What's the secret of your Instagram success

From 0 to 10,000 followers in 14 days: Foundr's success on Instagram

Instagram is playing an increasingly important role in the marketing mix. But with increasing popularity and an algorithm that sorts according to relevance, it is often difficult for new accounts to gain visibility and generate followers. The Australian Foundr Mag has published millions of followers on Instagram and a guide on how the then still small magazine managed to convince the Instagram community and get from zero to 10,000 followers within two weeks. We looked at it and summarized the most important things. The factors mentioned do not represent a new type of strategy, but they make it clear how important they are.

7 tips for growing quickly on Instagram

Foundr (@Foundr) now has 1.6 million (according to its own statements, real) followers on the platform, which is a remarkable community for a niche portal that deals with entrepreneurship. How did Foundr proceed and which strategy led to the goal? In the guide, Foundr names ten points that have led to success and, beyond Instagram, also contributed to the magazine's rise. The strategy was largely retained on the way to the next million followers, but the path was not straightforward and Foundr also emphasizes the importance of continuous testing and adaptation in order to gain followers.

To anticipate one thing: Nobody said it would be easy. But those who strictly obey the commandments will be rewarded.

1. Appropriate content strategy for the Instagram audience

The most critical part of the whole endeavor is to consider what type of content is to be used to reach the target audience. What do you stand for What do you want to convey? Do the hashtags match the content? Do your posts stand out in the feed, do they make the user stop scrolling?

Take a little time for your content strategy, a pen and a blank sheet of paper and write down what goal you want to achieve with your account; what should be in your bio to convey to the audience what you are about; who your competitors are and which hashtags are relevant to you. It is important, and Foundr also emphasizes, that you stick to what you have come up with. Users have expectations and follow accounts for reasons. If you stand for motivational quotes, you alienate your following with flat lays of your food. If you stand for motivational quotes, then stick to it.

You should only make adjustments if your content doesn't resonate with your audience. What you shouldn't do on Instagram under any circumstances is simply to use the platform as an extension of your blog or other social accounts. Instagram is its own platform and is so popular because it is completely different from other social media. So show a different face here, be unique and give the users a reason to follow you.

Once you have created your hashtag set, Foundr recommends trying out different content for a while and see which one goes down best. If you focus on text posts, apps like Word Swag, Adobe Spark Post or Typorama are recommended. You can also spice up your stories visually, we recommend Unfold for this.

2. Content that invites interaction

The content strategy is in place, now all that's missing is the content. And it has to be well received by your audience so that they follow you and interact with the content. If you are still at a loss, it is always advisable to take a look at the competitors that you have already researched for your content strategy. Which content is best received by their audience, what do they do well, differently or badly? While we're at it, it's also important to mention that you shouldn't do too much behind the scenes unless you're a celebrity. Let's stick with motivational quotes: Your audience won't thank you if you post a picture of you on the beach between dozens of consistent text posts. Just stay true to your line. If you still find your vacation trips worth sharing, you should create your own account for it.

Instagram is the network of interactions. In order to promote this and to achieve the best possible results, pictures or videos can be used that evoke emotions or raise questions. As an example, Foundr shows a post that encouraged 95 percent more engagement than any other post on the account.

The CTA in the caption also has a positive effect on the engagement rate. Various captions are available for this:

  • Ask your audience questions (that fit the context!)
  • Ask them to tag friends (tag a friend who needs to see this; tag a friend who needs to see this; etc.)
  • or to like the picture (double tap)

In this way, you motivate your target audience (in addition to the actual post, of course) to stop scrolling and pay you attention.

User-generated content is also a promising method of generating reach and, above all, interaction. Ask your community to share their content using a specific hashtag that you've come up with beforehand. For so-called branded hashtags, it is necessary to do a little research beforehand, after all, you don't want it to have been used a thousand times, but at best to be your own. By sharing your followers' content, you generate loyalty and promote their engagement with your brand.

Pro tip: What is important on Instagram is that quality has a far higher priority than quantity. This means that you are not allowed to bombard your users with posts 24/7, but should publish a maximum of two posts a day (this is irrelevant for the stories, however). In addition, the quality of your posts on Instagram plays a much more important role than on other social networks. Consistency is also very important here: Think about a style that you can pull through or choose a preset (or a filter) that gives your content a color accent.

Companies can already reach more than a billion users on Instagram. It is fatal to let the chance slip by. AdRoll's whitepaper shows you how to get the most out of the platform and not only includes the basics of branding your account, but also goes into the various ad formats that are currently available to advertisers.

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3. Treat your Insta community like people you care about

What many forget is that behind most of the followers there are real people who, if in doubt, even show real interest in your products. For this reason, you should never care about the sheer number of followers per se. Because it makes a huge difference whether you have 10,000 fake followers or 1,000 real followers who can even become customers. The interaction on Instagram should therefore not be one-sided: Reply to comments (which obviously do not come from bots) and messages and engage with the content of other accounts in your niche.

Even if that means a lot of time, you should forego tools such as automation from various providers. When it comes to automatically generated comments, the community has no joke. Because even if they are not too generic, it quickly becomes clear whether they were sent by software or by a person.

4. Post regularly

Even if you don't have to post something in the feed every day, you should share content regularly. However, no more than two contributions a day. Since this can quickly become time-consuming, you can now use tools like Later to plan posts in advance, which you then only have to publish at the appropriate time. This saves you time, but doesn't neglect your community.

5. Your Instagram bio

You don't have a lot of space for your bio on your profile page. A maximum of 150 letters are available to explain to your audience what it is about and what they can expect from you. The formulation should be correspondingly crisp. In your bio you should definitely include a link to the website next to the explanation of your product, as this is pretty much the only place on the platform where you can do that.

Generate attention with the bio and make sure that users follow you. As a magazine for entrepreneurs, Foundr has integrated the phrase “Building a business is hard.” Into the bio in order to establish a direct connection with users and arouse emotions. In order to be found in the Instagram search, the Foundr team also used keywords such as “Startup”, “Entrepreneurs” and “Entrepreneurs Magazine” in the text.

6. Use relevant hashtags

In order to increase your visibility, you should use (as many) relevant hashtags as possible right at the beginning. You can find these either using the corresponding apps such as Iconosquare or the hashtag search. Hashtags are still highly relevant on Instagram in 2019 and require their own strategy. Therefore, you should definitely read our detailed guide for hashtags "For the perfect reach: These are the current top hashtags on Instagram". Don't be confused by the many tips that advise you to use as few hashtags as possible. Especially when you are still little, you urgently need the free range that the tags provide. Why do without it? We have already put together hashtag sets for many niches in our hashtag guide.

7. Shoutouts

Shoutouts from large accounts in your niche are worth gold, because at best they wash up countless potential followers on your profile. So instead of dueling with others, Foundr points out the importance of collaborations for growth on Instagram. To do this, you can look for some large accounts from your niche and ask them to be mentioned, of course in exchange with one on your profile. Reposts don't always have to take place right away, sometimes a mention in the caption is enough to draw attention to you.

Foundr recommends joining S4S groups (Share for Share). These are similar to engagement groups in which users gather to artificially generate high engagement on posts so that they are better rated by the algorithm and displayed accordingly in the front of the feed. In S4S groups, on the other hand, admins of large feature accounts gather and “trade” with shoutouts. We know Instagram doesn't like seeing engagement groups. We cannot say how things are with the less popular shoutout groups in this country. It may be worth a try, even if a trade for payment certainly does not comply with the platform's guidelines. But where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge.

On the other hand, influencer marketing is no different: users are paid by companies and brands to use their reach for promotion - and it is completely legitimate. Influencers are also suitable for promoting your account. In order to find the right one for your niche, you can use a corresponding tool or do a little research in the hashtag search: Here you can quickly find highly interactive posts and often there are influencers hidden behind them, which you now only have to address.

Two weeks are an ambitious goal

Foundr claims to have generated 10,000 followers within two weeks with this method, but this is ambitious and the effort should not be underestimated - not every company has sufficient resources for it. The procedure described by the publisher is quite common and not a secret. If you stick to the basic pillars, there is not much in the way of strong growth and success of your account. The goal does not have to be achieved in 14 days.

Studied social science with a penchant for online and marketing. Was editor and content manager at OnlineMarketing.de from 2014 to 2019.