What’s the best way to look for new lead-generation strategies? Discovering what others are doing that’s working well. In this recurring column on Inman, agents and brokers share what they’re doing to change up their lead-gen strategies. 

I was sick and tired of my tiny, little, embarrassing Instagram following. So, 60 days ago I decided to do something about it. 

In the past two months, I’ve tried a lot of different things to help grow my Instagram profile. This is a list of the things that, I think, made an impact on my ability to grow my page by 10,000 people so quickly. 

I say that I think these are the things that worked, but the truth is I have no real way of knowing where my new followers were coming from. I just know these are the things I focused on and my results have been pretty exciting. 

Before I started, my Instagram page @The9thZero had a little over 2,500 followers and was averaging about 50 to 100 likes per post. As of press time, I have 18,3000 followers and my posts average 1,000 likes each. Here’s how I did it.

Increased posting frequency

The more I post, the more followers I get. Today, I tried to post three to four times per day. I tried to post at these times: 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. Sixty days ago, I was posting about once per day. I’m very confident that my growth, at some level, is tied to my increased posting frequency. 

I heard author and sales expert Grant Cardone say something that really stuck with me: “People give in to the person they see the most.” Think about that. The more you post, the more you get seen. The more you get seen, the more control you have with your influence. 

Key fact: I studied Grant Cardone’s Instagram page, and he’s posting on average, seven times per day and creating endless stories

Solicited shoutouts

Getting other large pages to give me a shoutout has been a huge help. I’m guessing about 5,000 followers. I’ve tested both post and story shoutouts and they both work great — if you follow these rules:

Do some due diligence on the page before you pay them for a shoutout. You want to make sure it has real followers (not a bunch of bots), and that it has good engagement. I look for two things:

  1. I check its followers to make sure they don’t have a lot of fake accounts following them. Look through about 20 of its followers to get a good sample of what they have. I don’t want to find a lot of profiles with only a few posts, profiles with a lot of followers for no apparent reason and profiles that don’t have recent activity. If you’re seeing a lot of these things, don’t buy a shoutout from them.
  2. I want to make sure the page’s posts are getting good engagement. If the page has 100,000 followers but it’s only getting 150 likes per post, it’s probably a page with fake followers.

Just because a page has a large follower count, it does not mean its shoutouts will make any impact on your follower count. It needs to have a good engaged group of followers. The last thing you want is a bunch of fake followers on your page. This will hurt more than it helps in the long run. It will make your page less engaging in Instagram’s eyes, meaning it’ll be displayed in another person’s feed less. 

Focused more on stories

I learned that Instagram Stories are one of the most engaged segments of social media today, therefore, I knew I needed to give it more love.

Today, I’m trying to post to my story as much as possible. In the process, I found a couple hacks that help a lot: 

  1. Hashtag your stories: They are the easiest way to get free and direct exposure to your page. I started adding about 30 relevant hashtags to my stories and immediately started noticing more engagement and followers. After I paste the hashtags in my story, I pinch it down to be super tiny, then hit the color match tool to blend it in with the background it’s sitting on. This lets me hashtag my face off, without making the post look like trash.
  2. Post multislide stories: I’ll share different ideas and tips but instead of putting them all on one post, I’ll display them for several posts. I found that these get great engagement, replies and shares. Here’s an example:

(Note: In the background of the stories below there are hashtags that have been color matched to blend in)  

Paid attention to insights

No rocket science here. I simply started paying attention to my post insights to learn what people liked and didn’t like. Based off these insights, I’m trying to put out content I have seen work well before. 

Who would have thought? Give them more of what they want, and they’ll do the promoting for you. 

Used more hashtags

I’m not shy with my hashtags. Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, and I use them all. I look at it as 30 different entry points onto my page that I get for free. On every post.

I started using an app called Hashtag Expert to help me discover new relevant hashtags with strong engagement. All you do is put in a single hashtag you like and consider to be relevant to your page, and the app will generate 29 more for you to copy and past into your post.

I like to add my hashtags as a separate comment on the post, this way after a few additional comments it folds under and is not visible on the scroll.

Cool hack: Kingston Lane CEO Sharran Srivatsaa with me that he creates groups of hashtags and saves them as keyboard shortcuts. Game-changer. I’ve saved a handful of different groups of 30 hashtags, and now I can post quickly and move on. 

Utilized engagement groups

I joined a few engagement groups that help me get more engagement on my posts. Instagram rewards posts that get a lot of engagement by placing them in the “Discover” feed. 

I’ve noticed that when my posts started getting over 500 likes I would get a bunch of followers after I posted. I’m assuming they’re coming from the Discover feed. 

Promoted my account on podcasts and at speaking engagements

I’ve always tried to say yes to as many podcasts and speaking gigs as possible. Now I make it a point to send people to my Instagram whenever onstage or a podcast. 

At some recent speaking engagements, I’ve offered $100 to the first person to follow me and post me in their feed, and it has worked like a charm. I always segue into it after talking about leverage, so it doesn’t look like I’m thirsty, instead it makes it part of the training. (Note: I always ask the promoter or host for permission to do this before we go live.)

I’m testing a few new tools and hacks now and as soon as I have more intel, I’ll share with you at the next meeting. I hope this helps you a little in your journey on growing your own Instagram profile.

Sam Khorramian is cofounder and CEO of Big Block Realty in San Diego. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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