Instagram | Indirect / Passive Growth (CONTENT)

Written by Ryan McMey | |

In this post we look at growing your Instagram account passively or organically using your own user generated content.


INTRO *Put yourself in the shoes of somebody you’ve just nudged into checking out your profile. Just because you get someone onto your page, you don’t pick up a follower for free. Think about why you follow people on social media. It’s probably one of three things, 1) you know them personally, 2) you’re a fan of that product / brand / whatever and want to keep up with their new stuff, or 3) you stumble across the page somehow, maybe someone you’re already following shares it, and the content you see there grips you for some reason. Maybe it’s memes, maybe its music, maybe it’s models, but whether it makes you laugh or cry or whatever, you follow the page because you want to see more of the content they produce. The people coming to your page from following this method are not type one or type two people, those people will find you all by themselves, the people coming to you are the third type. That means you need to make content that grips them! * There’s some good news attached to this, which is that if you’re choosing your audience right, there shouldn’t be much more to creating gripping content than following your intuition. It’s kind of obvious really! Play your music! Post snippets of songs, post videos of gigs, talk about the writing of your songs, talk about the production of your songs, funny stories that happened at rehearsal, tour stories, studio outtakes, play acoustic versions of songs, play covers of artists you like. It’s so easy to create content now - and so obvious what music fans are looking for when they land on an artist’s profile - that we’re all pretty much drowning in untapped opportunities to convert a fresh pair of eyes into a new follower. I would go so far as to say that if you’re very regularly posting the kind of content listed above and still having a bad growth rate, you’re not targeting your audience properly, and you need to reconsider who’s fans you’re following.

* So, since the actual content itself is relatively self explanatory, and unique to each artist, the things that we need to talk about are - types of content, frequency of posting, and the ever expanding category of ‘magic trick / cheat code / shortcut / bank heist tier content’ that can act like a big multiplier on your growth. TYPES OF CONTENT, OPTIMAL FREQUENCY & HINTS * Instagram Posts Role: Posts are really the bread and butter of the operation. They are, in the form of thumbnails and in 3x3 groups at a time, the first thing people will see when they’ve been nudged over to your profile. They are also, being the only permanent fixture of a profile, the right place for anything with relevance that lasts longer than a day.

Frequency: Once per day seems to be the sweet spot, multiple times per day can limit your audience’s engagement with any one particular post, which is very self limiting with regards to the instagram algorithm, whereas less than once per day is missing out on the seemingly daily regeneration of your typical instagram user’s appetite to engage with you.

Best Practice: Videos consistently out-perform photos, it’s not an iron clad rule but it’s worth adjusting your practices and mostly posting videos.

Talk to the camera - personable people are popular on instagram - everybody finds it weird at first but you should definitely get used to doing it anyway.

Use hashtags but not for the sake of it and not too many, make sure they're actually relevant - people who search for Hip Hop are not looking for Metal, there’s no point hashtagging a search term just because it’s popular if nobody searching that tag is going to like what you’re posting.

Tag your most enthusiastic audience members in posts, they’ll definitely like / comment / share pretty much instantaneously which will push the post up in the algorithm.

If you have group chats with large numbers of your followers, share the post to the chat, another way to get very quick engagement.

Share the post to your story, people will be tapping through the stories without necessarily scrolling through their feed, you want to give your audience every opportunity to see that you’ve posted and engage with it.

When editing videos, choose your thumbnails well! They’re likely to be the first thing new people see. Showing your face and appearing animate / emotive seems to work well. * Instagram Stories Role: Stories are oxygen to your audience. People are starving for content and the most successful artists will be the people who are able to give it to them. Be the relief to the guy bored at school, be the relief to the girl bored at work, be the relief to the people who can’t sleep and the people with nothing to do on the bus home. They will love you for it. Everything funny that happened today should be on your story, either a video of it or a video of you talking about it, random thoughts that you have and snippets from your life, memories from a festival last year and a video of your bassist rolling around on the floor because he stubbed his toe at band practice. Broadcast your life. Don’t. Let. Them. Get. Bored.

Frequency: You should treat your story like your fridge, you should never let it be empty, you should never even let it be sparse, people who check it will be disappointed if it is. I’m very reluctant to say there’s an upper limit at all. Perhaps we should call the upper limit ‘so many stories that the idea of watching the whole thing could be considered daunting’. The low limit is easier, I’d look at the fridge analogy again, don’t let it be sparse - There should be at least 5 or 6 pieces of content on your story at all times as a rule of thumb. At a quick glance, the influencers who’s audiences I’m currently targeting each have between 7 and 30 pieces of content on their story right now.

Best Practice: TALK TO THE CAMERA!! The instagram stickers give you loads of options to invite engagement from your audience - questions, polls, ‘rate this’ bars, quizzes, countdowns and the ability to share music - this stuff is all gold.

Mix it up, post some musical stuff, post some funny life stuff, post a boomerang out of the window of the train whilst you’re going down to London or something, just show people your life.

Advertise things with relevance to today! Tell people at 11am that you’ll be posting a snippet of a brand new song at 6pm and doing a live streamed gig from your sofa at 9pm, why not have people waiting for you to show up when the moment comes? Encourage instant engagement! Our best practice posts are written in good will and are based on methods that have been proven to work for others. There may be many reasons why this doesn't work for you including genre and or content type. If you feel that you can support our cause by passing on your own best practice tips please email them to

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