In July 2019, I graduated with a Business Management and Marketing degree from Leeds Beckett University, secured a graduate scheme, and was on my way home to Gibraltar to spend the summer before I entered the world of work.
With some free time during the summer ahead of me, I wanted to do something productive with my time off, and challenged myself to learn a new skill.
I have always had a general knack for marketing and was interested in the idea of going viral, and have wondered how brands built such a large following with the challenging Instagram algorithm, so I challenged myself to learn more about it, by doing do exactly that: setting up a successful social media account.
Building a successful Instagram account – how I did it
I leveraged the hugely popular Love Island craze and created a meme Instagram page, used multiple tactics such as mass following, controversial content creation, strategic hashtag strategies, and more. Within the space of three months, I’d reached 25k followers and 3 million impressions. At one point this amounted to more Instagram impressions than the TV views the show received itself.
I’ve included some examples of the content posted below:
I then sold it on to an Instagram ecommerce brand, looking for an account with the audience and size of the one I’d built. I then worked with them on the rebrand, the running of the page, the creation of the website, and the running of the ecommerce operation itself as part of the deal.
So, what did I actually do? I deployed a tactic called growth hacking.
A growth hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. Sometimes growth hackers are also called growth marketers, but growth hackers are not simply marketers.
Unsing this approach I grew my Instagram account to over 25,000 followers, with over 3 million impressions in just three months.
As a result:
- My Love Island meme page received more views than the show did each night on ITV
- I received over 24,000 likes on each post
- I built an account which grew by 150 followers each day
Before I jump straight into it how to do that yourself, I want to share my top tip – which is to be organised and consistent.
Being organised is more than just a desirable personality trait when it comes to social media success. You need to be ready with a strategy, know what your goal is, what you need to achieve it, how you’re going to achieve it, and when you want to achieve it by.
Breaking it all down into digestible chunks has been the method I have used, and it helps to maintain direction, and to benchmark the steps you need to achieve your target.
Here are a few strategies that you can implement to grow your Instagram account:
Step 1: What is the purpose of your Instagram account?
There is a reason why ‘supply and demand’ is the most overused saying in every business lecture ever conducted.
In my case, I saw that Love Island was a massive trend in the UK, which had gained a cult following consisting of all different ages, whether it be your mum, your dad, your sister or even your grandma!
Everyone was watching Love Island, so I simply capitalised on that demand. When users would pick up their phone during the adverts and open Instagram, I wanted to fulfil their Love Island 3-minute void with a page showcasing the funniest memes most relevant to the episode.
Step 2: Create your own content, that is both relevant and timely.
The key to going viral is being relevant and timely. Create your own content so it is unique to your page, as this will allow users to experience the impact for the first time through your page, and will be more likely to deliver a ‘Like’ or a ‘Comment’.
Stockpile content and create a content calendar that will help you stay on top of the content you have, and ensure you are consistently sending it out. I recommend you post at least once a day at the same time, so users know when to expect your posts. You can find the best times to post in your own Instagram insights.
Lastly, writers block is real for social media managers. However, fear not! Utilise other platforms for inspiration. I made my memes through Twitter and screenshotted them to post on Instagram. Not only did this build up a platform on Twitter, but the layout of a Tweet is most familiar to users.
Step 3: Engage with your followers
This is the most time-consuming step of the process. Engage with users on the platform by liking and commenting not only with your own audience, but with other audiences too. Instagram will see that your account is engaging with others, and will boost your account on explore pages where users can find you more easily.
Find other accounts like yours that are doing well and exploit their audience by commenting on their own posts, this will help your target audience discover you. Another tip is to prompt users to engage with your posts in your caption. For example, asking them a question will encourage them to engage with your posts.
Next, follow people every day. The Instagram algorithm will hide your profile in the deep dark corners of the app where no one can find you, but if you follow people regularly, you can avoid this. If your followers don’t come to you, then you need to go to them.
Step 4: Hashtags are your best friend
There’s some discussion over whether hashtags are effective, but in my experience they definitely are. When algorithm is so harsh, you need all the help you can get. Research the most effective hashtags for your industry/topic, select around 15/20 hashtags and save them in your notes for easy access. Make sure to post these in the comment section after you’ve posted – this way they are undetectable yet still effective.
Step 5: Utilise every feature in the platform
Use everything and anything, use Reels, IGTV, and post stories. The point is, you need to utilise every function on the platform as it gives Instagram the impression you are very active, and engaging, and they will prioritise your content over others. It’s also just another way to get your content out there so people will see it and follow you.
So, there you have it, my precious secrets have been revealed. Well, not all of them, I still have plenty of top tips to share! Whether you’re starting out building a following, or looking to grow an existing account, there are a whole host of tactics out there to help you boost your social media performance.
Look out for my next article where I’ll reveal more.