If you’re a social media manager, blogger, aspiring Creator or anyone with a public profile on Instagram then you know that the struggle to grow an organic following overnight is very, very real. 

I recently went on a month long mission to achieve what seemed to be the unachievable and I certainly learned a lot in the process. Are you considering hiring an Instagram assistant or subscribing to a platform (whether it’s free or not) to do the heavy lifting for you? It’s not as easy to grow your followers as we’d like it to be, and I’ll tell you why.  

Doing the research:

I first set out to find the best possible platform to be my social media soldier. I needed help engaging new followers while I took care of bigger picture projects. Where does everyone start the scavenger hunt? An organic search of course. Oh Google, please just give me the answers I need without all the strategic ads to sift through. Ad after ad after ad. I’m impressed that these companies are clever enough to pop up on the top of the list so naturally, they get my clicks. A few platforms looked great with reviews from real people. “ I saw amazing results immediately! My follower count grew to 20K in less than one week and I couldn’t be happier!” Well that sounded promising so I checked out the IG handle of the customer who posted the review. Non-existent. On to the next! 

The second platform had similar reviews and their customers actually had real Instagram profiles. The results were there! 20K+ followers… with a catch. These users had little to no engagement and when I clicked on their followers it was clear that they were bought. No profile pictures, 0 followers, 1-2 posts of clearly stolen images. On to the next!

The third platform was free and seemed fairly legitimate. All I had to do was sign in daily and follow 10 recommended profiles in exchange for 50 new followers. Even better, I could swap out the suggested profiles for other ones that suited our audience better. As soon as I followed the right 10 profiles for me, it was notification city. I received the 50 free followers immediately! Hooray! Now let’s check them out: FAKE. Time to remove all 50 manually and go back to the drawing board.

I refined my search to “best instagram assistant platform reviews”. The same blog popped up over and over and it appeared to be written by the same man. He was giving negative reviews for every platform and redirecting to his own site. I checked it out and it seemed decent, it even supplied an address for their head office. A quick search of the address on Google Maps had me throwing in the towel. How is this guy running the best platform for $99 a month but is located in a derelict building with boarded up windows? Yeah… no thanks.

I did settle on one particular program for a 5 day free trial and thought the results were “okay” so I subscribed to the paid service for a month. I like that it didn’t follow the wrong audience, in fact: it didn’t follow anyone at all. Upon signing up I was able to refine my targeted audience by location, interests and similar audiences to profiles of my choosing. This Instagram assistant set milestone goals and provided a countdown to achievement. The dashboard of this particular program also showed me what they were up to on a daily basis. Watching stories, liking posts, saving content and writing genuine comments that didn’t sound too “botty”. Out of all the platforms, this one was the best but it still didn’t get the job done.

Time to outsource REAL people because trust me, there is no perfect software or platform that will get you the results you need. If this is something you think you can develop and perfect, you’ll be the first to do so and probably become a millionaire. 

REAL people:

We reached out to a social media manager and explained to him what we were looking for. After a few days we jumped on a Skype call to discuss this further. First red flag: he hadn’t reviewed our company’s website or any social media channels! Not a great start to a job interview but hey, I was on a mission. I decided to let that slide and began to explain to him exactly what we do and exactly what I needed from his team. He was enthusiastic and excited to get to work. I provided him with a document of frequently asked questions by our audience as well as provided him with engaging comments and recruitment direct messages that I personally wrote and perfected. I tested the process myself one evening and had recruited 10 people organically within a matter of minutes. Okay… now I’m onto something!

Our new and eager IG assistant brought on two others and they got to work. Sort of. Rather than starting an ongoing conversation with an ideal follower, they got their accounts blocked by copying and pasting the same comments to the masses. On Instagram,you can only post so many of the same comments or send the same DM’s in an hour. If you abuse the process, IG will put a halt to your unauthentic activity. The assistants then asked us to set up more accounts for them which is time consuming and required quite a lot of hand-holding which took up a lot of my energy. How was I supposed to focus on other projects when I’m instructing people who don’t like my instructions? We moved on after a week.

It’s all up to ME!

After much trial and error, I decided to roll up my sleeves and take care of business myself. YOU are the best possible person to manage your social media. Would you comment on a story sticker with the question “What’s your favourite movie?” and answer “sick profile!” – No. That’s a bot move and ingenuine. This is exactly why it’s up to you to get your engagement going naturally and guess what? It’s way easier and less time-consuming than you may think! Don’t waste your precious time trying to crack the code on growing your following with an outside source. Trust me, Davinci made it easier than Instagram. Ready for some positive results? I did the research for you and am happy to share the path to success:

It’s all up to YOU!

Here are some tips to grow your following organically and up your engagement rate within a week of steady and consistent work. Once you begin the process and monitor results, the rest goes on auto-pilot. More time to work on bigger picture projects, finally!

Tip 1: Spring cleaning

A lot of your followers can be accumulated through trial and error and unfortunately most of them are just not for you. It’s time to send them on their way because they’re not actively engaging with you and bring zero value to your profile. You can download a free app called Followers. This app shows you who has unfollowed you and who you are following but may not be following you back. If you have used assistant programs in the past, this app will help you clean house in a mass sweep with one button: “unfollow all”. It’s a lot quicker than manually doing this on Instagram, especially if you’re following thousands. 

Tip 2: Promote your content

There are many ways to get your photos in front of the right people and promotional ads work wonders for our brand. By using Facebook Business Manager, we have come up with a strategy that has impacted our engagement in a massive way and now it’s on auto-pilot. New likes, follows and comments all day, every day. If you build it, they will come! Creating an ad strategy is different for everyone but in true Creator.co fashion, we’ve already done the research for you. Check out the playlists on our YouTube channel where we’ve sourced the best and most informative “how-to” videos to get you started.

Tip 3: A story a day keeps the unfollows away

Stories have been proven to be more engaging than static images and video has taken over social media. More users are likely to engage with your story than your post. How do I know? I tested the waters. On the same day I posted a static image and a story asking the same question. I received triple the engagement by people answering the question in my story. I also shared their answers throughout the day and tagged them in it. You’ll find that most will be so excited that you featured them and they will share that to their story. This puts you in front of their followers who may not know about your profile.

Tip 4: Engage, engage, engage!

Ever been in a one-sided friendship? Not the best feeling in the world. Anyone who leaves you a comment or sends you a DM (as long as it’s not a bot or heaven forbid – a troll) deserves a message back. A little love goes a long way: if you ask your followers to tag someone in your comments for whatever reason, they’re more likely to participate if they feel they  have an actual relationship with you. This is a fool-proof method and it’s also just a really nice way to keep social media genuine.

Tip 5: Host a giveaway

Consider your audience and their interests. Why are they following you? Are you a beauty blogger or MUA? Offer your fans the chance to win the latest palette! In order to qualify, they should already be following you and tag a friend. Multiple tags = multiple entries. Who are those multiple tags? New followers from a like-minded audience! Everyone loves a chance to win and Instagram has made it easier than ever to host a contest. If you can’t afford to giveaway a physical item, offer them a chance to get featured in your stories or on your feed. This works just as well. 

So what did I learn on my journey to grow on social media? You can’t fake it til you make it because you never will. Everyone on social media can spot a fake follower count almost immediately and as a brand, that’s not what we’re all about. If you do the work yourself you’ll notice that your follower count no longer fluxuates but coasts on it’s own while you continue to grow. Your engagement rate will soar because you have the right audience in front of you rather than bots or inactive users. You’ll end up with a nice, clean profile with ads and stories doing the work for you. Most importantly, you’ll have the freedom to focus on larger-scale projects that require your undivided attention. Ready to get started? It’s definitely worth it.