The 4 Stages of Instagram Growth In 2023
If you’re serious about growing on Instagram then this guide is for you. Whether you’ve just started out and you have less than 1K followers or you're a big player with over 100K followers, learning the different fundamental stages to growth and how to get to each stage is crucial to longevity on the platform.
Let's get right into the steps.
Step 1: Focus on Quantity
If you’re just starting out on Instagram you need to prioritise quantity over quality. In the beginning you won’t know what works and you’ll have no loyal audience to give you feedback. This is why posting everyday or even twice a day is the best approach.
By posting twice a day, you’ll be able to get priceless practise in making content fast and at scale, which will come in handy down the road. You’ll also learn what types of posts perform well and which don’t.
Nobody’s first post is going to be amazing. This is why I recommend that you stop trying to make perfect content, and just focus on making more posts. Make each post about something new. It doesn’t matter at this stage if it fails. You need to try to find what works and the only way to do that is through making hundreds.
A mistake I made here was spending time engaging. If you’re spending time getting people to your profile and your posts aren’t good enough to make them follow you, that time spent engaging was a waste.
In the beginning, I would be posting 2-3 times a day. All of the posts were terrible and got no likes. This was crucial for my growth because when a post did get a few likes or shares I knew that I’d done something right. This method of A/B testing to find the perfect strategy led to my first 1000 followers just a few weeks after starting.
Step 2: Make 9 Quality posts
After posting at least once a day for a few weeks, you should have a decent idea of what works and what doesn’t. So what’s next?
You might be tempted to just carry on posting similar content to what you’ve been doing. However, this isn’t going to result in exponential growth that you see other fast growing accounts getting. You need to stop posting everyday, this is where step 1 comes into play.
Using the feedback and results from previously focusing on quantity, make notes about what content works and which styles perform best. Once you’ve worked out a winning strategy, you need to make 9 of the highest quality posts possible. Spend as long as you need, even if it takes you months. The important part is to make them as good as possible.
You might be wondering, why only 9?
The reason making 9 posts is crucial is because when you start your engagement strategy in the next step, you’re going to be getting people to come on to your profile and checking your last few posts. Usually people will check a few of your previous posts before following you, to be safe 9 quality posts are recommended.
Step 3. External Engagement Strategy
External engagement is when you start getting eyeballs on your quality posts from the previous step. I have to warn you, this step does require serious determination. If you’re not willing to spend 3-5 hours a day engaging this probably isn’t for you. Here’s a step by step guide for you to follow.
1: Turn on notifications.
Turn on post notifications for large accounts in your niche, or accounts that have an audience with your target followers. You can find these accounts by looking at hashtags related to your account. For example, if your Instagram page is all about Yoga, you would look under the hashtag for yoga until you found a large account.
An important thing to remember is that a page with a lot of followers doesn’t necessarily mean a large account. To make sure your chosen account is a good choice, take a look at their analytics on Ninjalitics here.
Type in the username of the account into Nijalitics, and study their engagement rate. The engagement rate is the amount of likes, comments and shares their average post gets relative to their follower count.
2: Check the comments.
Next time they post you will get a notification, quickly check the comments. You want to be as quick as possible here to ensure the next step is effective. If notifications don’t work for some reason try working out what time they usually post and then be ready for it.
3. Find the super fans.
Look at the people who leave comments straight away, these will be the superfans. Visit their profile, like some of their posts, leave some thoughtful comments and get to know them in the DM’s. Chances are they'll become a loyal follower of you as they already are with other similar accounts.
4. Answer people’s questions.
A few hours after you checked the post, take a look at the comments again. This time go through replying to people’s questions with helpful, well-written answers. Starting conversations with people in the comment section is a great way of getting more profile visits.
Why’s this important?
You can’t expect engagement on your own posts if nobody knows who you are. Spending time making new connections and building relationships in your community will tell the algorithm that your pages are related and therefore push your posts to more people.
Step 4. Internal Engagement Strategy
After a certain point in your Instagram growth journey you won’t have to spend hours everyday engaging with people on other pages. You'll instead have to spend all your time keeping up with the Direct messages and comments on your posts.
This is where the internal engagement strategy comes in.
Internal engagement is like it sounds: Engaging Internally on your own posts, comments and DM’s. Try to get back to everyone who reaches out to you, this is where you can potentially turn followers into fans.
Don’t make the mistake of stopping your other engagement too early. If you only have a few comments and Messages to reply to then keep going with your external engagement.
This step is where I’m currently on. I don’t have the time to spend hours everyday reaching out to new people. I instead build a community using the people who already reach out to me, either through comments on my posts or direct messages.
That's it! The 4 stages to Instagram growth. Now this might not work for everyone, in fact this exact strategy definitely won’t give you the same results as me. Instead, I encourage you to use these fundamentals to find out what does work and develop your own methods.