Amid all the noise about the current blocks and overall state of Instagram automation, I would like to show a different approach on how to grow an account on Instagram.
The case that I am going to show here is concerning my Instagram business account which I created exclusively for representing my e-commerce store that I launched earlier this year. The account is in a relatively small niche, compared to all the huge ones out there. A short note before I start - I’ve never used Instagram before creating this profile and I’ve never heard of social media automation prior to this. I had initial help from some of my friends who are doing this for some time now, and obviously, a lot of time spent googling, watching YouTube videos and regularly visiting this and one other forum.
So, let’s get started.
Late March - Early April
I was told that the older the account the better the trust score. So I used one account my partner created 2 years ago, which she hasn’t used since. I changed the username, placed the Logo of the store as a Profile Image, wrote a bio, changed the email address, synced it with the Facebook Page of my business and change it from Personal to Business Profile.
Next, I had to find content to publish. I searched for images within my niche on platforms that host royalty-free images. I used them and wrote some simple captions that fit the image. I researched hashtags manually and used 30 in each of the posts. Important to note - the images I used weren’t all “in my niche” as I still haven’t defined my audience at that point. I was posting content that was somewhat related, although from the current point of view I know they didn’t have a specific audience. I thought that if the grid looked good, it will be working well.
At that time I purchased J. and started simple automation process after I’ve posted the first 9 images in the first 3 days. I used my old laptop that I wasn’t using anymore, installed the software and left it in the closet to serve as a server. I’ve connected (and still connect) to it via RDP. I’ve used my own residential IP as it was the only account I was working with.
When I started using it, those were still days when I experienced 0 blocks, or at least that’s my memory of it, as I only knew what is going on with my account.
I was doing between 70 - 300 follows and unfollows for the first 2 weeks. I was doing them at the same time. I was also posting 3 images daily. I wasn’t liking, commenting, doing story views or any other action. You can see from the image below that I was growing around 25 followers daily on average.
I was also manually answering all the comments on my posts, even the ones that I knew were coming from bots.
The first images were getting around 10-30 likes, and after the 2nd week, the average number of likes was 150. The reach of each image by this point was around 1000 people give or take.
Mid April - Mid May
This is when I sat down and made a detailed analysis of the products I sell and the type of people who would be interested in. I first defined gender, then their interests. I searched for other Instagram accounts inside that niche and looked at what kind of content they have. That’s when I figured out what kind of content I should post on my Instagram account. It’s then when I decided to stop using royalty-free images and started sourcing my content from three platforms:
In each of the images from Pinterest and Reddit I was leaving a disclaimer from where I found the image and that if the original creator sees it to contact me so I can tag them or remove the image.
For the images taken from Instagram, I was tagging the original creator and praising his work.
I also had a disclaimer in my highlights just to protect the account.
These images, even though obviously more amateurish, gained a major boost in engagement, averaging from 200-500 likes.
At that time I’ve bumped up the automation, doing up to 500 follows, but that was only for only one week as I was scared that is a lot. By mid-May, I tuned it down to 200 daily follows tops.
I was gaining from 25-50 followers per day.
This was also the time when I hit my 1000 followers, which took me around 1 month.
Mid May - Mid June
Now, this is where three big changes happened with this account.
I’ve made a detailed hashtags analysis as described in this METHOD.
After I scraped the hashtags from J. with the method above, I went through all of them manually until I selected 400 that could be applied to images that I post. I’ve ranked them in my spreadsheet from the highest number of post to lowest.
In each post that I published I’ve made sure to use around 8 hashtags with under 100k posts, around 8 hashtags with 100k-1m posts and around 8 hashtags with 1m+ posts. Each post had between 23-29 hashtags.
I started writing detailed captions in which I’ve made a commentary on the thing on the image. As this profile has something to do with aesthetics and design I was making a critical effort to give some value to what it is in the image, rather than just repost it without providing anything else. I was also trying to play the keyword game where I would be using words that were included in the hashtags or that I thought the AI will recognize from the images.
I started using PowerLikes. Now, I am aware this is something that many of you won’t agree on, but I saw some success with it. I won’t share where I found the PowerLikes from for obvious reasons - you will have to do the research yourself. But I believe that you will get the best results if you have your own internal network that it is not publically available. I was getting 400 power likes on each of my daily posts.
This is the period where the hard blocks came in. While I lowered the daily follows to 200-300 tops, when the 6000/30 follow limit came out I completely stopped the automation process.
As you can see in the image below this update came on June 5, and that’s where my following stops.
However, even with this, this is when I saw my first breakthrough.
My daily follower gains raised from 30-60 to 100-140 the days before the blocks came and the daily growth just kept increasing even after I stopped with the automation.
You can see a little dip couple of days after the block, but when it picked up it started growing even faster.
When it comes to engagement, when I introduced the 3 changes listed above, the posts started gaining from 800-2000 likes (including the PowerLikes).
Late June - Mid August
I haven’t changed anything from the latest changes that I introduced. I developed a personal plan to sit, find, caption and add hashtags to around 40 posts each 3 weeks, which translates to 2 posts per day. I also adapted the times for posting to the highest activity hours of my audience. I’ve done this by using the Insights on my profile, as well as split testing during the mid of June. I’ve noticed a pattern of most activity on the images I’ve posted in certain hours.
I’ve also seen a pattern of similar characteristics of the images with most engagement so I slightly shifted the content research towards that. This asks for some more time spent on content search and more time on writing captions, but the effort pays out.
Here are the current results that I’m getting with temporary fluctuations in different periods.
Average Post Likes: Around 4000
Average Comments: Around 30
Average Daily Growth: Around 400 followers
Profile Visits in the Past 7 days: 20,430
Accounts reached in the Past 7 days: 885,872
Website Clicks in the Past 7 days: 269
- United States - 14%
- Brazil - 5%
- India - 5%
- UK - 4%
- Germany - 3%
Highest number of likes on a post: 36,556 likes
Highest number of comments on a post: 181 comment
Highest number of reach from a post: 648,864 people reached
Highest number of followers from a post: 1,948 followers
This is everything I could think of to explain the process of how I grew my Instagram business profile. I am sure I skipped dozens of little things that change the final outcome, and you can feel free to ask me anything and I will answer if I know how or feel comfortable to.
I know that this is not the only, and probably far from the most efficient way of growing a profile, but it has worked for me quite well.
I hope that this will help at least one person on their journey.
Stay awesome guys!