a cooking & lifestyle account. So don’t. It’s fabricated, artificial, and a waste of time.
Do these until you reach a certain level of followers and engagement. Once you reach that amount, pivot and focus only on amazing content and high-quality engagement.
3.) Consistency is everything
Consistency is truly everything with social media marketing. A saying that I particularly like is this:
“When asked, ‘how do you eat an elephant?’, you should answer, ‘one bite at a time.’”.
I don’t know who created this quote, but my uncles always sais it and I think it’s insightful. So there you go.
In regards to how often you should post, the amount varies. Other articles and ebooks are overly specific when speaking on this topic. Ideally, once per day. Minimum. But, always stay true to creating quality content.
Set a bar, and never ever go beneath it. Don’t ever post just to post. It’ll bite you in the ass in the long run.
Note: Use Simply Measured to find out where your followers are from, then use that to see when would be the optimal time to post. If you live in the US, and have a following that is somehow 78% Icelandic, it makes no sense for you to post at 10am and 6pm like every other Instagram tutorial tells you.
4.) Templatize everything you can
Templates are amazing. Not just because they save you tons of time, but also because they are great for branding. This applies mainly to creating wordart, which I highly recommend for any business account on Instagram.
Once you have templates, all you need to do is finish up with content. After that, you’re good to go.
5.) Have a high-definition camera
The quality of photos matters. It matters a lot!
If you don’t have a camera that’s capable of taking high-definition photos, then borrow one. There are sites that allow you to borrow cameras, but they get kinda pricey.
If you are creative with your filters and editing, you can skate by with using your smartphone camera. But if you can afford it, get a camera. It will definitely be worth the cost if you are planning on utilizing Instagram for a long period of time.
6.) Read Nathan Chan’s book
Much of what we did at the beginning of the 29 days can be attributed to Nathan Chan. He is the CEO of Foundr Magazine, or the “founder” if you like puns. He is also a Stage A badass and very knowledgeable. So read his book, it’s worth it.
I’ll even give you the link to it: https://foundrmag.com/free
7.) Switch up the content
Keep your audiences interested by switching up your content.
Don’t always post the same shit! Plain and simple. People get bored. Really quickly. You’ve gotta keep them interested if you their undying attention.
Add a joke here and there. Find a trending hashtag or contest in your niche that you can participate in. Ask you audience a question about themselves and encourage them to comment with the answer.
There are a million ways to be interesting, but only two ways to be uninteresting: to have unappealing content and/or to be predictable.
8.) Use hashtags appropriately
Don’t use too many hashtags. It will make your posts appear spammy.
Use 5 to 10 relevant hashtags. Choose one that you create yourself that brands your business, and two that aren’t as popular of hashtags. This will put you in the streams of both saturated and not-so-saturated feeds.
Also, remember to put your hashtags as a comment and not inside your caption!
This will allow you to keep the benefits of traffic without the detriments of unappealing, spammy hashtags.
9.) Brand all of your content
“Different is better than better.” — Sally Hogshead
I fucking love this quote.
Find a unique area in your niche to occupy. If you see an enormous amount of accounts in your niche being overly professional/dull, then be the “informative yet fun” counterpart.
Be different! Different is memorable.
You want people scrolling down their feeds to be able to INSTANTLY know it is your brand. That way they can stop, scroll back up, and double tap ;)
Put your logo as a watermark on all of your photos.
In addition, make sure all of your content is recognizable. This means that your word art should all be the same font, format, size, etc.
This doesn’t mean you have to be bound inside parameters, but it does mean you need to have parallel construction on your account content so your brand recognition can blossom as a result.
10.) Don’t think it’ll be easy
Set aside more time for this task than you think you will spend. You’ll be able to skate by by spending an hour per day, but if you want to truly stand out, set aside 1.5 to 2 hours per day, or one entire day per week to Instagram optimization.
In the automated, electronic world we live in it’s easy to caught up in the pursuit of short-cut’s. Sometimes, you need to simply buckle down and do the foot work. There’s no way around that.
11.) Take advantage of Flipagram
Flipagram is awesome. Use it.
It can allow you to tell captivating stories that usually aren’t possible in “Instagram language”. Use this tool to showcase an array of photos that weave together to form a story.
12.) Contextualize all of your posts
Be current. If it is a holiday, then tie in that holiday to your post. If there is a trending hashtag in your niche, then integrate that hashtag (in a creative way) to your post.
In short, people want brands to feel as human as possible. Many brands act robotic, and nobody likes that.
13.) Like & Comment a shit ton
You need to engage on other people’s posts if you expect to receive engagement.
Choose 10–15 people per day to engage with. Don’t just double-tap their posts, but comment on it as well. Build up rapport with them.
Make sure to spread this out throughout the day though. Otherwise, your actions will appear in your follower’s feeds and it will appear forced and artificial.