Phases of Growth & Engagement Groups
Your account growth is measured based on how many followers you have. At some point during your account’s lifespan, you will notice that less effort is required to grow. Let me take you through the steps, so you know what to do when you hit each stage.
Your first 15,000 followers will test your patience like a roommate who doesn’t clean up after themselves. Your first 15,000 followers will be the longest, most challenging followers to obtain. Simply because not many people want to follow accounts that don’t have a lot of followers.
Oftentimes accounts that have little amounts of followers are often viewed as poor quality accounts. This makes it incredibly difficult to gain traction on Instagram.
So, ultimately, you should be incredibly aggressive with interaction during this phase. You should be very personable with other accounts. It’s a good idea to leave plenty of comments on other accounts, follow 500+ accounts a day, and like close to 1,000 photos per day (preferably with the 1-2 Punch method mentioned above). Gaining your first 15,000 followers can be accomplished within a month, but you must spend at least 3-4 hours per day doing manual interaction tasks.
Refer to the ratio cycle above to get a good idea of what your numbers should be.
Now, does this mean you should spend 3-4 hours per day working on your content? Not necessarily; however, you still want to make sure your content is of high quality. It would be a good idea to have at least 20-30 high-quality posts during this phase of followers. The more posts, the better. It will be difficult to gain followers if you only have a couple of posts.
Remember, your content should be following the 10% Engagement Rule up to this point. If you have 10,000 followers, you should be getting around 1,000 likes per photo. If you are receiving less than 10% of your likes, then you need to consider several things:
- Is your content good enough to attract 10% of your audience’s attention? Does your content need to be of higher quality? Is your content original?
- Do you need to change your target account? Sometimes popular accounts can be deceiving and have fake likes/followers. Make sure you are following good accounts and liking their
The number of comments you receive depends completely on your niche and each specific post. For example, if you have a comedy/meme account, it is likely that your followers will tag their friends in the comment section – which leads to more comments than the typical niche. If you have a fitness account, it is typical to receive more question-type comments. Know what type of comments to expect with your niche.
Depending on the niche, monetizing too early can turn your clients off; and in most cases, monetizing is not recommended if you have less than 15,000 followers. Monetizing effectively to your followers requires authority and trust, and it’s difficult to obtain that at less than 15,000 followers.
During this stage, your Follower-to-Following Ratio will be the most out of whack. At some points, you will be following more people than people who are following you. Don’t worry about this right now; this will look better as you gain more followers.
Don’t even think about using engagement groups at this stage! More on this in about a minute. If you have the money, buying power-likes at this state can be incredibly effective (as long as the likes come from within your niche). More on this in about a minute.
Once you surpass 15,000 followers, your interaction will still need to be vigorous, but at this stage, your content will decide how quickly you reach 50,000 followers.
Typically, I spend about 2 hours a day doing the 1-2 Punch and about 2 hours a day preparing the best content I can. This seems like a lot of work; but when you think about it, it’s an investment that can be set off with great returns.
Sometimes it can take a month to gain 50,000 followers, and sometimes it will take 3-4 months, depending on the niche and the content you provide; however, one thing is for sure – your rate of growth will accelerate once you get past 15,000 followers.
Monetizing at this point still isn’t ideal, but if you feel like you have become somewhat of an authority in your niche, then you can start monetizing your followers; however, if you are too aggressive at this stage, you will kill a lot of momentum. People are still looking at your account and deciding if they should follow you or not – if it looks like you are just selling things to your followers, people won’t follow you, and reaching 50,000 will be incredibly difficult.
Now is a good time to start creating content that people want to share with others and getting your content ranked in certain hashtags. If you can manage to exceed 1,500 likes per post, then becoming a featured post within a certain hashtag should become fairly easy. A lot of your followers during this stage will come from the Explore Tab and the hashtag.
You also can start thinking about engagement groups at this stage. Oh, what are engagement groups?
Engagement groups are one of the best ways to accelerate your growth if used properly. The problem is: Most people don’t use them properly.
Now, I can’t get into the specifics of any certain engagement group, (they all vary) but the concept is pretty simple. You are in a group with other people based on the size (or niche) of your Instagram account(s). These groups are usually in an Instagram DM chat. Sometimes larger groups will use telegram chat-room. I think some groups use Skype.
Example: If you are in a 50k engagement group, you will be in a group with other people who have at least 50,000 followers.
Example: If you are in a nature engagement group, you will be in a group with other people who have nature accounts.
During “rounds,” you comment/post your Instagram content so it can be liked/commented on by other people within the group. The influence of the other people who like/comment on your content will increase the possibility of your content appearing in more explore feeds.
What specifically happens in an engagement group (how many rounds per day, posting requirements, account requirements) varies from group to group; however, the goal is to like (and/or comment on) each other’s Instagram posts in the group. The main theory is based off this: If you have ten other accounts in the group that like your post, each with over 100k followers, you could potentially show up in over 1 million explore feeds across all of the followers of those accounts. This could lead to huge exposure!
I really do appreciate engagement groups; and if done correctly, they can be an incredibly powerful tool for rapid growth. However, most accounts in engagement groups are doing it wrong. Here’s why:
Don’t ever be pressured to post bad content just because a round is in session. This type of pressure forces a lot of users to put out really poor content to grab all of this extra exposure. I’m not kidding.
Now, my views towards how often you should post have shifted a bit. I think if you can post 3-6 quality posts per day, then you should go ahead and do it (depending on your niche). The problem is, most people can’t even post two quality posts per day. So then, eventually, they get tossed into engagement groups, and they want to receive as much exposure as possible, so they post sub-par content to maximize their potential benefits. I firmly believe that rushing content just to be shared in an engagement group is harmful. Sure, you might get more exposure; but rushed, sloppy content will inhibit your ability to sell to your followers, and your current followers might not appreciate the sloppy content – which might lead them to un-follow you.
This should be a pretty simple concept. If you are a 100k nature account, and you are liked by a 100k fitness account, you won’t nearly receive as many benefits as opposed to being liked by another 100k nature account. The people who follow fitness accounts more than likely won’t be interested in your nature account (unless you have mass appeal). Very specific niche accounts will still struggle in general, non-specific engagement groups.
You are more likely to end up in the explore feed of the followers of the accounts who like your content. You see, it doesn’t do you much good if you are being liked by accounts that have barely any followers (especially if everyone in the group is from a variety of different niches). Simply put, using a follow/un-follow method will more than likely give you much better growth than praying to end up in the explore feed somewhere. Try the 1-2 punch method instead combined with my advice on how to properly automate on Instagram.
You can be benefited greatly by being liked by large follower accounts, but small follower accounts just won’t do you much good. If you are a small follower account (and you have your checkbook open), you can message larger accounts (within your niche) to see if they would be willing to interact with you. Most accounts will do this if you offer them cash, and it could accelerate your growth if done correctly.
Large, established accounts seem to have a hard time benefiting from engagement groups – which is interesting. This can be for a number of reasons, but I know many people who seem to opt out of engagement groups when they hit 1m+ followers. Some reasons include: not aggressively trying to grow, focusing more on monetization, lacking growth numbers, the niche is at capacity, etc.
If you have at least 10,000-500,000 followers, I would recommend finding a niche-specific engagement group that has a lot of the big players in your niche involved. Otherwise, go out and DM/message similar accounts within your niche and ask them if they’d be interested in doing some type of engagement group. Don’t feel inclined to churn out weak content just to get more exposure. The best place to find engagement groups is simply by messaging people within your niche on Instagram.
But remember this: Content is key. You don’t need engagement groups to go viral. At the end of the day, if you are still posting weak content (regardless of engagement groups or not), you are going to struggle to find success on Instagram.
Once you reach 50,000 followers, Instagram switches from ‘working on the assembly line’ to ‘playing a game of chess’. Interaction, while still important, can be dialed down. Most of your followers during this stage, and beyond, will come from your content. It’s up to you to create the most exciting, shareable content you possibly can. You don’t necessarily need to follow people anymore, but liking and commenting on your timeline can increase your likes (keep these engagements you have within your niche). While it’s not the biggest benefactor anymore, it’s common for people with over 50,000 followers to keep their following under 2,500.
Remember, your engagement rate should still be exceeding 10%. A common practice to keep people engaged in your content is to write captions such as “Tag someone who…” or “Like this post if you…” Your imagination can fill in the rest. At this point, monetization needs to be in the forefront. This is when you have enough authority to sell things to your followers without them getting turned off – if done properly.
As your account progresses, continuing to do niche-specific engagement groups is a great idea. The larger your account gets, the larger the accounts you engage with should too. If you have 100,000 followers avoid interacting with a 1,000-follower account – Instagram doesn’t like seeing drastic differences like that.
This account on the right is an excellent example of what your engagement rate should ideally look like. This is what happens when you post quality content and have good followers! Get featured, show up in explore, and make your followers feel like family. Followers that feel like family are the best buyers, too. You might appreciate an engaged fanbase whenever you try to sell things later on.