Instagram is a great sales tool, as proven by Foundr Magazine’s Nathan Chan. Within a year, his profile @FoundrMagazine gained 500,000 followers, that resulted in 100,000 emails, of which affected a massive increase in paid magazine subscriptions.
We @English.Rebels are aiming to inhabit the niche market of teaching colloquial English at an intermediate level online. We’ve begun with our Instagram account, where we produce creative animations that explore and explain interesting English vocabulary such as, idioms, slang, pop culture, or everyday issues.
This case study’s aim is to share our experience of establishing the new profile @English.Rebels on Instagram. On February 9th, 2016 after three months of activities and the creation of 70 animations, we exceeded 10 thousand followers (from 90 countries). Now, we want to share our success story with others. We believe it will be helpful for those who are planning to create their own Instagram profile and to anyone interested in social media.
This article addresses a number of different options for gaining followers, and will dissect the effectiveness of a few. Additionally, we’ve compared different Instagram analytical tools that have helped us make better decisions during the development of the profile.
- the effectiveness of the-big-four tactics to gain followers,
- how to increase engagement with the followers,
- the importance of personal contact with your fans,
- when the follower base becomes self sufficient,
- what is the best Instagram analytical tool.
The first 50 followers were gained after sharing a post in the two Polish groups on Facebook: Social Media and InstagramPL. These people followed us because of an interesting idea for a new profile, rather than an interest in learning English.
The next step was to broadcast a similar post in about a hundred English language learning groups on Facebook (English learning, English speaking, inglese, อังกฤษ, 英語, etc.). Through this channel we gained another 200 followers. The difference being, this time it was students who are interested in learning English.
Results: +250 new followers in two weeks (an average - 20 people a day)
Searching groups and posting on Facebook took around 10 hours. Which is a sizable amount of time in relation to the number of acquired followers.
We gained another 200 followers by organizing a contest in collaboration with Polish lifestyle blogger Damian Buczek, who’s social media follower count was: Instagram at 17k followers, Facebook at 30k followers, and Snapchat at 5k followers. Buczek’s fans are teenagers and our goal was to see whether our profile would be an interest to this age group.
This promotional campaign went for five days and was very well conducted. Damian posted the two animations on his profiles (Insta and FB) which described our profile @English.Rebels and encouraged participation in the easy contest which involved tagging your friend.
The result: +200 new followers in one week (average - 30 people a day)
Although the animations on the blogger’s profile got 1500 likes (hearts) it turned out, we only gained 20 people. But the next day, when Damian shouted out to our profile on his Snapchat, 200 new people followed us. (10 times more than from Instagram).
This demonstrates how powerful Snapchat’s sales force is.
The collaboration with a lifestyle blogger doubled the number of our followers. However we were hoping for more. This pointed us back towards our focus on reaching people interested in learning English.
Over the next two weeks, besides posting the animations regularly, we didn’t promote the profile at all, which resulted in a very low gain of new followers.
Results: +50 new followers in two weeks (average 3 persons per day)
This example shows that the promotion of a new profile is necessary.
In the sixth week, we started using the Follow4Follow tactic. We followed people who were following other profiles similar to ours (our potential target group) hoping we would receive a follow back. The F4F strategy has proven to be very effective. In three weeks we gained 3,500 new followers. However, it didn’t come so easily. For excessive following of other profiles, Instagram blocked us of this function three times!
The process and results:
- We follow 50 new profiles every five minutes for a few hours. After two days of following, the feature of following is blocked for three days.
- Again, we follow 50 new profiles, now every half hour throughout the day. After four days of following others, the feature of following is again blocked for three days.
- Now, we follow 160 new profiles every hour, throughout the whole day. After three days of following others, the feature of following is blocked for another three days.
Fortunately, between the bans we had a total of 12 days, when we were able to follow around 1,000 new accounts a day, of which 300 - 350 followed us back.
Results: +3,500 new followers in three weeks (an average of 170 people per day)
The Follow4Follow strategy has proven to be a very effective and time saving one. To follow 1,000 people takes about 30min. The downside is the temporary bans, which in the worst case could result in the removal of the account from Instagram.
Profiles that immediately begin to follow others can quickly be blocked. Our first account was banned because during the first hour after registration, we logged in from four different devices.
Not wanting to risk another ban or other unknown consequences, we decided to change Follow4Follow to Like4Follow. This time, we were visiting the profiles of people interested in learning English, and would give them three likes (hearts). The new L4F strategy takes more time than the F4F, but it is effective - and more importantly - Instagram has not blocked the feature of liking, despite the fact we were giving approximately 200 - 300 likes/hour, five times a day for two weeks long.
Results: +1,500 new followers in two weeks (average of 100 people per day)
The Like4Follow tactic proved to be effective also. Additionally we are sure that the people who follow us are interested in the content we are producing.
Good to know!
From our experience, the best way to obtain new followers seems to be a combination of both tactics Like4Follow and Follow4Follow. Giving likes on public profiles and sending requests on private profiles.
In the eleventh week we used cross promotions to gain new followers - three cross promotions, with profiles that also teach English. Meanwhile we stopped to using the tactics F4F, and L4F.
The results of the crosses:
- @betterenglish (had 46,000 followers and an average of 700 likes per post) We gained 600 new followers
- @learn.english.withme (94,000 followers and an average of 1,500 likes on the post) We were followed by 100 new people
- @learn_english_m (30,000 followers and an average of 300 likes on the post) +20 new followers
It clearly shows the large number of followers and likes does not always trigger the sales. Compared to @betterenglish, we received 6 times less followers than from @learning.english.withme, which is 2 times the size of @betterenglish.
It turns out that a very significant marker of a profile is the actual engagement of followers, rather than the raw numbers of followers and likes. A very good example is Dan at @betterenglish who regularly talks with his followers in the comment section. He has created a loyal fan club.
Results: +1,700 new followers in one week (an average of 240 people per day)
The cross with Dan at @betterenglish proved to be a turning point for us and we can say that on that day the snowball got some momentum and since then, we have seen a steady increase of new followers coming to us every day.
In the twelfth week, we agreed on another cross promotion. However, as it turns out, most of our new followers are the result of the force of the snowball.
We did a cross with Polish lifestyle YouTuber @urbnski (26,000 followers). Despite the relatively large number of followers and 1,200 likes under the post on Instagram, we have gained only 60 new followers. However, the majority are the people who give likes and share often, so it was worth doing it.
In order to obtain some feedback about the animations, we sent out 300 messages to our fans to thank them for following us and asked them for an opinion on the animations.
Private messages significantly increased the engagement of the recipients; some of them began to write a comment under every single new post.
Results: +1,000 new followers in one week (an average of 140 people per day)
From the cross we gained a relatively small number of followers, but the momentum we have brings us new followers everyday.
The increase in the number of followers in the thirteenth week was a result of the snowball effect.
Results: +1,800 new followers (an average of 250 people per day)
In conclusion, after three months on Instagram we exceeded 10,000 followers. We believe that this is the moment in which the profile (followers) starts to grow longer automatically, without additional promotional activities, but by regularly creating and posting high quality posts. It’s important to remember that before we obtained the desired effect, we performed a variety of promotional activities and strategies, constantly improving the quality of the animation.
#followers #facebook #crosses #content #promotion
- The most important factor for growth is to create better and better content. We are still working on the quality of animation and constantly improving it. We collect feedback from our fans and adapt content to the suggestions of fans and devote more time to communicate with the followers.
- Gaining new followers (especially the first ones) is long and hard work!
- It’s better to look for new followers on Instagram, than to try to bring them from other platforms (eg. from Facebook).
- You should offer other profiles proposals of cooperation. (90% of profiles responded to us after some time, after the second or third message). Dan @betterenglish agreed to cross promote with us when we only had 500 followers, and two other profiles (with 15k and 100k! Followers) posted information about us, without expecting anything in return. They just wanted to help.
- At some point, the profile gets enough momentum, which makes it easier to attract new followers because; Instagram begins to recommend your posts, more followers will share your content with their friends, you are listed higher in the hashtag search engine results, and other profiles agree to cross promote and cooperate.
- It’s better to post regularly, seven days a week. We receive a significant drop in activity and followers when we don’t post on weekends.
#Sales #likes #engagement
- A large number of followers and likes does not always trigger sales. The most significant, is the actual engagement of followers, and a better indicator of this is the number of comments.
- Regardless, you still have to fight for likes. The more hearts under the posts, the more new followers come to us.
- It’s well worth it to talk to your fans in private messages and simply thank them for following.
- Share your profile in discussion groups (eg. on Facebook) and ask for feedback.
- Thanks to them, we learned that things that are obvious to us, e.g. tap on the movie to turn the sound on Or double-click = like are not obvious to others. This is why we put this information directly in the animations.
- It is important to add commands Call To Action directly in the posts. Followers respond to them much more than to CTA's only placed in the caption.
- When we didn’t add the command CTA - “Double tap to like”, then we got 15 - 20% likes less.
#Iconosquare #Squarelovin #Ink361 #Websta Minter.io #Socialinsight.io #Instagram-stats.com #SimplyMeasured #Unionmetrics #Crowdfire #Followers+ #Instameter #Instafollow #FollowersInsights
To make a long story short the best analytical tool is Iconosquare. This tool is simply the best on the market. It has robust analytics, a feature for managing comments and a good price - $ 18 / month.
The main analytical functions of Iconosquare we use:
- the list of countries from which our followers come from
- the list of the biggest profiles that are following us (opportunities for cross promotion)
- the list of new and lost followers
- a graph about the best time to publish posts (After shifting our publish time 3hours the number of likes within the first hour increased by 50%)
- graph of the ratio of followers and followed (so we can see how quickly we grow)
- love rate - the percentage of received likes and comments in relation to the number of followers (we see if the latest post receives more likes and comments than the average)
- the list of the most engaged people
- an analysis of the profiles in our competition
- a detailed analysis of individual hashtags
- the other: filters, the number of likes and comments ….
Iconosquare also has a very useful Comment tracker function for managing the comments. Comment Tracker shows all the new comments on old posts, so we can quickly respond.
Iconosquare also has its disadvantages:
- lack of a mobile application
- lack of the results in the real time; new results are delivered once a day, and reports once a week and once a month (by e-mail in excel file)
- hashtags and competition analysis available only in an excel file
Notice! We emphasize that it is our subjective opinion. Others do not have to agree with us.
#Squarelovin – a copy of Iconosquare
It shows part of the statistics as Iconosquare does (gain followers, distribution of posts, filters, engagement of the followers - Likes and comments, hashtags etc.).
However, it doesn’t have the most important statistics:
- the lack of a list of the biggest profiles of your followers
- the lack of the statistics on the countries of origin of followers
- lack of a love rate (coming soon)
- no list of new and lost followers
- lack of hashtags analysis
- the lack of competition analysis
- lack of a comment tracker
- lack of precision in showing the best time for posting
In our opinion, this tool can be sufficient for newly created Instagram profiles and profiles to 5,000 followers, operating in only one country.
- less analytical data than Squarelovin
- less analytical data than Ink361
- similar analytical data to Websta
- free for one year (then $ 29, $ 79, $ 299)
- it is clearly still in development
- heavily condensed analyst - nice graphs growth and commitment followers
- analytical features similar to Iconosquare
- price range - $ 100 and $ 250 / month
- it’s simply out of our price range to analyse these platforms at 500$ - 2000$ / month)
- price range - $ 500, $ 1000, $ 1500 $ 2500 / month
- they offer a free check up of Instagram for the last 30 days; unfortunately it contains little analytical data, so it’s better to use the Ink361 or Squarelovin, because for the checkup @Unionmetrics requires a follow on Twitter
#Crowdfire # Followers+ #Instameter
- besides an easy way to unfollow users, there are some analytic functions, but you have to pay for it
- in these applications unfollowing is oddly more difficult than doing it directly in Instagram.
Rafał Myśliński (fafa) – an Engineer who prefers building a funny Instagram account than sketching boring production lines. Fafa lived in Sweden for a while studying management, so right now he’s the one responsible for development of English Rebels. Note: Don’t challenge him to an arm wrestle!
Kamil Natil (myku) – an Architect who follows his childish dreams, travels a lot, and creates the content for English Rebels. Myku is a really good storyteller, so he’s the kind of guy you want to have at your party. He’s looking forward to the day he can get back on his surfboard and ride the waves.
Joe Krawczyk (joe) – an English teacher from Chicago (US), and Nova Scotia (Canada). Currently he lives, teaches, and studies American culture in Poland. He is our voice actor, an improv comedian, and a freestyle skier. You might spot him around Warsaw doing Improv, or standup comedy shows.